Tag Archives: buying a boat

Replacing the Cabin Sole

The first steps down into the cabin of Hurry On were met with a squish.  The cabin sole, which had spent a considerable time under water, had perished.  The teak and holly veneer on marine plywood was peeling off to the point it was almost completely separated from the wood.  The high traffic areas, like at the foot of the steps, sunk when trod upon.  There was no bringing it back, it had to be replaced.  Being the type of person who always seems to choose the method that involves the most sweat and cursing, I decided to try to replicate the method being researched by our friends at Joy in the Mooring and artfully carried out here.

Getting the old sole out was pretty simple, most of the screws keeping it down came out easily.  Some of the screws were stripped, but luckily the wood surrounding them was rotten enough to pull it out and then take the screw out with vise grips.

pretty squishy in spots

pretty squishy in spots

Marine plywood has to be shipped to Cape Breton, but it can get get here the next day from Halifax.  I got this piece of Douglas Fir marine ply from Sydney Millwork, for $116, this includes the shipping.  I’ve never really worked with Douglas Fir before, and was therefore, not familiar with its fragile and splintery properties, which caused a few headaches down the road.

I was lucky that the sole of a C&C 27 MkV is a prefect rectangle.  After cutting the pieces to match the original the only modifications were routing the bottom to give it a curved edge, and the four outside corners needed to be rounded slightly.  I was considering making this from two pieces (the main floor and the bilge hatch) of wood instead of 4.  Two pieces would certainly be stronger.  But working with the large piece would be quite unwieldy .  Also, I wasn’t 100% sure the large piece would fit in the boat.  Finally, the original was in 4 pieces, and I’m sure they had their reasons.

Marine Plywood pieces cut out

Marine Plywood pieces cut out

The next step is stain the pieces.  After sanding the entire surface, just to be safe, I used a wood conditioner which ensures a nice even coating to the stain with no blotches.

Stain treatment

Stain treatment

The stain went on evenly for both coats.

English Chestnut Stain, two coats

English Chestnut Stain, two coats

To get the teak and holly look, pieces of white wood are going to be set inside the plywood.  When I got the plywood, I also ordered a long piece of poplar, this would serve as the strips.  Using the poplar as a straight-edge, I ran the router with a 3/8″ bit down the lengths of the plywood at equal intervals.

3/8" trenches about a 1/4" deep

3/8″ trenches about a 1/4″ deep

C&C 27 MkV Cabin Sole

poplar inserted and glued, and pounded

The strips were cut out on a table saw, then refined with a planer.  they were tested for fitting, then glued (plain old wood glue, as my old friend Gorilla Glue tends to expand, and I didn’t want any coming out, as there can be no sanding after this) and tamped.  For the most part, the strips went in flush.  There are a few areas where the are slightly elevated, but just barely noticeable when you pass your hand over it.  Finally, 4 coats of clear varnish, with a light sanding with 320 grit between each coat.

varnished up

varnished up

The bilge hatch

The bilge hatch

Since there is much to do still, installing it  will be one of the last jobs as to avoid the wear and tear for engine and window work.  Or, I may just say ‘frig it’ and cover it with a blanket.

New Cabin Sole

New Cabin Sole



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Indefatigable… for sale?

I wake up at about 3:50am to go to work.  I don’t have to get up that early, I usually leave the house at 4:45am, but I have a ritual.  Alarm goes off, I get some clothes on, get a banana, peruse the top stories online edition of the Cape Breton Post before heading straight for the letters to the editor, check email, check facebook, and then hit up Kijiji for any new local sailboat listings, because you never know right?

Back when we launched Indy, the crane operator deftly plopped her in the water and we putted of to our finger pier.  The crane then made its way over to pluck another boat out, a Contessa 26.

A few weeks later I noticed a sign on the bulletin board “Contessa 26 for Sale”.  Immediately I was reminded of the adventures of Nick Jaffe who crossed a few oceans (including the biggies A&P) by himself in a Contessa 26 named Constellation.   When you get out and take a look at a CO26, the first thing that jumps out at you is that massive keel.  It’s meaty.  It looks ready for anything.

This nameless  vessel was listed at $8,000 which was more than we had, so if we were going to move up, Indy had to go.  We shined her all up and posted the ad.

