There is a very good reason for the seemingly slow progress we’re currently making on this job. Well actually two reasons. The first is simple finances. Boat parts cost money. Money comes from working, which takes time – time away from working on your boat projects… It’s a downward spiral if you’re not careful! The other reason is simply that we need to do some sailing on a regular basis to remind us WHY we’re going through the effort, expense and discomfort of restoring this old boat for our future plans. Last summer we took 12 days and cruised downeast from our home base in Rockland, getting as far as Northeast Harbor before we turned around to head back home. Each day was a different adventure, a quiet cove or beach or harbor. We needed that. But there has been progress! I decided early on that the cockpit sole wasn’t as stiff as it should be, so the steering pedestal had to come out in order to strengthen that area. This turned out to be a good decision again, as one bolt broke off easily during the disassembly, and the others were partially eaten away by corrosion. I can just imaging the effect on boat control in a seaway if the helmsman were to be thrown against the wheel, and the whole steering station then carried away with one of us holding on for dear life… So the pedestal is in the basement for stripping and repainting, and the cockpit is clear for eventual repairs to the laminate. Since we’re considering installing a hatch in the sole to allow for easy access to the expanded battery bank (420 amp/hr, as opposed to the original 105), this may all work in our favor. Meanwhile the process of removing anything that needs to be replaced or repaired has continued in the cabin as well. The first mate has graciously devoted a good bit of time to removing furniture from the port side – the remains of which are in the basement to serve as patterns for the eventual rebuild, and we can now see the structure of the hull inside, and begin to visualize how things will look “someday”.
The rudder has been removed, too. As you might expect, that’s quite a story in itself, but much to my surprise, it was easy digging below the stern, and I only needed to go down about 18″ to allow the 27″ rudder stock to clear the hull. It could have been much worse!
Why remove the rudder? It’s made up of mahogany planks, about 3/4″ thick, which are held together with multiple bronze nuts, and screws that range from 5″ to 15″ in length. Because the boat has been on the hard for so long, the wood has shrunk to the point that there are 1/4″ gaps between planks. That’s “normal”, in the wooden boat world, but the amount of movement of the planks now makes me wonder just how strong those old bronze screws are… More investigation – and possibly even a coating of fiberglass to encase the wood – will make me confident that this rather important bit of boat is up to it’s eventual task.
And then there’s wood! Back last fall, one of my neighbors was asked to clean out an old barn, and he found a stack of nice looking planks that looked like mahogany. He asked me if I wanted it. Um, how fast can you say “Yes!” without being unseemly?
That stack of wood turned out to be about 200 board/feet of Honduran mahogany, and “They ain’t makin’ that no more”, as the saying goes. After planing, I have wood to replace the cockpit combings (9′ x 14″), and possibly enough to replace the entire toe-rail too. Oh, did I mention it was free? And I bartered for the use of the planer…
And what about the deck-recore job? Slow and uncomfortable, but progress is being made! We’ve made it from the bow, where we found a small area of serviceable core just ahead of the couch roof, all the way along the port (left) side deck and across the stern, where we found none. Indeed, someone had clearly gone to the trouble of removing the core and re-skinning along the port side by the couch roof, but that repair hadn’t held, and was completely saturated and worthless. Out it all came, and I created a new tool for stripping out the old balsa fibers from the edges of the opening. That, and my circular saws set at a depth of 3/8″, are all the tooling required for this stage. Well, and a full-face respirator to protect eyes and lungs, and earplugs for the ears, and coveralls for the skin, and gloves for the hands…
Yeah, it’s a right nasty job.