After all I went thought to get Spark seaworthy and ready for the Mid-Atlantic Small Craft Festival here in St. Michaels Md. It all came for naught. This long weekend was punctuated by strong winds and almost Small Craft Advisories as the forcasted 10 to 15 mph winds with gusts to 20 turned to 15 to 20 with gusts to 25. Not the place to take an over canvassed boat that weighs all of three hundred pounds.
A three hour window of decent wind tempted me into going out, thankfully I did not make it far before something broke, something important, the rudder. Six screws hold the tiller to the rudder head and all but one let loose, leaving me with just enough control to put her into the wind so I could lower sails and row back.
At least it didn't break a mile or five from the dock
A year ago, after "unearthing" Spark from the barn she had been stored in for almost 30 years, I took this picture.
At the time, all I had done was give her a bath, fix the mast and rigging, and touch up the paint where it had peeled. This was all done before heading to St. Michaels MD for the Small Craft Festival. She was rough, she was barely held together, but she sailed well. She also got completely ignored due to the condition she was in. I did this on purpose so I could do this:
Same Spark one year later. Completely sanded down hull, new paint, almost all new varnish, and a new deck give her an almost completely new look.
After spending all summer getting Spark into shape in time for the Small Craft Festival St. Micheals, the one thing I did not have time to do was strip, paint, and polish the inside of her hull. This means she is still wearing the original varnish from fifty-five years ago.. and it looks it.
Right now she has her floorboards, centreboard trunk, and the new flotation compartments I built, and they look good. The old varnish, not so much.
Oh well, gives me something to do next year
Far from done, but getting closer every time I touch her, Spark's decks are fairly glowing beneath a coat of varnish. She still needs another three coats before I can attach the rub rails and splash board, but that is only a couple days away.
After a summer of sanding, filling, sanding, filling, sanding some more.. Spark now sports a single colour on her hull. While it appears to be bright red in the pictures, it is more a dark burgandy. George Kirby graciously supplied his "See Red" paint (after I paid for it, of course) to the cause.
She still needs a good rubbing down with some fine grit sandpaper and a second coat, but you get the idea! Now all i need to do is sand and varnish her decks and finish assemby. Spark is coming back together!
Ok, I admit, not only was that a bad joke, but it might offend the lovers of Halloween.
Good news is: Spark has her decks secured, shaped, and fitted properly. All I need to do now is apply 7 coats of varnish to the deck, apply three coats of paint to the hull, and install all her bright work and I can go sailing.
So, a week's worth of work to go!
It has literally only been four days since I ripped the deck off of Spark and here she is getting a new and improved version.
For starters, the original deck was made up of Six parts. Split in half lenth wise, my GP would have a bow section, a midships section, and a small stern section. I shortened that down to two. The seams between the sections bothered me immensely.
As I was missing the forward and stern buoyancy bladders, and I hated the ones beneath the seats as they intruded into the area I slept in when over night "camp cruising", I decided to build in bulkheads fore and aft to act as Buoyancy Chambers and for storage. As I am also planning on painting her cockpit this coming year, I completely covered the areas behind the bulkhead in Rustolium's Marine Paint "Oyster white", a very nice antique like white.
First, the rough cut decks. So far looking pretty!
Now for the bow section after I glued them down and used both spring clamps and "water clamps" in the form of Five Gallon Containers filled with water to hold the decks down while the epoxy dried.
And of course, a "beauty shot" of the forward buoyancy/storage compartment.
I am still waiting on some trim before I build the doors to seal them off. Time is ticking for St. Micheals next month. I know I can make it, but the push is on to get everything back together.
Today was an easy day, I knocked the deck off of Spark. A handy dead-blow hammer and a miniature prybar made quick work of getting the plywood off in more or less one piece. I did lose a couple of small parts up in the bow, but those will be easy to trace out from it's mirrored twin.
While the GP14 is not a common sight in the US, I am sure being able to see the supports for her deck is a rare one. Being a "Series 1" boat, the was built just as the very first boats were back in the middling to late 50's. This means rather robust for her humble origins and intended usage.
Roy Nettleship, while manning the Association stand at the boat show in 1969, was asked how long a GP14 would last: “I’ve no idea, the design’s only 40 years old!”
After almost a year upside down on her trailer Spark is finally upright and clean. I still need to rip off her deck and replace it, but all the bronze keel trim is done and on and I pressure washed out 30+ years of filth.
Having sat in a barn since the mid to early eighties, the dirty inside Spark not only was not only filled with a film of filth, but it was extremely hard to remove. Most of her internal varnish is intact, but this winter I will doing some sanding and scraping so I can paint over it in "oyster white" to clean her up even more and make the bright work pop even more.
That is how many three and a half inch bronze screws hold the centreboard case into Spark. Today, after cleaning it all up, repairing it, and varnishing it to a high lustre, I re-installed it, by hand, with a straight slot screwdriver. My wrists are sore, but the dirty deed is done. Hopefully tomorrow I can finish primering the bottom so I can get her painted this week.
While I am sure I could have reused the old screws, they had not turned red from copper, It was worth the price of admission to safe than sorry. Having the centreboard case come loose while sailing would be a nightmare.
I know it looks really bad under there, but rest assured that most of that is just dirt. Spark needs a bath badly as I did not get a chance to scrub out the inside of her hull last year before putting her in the water.. so that is 30 years worth of grime.
Even so, I had to scrape out the old Polysulfide sealant that spent decades keeping the water out of spark. First by sharp scraper than by battery powered sander until everything was smooth and ready for some "lifecalk"
After I got everything cleaned up, I had to use the jack to my land rover to get the case into place. It's not that heavy, but it is awkward and I was working alone. The Hydraulic jack lifted it into position easily so I could get the screws in.
Due to repairs to the case, I had to drill pilot holes to the first two screws. I damn near twisted my arms off getting them in. It is good that I bought twenty-five screws as I ruined two of them installing these two. Now I only have one left. I hope I never have to use it
Once Spark is upright again, I will show off the case in situ, for now I can only offer this brief snap shop showing the freshly varnished mahogany nearly glowing in the sunlight.