I am in the process of restoring a 1975 Meltem. I will be documenting the process in a website I am building. More like archeology than restoration, carefully removing everything that can be removed, cleaning, repairing and mounting back.
The good news for all of you, Amel owners: you can expect a long, long life from your Amel. Well worth your investment!
After 46 years, the construction is impeccable (hull, stratification, bulkheads, hardware attachments) with no major cracks. The Meltem is still rock solid. And so are the subsequent yachts (Maramu, Super Maramu and others).
We have 1,500 liters of fresh water in the keel: no gelcoat cracks, keel bolts intact.
We have 850 liters of diesel in two stainless steel tanks. As the old folks say, they don't make them like that anymore.
Everything used by Amel craftsmen has stood the test of time: varnished wood, custom stainless steel hardware, cabinet doors, kitchen sink or bathroom features (storage cabinets, first aid cabinets, shower heads, shower pan). The African mahogany used (for the table, the bunks, the lee boards etc) is in perfect shape.
Goiots ports, aluminum hatches: all impeccable (just new gaskets) and not leaking.
We tore apart the electrical and plumbing systems: all stainless bolts and screws were first quality and easy to remove. The hoses (I forgot the name of the French company making them) were still impeccable.
The hydraulic steering is not leaking and is perfect.
The frames holding the engine (it was upgraded to a massive 125hp Yanmar by the previous owner) are rock solid.
Amel yard had that sense of perfection only found with the early Mac computers (as Steve Job used to say, there is pride in that perfectly hidden screw no consumer will ever see). Every panel is easy to remove, every piece of wood still fits perfectly, every door closes. And you still have that homey feeling of warm quarters and curved doors.
The bad news: as Bill Rouse loves to say, every problem or failure we encountered was due to a modification by a boatyard (most of them are mere handymen).
We had the misfortune to have work done at a yard in Port Napoleon over last winter. Just about everything they touched (plumbing, electrical, carpentry) created troubles immediately or we found the problems before it was too late.
Leaks were patched up pouring epoxy, plywood repairs were epoxied to the hull (I assumed it is faster than using bolts), cheap plastic Chinese shower heads we broke the first night. As the yard said “we don’t repair here, we change”. If you own an Amel stay away from that place then!
I jumped into the trash to recover the old bronze shower heads, screwed them back with a new o ring et voila!
I crawled into deep lockers to investigate: the yard did not bother pulling the old wires. They just drilled new holes, ran wires and hoses with nothing to protect from chafing! So different from the Amel yard where every hole through plywood of GRP was coated to prevent water damage and fitted with anti chafing material.
Lessons: don’t let yards mess up your Amel. If you let them do it, they’ll drill more holes in the hull and will install inferior products simply because it is what their wholesaler has in stock.
Follow strictly Bill Rouse’s suggestions and take things into your own hands. If you do, you will still enjoy your Amel thirty years from now (if not you, someone else will) :-)
John Bernard "JB" Duler
Meltem # 19, Western Med