Sunday, March 29, 2009


This week saw progress but it isn't really apparent. I replaced or repaired more of the plywood structure and filled and smoothed around those repairs. It's not that interesting - so I'll just describe the concept (so to speak) for this restoration.

Performance is always a priority but this also has to be a creative exercise. In other words, it has to be fun. For the most part, I can only play with the stylistic side of things. The hull and deck colors, random details, and the cabin are open to interpretation.

The great thing about this boat is that the simple construction allows for experimentation without being too concerned about causing irreparable damage. There's no hull liner and almost everything is completely accessible. You can grind out and lay in a tab anywhere. However, we want to keep things simple and we don't want to add a lot of weight. I'd like the boat to have a more minimalistic aesthetic than it already has. But, it should also surprise you a little the first time you peek through the companionway.

There are a few things that will impact how the cabin will eventually look. For example, the settees and cabinets originally had a mahogany veneer with standard teak molding but they've been rebuilt to the point that they'll have to be painted. So, that's an opportunity do something unique like painting them with a metallic paint or cladding them in aluminum or both. The cabin sole (floor) wasn't in the boat when most of the water damage occurred so it can be refinished and reused. I will probably concentrate all the wood finishes in the center of the cabin with the keel trunk clad with wood as well. The boat didn't come with a ladder so I can design and fabricate one that's consistent with the overall interior aesthetic. There are a lot of possibilities and, all things considered, this should be a fun project.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

What holds up the mast

We have some structural issues. At the top of the list are the parts that keep the mast upright. It wouldn't be too swift to drop the mast in the water the first time out of the marina - or any other time for that matter. So, everything associated with the standing rigging is receiving extra attention. For example, there was a partial bulkhead in the middle of the cabin that, along with the keel trunk and cabinets, formed the anchor structure for the shrouds (there are no full height bulkheads). It was made of 3/4" marine plywood and it was wet and rotted. Since the tabbing was solid I removed only the plywood and filled the space with an epoxy/high density filler mixture. This created bolt flanges for new 1/2" aluminum bulkheads. I figured the added tensile strength of the aluminum would allow for a smaller and lower bulkhead - which will make it easier to move around the forward part of the cabin. This has also provided another opportunity for aesthetic improvement.

This shows the plywood bulkhead on the starboard side after being cut down. The red dashed line indicates it's original shape and height. You can also see that portions of cabinet top and sides have been cut away. Since the cabinet adds rigidity to the chainplate anchor points - something will have to be added to compensate for the loss of plywood. I'll cover that in a future post.

This shows the new aluminum bulkhead compared to the line of the old one.

The complete aluminum bulkhead. I couldn't cut 1/2" aluminum plate with my saber saw so each side consists of two layers of 1/4" plate - etched and laminated together with West System Epoxy.

Friday, March 20, 2009

The Sander Never Sleeps

Anyone involved in restoring or maintaining boats knows about sanding. Everything you do requires sanding. Need to reinforce a bulkhead? You'll have to sand it first. Want to fair a hull – get ready to sand and fill and sand some more. And, if you want to paint anything – you have to sand it, prime it, sand the primer, paint it and sand it, paint it again and maybe wet sand that. It’s unavoidable and never ending.

I tried to think of sanding as a Zen exercise bit I didn't attain enlightenment - only a deeper hatred of sanding. When you’re crammed into the stern of a boat in a space the size of a carry on bag, wearing all manner of claustrophobia inducing safety gear, and you’re wrapped up like a burrito by several feet of Shop Vac hose and power cables trying to sand the underside of the cockpit sole, it’s hard for the mystical transformation of consciousness thing to kick in.

Despite that I’ve developed a compulsive desire to buy power sanders. Sometimes I walk into Lowe’s or Home Depot for no apparent reason and walk out with a belt sander. I decided to collect all the sanders from the boat and the tool shed to gage the true extent of my problem. And……………..I am sick. I’m a sick man…………… It might be a compulsion or possibly a fetish, I don’t know, but I am sick, sick, sick.

And, I just realized I'm the Imelda Marcos of power sanders.

The sander collection - minus two that were ruined when water got into the boat last winter and one that burned out.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Deck Repair

The deck had several soft spots that had to be ground out and reglassed, including the area around the starboard chainplate - which is the round spot in the lower righthand corner of the photo.

The repairs along the edge of the deck were solid glass and easy to complete but there was a soft spot in the cabin house under the mast step that was about 24" in diameter. Though there is a compression strut under this area, a soft spot here would not allow for proper tension and tuning of the rig. The only thing to do was to remove the outer layer of fiberglass replace the rotted balsa core and reglass the entire area. The original builders of the boat left the balsa core exposed when they cut a slot for the keel control wire which allowed water to migrate into the core and create the soft spot. To guard against future problems in this area I filled the area directly under the mast step with a blend of epoxy, high density filler, and microfiber filler. This should not only stand up to the compression between the mast base and the strut but should also illiminate the possibilty of future water intrusion into the core.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Coach Roof Repair

The balsa core in the forward coach roof was wet and rotted around the hatch and under the mast step so I cut away the outer layer of fiberglass and removed the old coring until I hit solid dry material. I filled the cavity with solid epoxy mixed with a microfiber filler and shaped it to it's original form. It created a rigid structure for the mast step and made the hatch cutout virtually water proof. I also eliminated the horizontal portlights by glassing them over and cutting in round ones. Now the deck feels stiffer and the round ports give the boat a sort of retro modern style.

Area around hatch and mast step.

Horizontal portlight slots glassed in and faired.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Time Flies

The boys want the boat in the water and sailing. My wife and daughter want it out of the yard. Which means, everyone will happy when it turns into a real sailboat again. These pictures were taken a few months after I brought the boat back from Florida.

This is John removing the original plexiglass portlights - he's 16 now.

And this is Cort, 6 years ago, keeping the lines in order.

Will call this the "Before Photo" even though the boat is in worse shape now.

This is the future "After Photo" - courtesy of Photoshop.

The "cabin" looking back towards the companionway.