Buying Sundance


I’ve owned Sundance for six weeks now, and I’m itching to go sailing. Unfortunatly I can’t as she had been taken out of the water for winter the week before I viewed her, which is the sensible thing. I’m not ready to sail her, I need to get to know Sundance, learn her little niggles, I need to learn the water we’ll be spending so much time together and listen to the advice and stories from the experienced soles of the sailing club.


Spending your life saving, the most you’ve ever spent on one item is a daunting thing. I kept asking myself, should I have just chartered boats, they’re newer, bigger, more comfortable then an old 70’s IOR boat, kept the cash, put it towards a house deposit or a rainy day. The more I thought about it the more I realised that when I’m sailing I feel free from modern life, troubles and worries. Buying a house, although should be the sensible thing means a life of debt, tied to one place and athough it offers security, in this day and age does it really? Houses are overpriced, inflated, if and when it all goes pop the bank will be knocking on the door and kicking you out before you know it, there’s no security in having a mortgage. They say Every Englishman needs his castle, this Englishman castle is his boat, and my boat could take me anywhere around the globe.

When I was ready to look at Ballads, I tried to arrange to look at a couple, you would have though people would be happy for you to turn up with a wedge of cash but I think secretly people didn’t want to sell them. I started to look at Ballads in Denmark, Germany and even Sweden, but I knew in reality it wouldn’t be a viable option. I wrote a wanted advert on a yacht sales page on Facebook which was answered by it turns out the son of the chap selling Sundance. I arranged to view her that weekend and like a kid in a sweet shop didn’t know where to look first. The thing that I wasn’t sure about was the yellow hull, I know yellow isn’t a sort after colour for a boat, but it did have it’s own alternative attraction, and I do like to be different.

Although she’s been well looked after she’s a little tired, but any 40 year old boat is going to be. Sundance had her 10hp Volvo removed and replaced with a Beta 14 in 2004 which is a big positive. She had a new main and 150% genoa around the same time, along with her old sails which are usable and fine for what I would need them to do. She’s not been messed with and still has hank on sails and a main that rolls around the boom to reef it. I would have liked to have roller furling head sail and a slab reefed main with all lines leading aft. These are things I can add in the future, however the more I think about it, the more I like the idea of keeping her a “proper” sailing boat. She did come with a Navik windvane, which with the thought of taking part in the Jester Challenge in the future was another plus.

A deal was struck with Ron who has owned her since I was 5 years old. He’s a yachtmaster instructor who was retiring from sailing due to health reasons. If a Yachtmaster is happy with a boat for 27 years it has to be a good one! One of the biggest things that made me go for Sundance was that I could keep her at NUSC if I joined as a member. NUSC being about 2 ½ hours from home (about the same to the coast in any direction but east) made sense, I could gain experience from the members of the club, have the owner and his son on hand to help me with any questions I had and have people to sail with to teach me the area.

Since I’ve owned Sundance I haven’t really had chance to do much with her, I brought most of her inventory home so I can work through what’s there and what’s not, I took lots of bad pictures to remind me of what I couldn’t bring home. The engine has been winterised, batteries charged on alternate weekends and the cushions stored to stop them getting damp. The mast will be taken down to inspect the standing rigging in a few weeks, then I’ll be sorting a few small jobs. I’ll be giving the boat a good going over, making a list of things that need doing this winter like replacing the cockpit locker lids and the bilge covers (which I found out were rotten when I put my foot through one!), and a list of things to do next year. I don’t want to do to much straight away as I want to get sailing asap, not conducting a full refit.

I’ve been spending my hard earned again and bought a inflatable dinghy (the Sundance Kid), a GRP jobbie to keep at the club as well as a long list of essentials every boat needs! I took a RYA VHF SRC course and exam so I can apply for a ships radio licence and finalise the paperwork and after a short “interview” with three of the clubs committee, my membership to the club was accepted, so I can keep Sundance at her home for the last 27 years and be a part of this friendly sailing club.



  1. Hi Tom. Enjoyed reading about “Sundance”, congratulations (albeit a little belated!) on your new boat, and sunflower yellow is a fine colour for a forty year old vessel. If nothing else, it should make you very easy to spot when you’re out there. Good luck for a fine season’s sailing to come, look forward to reading about it 🙂

    1. Hi Bill, thanks for the comment, it’s nice to know people have a read. I’ve been a bit rubbish with the blog but I’m hoping to post more now the season is getting closer. Lots of boat prep and getting ready for the Jester Baltimore Challenge…. hopefully.

      It seems a lot of yellow (and red) boats become Jester boats, of get sailed longer distances (obviously theres white boats everywhere), I’m not sure why, maybe because they’re cheaper as everyone plays it safe with white or blue hulls? Either way I’ve grown very fond of my little yellow tub, I get excited when I pull up into the yard and run my hands along her hull as I walk upto her, crazy eh…..?

      Pop back, I promise Illwrite some more.

      PS I’ll pop over to your blog in a sec and have a nosey.

  2. Hi Tom
    This might be along shot but my father owned a yellow hulled Ballard called Sundance from 78 through to 82 and kept her in Sunderland. You might just own the same boat. If so we spent may weeks over the those summers cruising down to the continent or across to the Inner Hebrides on her. I have fantastic memories of her.

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