Adventures of Orla: how to make a dream come true by restoring a classic sailboat


When we heard about Emma and Sergei's story through social media, we were especially excited about the perseverance and dedication that this adventurous couple put into what they do.

Sergei, a native of Latvia, and his British partner Emma live in the UK and are huge fans of the sea. They dreamed of owning their own sailboat and enjoying their great passion, which is sailing.

The restored boat that this post is dedicated to is a Sparkman & Stephens Swan 40, built in 1971 by the Nautor shipyard.

Orla, the name Emma and Sergei have given to this beautiful 12-meter sailing yacht, was in a very bad state when the couple found it, having even suffered a fire in part of its interior. In spite of this, and after evaluating the project, Emma and Sergei decided to make their dream a reality and begin the restoration work

Through their Instagram profile, we have been able to see the whole process from the beginning, and it couldn't have been more beautiful



If you would like to know how the whole process of restoring the ship and replacing its engine started, and discover what Orla looks like now, read on below.


Emma and Sergei launched their Instagram profile with this post in September 2021, where they introduced us to the sailboat Orla, kicking off the project with a lot of work ahead.



Let's get to work! The sailboat had been out of action for several years and required a lot of restoration before it could sail again.

Since the couple's budget was tight and they were going to do the work themselves, they decided to plan the entire project by listing all the tasks and prioritising them in order of need.

As we could see in one of their first posts, the most urgent jobs were to remove the old engine, install a new marine engine, change the water exhaust and water aspiration systems, replace the most damaged rigging and refurbish the hull, which needed a good clean and a fresh application of protection products, such as antifouling gel.



After this initial assessment and work plan, it was time to replace the engine, one of the fundamental jobs that were essential for the boat to perform at its best.

Orla's old engine was in a very bad state. After looking into several options on the market, the couple decided to contact the Solé Diesel distributor in their area and purchase a 27 hp Solé MINI-29 engine.

This is one of the iconic models from the Solé Diesel motor boats range and one of the oldest in the catalog. It is a very compact, mechanically injected, 3-cylinder, 3600 RPM marine engine that offers reliable performance and is very easy to maintain.

It is manufactured with a Mitsubishi engine block and is adapted for marine use entirely in our Solé plant, located in Barcelona.

It was undoubtedly a great choice. It is perfect for repowering sailboats of this kind, as our special feet for boat motors can be adapted to make the engine replacement easier and allow the new engine to be fitted into the space left by the old one, avoiding the need to carry out complex and costly work to adapt the bedplate. This makes the process of changing the boat engine much simpler and less expensive

With the engine fully installed, the propulsion equipment was now up and running successfully, bringing Emma and Sergei one step closer to realizing their dream.




At the same time, we were also able to follow the hull restoration process on their interesting profile, which began with a laborious sanding job. Emma did not hesitate to put on her overalls and dedicate days to the process of removing the old antifouling treatment.

As for Sergei, he showed us his skills by climbing the masts to check the rigging and work on the spinnaker and its pole.

He also shared the process of overhauling and repairing the rudder and navigation systems.

As the days passed by, once they had finished sanding and cleaning the hull, they proceeded to apply coats of antifouling gel and paint. Thanks to this and the refitting work to upgrade the navigation lights with LEDs, little by little, Orla began to take shape, losing her dilapidated appearance to become the beautiful vessel she is today.




Thanks to this and the refitting work to upgrade the navigation lights with LEDs, little by little, Orla began to take shape, losing her dilapidated appearance to become the beautiful vessel she is today.


Emma: "bringing the old back to life".


Undoubtedly, what amazed us most about Sergei and Emma was their determination to excel, their enthusiasm, and their versatility when it comes to doing any job.

Not only were we able to see them carrying out all the complex work we have detailed, but they also sewed sails, made bags out of the old sails, cleaned all the surfaces, and repaired a wide variety of accessories for both the boat and the engine, made and welded solutions for the exhaust or propulsion system, repaired leaks and fixed the teak on the deck, always under the watchful eye of their precious Golden Retriever, Raley, their great companion who accompanies them on their adventures.

Orla is currently sailing successfully. And, although there are still touch-ups and improvements to be made, Emma and Sergei are already enjoying their journeys and are highly motivated to continue with this beautiful project that makes them so happy.


We thank you for sharing this beautiful story with us and, of course, for trusting Solé Diesel engines to bring Orla to life.