Wooden boat restoration (or so I hope!).

The number one thing I know about wooden boats is that my dad has said we are to hit him over the head with a shovel should he ever buy another one. And that’s after only owning a GP14 for the better part of the last 20 years. So what has possessed me to take on a 26ft mahogany folk boat? Not a clue. But here we are.

I know about as much about wooden boats as any other twenty something sports boat sailor, so this is going to be an interesting learning project. I am going to keep you all up to date on how she is going, what I am doing and what is, and more likely, isn’t working.

I am very lucky to have been working in the marine trade for the past 4 years, 3 in Dublin and 1 in Cork, so even if I don’t know what I’m doing, I know who to ask.

For all of you looking to take on a similar project with little to no experience of working on wooden boats, this journey will either be confirmation that anyone can learn the skills required in wooden boat maintenance…. Or it will reaffirm for you that wooden boat ownership should be left to those initiated few who can identify rotten teak from 20 paces.

So, the boat! She is a 26ft mahogany folk boat with a stepped up coach house. She has a teak deck which has been coated in cascover. All her planks and ribs are sound, although 5 ribs need replacing due to cracking. There is a small bit of rot on her toe rail on one side but other than that she is solid.

She is also filthy as she has been sitting in the boat yard for the past 2 years.

She originally had a small diesel engine on board, but that has been removed pre my ownership. She has her rudder, tiller, keel and spars all in good condition.

All in all she is a manageable project. Her hull and keel are in good condition, there is very little structural work to be done and she has most of her fittings still. These were my main criteria when considering taking on this project, the boat had to float e.g. no holes and no rotten planks (When you get into replacing planks you are taking on a much bigger project). The coach house had to be intact and solid. This is just practical, rebuilding a coach house wouldn’t be the most difficult project, but if it is damaged or missing it means the cabin and bilge have been exposed to the elements which increases the likelihood of rot, something to try and avoid when acquiring a wooden boat. Mine is missing her windows, so she was somewhat exposed, but luckily the boat yard she is in pumped her out, so it was just the build-up of dirt and sludge I had to deal with (will have to deal with, funnily enough I have thus far found many jobs than need doing ahead of cleaning the bilge).

I have gotten her without a name and I have yet to name her, so “her” is what we shall be referring to my lovely boat as until I settle on one.

So there we go, that’s me and the boat. I hope you will follow us on what promises to be a funny (at times not intentionally so), and hopefully informative, journey from somewhat sad in the corner of a boat yard, to sailing in the high seas (or at least cruising from Crosshaven to Kinsale of a weekend).

So here is to teaching this new dog some old tricks,


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