Fixing an old wooden boat is a little like trying to dam a river with a rake. The more you try to stem the flow, the more you issues you find. I don’t pretend to know a lot about ship building or repair, as my experience is limited to fiberglass boat repair, which is child’s play in comparison (which qualifies me enough to say I know enough to know I know nothing). But reader BuckarooBob has taken up the challenge of restoring this old wind rider and, like all old boats, it’s a story and a half.
Sometime, in the early 70s, someone installed wheel steering on my sailboat, rather than the old tiller. Mechanically, they did a good job, and wheel steering is certainly easier than wrestling with a tiller on long cruises.
But the mechanic was no shipwright, and the hydraulic piston lived inside a box that created a great “rot shadow”. As I did the exploratory surgery on the transom, I discovered rot on the fir deck, leeching down through the deck into the large oak timbers that give strength to the rudder post and throughout the stern–where the backstay anchors the pulling power of the sails and the mast.
Demolition is the easy part. Reconstruction is where the true challenges lie. But it’s only wood, not flesh and blood. And it’s a Labor of Love–and someday when I’m riding at anchor, with my sturgeon line plumbing down into the depths, I’ll take satisfaction in the fruits of my Labors–and all us old retired guys like to sit around whittlin’ anyway, right?
We don’t envy the work ahead of you, Bob, but as you said it’s a labor of love and because of that you’ll never count the hours spent working on it. That’s reason enough right there to feel good about what you’re doing. And of course, after it’s done you’ll have an awesome boat and everyone who laughed and shook their heads will be asking for rides.
Toolmonger Photo Pool [Flickr]