Monday, December 1, 2014

Close Call

I haven't been doing much on the boat over the past 2 weeks, but I have just about finished up the port bulkhead and just need to install the final trim pieces and re-install the chainplate.  I'm going to try and get to it this week, but the holidays have thrown everything off (the cold doesn't help either).

Speaking of cold, we had some really cold weather the past week and finished off with a day before Thanksgiving snowstorm that dropped about a foot of really heavy snow that made for a big mess. Awfully pretty, but I'm not ready for winter yet. The heavy snow knocked down hundreds of trees in the area and we were one of 300,000 customers without power over the Thanksgiving holiday.  Fortunately we have a big wood stove to keep us warm and the in-laws were only about an hour away and didn't lose power, so we went there for the feast.

The boat and shed narrowly missed getting clobbered during the storm by an old maple that decided to attempt a kamikaze run but fortunately missed. Just barely.  It took me about an hour to cut and pile the attacker and will use it for the woodstove next year.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Bulkhead Progress

After a bit of a reprieve from normal New England temperatures this time of year, the thermometer has started to head down.  The temperature yesterday never got much above 38 degrees F, but unlike previous boat work years, I was able to get a bunch of work done down in the cabin with an electric heater and the hatches shut.  It was quite cozy.

Before installing the beadboard I put a coat of semi-gloss acrylic latex paint (good grade household interior paint) on the front and back of all the boards.  Once that dried, I picked up a few tubes of construction adhesive from the local hardware store and got to work.  A note on construction adhesives: there are so many different types I had trouble making a decision.  I hope what I chose will work; it's a general adhesive that should bond wood to multiple surface types so I'll cross my fingers.

The process for installing all the boards was simple. Lay each one down backside facing up and run a wavy pattern of adhesive along the back and then press into place.  Repeat until done.  I ended up using just 1 of the 3 tubes I purchased.  It was way easier than I thought it would be and didn't run into a single snag.  I had blocked off 2 hours of time to get it done, but found it only took about 30 minutes, so I ended up putting another coat of paint on before I left. 

After letting it set up overnight, I came back the next day and use a few pieces of paper to template the section around the chainplate bolts for a piece of mahogany.  I didn't want to put the beadboard there, because the soft wood would crush under the tightened down chainplate bolts.  I took the template back to the shop and cut out another piece of the old coamings and planed it down to 5/8". I traced out the template pattern and cut out the shape on the wood with a jig saw.  

I headed back to the boat with a rasp and the new chainplate board (I don't know what to call it) and after a bit of filing away, I had the board fitting nice and snug.  I screwed the rest of the trim (I still have a few small pieces left to make) and was happy to see that everything fit quite nicely.  Of course all the trim had to come off to get sanded and the first of several coats of satin varnish (I'm just using Helmsman Urethane for the interior) before final install, but it's looking more done than not now.  

So given that both bulkheads are almost identical in size, I can estimate now that for each bulkhead the cost breakdown is as follows: $14 per package of beadboard (used just shy of 1 package), $3 for each tube of construction adhesive (used 1), and $3 for a box of 25 3/4" stainless steel #6 screws (will be enough for both sides).  This brings my grand total for each side to about $18.50.  Of course, I had free trim mahogany so if I had needed to purchase it, I would say it would have probably doubled the price, but still one of the cheaper boat projects I can think of. 

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

A Cheap, Fun Project

Now that the boat is back in working condition and the topsides are squared away, it's time to turn my attention down below.  The interior was never in bad shape, but it needed a little updating.  The woodstove has been gone since I've owned the boat but I never bothered to patch up the hole in the bulkhead and the steel heat shield that was leftover.  It just looked a bit crappy and wanted to give the interior a more classic look.

The hole in the bulkhead had to be fixed but there weren't that many options that didn't require ripping the entire bulkhead out and replacing with a new one.  After a bunch of googling, I realized that I could simply cover the bulkhead and discovered that beadboard is commonly used in classic wooden yachts.  There were two options, beadboard plywood or real beadboard.  I've never been a huge fan of beadboard plywood and decided that it would be a bit of a pain to cut out and fit a big piece of plywood with lots of crazy angles and curves.

