The Hong-Kong built Taipan 28, of which some 60 were built and about 20 still sail in Hong Kong waters, is somewhat similar to the Cheoy Lee Newell Cadet (aka Offshore 27). It also resembles the Pearson Triton design in some ways. This 1960's era design is handsome and the boat is generally quite seaworthy, but like any boat they do have some weak points. It differs from the Triton notably in the quality of construction and materials, such as her concrete/iron ballast instead of lead and a lighter GRP layup that can lead to excessive hull flexing and contribute to bulkhead delamination, such as what happened to this particular 1972 Taipan, called Islander, during a rough passage across the South China Sea. The Taipan is also prone to osmosis. As you will see from the photos and descriptions below, with some modifications, the Taipan makes a very capable cruiser. Her listed displacement is 7850lbs; ballast 3085lbs, and 4'6" draft.


Islander preparing to depart Trinidad. Her 6'10" pram dinghy stows on the foredeck.


The Taipan 28 has a modified full keel with cutaway forefoot not unlike the Pearson Triton.

After purchasing her in 1993 in Hong Kong, Swiss computer programmer, Theo Bodmer, took a couple months to refit and equip her for offshore cruising. Fortunately, the boat had a new aluminum mast instead of the original wooden spar. To stop extensive deck leaks, Theo removed the worn out teak deck and with my help he cut away the top layer of fiberglass deck and replaced the rotted plywood core. We then laboriously block sanded the deck level, reglassed and painted it. This job alone took a full month. It was worth the effort to finally put an end to deck leaks.

The old broken-down British diesel engine and all its appendages were removed and replaced with a 4HP longshaft outboard.The dealer claimed it was an identical model to the 5HP motor, but was labeled a 4HP for Hong Kong registration purposes. It may have had a slight difference in the carburetor. In any case, it proved adequate and pushed the boat along at near 5 knots.

Theo sailed Islander from Hong Kong through the Philippines and Indonesia, across the South Indian Ocean to Madagascar, around the South African cape to Brazil and on to Venezuela. In Trinidad we noticed the hull had developed severe osmosis blisters mostly in the keel area. Since Theo had planned to haul the boat to store for one year and return to work in Switzerland, we chose this time to make the repairs. We began by grinding out some 65 blisters (a few went right through the hull!) of all sizes up to the diameter of a dinner plate. After rinsing and letting the hull dry the rest of the year, when Theo returned we scrubbed it with acetone and patched the holes with fiberglass and epoxy resin and then put one layer of medium weight cloth over the entire hull below the waterline. We didn't strip the entire gelcoat because there were a limited number of relatively large blisters, not hundreds of tiny ones. We did not bother trying to locate a properly calibrated moisture meter. We were making a repair that was low cost and "adequate" - not seeking perfection.


After grinding out 65 blisters and letting the hull dry several months, we prepare to make repairs.


First several layers of fiberglass cloth were applied to build up the blistered areas and then the hull was sealed in a layer of fiberglass cloth and epoxy resin.

Other parts of Islanders extensive ongoing refit took place while in Trinidad or earlier during our stay in South Africa. Since I was doing most of the work on the boat and because Theo admired the layout and equipment on Atom, it's not surprising Islander's refits have made her look much like my own boat. Theo decided the main salon layout with only one bunk and a huge galley was not what he needed. Most bulkheads, some of which were rotten, were ripped out and a completely new interior installed with numerous watertight bulkheads and sealed lockers. This strengthened her immensely and provided a high degree of resistance to sinking. I installed a Lavac vacuum-type toilet, also behind a watertight bulkhead. As on Atom, I built two integral water tanks right into the hull under the V-berth and under the cockpit footwell which added strength to the hull as well as maximizing the water-carrying capacity.


Rebuilding Islander from the bilge up with watertight bulkheads.


Looking aft from main cabin toward new bulkheads being installed in port cockpit locker.


Forward cabin with two locker doors propped up. This area under the V-berth was raised above the waterline and contains an integral water tank and four individually sealed lockers.


Chain locker has sealed door. Open-topped hanging locker to port and head behind door to starboard.


Looking aft through main salon. The simple galley to port contains a sink with foot pump, dish locker outboard of counter and below sink, and a single burner Primus-type kerosene stove that can be hung on a gimbaled bracket or bolted to countertop.


Looking forward the radio locker is behind the white door to starboard and below it is a fold-up table in gray formica with teak trim.

Other repairs included replacing all eight lifeline stanchions and bases and rebedding the hatches and ports. A Profurl jib-furling gear and new jib were added and the rigging strengthened by adding an inner forestay and intermediate aft shrouds attached to the deck just behind the aft lower shrouds. To ensure several more years of trouble-free self-steering, we replaced all the bearings on the venerable Aries wind vane I had bought new in 1983 and passed on to Islander in Hong Kong. In Trinidad the outboard motor bracket was removed and I installed an outboard well in the lazarette.


To make room for a 5 HP motor required constructing a raised box.


For increased ventilation when motoring the cover is set aside.


The outboard well box with motor and covers removed.


There is still room for storing lines outside the inner box.


Outboard motor in place. The actual resting loaded waterline is near where the motor shaft meets the hull.

Details of this project can be read at the online article The Inside Outboard.

Islander has more then the average number of electronic gadgets for a small cruiser including: Furuno radar, two GPS units (besides a Plath sextant and navigation tables), VHF and SSB transceivers with an e-mail modem. All power is generated by two solar panels on swiveling mounts on the stern pulpit and stored in a 400 amp hour, 12-volt bank of four deep-cycle six-volt batteries. Islander carries no EPIRB or life raft or much else in the way of so-called safety equipment that today's sailors feel they must have. Instead, with her extensive watertight bulkheads and strengthened hull, deck, and rigging, she is built to be her own liferaft. As a possible last refuge, she carries a fiberglass/plywood pram dinghy with built-in buoyancy.

When Theo needed to quickly transfer his business to Brazil, he asked my wife and I to sail Islander there for him. Because I considered Islanders equipment and structural integrity beyond question for a boat of her size I felt no qualms in taking her on that extended offshore passage back to Brazil. More on that trip and Islander's refit can be found in the following online articles.

The Long Way Back to Brazil (Part One) Delivery of a 28-foot sloop from Venezuela to Brazil.

Back to Brazil (Part Two) Sailing from Bermuda to Flores Island, Azores.

Back to Brazil (Part Three) From Flores to Cape Verde to Brazil.

The Inside Outboard - Building an outboard well box into a Taipan 28

More Photos of Taipans in Hong Kong--Click Here