Baja returns to the water following significant fire damage


Type of boat – Nimbus 320 Coupe

Refit/ Work completed – Extensive internal fire damage repair

Jonathan and Sally-Anne Dean were taking a winter break in Madeira in March 2014 when a friend phoned them. Their much-loved 10 metre Nimbus 320 Coupe Motorboat ‘Baja’ had caught fire while laid-up ashore at Ponsharden in Falmouth.

The good news was that it could have been much worse. The blaze was sparked by an electrical fault in a dehumidifier; the interior was sealed tight and, starved of oxygen, the flames spluttered out. But for that, the whole boat would have gone up.

The bad news was, well, still awful. Fibreglass and upholstery had continued to smoulder, creating a fog of acrid chemical smoke which coated everything and was corrosive enough to pit stainless steel. The entire interior was basically a write-off.

An initial assessment suggested that in insurance terms the whole craft was too, given the likely repair bill. Jonathan said: “We didn’t go and look at her until a fire specialist had made a first clean and it was still pretty bloody depressing. My wife and I adored her, but we were advised we might want to start looking for another boat.”


Mylor gets awarded the repair tender

However, a second opinion was sought from the Mylor Marine Team. They made a much closer analysis of the damage and concluded that while substantial, it was largely cosmetic and the structure was sound. Project Manager Henry Goldsmith drew up a detailed specification of the labour, material and parts costs required to return ‘Baja’ to her original state.

The insurance company was convinced – and awarded the repair tender to Mylor Henry said: “I think the reason we got the work was not only because we were realistic about prices, but it was all broken down and laid out very clearly so the insurers had a really good idea of where and how their money was going to be spent.”

Initially, it was a massive, filthy cleaning job. All of the internal soft furnishings – cushions, covers, carpets, blinds, curtains – had to be ripped out and renewed. It took days of scraping to remove the smoke-fouled headlinings. As shipwright Chris Oliver commented: “It was quite a mission!”

Repairing the joinery and electrics

He also dismantled and restored or recreated the damaged joinery in the saloon and galley – often improving by substituting solid teak for the former veneer – and routed and laid new cabin sole boards so exactly he was able to pick up the original screwholes.

The caustic smoke played havoc with the electrics; all wiring had to be re-terminated and the gauges, plotter, VHF, stereo, fridge and cooker were replaced, along with the corroded light fittings, switches and stainless fiddles around the galley. Even the steering wheel centre boss required re-chroming. Scorched GRP panels in the wheelhouse roof were repaired and finally, the interior was repainted.

Baja returns to the water once more

As the work progressed, Henry made sure that that everyone – surveyors, insurers and the owner – were kept informed. Jonathan said: “Henry introduced me to all the craftsmen, tradesmen and shipwrights and, I have to say, they had ‘old school’ values – they wanted to do it right and were very proud of their work. Anytime I wanted to go and see what they were doing or talk about the job, they were always available – delightful people, and always very helpful.”

Altogether, it took almost year to put the boat back to better than new. Looking down from their home on Restronguet Point at ‘Baja’ riding on her mooring below, Jonathan said: “We are so pleased with the quality of work completed by Mylor that I’ve asked them to do some other jobs on her. They made it a far more positive experience than it might have been. They are really good people.”