I found some solid pine beadboard at the local hardware store and decided to give it a try. I started in the center of the boat where the bulkhead meets the door to the head.  Using this as the 'straight' line, I measured the length with a tape measure and simply cut the board to fit it.  The boards are only 3/8" thick so it was easy to cut with a Japanese pull saw. Then it was just a matter of cutting the next one at an angle slightly shorter and generally following the contour of the headliner.  I ended up at the chainplate on the outboard edge of the bulkhead.  It didn't have to be perfect because the edges will be covered with a mahogany trim strip.

I really wanted to keep this project cheap because it's entirely cosmetic.  The total cost of the beadboard for both sides of the bulkhead was just $28, but I didn't really have a large supply of wood suitable for trim (ie. mahogany/sapele).  I considered going over to the sawmill to see what I could find, but realized that the old partially rotten cockpit coaming boards that I replaced were sitting on top of my woodpile holding down a tarp and might have some decent wood left in them. 

I cut a chunk out of it and ran it through the thickness planer and found that the wood was still in good shape once I planed off the front and back surfaces.  Excellent, free Honduras mahogany!  I proceeded to plane down the rest of the coamings and then cut out a bunch of 1 inch strips for the trim.

Some of the trim that ran along the cabin headliner needed to be curved so taped up a paper template in the cabin and trimmed it so it fit perfectly along the curves of the headliner.  Then I traced the pattern on a wide piece of the planed mahogany (I planed the old coamings to 3/8") and cut it out with a jig saw.  I took a rasp and rounded over one of the exposed edges and took it back over to the boat for a test fitting.  I was pleased to find that everything fit pretty darn well and I would only need to make some minor adjustments to have a perfect fit.

To finish up, I took all the cut beadboard and gave the front and back a coat of acrylic latex semi-gloss interior paint.  I wanted semi-gloss so it could be easily wiped down, but didn't feel it necessary to spend much money on marine paint.  House paint would do just fine for this since it won't be exposed to anything other than humid conditions.  

I ran out of weekend to get everything re installed, but I'm hoping I'll find some time this week.  My plan is to use some liquid nails on the beadboard backing along with some screws to get it fixed in place. Then I'll put some more paint on before getting the trim installed.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

It's a Wrap!

Well, the season's officially over.  I had the boat hauled back to the boatshed a few weeks back and have been working on getting her all tucked in for the winter.  I had Magic hauled a bit early because I didn't want to wait until it was too cold to get anything done and I especially wanted to get a few coats of varnish on the rails before the weather got ugly.  I had only gotten 5 coats on the rail before launching and I didn't want my efforts wasted and have to sand the whole thing down again.  
I was able to lay down 2 more coats over the past few weeks so I'll have a head start next spring.  I also got the engine winterized and the fuel filled and a number of other minor things done.  I'm starting to ramp up to rewire the boat and do some interior cosmetic work but that won't get started for a while.  

In the meantime, the folks at Good Old Boat magazine were kind enough to publish an article of mine that detailed the restoration.  It's a 2 part article and I just received the first issue (November/December 2014).  If your reading my site then chances are you either have an old boat or want one and you will love Good Old Boat magazine.  Every issue has lots of info and usually showcases somebody's project boat with lots of good technical info.  Definitely check them out at

Magic on Good Old Boat

Monday, September 8, 2014

Checking In

Not much to say right now other than I've been enjoying being back on the water.  The countless hours I spent in that godforsaken shed have finally paid off and I have enjoyed every minute on the boat.  Nothing of note has gone wrong except for a halyard popping off the jib yesterday and getting hung up at the top of the mast.  I will probably send my son up the mast in the next week or so to retrieve it, but I have a spare halyard to use, so all is not lost.