Laying out the welcome mat

Laying out the welcome mat

Charlie pitching in on the cleaning.

Charlie pitching in on the cleaning.

Frances helping to display the cavernous V berth.  Tip, if you are selling a boat and want to make the cabin look huge, put a three year old in the shots!

Frances helping to display the cavernous V berth. Tip, if you are selling a boat and want to make the cabin look huge, put a three year old in the shots!

The gourmet kitchen

The gourmet kitchen

The guestroom

The guestroom

The dining room

The dining room

Over the next few days we had a few tire kickers but nothing solid.  It was after showing Indy a few times I got to realize how great a boat she is.

In mid August, we did some more number crunching and decided that the timing was not ideal, and we would take Indy off the market and put the Contessa out of our minds.

That worked somewhat well, until the owner emailed me about a month later to tell us that if we were still interested, he would accept a multiple payment scenario.  This peaked our interest.  The For Sale sign is now back on Indy.

It’s strange how the interest in buying a sailboat plummets in the fall.  (actually it’s not strange at all, it’s obvious) There was very little action generated by our ad.

The owner had emailed me a copy of the CO26’s three year old survey, along with a list of the deficiencies that had since been remedied.  Surveys are like home inspections, the inspector can be very vigilant to make sure all items are covered, mainly to cover his own butt, which can make them quite a scary read.  What I needed was some sort of perspective.  I needed to gauge how serious these problems were.  This evening, I enlisted my friend W, who has been sailing for decades, to join me crawling through the boat looking for areas of concern.  There were plenty of those.  The main ones being deck saturation, and leaky chainplates.  Erika and I visited the boat earlier this week while it was raining, and unfortunately there were leaks everywhere, stanchion bases, chainplates, the forward hatch being especially bad.

So now here we are again, a month later putting the CO26 out of our minds, but you never know what may pop up on Kijiji tomorrow morning!








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Seaworthiness: The Forgotten Factor

Sometimes when I read blogs from our friends in the southern latitudes like Venture Minimalists or Voyage of Moondance, I get a bit jealous of the length of their sailing season.  Here on Cape Breton Island, we have about three months of great sailing weather, three months of chilly sailing, three months of weather suitable to work on the boat on the hard, and three months where it is so cold that all one can do is read, plan and dream.  I often wonder, how do people who can sail year round find time to get any reading done?  Or is there even an appetite to read about sailing without such a long time ashore?

While most of this country is buried in snow I have taken to the books already, with Seaworthiness: The Forgotten Factor by C.A. Marchaj.  The book was inspired by the tragedy at the 1979 Fastnet Yacht Race that saw 18 deaths, 24 ships abandoned, and 5 sunk.  The book is basically an indictment of contemporary designs, the discarding of safety for the sake of speed.

Seaworthiness: The Forgotton Factor

Seaworthiness: The Forgotten Factor

As a guy who one day hopes to pile his family in a crate and move it around the world, I was very interested to see what qualities made some boats safer than others.  I do have to admit, there are calculus equations in this book that are big enough to make your face melt.  Marchaj uses them to prove his aerodynamic and hydrodynamic claims, and as long as you can see what they’re trying to prove, you’ll be fine.

If you find yourself in a position similar to ours, where you are not really sure what you are looking for in an offshore cruiser and safety trumps all else, I would highly recommend reading this book.

Heavy displacement deep full keel, vs a light beamy fin keel in rough seas

Heavy displacement deep full keel, vs a light beamy fin keel in rough seas.  Which would you rather be aboard?

The book looks at most aspects of hull design and mathematically tells you which features make boats more likely to capsize, or once capsized, which features make them more likely to flip back up.

Another little nugget I found very interesting is the study about how rolling motion effects the crew.  A heeling motion up to 4° is actually beneficial and enhances a crew’s performance.  Marchaj attributes this to the same pleasant effect a rocking chair has of people.  With each degree the crew performance deteriorates, until the heel reaches 30° and the crew becomes incapacitated.

When we were just starting out, we were looking for either a Tanzer 22, Paceship 23, or an Alberg 22.  After reading Seaworthiness, a quick look under the waterline is all it takes to see which is the speediest in good conditions, and which is the more stable in the rough conditions.

