A Winter Project by Larry Steen

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    A winter project by Larry Steen

    The desire to buy a sailboat and take up sailing started a few years back. I was living in north Arkansas not far from Norfork Lake. Every time I crossed that lake on the way to Mt. Home I wished I could be out there exploring it from end to end in a boat. The thought of buying enough gas to accomplish that with a motorboat, even a small one, didn't set very good with my financial situation. A sailboat on the other hand would fit right in. I started watching the prices and learning all I could so that I could make a wise purchase. When you buy a boat late in the season you have the whole winter to dream up and accomplish Ďupgradesí both cosmetic and functional. The boat I bought last October is a Chrysler C22 built in 1977. She was in very good condition overall but the wood work was weathered and the paint chalky and faded. The first project was replacing the old warped and cracked hatch boards. I have a friend in Oxford, AR who does beautiful cedar furniture. He has a fully equipped woodworking shop. Using the old boards for patterns he cut and planed three new boards. The top board had to be epoxied together to make things come out right as his widest boards were only six inches. I sanded them using medium then fine grit sandpaper and applied five coats of Spar Varnish. I like cedar for its beautiful grain and coloration and it should stand up to the weather as good as Teak when it is sealed properly.

    Next on the agenda was the tiller and hatch slide rails. I used aluminum flat stock (1/2in. x 1/8 in. ) for the filler under each rail and added a second rail with block spacers to create handholds. The rails are held together with two long wood screws through each block drilled and countersunk from the bottom. I had to fill and drill some of the mounting screw holes in the cabin roof as they were a bit loose. If I ever do the hand rails again and have the right equipment I will make them one piece and figure out a stronger mounting system. I thought that leaving the ends of the upper rail open would give me a good place to tie off a line but it hasnít worked out that way. The open end at the front has a tendency to snag the shrouds when I am raising the mast. Making a new tiller is a fairly straight forward task but if you are using knotty wood like cedar be careful where the knots end up. A friend managed to snap my new tiller off about a foot from the end because a large knot went laterally through the wood leaving only a small amount of straight grain for strength. I glued and spliced it back together but unless I can figure out a way to use the unsightly splices as part of a ďtiller tamerĒ I will have to make a new one.

    With the outside taken care of, a lot of rubbing, scrubbing and a coat of deck paint, itís time to do the interior. The cushions needed recovered as usual, why do boat builders all use the same ugly plaid fabric? The sole of the cabin was bare fiberglass with a bilge pocket in the middle going down into the fixed lead keel about eight inches. Itís a good place to put the pump but not very pleasing to look at. I decided to make a floor grate with the slats going laterally that way I could run the bilge hose and wires underneath out of sight. It also gave me a place to route the fresh water line from the pump to the sink when the time came.

    My wood shop friend was kind enough to cut and shape the required number of two inch wide and ĺ inch thick slats to go from the aft bulkhead to the front of the head area under the v-berth with a center-center spacing of 2 ĺ inch. I built my floor in three pieces so it could be lifted out to cleaned out underneath. Head room was diminished somewhat but being able to walk on the slats barefooted comfortably makes up for it.

    Raising the floor by two inches meant reworking the cockpit steps. They were faded and rough but in otherwise sound condition so sanding and varnish was all that I needed to bring the teak back to life. I intended to use the open area between the aft bulkhead which is also the forward end of the cockpit and the steps for a 50 quart cooler. By using an eyebolt and hook arrangement the steps are easily dismounted to give full access to the cooler. After the cooler was in place I found that I had a little space between the cooler and the bulkhead so I installed an eight inch wide shelf where I could store four gallons of drinking water under and my inflatable raft with pump on the top.

    Next project was the swing out table and combination sink cover/cutting board. The sink cover was the easy one. I used my CAD program to do the geometry so the table could swing from the front of the sink all the way to the steps if needed. Mainly it is used for the cook stove and as a drain board for washing dishes which means it stays just aft of the sink. As I never intend to make any offshore passages the only time Iíll cook is when at anchor or dock and the stove will be stowed under the table when traveling. Again, if I had to do this table project over I would use steel or aluminum for the linkage since wood makes the whole thing too flexible and I have to use a prop to support it when it is stretched out. All in all it works fine and makes for a very versatile galley arrangement.

    My next task was a complete rewiring of the cabin and relocation of the radio equipment to a safer more convenient place. There was a catchall shelf on the port side so I mounted the radios under there, the flares, winch handle, horn and handheld GPS are stored there on top and easily accessible from the cockpit. That left me with a big open space to the starboard side of the hatch, a very good place for the electrical panel/load center. I used a spade type fuse block to guard the six circuits and lighted switches to avoid leaving something on and running the batteries down. There is a 2000 watt generator under the starboard locker with two deep cycle batteries. The batteries are wired in parallel with an isolation switch. The generatorís main use is charging the batteries when needed. I reworked the fuel cap on the generator so it is non-vented and rerouted the exhaust straight up with an extension. The generator can be used only with the locker open. To run my laptop and other assorted 110 stuff I have two inverters, a 400 watt and a 750 watt. I tried running my coffee maker on the 750, it worked but ran the battery down to half charge in three days. I found it is easier to heat water on the stove and pour it through the basket. I have to have my morning coffee.

    I have a blue storage tub that fits neatly under the electrical panel and I call it my pantry box. It is dry convenient place to keep galley related things like plates, flatware towels and open dry goods like cereal and noodles. It slides back out of the way and fills the remaining space under the starboard locker.

    I put a 16 gallon white plastic RV type fresh water tank under the front end of the port cockpit locker. It is plumbed with clear plastic tubing to a 12 volt demand type RV pump and on forward to the galley sink and an ordinary hose bib for a faucet. The hose bib allows me to use a hose to wash down the cabin floor if needed and it was cheaper than a regular kitchen faucet. An idea for sometime in the future would be to mount about twenty feet of black plastic pipe to the port side stanchions and plumb a line from the galley to there and from there to a shower head mounted under the boom over the cockpit. A nice warm shower is always a pleasure.

    The next project took longer than all the others put together. The compression post looked awful lonely and unsupported there in the middle of what remained of the midship bulkhead. The only way to bridge the gap with the dimension and thickness of the available material is to piece the bows together by layering them. I started with a rough template and my friends band saw to cut out eight separate parts that could be whittled down to eventually fit. By the time I got around to tackling this project I had packed up the motorhome and went south for the winter, south Texas, where the weather suits my clothes.

    The problem with living in a motorhome is I canít carry a woodworking shop along to make things easy. I found myself limited to a radial saw, a saws-all, a palm sander, and a neat little tool called a Dremel Trio. The Dremel took some getting use to but did prove to be very useful. The task became a slow process of whittle and fit, fit and whittle some more. My work bench was a board c-clamped to the frame of the trailer. I was up and down the swim ladder more times than I could count but at least it was warmer there than up in Arkansas.

    When I finally got the pieces fitted I put it all together with weather stripping to keep the wood from rubbing directly against the plastic liner. The arch does more than look good, it helps support the weight of the mast and holds the post in place.

    The pine spindles from Lowes donít quite match the theme but they were cheap and all that was available. They do add to the support and make things a little neater I think.

    We launched from a boat ramp in Port OíConnor, TX for the maiden voyage of the sailing vessel Sally Ann on the third of March after doing a bottom job and a good waxing for the hull. After a long winter it was good to be on the water.

    Larry Steen
    S/V Sally Ann

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