Jun 30, 2018 | Technical

My name is Kevin Neumann and I have been looking for the opportunity to move up from a trailer sailer to a Keeler for some time. I live in Nelson and enjoy the area of the Marlborough Sounds and Abel Tasman very much and the challenge of sailing in these areas. I would like to one day go off-shore after gaining enough experience and the necessary skills. I have set the boat up for single handed sailing and tried to meet the Cat 1 standards so that there is not much to do and for general safety.

I have over the years gained experience working with glass boats/painting/general mechanical  engineering and have an extensive array of tools for this purpose. My background is farming and rural contracting.


Diomedes hull was manufactured by Compass Yachts in 1977. The boat was fitted out by P Evans an Auckland boat builder in 1980. In 1986 she completed in the single handed race  across the Tasman to Maloolaba owned and skippered by Bruce Blaney. Spent a few years in the  Firth of Thames then purchased by Brain Lilley and sailed to Nelson. Based in Mapua. She has done  several circumnavigations of both the North and South islands with all charts and original log books still with her. Interesting reading. I purchased her from Mapua in 2006

The Purchase

Diomedes was listed on Trademe in January 2006. She had been left on the hard out in the open for 6 years while her owner worked overseas. This had left her looking rather sad, mostly on the outside. Osmosis was my major concern and after a thorough hull inspection found only two small areas in the area at the back of the keel. Damage was from water sitting in bilge from the inside where there was no gel coat or protection. The areas were easily cut out and repaired.

The topside: were all sound although they looked terrible. Like most boaties it is easy to see the good not the bad.. Like most boaties it is easy to see the good not the bad. The good was, Edson wheel steering 1.5 metre bow sprit, teak cock pit and hatches, laminated kauri roofing beams and knees makes the cabin top and very strong, extra rovings in hull for added strength.

Sails were good, fully battened main 3 reefing points, No 1 Genoa and No 3 Genoa average, staysail with 2 reefing points in good condition, and an as new spinnaker. Also Cat 1 storm gib and tri-sail very strong, bright orange.

Three anchors lx full chain plough plus 1×100 metres 14mm rope Danforth 12 metre chain plus 1 x 100 metres 14mm rope 12 metres chain Bruce 271b.


I wanted to get a good sea worthy, safe and easy to sail Keeler that could possibly go offshore and use my skills to achieve this on a shoe string?????? Yeah right!!!!!!! . These exclamations only appeared during proof reading by my land loving wife .Also good to know every inch of the vessel and her functions.

On visiting the H28 owner’s website it’s easy to see that these infectious little boats sell themselves. The technical info and the input from other owners helped me form my opinion on what to do in regard to layout and design.

Also some key books provided another excellent tool for the project. Daniel Spurrs Boatbook 2nd edition. This is an excellent book easy to read and heaps of help on improvisation for the DIY sailor.

Another is Boat Works by McGraw Hill. It covers almost all aspects of boat maintenance. Another is Boatowners Mechanical and Electrical Manual. Just about everything is covered in these 3 books.

Transporting 18km to my home on a home built cradle, getting it up the driveway and past the house is another story in itself! Whilst working on the hull I was able to use a number of 50mm galvanized pipes to roll the cradle in and out of the shed with the use of a 4×4 winch and a block. This was great with natural light less dust etc.

After a thorough clean inside and out, removed the engine and any other items to protect from dust paint etc.


While Diomedes was very strong it lacked a finished look mainly caused by what I term a pill box effect of the cabin top and deck joint. I needed to soften the lines up and build some visual cohesion to the rest of the hull. Coving and bevelling of all sharp edges gave a much smoother line. Also small Perspex windows let a limited amount of light into the cabin. Kauri with sunlight is warm – without can be a little too dark. Replacement with 6mm marine glass ($800) and larger windows was the outcome.

Stainless cut by laser jet produced an excellent product and was able to be done off CAD drawings. They even cut the screw holes ($700) sanding off the old non skid paint back to wood on all decks, cabin tops etc. This was the worst job of all. Best tip? Ceramic grinding disc anti clog and last a long time. Very coarse ($15 each). Have to take care not to gouge into deck timber. Re-do and strengthen deck to hull area, Fairing back hull approximately 100mm same on deck and apply two layers of webbed 100mm fibreglass cloth/resin. Finish off with the same cloth on all other edges on cabin top. Apply one
full layer of cloth over the whole cabin/deck area. Sand and apply micro balloon fairing compound, sand smooth and apply hi build epoxy- used Altex
number 3.