Speed vs Stability

Speed vs Stability

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Wawartok I & The Lotus Of Kuan Yin

Late October.  Cape Breton hits daily highs of of about 4° to 10°C.  The wind is brisk and biting.  Almost daily, cruise ships with American tourists unload at Sydney Harbour, hop on buses, and are whisked around the Cabot Trail to see the changing leaves, the hills and the heather.  Sailing season is coming to a close.
I find that it’s usually this time of year, that my attention shifts from the smaller steps, to the big picture.  After Frances is in bed, I’ll find myself more often procrastinating by opening up Google Earth, and looking at places I’d like to visit (sometimes while listening to that country’s indigenous music, for the full effect!)

Along with the wonderful places to visit, thoughts turn to how we’ll get there.  Indy is a trusty steed when it comes to putting around Sydney Harbour, but to cross oceans, we’ll need something a bit bigger.  It will be a few years before we actually upgrade to a bigger boat, but one always has to be aware of what is out there, and what kind of investment, both money and time, will be involved in getting it ready.  Usually, I limit my searches to the Maritime Provinces, and the Northeastern areas of the United States.  A couple caught our eye in the last few weeks that were close to home.

The Lotus Of Kuan Yin

About an hour and a half drive from where we live, lies a 50′ ferrocement ketch called the Lotus of Kuan Yin.  Its ad said it was moored near the canal town of St. Peter’s, and must go.

Erika and I were headed to Halifax for the night last week, and decided to take a look around while en route, to see if we could find it.  We stopped at the local marina, but it was nowhere to be found.  An Acadian gent popped out of the building, to see what we were up to.  We told him what we were looking for and he said he knew the vessel well.  He told the story of how Lotus was moored near the marina for years, and never moved.  How one day it broke its mooring and he was part of the rescue party when it went adrift, luckily before colliding with another boat, or running aground.  He told us it was sitting in French Cove, a few kms down the road, and we were off.  Here is a pic from the ad:

The Lotus of Kuan Yin

We eventually found it, on a quiet misty evening.  It looked like it was haunted, sitting on a motionless cove.  It’s description said it spent 4 Nova Scotia winters in the water, and it looked that way.  The price was extremely low for its size and age, but needed a massive amount of TLC.

Wawartok I

A bit farther away, St Margret’s Bay on the Nova Scotia Mainland was a 42′ steel Colvin Gazelle.  I’ve been doing a fair bit of reading on hulls, and seaworthiness thanks to some great books from my Uncle John,  and Thomas Colvin designed with this philosophy in mind.   Wawartok I had a junk rig, about which I knew practically nothing.  But after a bit of research found the junk rig has some pretty neat advantages:

  • Less flogging of sails (quieter)
  • Less danger of an accidental jybe due to balance of the sail
  • More “reef points”
  • The sail can be constructed by an amateur – the cut is entirely flat

Most of the disadvantages that come with the junk rig have to do with performance.

42' Colvin Gazelle

I am impressed by both Colvin’s reputation for seaworthy design, and steel hulls, so if a similar vessel is for sale a few years down the road, it will be a serious contender!  I looked at steel Gazelles that are for sale throughout North America, and foud them all to be very similarly priced, luckily in range that we would be looking.


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Bottom Paint 2012

When we were going over Indy’s inventory when we brought her home last year, included was a quart of a very nice anti fouling paint from Interlux.  It was called Bottomkote XXX and it worked wonderfully.  When we hauled out in the fall, there was neary a mollusc to be found on the hull.  This stuff retails for about $90 per can.

Interlux Bottomkote XXX

Interlux Bottomkote XXX

This time around we’re trying something different.  Mostly because, (entirely because), of the price.  Before Christmas, our friends at Baddeck Marine, had a fantastic sale which saw everything in their store at half price.  We picked up some other odds and ends as well, more on them in future posts.  But we saw a can of antifouling called Aquaguard


Aquaguard Anti-fouling

Regular price was $40, so when you factor in the sale, you’re looking at $20.

Because the black Interlux paint was in such great shape, it had to be sanded off.  This sucked.  The sheer amount of dust made  goggles and respirator necessary.  Even with these, I was filthy, and requires several showers to get it out of all of my crevices.

My uncle John plans to build a steel hulled vessel which will require a lot of grinding.  Sanding the  paint off probably seems like a picnic in comparison.

