One of the many truisms of owning a wooden boat (or any boat) is that maintenance is never done. There will be always something to work on, replace, polish, or paint. This is what happens when you use a man made object in a corrosive medium such as saltwater. Combine that with the age of boats such as Spark, and you can see why there is always something that needs doing.
After 56 years of protecting the interior of my GP, the varnish covering the plywood, ribs, and stringers was not looking so good. The parts covering the plywood were especially rough. With this in mind I decided a bit of "oyster white" from Rustolium's marine line would spruce everything up nice and ship shape.
The plan is to leave the ribs, stringers, and hog varnished, but just paint the plywood. It means a lot of masking, but leaves all the beautiful solid wood in view while protecting the more vulnerable ply.
How she looked originally (after removing the seating and sole)
I only got one coat on one section before the bugs sent me screaming back into the house. I think the gnats had been starving all winter as they were out in force tonight and looking for blood. Unlike Mosquitoes with their fine hypodermic needles, these little buggers tear off a chunk of skin and suck up the blood. They are lots of fun at parties.
I know what I am doing tomorrow.. and probably all next week as I get Spark ready to go back in the water for June.
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.