Advice on restoring /making sea-worthy - 12 ft. wooden boat

Discussion in 'Wooden Boat Building and Restoration' started by CarrieBishop, May 10, 2016.

  1. CarrieBishop
    Joined: May 2016
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    Location: Chehalis, WA, USA

    CarrieBishop Junior Member

    Hello all,
    My name is Carrie, and I have found myself suddenly thrown into the world of boat restoration. I apologize in advance for all the times I am sure I will use the wrong word - I've spent a day or so reading through the forum, and realizing that there is a whole new language and vocabulary I'll need to learn.

    Anyway, the short version is that last night we brought home a boat that we bought on Craigslist. It's 12 ft long, wooden, and I don't even know the right word for what style of boat it is. A skiff? A dinghy? A pram?

    The seller told us that it had been built by his grandfather, using a set of plans he had gotten from Sears. He wasn't sure what year, or even what decade it was built...his best guess was maybe in the 1970s or 1980s. At one point in its life it had had a motor and a windshield, he told us. He said he'd seen pictures of people waterskiing behind it.

    So, our (hopefully not too optimistic) goal is to have this little boat sea-worthy within 10 days. I have no idea if that's realistic, because I also have no idea how close or far away from that goal the boat is now. I do pretty much all day, every day between now and then free to spend on the project.

    I'm attaching pictures (assuming I can figure out how to do so.)

    So, my questions, hopefully in some sensible order:
    1) Other than sticking the boat in a pond and seeing if it sinks, is there any good way of determining whether or not this boat is "sea-worthy"?

    2) I see no obvious holes, but the paint is very obviously worn and peeling. Would heat gun stripping, sanding, and repainting be sufficient for now? Or with a boat of this age, would we be much better off to add fiberglass / epoxy before painting?

    3) Does it need some sort of additional flooring? I feel reluctant to just stand directly on the plywood hull.

    4) I know that I really need a crash course in boat part terminology. Any recommendations for a book or website or something that would be a good place to start?

    Thanks in advance for any advice or encouragement! :)
     

    Attached Files:

  2. gonzo
    Joined: Aug 2002
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    gonzo Senior Member

    You can scrape, sand and paint. Use paint from any home store, which will work fine. It is not worth fiberglassing the whole boat. Are you putting a small outboard in it?
     
  3. CarrieBishop
    Joined: May 2016
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    Location: Chehalis, WA, USA

    CarrieBishop Junior Member

    No, at least not any time soon. The little island we'll be staying on when we take this trip in 10 days requires that all vessels be human powered. So, we'll just be getting a set of oars. Any advice on that aspect would also be very welcome.
     
  4. PAR
    Joined: Nov 2003
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    Location: Eustis, FL

    PAR Yacht Designer/Builder

    Welcome to the forum.

    That could be one of several possible models and I'm not sure it matters all that much. It's a powerboat, built in a traditional plank (plywood) over frame style. These shot up in popularity in the 50's and 60's, appearing in every DIY magizine you can think of. Thousands have been built.

    It's looks to have oarlock locations, but boy you wouldn't want to row this for very long. It's just not shaped well for rowing. Sitting on the foredeck might put enough weight forward to get the transom clear for easier rowing, but it'll be quite uncomfortable with the locks in that location.

    As to repairs, well it needs lots of love, some new fasteners, some wood repairs and a few gallons of putty and paint.

    Take it down to the local puddle and drop it in. The worst that'll happen is she'll leak and you can drag her back to shore and stuff her in the back of a pickup. I'll bet she leaks from a number of locations, though no firehose sort of things, just leaks though rusted fastener holes, seams that have opened up, etc. The common locations will be down the centerline, the stem and around the transom.

    Lastly, there's no magic goo in a tube that can fix it, so when you hear this, walk away and try someone else. Basically you'll need to clean and remove bad paint, exposing problem areas, replace bad wood, restore fastener holes, then fill any dings and divots with putty, in prep for a new paint job. I hope you like sanding, as 80% of what you'll be doing, is testing how pissed your elbow can be at your new acquisition.
     
  5. CarrieBishop
    Joined: May 2016
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    Location: Chehalis, WA, USA

    CarrieBishop Junior Member

    Thanks for all the good info, PAR.
    So, it sounds like my order of operations for today will be:
    1. Buy a heat gun while I'm in town today.
    2. Find my good putty knife/scraper, and a file to sharpen it with
    3. Strap it down again this evening, and find a place to stick it in the water, and investigate for leaks.


    Good to know about how lousy it will be for rowing. What we've heard about this particular jaunt we'll be making is that it takes people longer to unload the kayak off of their car than it does to actually row across to the island.
    So for right now, all we need for this trip is, "good enough".

    Then the fun will begin to decide what to do with this little boat long term.
    Just out of curiosity....could this be adapted to be a sailing boat? Or would we be better off to clean this up, sell it, and then build a sailboat that is designed to be such?
     
  6. PAR
    Joined: Nov 2003
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    PAR Yacht Designer/Builder

    Technically, you could put a sailing rig on it, but it would sail poorly and you'd have to add quite a bit of "kit" just to make it sail. Sailboats and rowboats have a lot in common, but powerboats (like this one) are shaped differently and make lousy sail/row boats, for the most part.

    If the distance from the shore to this little island isn't that far, you can probably row to it, leaks and all. It'll leak, but these will likely be weeping types of things, so a little water swirling around isn't going to hurt much.
     
  7. messabout
    Joined: Jan 2006
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    Location: Lakeland Fl USA

    messabout Senior Member

    Carrie, that is cute little boat that has had about a zillion counterparts over the years. It is a planeing boat designed to use a motor of some sort.

