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Back From the Brink: A Rebuild Story

Back From the Brink: A Rebuild Story

Fifteen years ago, Matthew Crimean swapped a trail bike for half a share in a Sunrunner 1800. The boat was sold and resold. Many years later, Matthew finds her again and decides to keep her.

It was my first boat and I fell madly in love with her. She was old and rough but there was something about her that just drew me to her. She looked fast, like something out of Miami Vice. My friends and I used the boat to ski on the Brisbane River two to three times a week for years. We had so much fun on her.

The Brisbane floods and storms over the years caused her damage, mainly cosmetic, but she was sold back and forth to a friend of mine a few times. She also ended up at the auctions, but somehow she managed to find her way back to me. She was finally retired to a property in Byron Bay and I thought that was the last I would see of her.

Fast forward years later, I was at Tipplers on Australia Day with my wife, Simone, and friends, and out of nowhere, Simone said, “There’s your old boat.” I could not believe it! It turned out that it was not my boat but identical; it was an all-original Sunrunner 1800. I was hooked again. I made a few phone calls that day, tracked my original boat down

in Byron Bay, purchased her back a few weeks later, and towed her home to start the rebuild.

THE RIGHT BOAT PROJECT

I set out from the start to do a full rebuild. I was hoping she would be structurally sound and still in great condition; and she was. I had the transom checked, floor and stringers checked – no problems found.

It was a great project boat because of the look of the boat. It resembles lots of other speed boats of similar size, but she just has different lines and style. Everyone who has worked on her in the marine industry says the same thing: “What boat is it? Damn, it looks good!”

The project took around 12 months to complete, from the time I started to the time I had it 100% finished, and in the water and enjoying her. I spent close to $40K, start to finish, although my budget was around the $30k mark.

After all the work was done and dusted, I would say that the most enjoyable aspect was the on-water test at Santa Barbara with Chris, who sold me the engine, as he fitted and tested it for me. I drove the boat home that afternoon to Brisbane, parked it on the driveway, jumped onboard and had a cold beer in the boat with my wife. A close second most enjoyable part was meeting all the guys in the marine industry who worked on the boat and helped me deliver the boat she is today.

THE CHALLENGES

The most challenging aspect of the rebuild was finding the time that is required to carry out a full restoration – researching components, meeting your budget, fitting everything in with family life. It is very easy to get caught up in a build like this and just focus all of your attention on the project.

It actually nearly did not happen. There were a few times over that year when I nearly gave it away. We had a newborn baby in our lives and it all started to get a little too much. Throw in work commitments on top of that, it nearly beat me. But I could see the light at the end of the tunnel, and with the help of everyone including my family, we got there in the end.

If I had my time again, I would have taken a little more time and enjoyed the build more and not focussed on just getting it done in record time. At the end of the day, the water will still be there in a few months time, so just enjoy the build and take it in.

People also often tell me that it is a lot of money for a small boat; and it is. But I did not want to cut corners.

THE TEAM

I was given many recommendations for different companies to carry out a variety of work.

Andy from Prestige Marine Refinishers (Cleveland) smashed it out of the park with the paint. I had chosen the paint scheme for the boat – light air-craft grey top side and dark grey hull. Andy had other ideas. He looked at me and said, “NO! Not up for discussion, I have a better colour. Nobody has this colour. Trust me.” He opened a tin under his paint bench, showed me, and the rest is history! Sometimes you just have to trust people who are as passionate about a project as yourself. Andy took on this project as if it was his boat, he loved the look of the boat, and was excited to be a part of the restoration.

Scotty from Icon Marine Trimming (Cleveland) is one of the nicest guys you will ever meet in the industry! After the boat was finished with the paint, it was sent straight over to Scotty to work his magic. The interior was always going to be grey. But seeing the finished paint, it needed another colour to do it justice. Tan was that colour. We sampled various shades of tan until we finally got it correct. We set out for an AMG-inspired interior theme with a touch of carbon.

The budget was also very tight for the interior, but after many sketches and ideas, we had a design locked in. What Scotty delivered was anything but budget; it was mind-blowing. The stitching in the seats and quality all round speaks for itself. Everyone who looks at this boat is blown away by the interior. Scotty also took on the interior like it was his own boat and went the extra mile.

Paul from Marine Fab was chosen for the screen and custom stainless work and general custom fabrication. We kept the original screen frame as he said it was a great frame already, and had great style. We added a walk-through front hatch, and had the frame powder-coated black and new clear screen installed. He was also in charge of the installation of the new alloy gunnel and rubber. The alloy gunnel had to be bent around the sides and down the transom lines – it was no mean feat.

Peter from Spitfire Trailers supplied the new largest single axle alloy trailer, with stainless draw bar. The boat needed a special trailer and Peter delivered that.

A FEW FINAL TIPS

Pick the right boat for you – something that you are passionate about. Because there will be many obstacles that get in your way, you need the passion to keep you going, and get you out to the other side.

Things to consider: budget; how long are you planning to keep the boat; what you are mainly going to use it for; time frame for the build; and, ask yourself, “Are you planning to make a profit or are you doing it for the love of it?”


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MAIN STAGES OF THE REBUILD

PAINT – The various stages required to paint a boat in 2-pac and make it last. This was a lengthy process.

INTERIOR – Getting the design right and making everything complement each other.

ENGINE – In choosing the right engine, budget was a big factor. I always wanted a 2-stroke. I found a Yamaha 200HP Vmax with only 170hrs that was owned by a local Runaway Bay marine mechanic, Chris, who only used this outboard for freshwater skiing and it looked like it did the day it left Yamaha.

ELECTRICAL – The amount of time and detail in the wiring of this boat has to be seen to be appreciated. This boat has everything you would expect in a boat twice the size.

FEATURES COMPLETED ON THE BOAT

Low-hour Yamaha VMAX 200HP, custom paint 2pac (2 Tone), custom screen – walk through hatch, custom interior – AMG Inspired, autometer marine gauges x 6 GPS Speedo, fusion black box stereo, fusion 5 channel amp, custom carbon dash panel, Hella marine stainless push buttons switches, Momo Marine steering wheel, Sea Star hydraulic steering ram, Garmin GPS, Blue Sea electronics, Blue Sea dual battery with smart solenoide and remote switch, stainless navigation light, High- capacity bilge pump with built in float, Deck wash pump, deck wash hose setup, dual battery, large 130Ltr alloy tank custom, stainless pop up cleats, stainless rails, stainless ladder, custom full cover.

Interview by Andy Kancachian 

Published in the April – July 2020 print edition.
 
 

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