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,