Saving An Old Sailboat 
by Jason McWilliams jason@saillive.com
http://www.saillive.com/

Have you ever seen an old sailboat that has been left for dead and wondered if it would ever sail again. Well if you're like me, you always seem to be looking for just such a project.  This is the story of an old boat project which began with a sailboat my Dad picked up abused and neglected

s03.jpg (14125 bytes)We where out sailing a Hobie cat on a joy ride when we saw this old sailboat tied to a dock in the back of a marina. It was a sad sight, half full of water, a mess inside, awful paint job, some ducks had made a nest in the transom area compartment. Not all of them got out and so there where a few carcasses. The mast was still standing, and the sails were inside in mint condition.  We did not ask the marina, at the time, if the boat was available for sale. We just continued on.  A few months later we sailed by the marina again and the boat was still there.  My dad decided to call and find out what the story was with the boat. To his surprise they said come and get it, it's yours. We borrowed a trailer a few days later and headed to the lake with a friend and his power boat to tow the sail boat back to the ramp.  As we approached the boat we snapped a couple of shots to give you an idea of the shape this boat was in.

s04.jpg (13777 bytes)Our first step was to get the tiller on the back and also see if it had a swing keel or a full keel. Much to our surprise it has a fin keel and the trailer we have is set up height wise for a swing keel sailboat.  A problem we had hoped  would not happen!  We tilted the boat to one side and looked under to see if we could get a idea of how much draft the little guy has.  It did not look too deep, but the water can serve as a talented magician, as we soon found out!  More details on this farther into the story.  After the fun and games of the keel inspection we put a battery on board and a water pump to bail the water from the hull.   The water present was from the rain and the marina guy said he has pumped it out for the last five years or so, to keep it from sinking. All I have to say is" WOW!!!!!" I can't believe this boat has not gone to the bottom already!  We pumped the water for awhile and loaded the sails on to the power boat in case the sailboat decided it wanted to live at the bottom of the lake we would still have the sails and that was worth the trip. We did not know the condition of the hull at this point and for all we knew the bottom could have fallen off with the six inches of growth that was hanging off. I put the tiller on which I must say is way over kill and too thick!  At this point we tied the sailboat to the power boat and headed for the dock.

s02.jpg (16610 bytes)The towing went well and in a few shakes of a whales tale we where at the dock and ready to get the truck and trailer.

I got my truck and backed it in the water, and here is where the fun began!  We still thought that that the keel was short enough to fit on the trailer with the boat positioned normally.  But Oh No!   It was not even close.  So a little creative engineering would have to come into play.  Or in other words a little segment I am going to call "The psycho sailor".

None of us wanted to take the boat back to the dock and leave it after all that we went through to get it here and we did not have another trailer available, so this was it. I backed the truck in good and deep; you know, until the exhaust goes gurgle gurgle.  My dad then climbed on the boat and up to the bow.  He attached the trailer winch line to the bow and I began to pull the boat out.  As the boat began to exit the water it laid on it's side. It took several adjustments and some crafty words and a few banged up body parts to get it just right, but once it was on all looked good and ready for the trip home.  We still had the mast up and left it up until the top of the boat ramp at which point we stepped it down with the use of several hands and the ground to walk on.  Much safer this way.  The boat was a scary sight with the mast up because of the extreme angle that the hull was sitting on the trailer. We positioned the boat hull so that the keel was on the axle and the chine was on the left bunk.  By doing this we had the boat resting on two of the strongest spots to support the hull.  After we got the mast down and tied the hull down, we headed for home.

s01.jpg (16880 bytes)We arrived home safe and sound. We picked the boat up off the trailer by slinging it with two heavy straps and a backhoe to lift it.  After we cleaned out most of the rubbish from the boat and scraped the slime from the bottom. We began to look over the hull for dry rot and the usual problems. The hull we figured out to be a Glen L 21 design and was a composite hull. My dad discovered some dry rot on the side of the hull.  About a 2ft X 3ft patch that would be easy to replace. So he has decided to fix the boat and sail it again! I will keep a step by step of the rebuild and post it on the Saillive website as progress goes.

line.gif (878 bytes)

 

Home | Articles | Books | Columns | Projects | Links | Subscribe | Boat Index