For those out there that had knowledge of multihulls in the 80’s or 90’s one catamaran was always known as she had competed in most races, being the AMOC and SOMR champion setting many records between Victoria and Tasmania, circumnavigating Australia and her consistant form and usability helped Loch Crowther promote his design skills. After refitting her for another trip to the Kimberley the fickle finger of fate stepped in.
It now seems a long time ago but May 10, 2004 Bagatelle hit Scott Reef just south of Fitzroy Island, North Queensland. The collision and subsequent pounding completely destroyed her port hull, by the time the salvage crew were able to get her off and to Cairns, Qld.
Sadly if the rescue teams, complete with all appropriate equipment, could have arrived earlier she may have been saved. For a full report see Multihull World #72. Rex Donkin purchased the remains from the insurance company and his team with the assistance of Brett Crowther supplying accurate plans, took the boat with great difficulty to his yards to rebuild the missing hull – see Multihull World #70.
By 2008 Rex had inspected the reef and ensured that every part of the cat was recovered, keeping the reef clean and had managed to have the boat just about ready to place back in the water see – Multihull World #91.
The launching was a success so she was back in the water powered by her new motors but still without sailing rigging see – Multihull World #125.
Now for the remaining information on the now totally restored beautiful Bagatelle sailing and racing again in North Qld waters. Perhaps it is ironic that the first major race she did was from Cairns to Fitzroy Island.
Geoff Cruise organised the new curved mast and when the semitrailer delivered it it required two cranes to lift, one at each end and then to lower the base to the correct position. Once stays were attached the experts from Peter Grigg Rigging went to the mast top in a cage from one crane to check everything was correct. Once approved the halyards and lines were all fitted from the top allowing gravity to assist them down inside the mast, all was pronounced in place correctly and the boat was almost ready to sail.
Bagatelle ready to go sailing.
Mark Leitner from Geo Pickers made the sail covers and lazy jacks and assisted with other extra features. So it was ready for testing. After the test Bagatelle was put on the slip and feathering props re-aligned and checked to make sure they would function as designed and the anti-fouling redone. The new back deck which replaced the aluminum mesh was made because the old aluminum one although rescued from the reef was too damaged for repair or reuse has proved a big bonus as it makes movement at the stern from one place to another easy.
While the cat is now finished it is still best described as a cruiser /racer as today there are many new lightweight pure racing boats out there and they are all aimed at going faster than previous craft but if you want to compete in sailing races, travel around Australia or go to overseas destinations it is a comfortable, efficient catamaran.
For a return to the racing in local events Rex gained the assistance of very skilled young sailor Jai Tooley so they were able to compete in the Cairns to Fitzroy Island Race where they sailed well being second multihull there and got a good handicap result.
Rex Donkin has achieved his goal of rebuilding Bagatelle and making it as good as it was with the added benefit of incorporating the latest technology where appropriate, perhaps the only sad point is the time it has taken thus the things you want to do with your assets are not as suitable as they were in the past because time rushes by all of us.
In the interest of seeing this beautiful catamaran continue to do the things she was designed for Rex feels his aging and health condition would see the boat better utilised in the hand of a new owner so anyone who may be interested in Bagatelle feel free to contact Rex Donkin.