Sanded Hull

A Very Dirty Man

Once the sanding was finished I gave her a squirt with the pressure washer to get rid of any remaining dust.

The next step was to deal with the hull scuzz.  Over the last few months, I would try different chemicals on the discolouration around the waterline.  Nothing had any effect.  Not dish detergent, CLR, acetone.



I had read online that one way to tackle it was with a diluted Muriatic Acid solution.  If you remember in previous post, I used that chemical to unsuccessfully try to remove chrome from a porthole, whilst burning my eye lid in the process.  My old friend muriatic acid.  The good news was that I still have a gallon of the stuff.  It is the main ingredient you find in 500ml Hull cleaner spray bottles that sell for over $20.  Buying it in its base state, you can get a gallon for about $12.

Taking the proper precautions, (goggles, respirator, hood, gloves), I diluted it by pouring it into a spray bottle that was already half full of water.  Apparently it is important to pour acid into water and not the other way around.

Just as a test, I prayed one area of the scuzz and waited about 3 minutes.

Muriatic acid hull cleaner

Clean Streak

It worked brilliantly!  I didn’t even wipe it, the scuzz simply disappeared.  I then did the entire hull above the waterline, wiping with a sponge, and rinsing with the hose.  To keep the acid from doing any damage to the gelcoat, I washed it gently with dish detergent, and another rinse with the pressure washer.

Hull after muriatic acid clean

ZING!… Unfortunately the shine in this pic is because the hull is still wet.

Cape Breton in the springtime is a wet place.  The weather window to paint the hull was exactly three hours long, one hour of which was in complete darkness.  It rained for days, I did the paint job last night, and now it looks like more rain right up until Saturday.

One quart was easily able to do two coats on Indy’s 22′ sub-waterline, with a bit leftover to get the under the posts when she’s on the crane.

antifouling paint front

A New Blue Boot

Still kinda wet

We just got word from the marina that their piers will be going in on May 26th.  We’re ready!

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Ladies & Gentlemen… THE DOORS!!!

I remember when Bob Upshon, marine surveyor, was giving Indy the once over, he held one of the companionway hatch doors in his hands, gave it a bit of a flex, and said, “You won’t get much time out of this guy.”

On that day, the doors were peeling their sealant with the exposed areas a nasty pale grey, and their joints wobbly.  So it came as no surprise when Frankie walked on the door one July morning, an end piece cracked of at the tongue and groove.  It was partially my fault for leaving the door in the cockpit where it could be so easily trod upon and crushed by her immense 15 lb frame.

So Bob was right, the condition of the doors were on the to do list.


A nasty crack

Luckily the break left the ‘tongue’ part of the tongue and groove in tact.  The groove was unsalvageable.   The same piece on the upper hatch door was in similar condition and ready to snap at any moment to I pulled it apart, again saving the tongue.

A separate piece

Since the end pieces needed to be replaced I had to sniff out a source of teak.   I’m going to reacquaint you with our precious island.  It’s a wonderful place.  People are friendly, and just recently named the “Most Romantic Place in Canada”.  However, it is a small island that hangs of the side of North America, literally thousands of kilometres away from major centres like New York or Toronto, and sometimes things, like teak,  are hard to find.

I found in the local buy and sell, a teak plant stand.  The gentleman assured me it was real teak.  When I got there, he led me through his beautiful home to the plant stand.  It was pressboard with a teak sticker.  Bugger.

After making some inquiries at local milling shops.  I was told there was a man on the west side of the island who sometimes deals in exotic wood, and he did indeed have teak.   The problem was that he had one piece that was 2″ X 6″ X 7′, and he refused to cut it.  I was not prepared to chuck that kind of money for a couple of tiny pieces of wood.

Next was to find a decent replacement for teak.  I mean, on this vast and diverse planet, certainly more than one type of wood can be used for marine purposes.  Mahogany and White Oak presented themselves as good replacements, although most online sources agreed, as long as it is well protected, pretty much anything would do.

