This series of articles is being written as I 'modernise' Serendipity - my 1950's framed heron (She was never registered hence the modern sail number). I bought serendipity from a painter & decorator in 2003, who had used her with an outboard on family holidays. She came with no sails, no boom and no rudder, and while she originally looked seaworthy investigation of that bit of flaky paint started to reveal problems.
If I had the money - Serendipity would sadly be on the club bonfire this November, and I'd buy a brand new FRP-Wood Composite. But I don't have the money and I have the top half of a very good boat! So instead - with Serendipity needing so much work I've decided to try and make her look as elegant as the FRP composite!
The 2003/04 Restoration
I knew nothing about Heron's apart from what I'd read on the Internet and in an article by Dinghy Sailing Magazine, when I bought Serendipity (she was called Painter's Mate at the time). Her French Royal Blue hull looked in good condition but a few marks in the paint on the transom from the outboard turned out to be more than just some cosmetic marks in the surface. Soon the whole hull was being stripped. I'd already decided to fit permanent buoyancy and as I didn't plan to race her at the time there was no attempt made to save on weight. A front tank was fitted in rather poor style as I didn't want to take the deck off, and two slightly better side tanks were installed.
She was repainted in Blakes Yacht Enamel (why would you spend more on paint than you did the boat?). And with the addition of a Rudder and Sails bought on eBay she was ready to get her feet wet.
The changes since 2003/04
The front tank leaked like a sieve - so I attacked it with more wood, epoxy and expanding foam. It still leaks like a sieve! More filler, more paint! Last year I added a self bailer - in the wrong place so that she only drains once she has 9" water in the bottom! And then at the start of the 2007 series I added new sails (100% Genoa, Loose Footed Mainsail) and an alloy boom. The sails and boom have made a real difference in performance and now from a distance she looks quite smart.
So what needs done?
The list is rather long! The paint is peeling... (in answer to my own question above - that's why you should pay more for the paint than you did the boat!). I suspect some of the 6mm Marine Ply on the hull is delaminating and should be replaced. I now race Serendipity - she trailed to Kinvara in Ireland this year to compete in a travellers trophy event - so suddenly weight is important!
The list (not necessarily in order):
- Bring Serendipity back home to the garage (Done)
- Tidy the garage to give room for the boat! (Done - now a mess again!)
- Add heating to the garage to ensure it doesn't take 3 days for the epoxy to set this time round (Done)
- Remove the decks (Done)
- Remove the seats (brace the sides) (Done -without bracing)
- Remove the tanks (save the inspection hatches & bungs!) (Done) & the king post
- Reseal the centreboard case
- Remove the board:
- Re-varnish, smooth & fill etc
- Replace pin if worn
- Add slot gasket
- Add rubber friction
- Remove the floor boards (Done)
- Reposition the self bailer (Removed, not yet refitted)
- Remove toe straps
- Replace tiller with something permanently attached to the stock.
- Replace tiller extension with longer one (John Howard keeps mentioning it - so I guess its important!)
- Strip the hull (Done)
- Replace rotten hull sections as needed
- Fair the runners on the bottom
- Re-inforce the hull
- Replace rotten stringers /frames
- Fit new rubbing strip
- Add new bulkheads to support side tanks / decks (9-12mm ply)
- Add new forward bulkhead & king post
- Add side tanks / decks (4mm Ply)
- Add deck hardware (mast heel, cleats etc)
- Refit toe straps - this time somewhere they work!
- Varnish deck wood (2 part)
- Epoxy Prime Hull
- 2 part paint hull
- Varnish Mast & Gaff
Progress: September 2007
The project is really just beginning. There are lots of sketches of bulkheads etc scattered around the house, interspersed with information about 2 part paints. 2 part paint doesn't come cheap! I spent about £250 last night and its now ordered. Navy Blue will replace the British Racing Green. Varnish will be used on deck. Going to order the wood tomorrow.
Progress: End September 2007
Well it's now the end of September so I thought I should write some form of update. The ordering of the wood didn't go to plan. I thought I'd found a supplier who would play ball but things are very quiet and I'm now negotiating with another timber merchant. They ripped some hardwood down to size for me today so hopefully they'll continue to play nicely when I chase up the marine ply during the week!
Paint has all arrived, and Serendipity is back in the garage. She's in worse condition than I realised. The decks are completely off now and I'm trying to workout how to remove the tanks that I fitted (with the aid of large amounts of epoxy) 3 years ago. The stringers on both sides had areas that just crumbled to the touch.
I've started stripping the sides to see what state they are in - another task that I really love (not!). Because I'm using 2 part paints this time I have to go right back to wood - which is proving more tricky than I thought. Will post photos soon.
Progress: End October 2007
Most of the hull has now been stripped to bare wood. She's in better condition in some places than I expected and worse in others! I've attached a new 18mm transom - yes I know I'm aiming to keep the weight down but it seemed more sensible than framing out and panelling with 6mm.
Progress: Mid November 2007
I guess the first thing to say is that if you are planning to do this type of project when you workout your budget - double it! Never mind... ...people who own wooden boats don't do it for the financial reward.
You'll probably gather form that comment that I've ordered the remaining Marine Ply! Its Robins Elite Gabon - which means its light weight but its also 3 times the price I was quoted by a local timber merchant for 'Marine' Ply. Now to be fair they were probably going to sell me Exterior WBP and tell me it was Marine .
The wood hasn't arrived yet, so I'm filling, and fairing where I can.
And in case anyone hasn't noticed - its freezing at the moment and even with the heater in the garage - its still barely warm enough to work with epoxy...
Progress: December 2007
The wood has arrived. The hull is now completely stripped and the rubbing strips from the bottom have been removed, sanded and epoxied back on. They need a little tidying up but they are attached. The Port side was completely wrotten so I removed it and have now cut a replacement from the 6mm ply, I've cut an identical replacement for Starboard - might as well match! The port side is attached (just with a few screws for now), while starboard still needs to be removed and the new side attached.
Progress: January 2008
I've been trying to come up with the perfect cross section for the side tanks. I've now done some fairly detailed technical drawings of the cross section and sketched in tanks and seats which I think will be class legal. Template cut in thick paper and seems to look OK. Once the sides are secured propery I'll cut the bulkheads from 12mm Ply.