Secondhand examples of the Express Pirate should be visually inspected for problems with the keels. If the steel stampings were not properly set in resin at the original (amateur) build stage, and if the keel bottoms have worn through on drying moorings, the ballast can rust and cause “blowing” of the GRP keels. This is a rare but easy identified problem, though if it has occurred it is expensive (though not impossible) to rectify.
All versions should be checked for rotting of encapsulated plywood where deck fittings are attached - principally the large cleat on the foredeck, the roof rails, and the foot of the mast. Damage here can be rectified with a bit of DIY effort.
The anchor locker is separated form the cabin by a plywood bulkhead. As the anchor locker is a wet locker (not sealed from rain nor sea), the plywood can rot if not adequately protected. The anchor warp is terminated on a ring mounted on this bulkhead, so it is especially important that the bulkhead is intact. The anchor locker should have a 10 mm drain hole above the waterline, but even this is present, it does not prevent the bottom of the locker having a small residue of water unless the locker has been fitted with a built-up floor.
In the cabin, the bilges should be perfectly dry, showing that deck fittings, anchor locker bulkhead, and washboard, are all intact.
The GRP hull is solidly built and problems are rare. Osmosis is not generally a problem.
The original mainsail had 4 battens and was white with a black skull-and-crossbones on a red background (Pirate) or a red X on a blue + (Express Pirate). The original working jib was white (Pirate) or blue (Express Pirate - the blue material gave good protection from sunlight when furled on its roller). The original Express Pirate spinnaker was red.
Many Express Pirates are sold complete with a trailer such as the white one shown on the Photos page of this website. As with all boat trailers, it should be examined closely for corrosion, bending, and wheel bearing failure, any of which would pose a safety hazard on the road.
The original trailer was designed for transportation, rather than for ‘trailer-sailer’ purposes, and although launching from the trailer is straightforward, the boat must usually be craned out to position it correctly on the trailer.
However, with minimal changes to the trailer and to the boat, the Express Pirate can be hauled out of the water directly on to the trailer on almost any slipway. The draft is only 2 foot 3 inches, but even so, the brakes and wheel bearings must be immersed, and at least one of the recovery party (minimum 2 persons) must be prepared to wade in. The required modifications are shown on the ‘Nyanza’ photos page of this website.
Some form of tabernacle (hinge at the foot of the mast) and a mast raising gear are also required. See the mast raising gear in Practical Boat Owner No 455 Nov 2004 page 75, notes D, E and G.
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