To gain a professional finish applied a quick cover coat with black aerosol can and lightly sand with wet rub. This will highlight any low areas requiring another coat of hi build. This process allowed me to achieve a professional finish.

The same process was used on the hull with the addition of a pneumatic long board. This gives a top finish without a lot of the hard hand sanding. With the painting finished installation of windows could go ahead. I used the stainless steel outer window surrounds as a guide to cut a 10mm x l5mm recess for the windows to sit in. By moving the bearing to the router end of the cutter allowed this to be carried out.

Start to reassemble and install the deck fittings. Strip mast and boom, strip by glass blasting giving good paint adhesion. Repaint with Altex industrial grade epoxy. Awesome finish also did pedestal at same time. Re-design stanchion bases to a large triangle with 10mm x 75 hex nut welded to the 6mm triangular base. This bolts through 1 inch teak block to which is sealed to the deck with sealant.

If the stanchion comes loose with a knock water can’t get down through the screw holes also under the deck is a 75mm x 6mm thick stainless washer on a 19mm marine ply block glued in place. These puppies will snap off before they leak!!


Replaced inner cables and built new stainless quadrant. Also built self aligning steering cable holders to reduce friction place short springs stainless under cable adjusters to remove any slack. Important not to have any with wheel pilot.

Navico wheel pilot purchased off Trademe for $125.00 had fault. Disassembled found main gear on the end of small electric motor had turned on shaft and worked its way against the bearing housing acting as a break the motor couldn’t turn and the computer kept coming up with default or error, lights flashing. Simply tapped the end to give end float and all was well!! Service and installed.

Original Motor

The original engine was a 10HP Sabb with afully feathering prop. This was raw water cooled and had a dino starter setup very heavy flywheel. The heads were in poor shape and the whole thing screamed mooring block.



Shubara 25HP (Lees Marine) twin cylinder with Hurth gearbox. Sole engine mounts flexidrive coupling, new shaft, cutless and dripless seal. $3500.00. Motor done 1800hrs and had rings and bearings new. Reason for this choice? High torque at lower RPM. Driving 18″ kiwi prop 6 knots @1300RPM. Also parts very cheap. Also fitted new freezer compressor $30 Trademe and 150 AMP alternator $300. Motor 80kg lighter and more than twice the horse power. Good to have less weight aft.


Electrical equipment installed. BEP battery management panel $400, BEP control panel with 12 circuit breakers $400 DC meter gas detection meter $300 solar power regulator, 2 x 50 watt solar panels on radar arch over push pit $1600. Also install all lights with LED’s in existing brass lamps in cabin. All new nav lights are LED’s. Very low current draw. All tined marine grade wire


Install a LPG califont, high flow flowjet pump and 10L pressure accumulator. Hot and cold water and both internal and external cockpit shower. Install 4 x 6″ inspection plates to allow cleaning of 2 x 80L water tanks. Weld plates to accommodate sheaves on mast stepping block to run lines back to cockpit. 2 x maxi rope clutches Trademe new $200 each. Profile and design alloy hard dodger to make it look like it is part of the boat, this gives good protection from Southerly chills. Fitting a furling headsail Furlex 200s and 120% Genoa makes sail handling much less hassle and gives a longer lower sail area forward of the mast, helps lift the stern down wind

Hard Dodger

Profile a hard dodger that provides good visibility while maintaining the natural lines of the cabin top, and that is strong and light. 4mm Aluminium with laminated marine glass. This added a lot of cross bracing to the cabin while providing great hand holds for anyone leaving the cockpit to go forward. Also gave a great place to sit in the cabin doorway for that first cuppa on a cold and gloomy dawn. The most important thing to me was to make sure that when I added something to the boat it would not look out of place.


Safety Equipment and Nav Gear

4 x inflatable life jackets
2 x 406Epirbs
1 x SART radar transponder
1x 4 person life raft
2 x life buoys
1 x Danbouy
2 x VHF-1 handheld
3 x GPS with maps – 2 x laptop and 1 x
handheld 6 x Safety harness
2 x Jacklines
Other Features
Gimbled 2 burner stove with oven and grill
3 way fridge with ice box
Compressor driven ice box
Taylors kerosene cabin heater
30 litre holding tank
Sleeps five – 2 forward 2 in main cabin and 1
larger quarter birth
6′ 2″ head room

Kevin Neumann – “Diomedes”