I went with Mahogany.  I brought in the pieces I wanted replicated to Sydney Millwork near our house.  They said they could make the pieces out of mahogany for $70.  Ugh.  Anxious to get underway, I agreed, and came back a week later.  When I came back there was an older gentleman who I assumed was the owner behind the counter.  He brought me the pieces and said “20 bucks plus tax.”  I was tempted to throw him the money, grab the pieces, and screetch the tires out of the parking lot.  Instead I pointed out that the other guy quoted me $70, and that is what was on the work order.  He  rolled his eyes, and reiterated “20 bucks plus tax is fine.”  It was then I realized that when people in their 70s complain about things like high prices and customer service, that that is based on fact, and in days gone by, vendors didn’t find it quite as easy to fleece the customer as they do today.

Mahogany end piece

Once I got the pieces home, I began to wonder if I was charged only twenty dollars because that is how much the job was worth, or after giving the new pieces a glance with an expert eye, he realized that the new pieces looked very little like the originals.  They had to be cut here, shaved there, grove deepened and widened, and then we were all set.  I took them out to Port Morien to my father’s garage.  He has great tools and great expertise.  I have a table saw and a mitre saw, but they are old and they are cheap.  They are good for building a treehouse, and this required more precision cutting.  After an afternoon shaving a little more off, and a little more off, and a little more off (which is batter than shaving a little more on), they were done and fit well.

Yes, my workbench is a dryer.

What I used as an adhesive is good ol’ Gorilla Glue.  Messy but effective.  After a few days of glue, the whole thing was sanded down , and looked pretty uniform for two different types of wood.

more sanding ....yay

As detailed in previous posts, I oiled the teak once or twice, and then used Cetol Marine to seal it.  There are many accounts of oiling, OR Cetol, but I haven’t found anyone who did both.  Possibly because it’s stupid, but I did it on the deck wood, and it gave the wood a very dark colour.  But for the doors, I decided to go with Cetol only.  It has an orange tint to it, apparently that is what gives it it’s UV protective qualities.

4 or 5 coats of Cetol Marine

After each coat I gave it a light sanding with 600 grit sandpaper, then wiped down with a towel, and then tack cloth to get it ready for the next coat.  I did definitely 4, possibly 5 coats.  Before one last coat, I cut the porthole hole out of it, so the last coat would help mask any damage from the saw.

yep, that's a hole alright

After the last coat dried it was time to put in the porthole.  I pre-drilled the bolt holes so they would line up with the porthole.  Next, I put the bolts in the porthole, and taped the heads down.

taped up

Next, I put a bead of sealant around the inside of the porthole and around each bolt, then slid the door down on top and hand tightened the nuts.

Do not get this stuff in your hair. Seriously

The reason I only hand-tightened is that so to prevent squeezing it all out, and when it dries, I will tighten the rest of the way to create a better seal.   Hopefully it works!  I suppose we’ll find out come the summer.

The finished product


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Survey Says

We knew what we were looking for, now to sit with our pole hung over the side and wait for something to bite.  We would keep an eye at the local boat club’s buy and sell sections, also kijiji.  We were looking in a 400km radius, which included Cape Breton down to Halifax, Moncton, St. John, Fredericton, and PEI.

In May we found a Tanzer 22 in Halifax whose owner was moving across the country in a hurry and was anxious to part ways with his vessel.

We made arrangements to come and have a look.  Accompanying me was my brother, both of us knowing absolutely nothing about what to look for to determine a boat’s condition.    Be fore we left for Halifax, we had arranged a Surveyor to meet us on site, and inspect the boat.

My brother and I were the first to arrive at the storage yard where the boat was being housed.  Next on the scene was the Surveyor, Bob Upshon.  Seconds after meeting Bob, my mind was at ease as to his ability to go through the boat and render an expert opinion.  He was British, wore a knit sweater, and in another time, would not look out of place as a senior Midshipman under Captain Nelson.  The seller then arrived with the boat’s engine and sail inventory.

Bob and I went through the boat over the course of 45 minutes, where he explained the important things to look for, areas of concern, and suggested courses of action, with the final summary of recommendations looking like this:

The vessel is in well above average condition, free of any defects and is considered staunch and seaworthy in all respects.

The following recommendations should be carried out:
1. Free sea cock on galley sink
2. Ensure mast is firmly grounded to the keel bolts.
3. Ensure at least a manual bilge pump is carried on board
4. Check 12v lighting system

More than pleased with the survey, we decided to become boat owners.
We hooked the trailer up to the truck, and began what would become a 16 hour trip back to Cape Breton.


Tanzer 22

Tanzer 22

Tanzer 22

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