the terror lives

We’ve shown you a few pics of the beautifully restored Bruce King designed Terrorist. Now here’s the story.

I found the boat in 2009 whilst doing a late night search for iconic old IOR boats and what had become of them. A nearby boatyard owner in Port Townsend, Wa. named Craig Montague had recognized the boat languishing in a junkyard and posted pics on boatdesign.net. I knew of the boat from when I used to comb through the design section of Yachting (back when it was still a sailing mag) as a kid. The boat was particularly suited to my end of the world (Corpus) as it was shoal draft capable and designed for heavier air. The alloy hull was also an advantage as I had experience welding and painting aluminum through bike building.

The boat was being sold as scrap. So I decided to check the boat out under the guise of an impromptu birthday visit to Seattle. That was the story I told my wife anyway.

After a beautiful drive from Seattle, we found the boat sitting on drums. It was stripped and there was a 4′ x 4′ hole in the deck where the bilgeboard trunks once had been. the bilgeboards and trunks had been disposed of. The 6000# of internal ballast had been cut out and sold. The original rudder was still with the boat. As was the original mast with rod rigging and Sterns headfoil.

The intricately detailed tiller had been repaired by slab welding 1/4″ across the once beautiful ornamental dolphin cutouts on each side. My infinitely patient wife watched with growing concern as i took pics and measurements. (She would later face bitter disappointment under the realization that an interior was not forthcoming and that we would not be shopping for fabric swatches.) I decided to commit to the project. Bruce King graciously sent me copies of his 20 or so drawings.

The boat was shipped to my shop in OKC. After some considerable head-scratching, we got the boat unloaded and set on stands. I paid the driver and off he went. He called me about an hour later to say he’d just had a heart attack and was being transported back to a hospital in OKC. As requested, I was happy to look after his truck and bring him a phone battery in the hospital. In a couple of weeks he was back on the road.

The restoration took about 3 years. Firstly, of course, it involved re-fabricating and installing the bilge boards and trunks. A simple but effective board handling system was designed. Multiple transverse and longitudinal stiffeners were fabricated and welded in the floor / ballast compartment area. The entire area was then sealed and filled with about 5000# of lead shot and held in place with laminating epoxy.

The hull was in bad shape in several spots below the water line and had to be welded/repaired. I also fabricated and installed a lightweight a-frame to support the deck-stepped carbon mast that i was having built. Multiple man made holes in the hull, deck and cockpit had to be filled. New chain plates were built then welded and bolted in place. A set of aluminum shoal(er) draft tandem rudders was designed, built and installed. The original rudder was also restored as a further option. A head was reluctantly installed. And a few honeycomb-cored boards to sit on. No other thought was given to creature comforts. Lastly, the boat was sandblasted, alodined, primed, fared and painted. A custom trailer was also built for the boat.

The tiller was painstakingly restored. That alone took me over 40 hours and some intricate welding, cutting and painting. Al cassel’s son later asked if he could have the tiller as a memento of the boat and his dad. I offered to have the tiller scanned at my expense so that he could have another one built. He declined. I felt bad for him but there was no way i was giving up that tiller after all the work i had put into it. Plus i love that tiller too.

After testing the boat for a few months in Lake Texoma, I moved it to Galveston Bay. There I became reacquainted with the local Doyle rep, Mark Matthews, who I had sailed with on my dad’s Ranger 33 back in the early 70’s. Mark was instrumental in getting the boat and sails tuned for the weekly phrf racing that we would do for the next 3 years.

Unsurprisingly, the boat was absolutely dominant upwind in any air over 8-9 knots. Down wind she was still extremely competitive also. Light air was definitely her Achilles Heel. Close reaching wasn’t really her strong suit either. Along the way, the aging original rudder developed a large split up the trailing edge and was replaced with a cassette/retractable rudder. Also, a 6′ sprit was fabricated and installed in order to compete in the sprit class during the last year of racing.

After 3 years of Houston traffic, I’d had enough and moved the boat to Rockport, a small fishing town north of Corpus Christi. I dare say that more than a few competitors were probably glad to see that boat go.

I repainted the boat after 3 years of battle scars and dock rash and put the boat happily in it’s slip. The eye of Hurricane Harvey passed over the boat 6 months later. While Terrorist was one of the few boats to neither be sunk or dismasted, the new paint job was history. As was the bow and stern pulpits and several stanchions. The boom was damaged and bent as was the rudder assembly. My neighbor’s mast had landed on the sprit. It took months to get the boat out of the water as the town slowly recovered. Restoration took the better part of a year.

Today, the boat is fully restored(again) and living in Rockport. I sail her weekly, usually by myself. I still love sailing her. – Paul Tullos