Because my garage looks like a Saab exploded in it, I was forced to find alternative storage for Spark. I originally had her under a thick and big tarp, but with all the wind, snow, and rain we have had this winter, all it was doing was trapping moisture under it. I needed a better plan.
Thankfully a local storage place was having a winter sale. The "Storage Inn" was renting spaces up to 50% for the winter months only. I picked up a nice clean and dry 10x20 foot space for $130 a month. On her trailer, Spark JUST fits with some wiggle room to spare.
Next step is to dump her off of her trailer so I can rebuild it.
In times long past, being "before the mast" meant you were just a seaman. Non-officer's quarters were in the forward part of the ship or "before the mast" Todays cruising boats put the cherished "V-berths" forward now so most sailors are before the mast.
Spark does not have any berths, before or after the mast, she does however have a nice wooden mast that is in need of some TLC. Today I brought it in from the cold through a window in the basement and it now hangs comfortably from the floor joists away from the cold and wet winter weather.
Unfortunately, as I have discovered through the help of the Woodenboat.com forums, I need to do some repairs. Spark's mast is cracking at the top. This is not the wood giving way, but rather the glue that holds it together. Almost 55 years of use and storage has turned the old glue into crystals that just do not hold the wood together anymore. While I did not want to do any serious repairs to Spark this year, taking care of the Mast is something that needs doing lest it fail at the worst possible time.
I picked up Spark a week ago from Quakertown Pa where she had been sequestered in a barn since 1985. The story is the same all over, her owner was going to retire to a lake side house in a couple of years and restore the GP and keep her in the boat house. Unfortunately for them both, his Ex got the lakeside house in the Divorce.
With it getting dark and not trusting the small trailer wheels on the ancient Moody Trailer, I decided to stay off of the Pa Turnpike. Route 309 was worse, a busy road that wends through all the towns north and west of Philiadelphia, traffic was bumper to bumper most of the way as people got off work and went Christmas shopping.
The lights on the trailer did not work and the spruce mast stuck a good 8 feet behind Spark's stern when I headed off to the nearest store. A set of magnetic towing lights strapped to the stern and a cheap reflective vest strapped to the end of the spar and I was off, bumper to mast all the way through Lincoln Drive to the Schuylkill Expressway and finally to home. A long trip, but completely worth it.
I discovered the boat that would become "Spark" while trolling Craig's List. I do this often for any number of interesting items, usually small sailboats and small camping trailers. 99% of the time, I find one or two things to tease myself with, but never follow up on. This time was different.
I always liked the GP, popular in England, Ireland, and down under, it is a boat you can typically only find in one area of North America, New Jersey. With a couple of active racing fleets, they pop up every-so-often for sale, usually the later Glassfibre versions. Spark is not one of those boats.
Completely unmolested after all these years, she is a little worse for wear, but complete from her days of Racing in the Great Channel, Spark is all original, even sitting on the same trailer she came on.
While her mahogany badly wants for sanding and re-varnishing, there is no rot, no missing pieces, and no mis-applied paint to ruin her good looks. Even the air bladders below the benches, designed to keep her afloat after getting knocked over, continue to hold air. I find myself tempted to leave her as is for the next year and take her to St. Michaels for the Small Craft Festival in the fall to see what people think.