Sadly though, I need to start thinking about the winter and what I'll be doing and where I'll be storing the boat.  Right now, it looks like she will be heading back to the shed where I can do some electrical work over the winter, but I'm not 100% sure yet.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

In the Groove

The Center Harbor approach keeps
me on my toes.
We have been out a bunch of times since I last posted and I've been pleasantly surprised at how few issues have come up.  I got the fuel leak straightened out easily enough and it's literally been smooth sailing ever since.  The biggest challenge has been getting used to handling a 35 foot boat again after so many years, but every day I start to feel more comfortable with how the boat handles (especially with a tiller now).

Another challenge that I never even considered was the fact that Lake Winnipesaukee can be a challenge to navigate.  There are literally hundreds of islands big and small and many ledges and reefs that you really have to pay attention to.  I still don't care for the 'inland navigation' system of black and red 'sticks' that mark rocks and channels.  I find them hard to spot and they seem to be everywhere and not always accurate.  I've been keeping the chart very close by and I just downloaded a Navionics charting app for the tablet that should help out.  At least there are no foul currents to deal with.

One of the double edge swords of sailing here is that the fresh water is crystal clear.  On one hand it's really nice because the swimming is terrific, but it has scared the crap out of me on a number of occasions because even though the depth may be 20 or more feet, it looks like we are about to hit bottom and slam into rocks because the water is so clear.

Aside from those minor challenges, things are good.  We've had a bunch of sails so far that have been really relaxing and everyone is starting to feel comfortable aboard after such a long absence.  It's nice to see the kids kick back and just enjoy being out on the water and have fun on the boat.

Of course the list of things to do will never be complete, but most of the sailing 'to do' items have been crossed off, although a few things came to light that I hadn't fully considered.  The first is a bonehead move on my part.  When I decided to convert back to hank on headsails earlier this year, I bought a used 135% hank on genoa and sold my 135% furling sail.  One of the main reasons I went back to hank on was that the furling 135% genoa was good for most conditions, but if the air was too light or too heavy, it was a headache.  Partially rolling it up when too windy never worked out well because it pretty much killed the shape of the sail and I couldn't sail well to windward.  In super light air it just didn't have enough area to get me moving well.  I figured going back to a hank on system would allow me to change headsails as conditions dictated.

When I originally bought the boat, the previous owner had given me a pile of older headsails in various condition and size.  They had been in storage forever, so when I pulled them out this spring I was happy to find a decent 90% working jib for the heavy stuff and a 160% genoa for the light air.  I cleaned them up and tucked them away for launch day.  The 160% had a furling luff and no hanks, but I must have forgotten about needing to have hanks sewn on because the other day we were in some really light stuff and I had my son rig it (14 year old who are willing to do so are like breathing roller furlers, just hungrier).  He got it up on deck and said "Um, dad, I can't find the hanks".  It's a big sail, so I just thought he was being a space cadet, but as I went forward it dawned on me that I never had it converted.  There was a bit of eye rolling when I told him "Ooops, lets go with the 135 instead".  Anyway, I'll probably wait until the off-season to get that done.

Yes, I see the scallops in the headsail. I'll
blame it on my son :)
The second issue that came up happened late Tuesday afternoon when we went out for our first really windy sail.  The wind was steady at 21 knots and really more than I wanted to sail in this early, but I figured it would be a good shake down.  We went with the 90% jib and full main (I probably should have thrown in a reef in the main), but found that the genoa tracks were mounted too far aft and outboard to effectively pull the leech of the sail down.  The result was too much twist in the sail and a really loose leach that flapped pretty constantly when we were tight on the wind.  It was still better than partially rolling the furling sail because we easily got up over 7 knots when slightly off the wind, but I need to figure out a mounting point further forward for the sheets.  I have some decent Merriman snatch blocks that will do nicely, but I have to find the best spot.  I think I will go with a fixed point mount to simplify things a bit, but in the meantime I may just experiment and run them off one of the chainplates for now.

