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post #49 of Old 07-06-2013
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Re: Lack of Confidence

To the original poster...

I'd like to echo what so many have already said about confidence, lack of knowledge, and "the process" with a description of my day yesterday... .. it'll make you feel better and give you some more courage.

I bought my first boat last October... a 1972 Pearson 26. Sure looked pretty to me; the PO had put a nice flower in a vase on the table, arranged the cushions nice, and sprayed something ocean-breezy to make her smell great. Every time I asked him a direct question about whether something worked or not, his response was "I don't know; we never needed it or used it" (in reference to the potable water system), "Nah, we just hoist up a lantern" (in reference to the spreader/steaming/mast lights), "It was fine the last time we sailed her" (in reference to the running rigging)... etc.,... you get the picture. I was too excited/ignorant to catch the subtext, especially for a boat that'd been on the hard for at least the past five years (maybe more)... the boat was sure pretty and I could afford her... everyone with me, so far?

Fast forward to April 2013, after a winter's worth of reading Don Casey's books, this forum, a Pearson-specific forum, LOTS of helpful folks here and in person, and more web-searching than I'll ever admit in public. Armed with all my new-found knowledge (which, to be honest, is still about the same as a two-year-old compared to most of the folks here), I discovered a completely rotted out mast support beam and compression post, an electrical system composed almost entirely out of bad automotive/trailer style splice connecters (you know, the kind that cut into the wire with a press-fit, just to make sure that corrosion happens as fast as possible?) and a lot of solid core wire, ALL of the running rigging totally rotted, big pits in the iron keel, a potable water system not connected and no pump, manual or electric, at all, a completely rusted and frozen bilge pump...heard enough? OK.. I'll stop that now. Kicking the previous owner between the legs would be a KINDNESS compared to what I wanted to do. Fortunately, I'm kind of a pacifist, because he's still around, AND he's selling his current Sabre in the same marina where my boat still is as I resurrect it. Fortunately, I haven't seen him. I hope I don't... I hate conflict.

So far, I've learned to mix epoxy, use colloidal silica filler, use an orbital polisher with compound, bottom paint a boat, and wire and install a bilge pump (with tinned, STRANDED marine wire, I might add). EXTREMELY gratifying, but yes, it took many hours. After doing that, we splashed her for the first time. She didn't sink, and there's no leaks that I've found from down below. She DOES leak when it rains into one locker inside and a tiny bit in the aft area of the bilge, but that's it. NOW the real work begins.... keep in mind I know nothing, and have NO experience with boats.

Back in mid-May, we dropped the mast so I could start working on the rotted support beam and posts AND the mast wiring. As usual, ripping out the rotted stuff was easy. Sourcing white oak seemed impossible. Forget Home Depot, Lowe's, or any place with "Lumberyard" or "Home Improvement" in their name. Internet searches turned up some suppliers, but I didn't understand the terminology (4/4, 8/4, 12/4?!? I thought lumber came in 1x4, 2x4, etc., dimensions?... ). I was about ready to give up after searching for two weeks for wood. I called a semi-local (about 40 miles away) niche-market used classic sailboat dealer and asked them about wood. They were nice enough to recommend a hardwood dealer about an hour from my house... SCORE! The guy there is wonderful... Paul at Memphis Hardwoods in Memphis, NY. He's provided me w/ beautiful plywood for my bulkheads, and cut the white oak posts for me. A VERY kind soul who I contacted via email that I found on another site fabricated the main crossbeam for me; that was way beyond my woodworking capabilities. I spent the next two weeks sanding, sealing edges with epoxy, and applying six coats of varnish.

All this led up to yesterday. I proudly took my beautiful new interior bulkheads, crossbeam, and compression posts to the boat, along with all new associated stainless steel bolts, nuts, washers, and finish washers, a new steaming/deck combination light and lots of good wire, and some butyl tape and 3M 4200 sealant for the mast step plates. The plan? Fill the old lights' screw-holes in the mast with epoxy, then while it dried I'd slap those new wood parts in (should only take an hour or so, right?), seal and install the mast step (30 minutes, right?!?.. if that!), then run new wires up the mast for the new light. By then the epoxy should be dry... drill new holes for the new light, butt-spice and heat shrink the leads, install, then proudly call over the guy who runs the marina (who's been very nice, patient, and helpful, but who also clearly thinks I'm insane) to inform him that it's time to put the mast up!

OK... everyone knows where this is headed, but what the heck.... may as well finish.

Filling the mast holes with epoxy went fine. That's all that did. NONE of the wood pieces fit. They were "exact" copies of the original pieces... I had held them against each other a zillion times. Still, none of the pieces would go in. The routed channel on the topside of the crossbeam through which some wires were supposed to be routed didn't line up with the wire location. I spent the entire, and I mean ENTIRE (11am - 8:15pm --the marina is 90 minutes from house) day doing the following: Install piece - note where it binds - remove piece - sand - repeat. By about 4pm, with very little progress, I was so dejected I just sat down with my head in my hands and wondered what the @#$# I was doing with my life. Then I listened. All across the marina, folks were on their boats, smiling, laughing, listening to some jazz. The sun was out.. there was a nice breeze. It hit me... I wasn't out here trying in vain to complete a project. I was outside on a nice day, surrounded by happy people, feeling the gentle sway of my boat. I just happened to be trying to make it better by working on it WHILE I was doing all of that. Sounds stupid, I know, but it was like a switch flipped. I looked at everything I was doing in a new light. I found a chisel in my tool box that I had bought 20 years ago, but never really used. I stopped worrying. The two bulkheads finally pressed into place. I took a deep breath and saw where the wires were binding, and chiseled a new path for them. I noticed a couple spots where notches needed to be cut at the bottom of one of the compression posts to all for a sole-board (or whatever it's called) and an extra bump of fiberglass I had never noticed before. Not a problem... I was getting pretty good with a chisel by now! A few minutes later, the notches were cut and the post slid in fine. I had the other post to tackle yet, but I now knew it wasn't anything I couldn't handle. By 7:45, I had the whole assembly cut to fit and press-fit in. I needed to re-seal w/ epoxy all of the wood I re-exposed in the fitting process, but didn't have a brush with me so, even though I had accomplished about 1/10th of what I had planned on for the day, I cleaned up, packed up, and started the 2 hour drive home.... HAPPY!

I'm headed up again tomorrow. The plan is ... seal the exposed wood. While it dries, fish the wires through the mast, drill the holes for the light, mount the light, solder on a new antenna connector at the base of the mast, solder on a new nifty 9-pin connector for the wind instrument cable at the base of the mast (so I don't have to deal with a rusted terminal strip in a leaky box), and crimp on connectors for the lights. By then the epoxy on the wood will be dry. Install the wood pieces, drill the holes, install the stainless steel nuts and bolts, re-drill the holes (currently lined with epoxy to make sure this rot never happens again) for the two huge carriage bolts that hold the mast step plates to the cross beam on the other side of the deck, install the plates, and call over the dockmaster who will look at me with newfound respect and awe.

What will PROBABLY happen tomorrow is anyone's guess. But you know what? I don't care. I'll be on my boat, having fun, learning, surround by nice helpful people.

I've attached a pic of the result of my day yesterday.

Best to all. There is NOTHING beyond any of us, given enough time and patience.

Attached Images
File Type: jpg Beam Posts Bulkheads.jpg (47.1 KB, 13 views)

Last edited by bblument; 07-06-2013 at 10:14 AM.
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