LOISOS + UBBELOHDE : Architecture . Energy  



L+U has had a history with boats starting with racing campaigns in the Soling and Dragon class in 1966 to 1974. More recently George participated in two Pacific Cups races to Hawaii. L+U currently owns two boats, Shireen and a J24. Current plans in the boatworks include the completion and relaunching of Shireen, the construction of a wooden runabout and the building of a modern version of a Dragon class boat.  In addition, there are a number of small boats in the inventory including a cold molded, canoe an ultralight Kayak, and others. These activities are planned to happen in our new home at 1500 Ferry Point in the old NAS base in Alameda, an appropriate place for boats.

The main activity will be the complete restoration of Shireen. She was originally was built at Camper & Nicholson’s yard No 406 in 1934.  She is a traditional English Ketch designed by Frederick Shepherd (1869–1969) a prominent English boat designer. He designed 84 yachts over his 45-year career, and usually supervised the construction of each yacht. This may account for the relatively small number of designs over a long career. He became known for yachts that had attractive lines and better space down below than their racing equivalents.

Above: 1935 Shireen in a nice following sea.

Shireen is a sea kindly ocean-going boat. She has circumnavigated twice, weathered a typhoon in the Pacific and made nine Atlantic crossings. She was mentioned in the October 1968 copy of the National Geographic as part of the famous “Dove” story where they met up in Port Louis Mauritius in a “convention of deep-water vagabonds.” Shireen's drawings and records survived the WWII Blitz and are still held by Camper & Nicolson. We are using them to guide the restoration.

Above: 1934 original drawings for Shireen by Camper & Nicholson.

Her construction is carvel planked Burma Teak over double sawn oak frames typically with two steam-bent fir frames in between. She is copper fastened on an elm keel.

British Official Number: 163639
US Coast Guard Official Number: 554353

Her measurements are: 

  • Length over all (LOA): 63’
  • Length on deck (LOD): 51’
  • Beam: 11’-5”
  • Draft: 8-4”
  • Displacement: 22 tons

The work to date has concentrated on improving the integrity of her hull.  We have so far rebuilt the backbone, the stem, sternpost, and the rudder.  We have also started a program for replacing most of the metal on the boat. To that end we have fabricated all 46 new floors out of silicon bronze to replace the wrought iron ones she originally had and are in the process of refastening her by replacing all copper rivets with bronze bolts with custom bronze heads and bolts.  We are replacing about 10 percent of the double sawn frames that suffered from iron sickness and have repaired a small number of steam-bent frames that had some fractures.  We plan within the year to install new floors and refasten the hull.  After that we will go after the hanging and lodging knees and then caulk and paint the hull.

Above: Shireen in her current shop in Martinez.

The restoration approach to this project is to maintain as much original wood as possible. All planking remains original, the backbone is original, the stem is 50% original and the sternpost is mostly original. The rudder is all original solid teak. The metals have to be replaced as they have been compromised by the corrosive nature of the ocean and in many cases metal fatigue.  Unlike museum artifacts that are preserved in their current state for as long as possible, Shireen is a working boat; she is going to go back to the ocean and she has to be safe and seaworthy. For that reason, we will update all of her critical parts. Her engine, for example, will be replaced by a modern electric motor.  When she was built, diesel engines were not as comonplace as they are today. In any case we do not have her original 12 hp diesel, (at some point it was replaced with a 60 hp 1974 Detroit diesel).  The modern power plant will not shake the boat loose, as the last one did, and will be much more reliable in starting than any internal combustion engine. The source of electricity will most likely be a combination of renewables; a diesel generator combined with a sizable battery storage system. We believe that this will fit her character much better than a lumbering old diesel.

The work on her has been complex, trying to understand and recreate traditional boat building techniques that evolved over many centuries and modern engineering that tries to reflect first principles. We have found ourselves learning traditional skills, like bronze casting and caulking, doing extensive material research and in short making tools to make tools to make hardware.  An example of this is the combination of traditional casting techniques with modern CAD – CAM  processes. As part of this process we built our own CNC machine and created a process of direct 3D carving molds in resin sand.  To accomplish this, we have reached out to people who know the process and convinced them to work with us.  This includes a master casting expert from the Crucible and Diablo College who was instrumental in helping us set up our foundry and the casting process. We have also engaged master boat builders and master caulkers.

Above: Current progress on Shireen.

Traditional boat building was based on a trial and error and issues such as creep, hogging and other long-term structural issues did not usually come to play as boats did not last more than a few decades. As Shireen is getting close to 90 years old, we are looking at making sure the old timbers are up to the task. There are a few areas where some additional bracing and triangulation will produce a stiffer hull, one less prone to warping or shifting but still able to allow the normal swelling process of wood in maintaining a good seam. We have also been borrowing techniques from others, like those restoring cathedrals many centuries old, and trying to understand the aging of wood fibers.  We are using a few modern methods including the use of different epoxy formulations and chemistry. Nevertheless, when necessary, bad wood will be replaced and, for example, in cases such as iron sickness (oak next to wrought iron) the wood is not salvageable and will be replaced. In cases like this we rebuild using similar woods and modern adhesives.  Another case is the deck.  The deck was built of Norway pine and has seen better days.  We are debating the correct way to do this. A teak deck is an obvious replacement, but the opportunity to add a new horizontal shear plane by using something modern like plywood is conceptually appealing.  Making that look appropriate by using thin teak on the deck would make it easier on the eyes and feet. We are wrestling with issues like this all the time.

Our plan for her is to make her as good, or better, than new.

Here is a very brief list of what we plan to do in the next five years:

  • Replace deck
  • Rebuild interior
  • All new masts and rigging
  • All new plumbing, tanks, hydraulics. 
  • New ground tackle
  • All new auxiliary propulsion (either diesel electric or pure electric)
  • All new electronics


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Above: 1934 Shireen under sail.















Above: 1934 Sailplan.

Above: 1966 image of Shireen under sail.





Above: Looking forward with installation of new bronze floors.





















Above: The new bronze floors,up to 60 lbs from precise CNC mold making and casting.