What's next?  More sailing, Winnipesaukee is stunningly beautiful with the islands and mountains all around.  I'm not thinking about anything else until I pull the boat in the fall.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

First Sail

I went to work really early on Friday so I could get everything I needed done before taking off at 2 PM.  I drove straight up to the yard and found that Nick had done a great job sorting out the shift linkage and now it is shifting perfectly into forward and reverse.  I had made the assumption that the position of the throw lever on the gearbox mirrored the direction.  In other words, I assumed that when you pushed the gearbox lever forward, it meant you would go forward.  Not so. Fortunately, Nick was able to easily swap the cable from the bottom of the control to the top to reverse the throw.  Now it does the right thing and slips into forward, neutral, and reverse without any hesitation.  Perfect.

I ran the engine for about an hour and the temperature maxed out at about 175, which is about what it used to do, so no overheating issues. With the engine running nicely, it was time to shove off.  I was a bit apprehensive because I had driven the boat in many years and the last time I did, it was wheel steered, now it's a tiller.  Most importantly, the space I had to maneuver out of was very tight, and I didn't want to start playing bumper boats quite so soon. Luckily, there was no wind so it was just a matter of taking it slow.  I motored through the docks and picked up the mooring on the first shot even though I misjudged the momentum a bit and had to manhandle the pendant onto the cleat.  I closed things up and took the launch back in and called it a day.  

This morning I got the family going as early as I could and we drove up to the boat with the plan of sailing over to Center Harbor where our mooring is located.  It's only about a 15 mile trip, but I had never been there before by water and there are several tight channels to navigate through.  

We started out by hanking on the main, but when I hooked on the halyard I realized that it was on the forward side of the spreader.  I grabbed a big wrench and attached it to the shackle thinking that I would raise the halyard up to the spreader and then the weight of the wrench would be sufficient to allow the halyard to lower on it's own on the aft side of the spreader.  My son told me it wasn't enough weight, but I didn't listen. Sure enough when I got the halyard above the spreader and tried to lower it, the weight of the wrench wasn't enough and it just stayed there, swinging around. My son gave me the 'I told you so' look that only a 14 year old teenager can deliver and I decided that now was a good time to eat crow.  

Once he was satisfied, I volunteered to send him up the mast to retrieve the halyard.  He was only too happy to go aloft since he is always climbing trees and scaring his mom and I with his fearless antics in high places.  I hoisted him up and he quickly retrieved the halyard and put it on the correct side of the spreader.  

With that done, we hoisted the main, fired up the engine and dropped the mooring pendant.  We motor sailed out of the harbor as there wasn't much wind, but a light breeze filled in once out in the open lake.  We raised the 135% genoa and shut the engine down and ghosted along in the light breeze for the first time in a long, long while.  Everything was going fine; we had some leftover pizza for lunch and I finally started to relax knowing that it had finally all come together.  

The wind died out after we rounded a point out into the main lake and I decided to fire up the engine.  It started right up and we chugged along for a few minutes before I started to smell diesel. I looked into the engine compartment and saw that the secondary fuel filter was leaking fuel all over the place.  Crap...  I shut the engine down and unscrewed the filter bowl to see what the problem was.  I finally figured out that the fuel filter retaining ring was cross threaded onto the filter.  I couldn't get it to re-thread properly and I think that the retaining ring might be screwed up.  I am going to order a new ring first thing Monday morning.  

I decided that it would be best to turn back to Fay's just in case I needed a mechanic.  I spread a bunch of gasket sealer on the threads of the fuel filter in the hope that it would stop most of the leak when we needed to fire up the engine where the channel to get into Fay's narrows to about 100 feet and the wind is usually zero.  

We turned around and slowly sailed back to the harbor and made it almost all of the way through the narrow channel before the wind got too squirrely to continue without the engine.  The kids did a great job working the foredeck and making sure the genoa didn't hang up in the light air and when it came time to dump it, they worked as a team and got it down without dropping it in the water. I fired it up and eased it into gear to give us some headway while Steph held a cup underneath the filter bowl to keep the mess to a minimum.  Apparently the gasket sealer worked, because no fuel leaked for the few minutes we had the engine running before picking up the mooring again.  

So we didn't make our final destination today, but it was great to get back out sailing again and other than the fuel leak, we had a great time.  I knew there would be 'bugs' once I got back on the water, and today's trials reassured me that keeping the boat close this first year back in the water was the right decision.