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post #1 of 3 Old 06-27-2012 Thread Starter
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Advice Wanted: First Boat of My Own!

Hello everyone!

I just purchased my first sailboat--a 18' Murray Wright Rampage. It's got quite a distinguished look, and I fell in love with it as soon as I saw it. Here's a few pictures because I can't help myself: Photo Album - Imgur

She's got a 30' mast, 600ib solid steel centerboard, very clean 4hp Johnson outboard, and is generally ship shape and ready to go. It's solid redwood and mahogany, no rot, and centerboard case and pivot are great. I guess Murray Wright was kind of an elite shipwright during his day? The Rampage is a smaller variant of the K-Boat design, and the only other one I've been able to locate is in a museum in New York. As a wooden boat, she'll need a lot more love and attention than a fiberglass but you have to suffer for fashion and I feel like its a cheap price to pay for a boat with a good history that's in such excellent condition after 50 years of sailing the great lakes.

There are a few cosmetic things, of course, that I'd like to take care of--namely scraping off every inch of that bright blue paint. Underneath is more redwood, so I'd like to leave that exposed. Any suggestions on what product to use to treat it? Something that has to be redone once a year is fine, but I'd prefer not to have to varnish it, or at the very least use a clear varnish if that's the best option. I want to have some contrast. The seating and floor planking I am replacing with cherry, again preferably left naked. As far as I know, cherry's a fine choice for an interior/trim wood? Rot resistant, fairly strong, and quite pretty. I have access to a virtually unlimited supply of free walnut and cherry, so I'd like to use one of those.

I'll be taking it out for the first time this weekend or next, but I had a few questions I wanted to run by some more experienced sailors before I jump in.

I have some experience sailing a 32' cruising yacht around the Chesapeake. A group of my college buddies owned her together and took her out for two weeks of salt water and sun every year. Some of my favorite memories still live in the bones of that old boat, even after we had to cannibalize her when it became clear that she was oilcanning and becoming a safety hazard. At least we salvaged the old Atomic 4 after she retired. Good memories, but the bay is just about as pleasant an environment as I've ever seen for inexperienced pilots like my little group. Lots of big water to maneuver, mild weather, and you're never more than an 8hr day from a port. So I've had several years of experience as a crewman on a larger boat. My father will be my crewman for the first voyage, and he has a lot of experience boating, but not sailing, and it's been a long time since it's been a regular part of his life (but I'll still probably let him call himself the captain ).

Compared to my old boat, this Rampage is another story. It's small, it's fast, and now I live in MI so I will be on the Great Lakes with real weather and more water than I've been in before. And in the captain's seat for the first. It's been about three years since I was on the larger boat, so I must admit I'm a little intimidated. A smaller boat seems like it has less margin of error and requires a lot more attention and quick decision making than what I'm used to.

I was thinking of starting on Lake St. Clair. For those unfamiliar with the area, St. Clair is roughly 25 x 25 miles of water with conditions very similar to what is found on the larger lakes. I like the idea of having more water to flounder around in than taking it to a smaller lake and having to constantly change direction and take depth while I'm trying to refresh my knowledge of basic sailing techniques. Is this a sane train of thought?

Thanks for reading,

Last edited by jjm; 06-27-2012 at 10:19 PM.
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post #2 of 3 Old 06-29-2012 Thread Starter
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Re: Advice Wanted: First Boat of My Own!


To summarize if that was too long...
Cherry wood: so good or no good for exposed interior wood--floor planking, seats, etc.
Varnish or paint: good brand of varnish that dries the clearest? Advantages/disadvantages of painting vs. varnishing. I'm hearing Epifanes for varnish and Awlgrip for paint as good top of the line products. I've got enough disposable income right now to do everything with the best materials, from wood down to finishes.
Learning (or relearning) environment: Big lake (25x25mi) with weather possibilities vs. small lake (5x5mi at largest). Those are pretty much my options.
Sail repair: Not mentioned up there but I have a sail tear that's pretty significant. Does a product like Kiteaid work relatively well? Am I better off hand sewing it? Contact cement? I don't care about aesthetics, I am replacing these sails eventually.

Last edited by jjm; 06-29-2012 at 02:32 PM.
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post #3 of 3 Old 06-29-2012
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Re: Advice Wanted: First Boat of My Own!

Asking what finishing product to use is akin to asking someone what religion they believe in. Everyone has their own opinions on this subject.
Having said that, the folks on the Wooden Boat Forum swear by Le Tonquinois varnish American Rope & Tar :: Le Tonkinois - Original
There are many who adore Epiphanes varnishes as well.
I've use Interlux Schooner varnish with some success.
Almost any kind of 'spar' varnish should do.

At the summer camp I went to in the Adirondacks (sometime in the last century) they had a Wright built "K" boat. It was a great boat for learning on and a very decent sailor.

If you decide to hand stitch your sail I'd consider getting the Speedy Stitcher kit: Speedy Stitcher Sewing Awl | Sewing Tool - Hand Tool - Stitch Repairs It would be best if you could sew a strip over your rip to reinforce it. Something like this: Tape Dacron 4oz White 3"

Enjoy your woodie!

"The cure for anything is salt water~ sweat, tears, or the sea." ~Isak Denesen

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