HOWB 123 – Interview | Russ Bulley of the UK on the Restoration of his 1954 Wooden Sloop Garnet

by admin on February 6, 2014


Today’s interview is with Chartered Engineer Russ Bulley of Northhampton, England. Russ contacted me by email to tell the restoration story of his 35′ LOA, 1954 double ended wooden sloop (convertible to cutter rig) Garnet. She was restored over a 3 year period ending in 2011. My email response to Russ went something like this: “Let’s do a podcast!” to which Russ quickly obliged.

It all started with a job transfer from the UK to Malaysia 7 years ago. Russ became interested in acquiring a wooden boat with a heritage/pedigree, and wasn’t afraid of one needing “restoration”. His search took him to nearby New Zealand where he purchased Garnet. She had a solid hull, but needed a deck, engine, and other work not yet discovered.

Over a 3 year period, she was lovingly restored by local New Zealand shipwrights to her original beauty. Unfortunately the original restoration estimates were woefully inadequate to properly complete the project. After much nail biting and contemplation, Bulley went forward with the project spending a significant amount more than originally intended. In Russ’s words “I could have bought a new Beneteau for what I spent on Garnet!”

When the restoration was complete in 2011, Bulley had her shipped home to the UK where she arrived in June 2012. Since then he has enjoyed sailing and tinkering with her at her home port of Suffolk Yacht Harbour. One day he hopes to pass Garnet and her special heritage onto his children.

Garnet was constructed by boatbuilder Allan William Birchall of New Zealand (see bio below) and is a one-off design loosely based on the lines of Norwegian Naval Architect Colin Archer’s (1832 – 1921) boats. She was launched in 1954, but a large piece of her history is missing. If you know anything about the vessel, please contact me and I will put you in touch with Russ. Thanks!

Click on green player button above to listen to full interview with Russ about Garnet, and also hear about his fascinating involvement with historic steamships.

Here’s some pics to enjoy:

Garnet is beautiful after complete restoration. Photo courtesy of Russ Bulley.

Garnet is beautiful after complete restoration. Photo courtesy of Russ Bulley.

Garnet on the hard

Garnet anxiously waiting to get in the water and have some fun. Photo courtesy of Russ Bulley.

Alf Birchall Pg 1 Bio

Bio of Allan Birchall - builder of Garnet. Page 2 of 2.

Bio of Allan Birchall – builder of Garnet. Page 2 of 2.

Thanks for doing the interview Russ.  I wish you the best in all their future endeavors with Garnet.


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