Sugar Shaken (Not Stirred) on Mylor’s Sweetest Spirit

Mylor Yacht Harbour’s master painter Steve “Beefy” Burley has seen just about everything in more than four decades on the job – but sprinkling granulated sugar onto the immaculate deck of classic Spirit 46’ yacht Helen of Durgan to create a non-slip surface was a new one even on him.

The request – for a yacht whose pedigree reaches into one if not two Bond films – was made by Helen’s owner David Grylls while Mylor’s Marine Team of experts were carrying out a full varnish, antifoul and topside refurbish ahead of this year’s racing season.

“I’ve heard of this technique being used over the years,” says Beefy, “including by the Spirit Yachts yard itself – but this was the first time I’ve had a request for it in my forty year career.”

More commonly sand is used to create a non-slip deck – but in this case Beefy shook a great deal of white granulated sugar in what he describes as an “oversized pepper shaker” onto a tacky coat of varnish on the coach roof, left it overnight and then gently vacuumed up the excess. Two more coats of varnish and the sugar-grip deck was ready for action.

“At first you think the sugar will just dissolve in the varnish like it does in tea,” he says, “but it doesn’t: you expect it to be sticky but it’s not. In fact it’s very effective and easy to apply and I would definitely use this method again.”

Sugar coated coach roof of Spirit yacht at Mylor Yacht Harbour    Spirit yacht with sugar grip on coach roof at Mylor

Beefy had one big question at the end of the process: is it as hard-wearing as sand? After a full and successful 2019 racing season Helen’s owner has the answer:

“We’ve been racing hard this summer and I’m really pleased with the sugar-grip deck created at Mylor,” says David Grylls. “Granulated sugar makes for a non-slip surface which is natural, hard-wearing, fit for purpose – and not in the least bit sticky!”

David has owned Helen of Durgan since 2015, when he rescued her from some years of neglect in Greece and had her fully restored by her original makers – Spirit Yachts in Suffolk.

“Spirits are the most beautiful yachts and becoming the owner of one has been a dream come true for me,” says David. “Helen is my pride and joy and we’ve had a brilliant summer racing her – and she was looking her absolute best from this year’s work carried out at Mylor.”

Helen of Durgan out sailing in the Carrick Roads, just off of Falmouth

If Helen of Durgan’s immaculate lines look familiar it might be because one of her bigger sisters, the Spirit 54’ Soufriere was 007’s yacht of choice in Casino Royale. When Daniel Craig’s James Bond sailed her into Venice she became the first sailing yacht to go up the Grand Canal in 300 years.
Rumour has it that a Spirit 46’ will also feature in the latest Bond film after Craig was spotted sailing a navy version of Helen of Durgan during filming off Jamaica earlier this summer. Whether she too has a sugar-grip deck is also open to speculation.

Helen of Durgan being sailed on the Carrick Roads