    Viewed from the side it can be seen that the line of the bottom goes straight from the front to the back (the transom). A respectable rowing or sailing boat will have something of a curve that sweeps up toward the transom such that the transom part of the boat is clear of the water. Not so of a planeing type boat such as that little jewel.

    Par is one of our forum gurus, you can believe what he has written. Never mind that it is the wrong type of boat for rowing or sailing, you can still row it a moderate distance but you will use extra calories to do so. Rowing it a long distance would challenge your motives.

    The term "sea worthy" is not exactly the right words if you are to use the more often understood meaning. Stay with us you and will learn of the old salt language quirks in short order.
     
  8. CarrieBishop
    Joined: May 2016
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    Location: Chehalis, WA, USA

    CarrieBishop Junior Member

    PAR,
    Ok, sounds like for rowing or sailing, this is the wrong tool for the job, but for our purposes, should do in a pinch. My husband is out strapping it down to the trailer right now, and we'll go stick it in a "puddle", and see what happens. :) I suspect his comfort level will be challenged by the idea of using it even if it has any leaks, but we'll see.

    Messabout,
    Thanks for the encouragement! I do find her to be a rather charming little boat, and we got her for what I feel like is a really good price - $150. So I'm fine with putting some time and cash into her, and also fine with doing so, and then selling her again, with the idea of getting or building something else. I saw a post on craigslist about a family boat building workshop hosted by the Willamette boat building club each summer; I think we're too late for this year's, but maybe next year? We've never done any boating before, and I really like the idea of having people who know what they are doing to show us.

    I have learned a few words - "transom", "keel", "bow", "stern"....and I think I understand "stem" now...maybe, lol. I was using sea-worthy in what I thought was a literal sense...as in, worthy of sticking in the sea, aka, won't sink. :D What does it actually mean? And what word do I want to use to actually mean, "won't sink"?

    You guys are awesome....thanks again for all the help.
     
  9. PAR
    Joined: Nov 2003
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    PAR Yacht Designer/Builder

    Even a bad leak on that boat, will require some considerable amount of time to fill 'er up and sink. I'll bet on a few minor weeping leaks, which is normal for many boats like this. Hell, you can splash more into the boat, just climbing aboard then you'll have leak in 10 minutes afloat, so don't get too excited, if you see some leaks.

    If you can row to the island in 20 minutes, you might have a gallon or two, but so what, the boat can take many more, before being threatening to sink. Just bail her out when you get there and have fun.

    The term seaworthy is a complex subject and difficult to quickly explain, to the novice skipper. It's more about the combination of the abilities/attributes of ship, skipper and crew to take on oceans and serious weather, than any local puddle you might float this puppy on. Heading out, knowing the swells will be 30' building to 45', in winds that will be 50 gusting to 60 knots, is something for a seaworthy craft (and crew). Simply put, there's really no such thing as a seaworthy 12' powerboat, though there are some, very, very rare exceptions to this comment, 99% of sailors have never seen, let alone been on one (I haven't and I'm a crazy old fart, that'll try anything once).

    You have a nice little puddle jumper that will be over powered with a 30 HP outboard, damn quick with a 20 HP outboard and will do just fine with a 10 HP outboard. She'll get up and scoot at the drop of a hat (or throttle lever) and much fun can be had in this type of boat. Think of it as a slightly larger, old school PWC. You can use it to fish, maybe drag an inner tube of fearless kids, putt putt along the shore sightseeing with the hubby, maybe taking along a tent for a weekend camping trip. If you live in a heavily used set of waterways, it's a great bar hopper or just to go pick some clams on a distant sand bar. Maybe you want something else, but you have a cute and cool little pocket rocket, so have fun and maybe pick up a canoe or kayak on Craig's list, so you can break a sweat getting over to that island.
     
  10. CarrieBishop
    Joined: May 2016
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    Location: Chehalis, WA, USA

    CarrieBishop Junior Member

    You all know exactly what you're talking about. :)
    We took it down to the closest little lake and let the kids sit in it for half an hour or so, with us holding the rope like a leash. (No oars or life jackets yet, so we went going to let them actually go anywhere.). After half an hour, it only had maybe a quart of water in it. I'm very pleased.
    Also, just doing a rough guesstimate on Google maps, it looks like our little island is only maybe 1500-2000 ft from shore. So I think we will be just fine to use it as is for this trip, and then we can take our time doing a nice job of cleaning it up, sealing, painting, etc.
    Thanks again for all the advice and info!
     

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  11. SukiSolo
    Joined: Dec 2012
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    Location: Hampshire UK

    SukiSolo Senior Member

    She looks like she has been dry stored, so hopefully she does not have a lot of really rotten bits. Only thing I'd add to PAR's wise advice is check the integrity of the glue joints ie the ply to the solid wood 'battens' (really we have names for various bits like stringers, carlins etc). If this is good then she is worth a little time and effort. If it peels apart easily you may have a problem.

    Assuming she is good (and this is more glue type dependent), then she will give quite a few more years service. I'd make sure all the plywood edges in particular are well sealed prior to painting, as they are mostly uncapped. Also watch for the what appears to be plated mild steel fastenings ie screws holding the panels. They may or may not be sound. If rusted, remove and replace, or drill out and fill, adding a replacement screw but preferably stainless.

    She's no rowing boat, so don't be afraid to trim her slightly bow down when rowing, to reduce the transom drag. Her seating will not be optimised for it, but it will make the rowing a lot easier....;) The rower will feel the difference.

    Good luck with her.
     
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