Most of Spark's time on the water was spent as a race boat. Stone Harbor and Ocean City NJ both kept good sized fleets of GP14s just for racing. GP, of course, stands for "General Purpose" and as such, Spark and her sisters were designed for more than just setting records over a course. Many in the UK and Down in Australia and New Zealand have been used for cruising and "beach camping" along those far off shores.
As Spark was a race boat, she us sorely lacking in the essentials to become a competent Beach Camper. For one, she has almost no way to tie her up or anchor her off. The one and only cleat she had was comically undersized as to be almost toy-like. I needed to make some changes.
Starting with the cleats: The bow cleat needed to go and be replaced with something more robust for both tying off to a dock and mooring out on an anchor. As you can tell, the original would never do.
To give you a hint how small and dainty this bit of aluminum is, here it sits next to it's bronze replacement.
It's more robust and stylish to boot. I believe it came off of a Chris Craft of some sort. It definitely fits in with the era that Spark came from. Here it is finally attached to the foredeck like it should be, with 4 bronze machine screws and nuts to keep it well secured to the beams below.
Moving aft, Spark had no cleats at all on her stern. The only choice would be to tie off using the horse that holds the traveler over the rudder/tiller. I really did not want to rip that off with a good wave or wind while out and about.. so I set about adding more cleats.
With only a thin, 6mm, mahogany plywood deck, I had to add a block of mahogany to the underside to keep it from being pulled right off the first time it was used. I also needed to keep it clear of the control lines from the traveler and free of the Tiller's movements across the lazerette deck. Once all was put into place. I epoxied the blocks right and left and bolted through them to snug everything up tight and secure. If these cleats come loose, I am losing a sizable chunk of deck too.
Now, While the General Purpose in GP14 denotes being able to do everything, I needed a way to get moving when the wind was nigh or coming from the wrong direction. I was not about to hang even an electric trolling motor on Spark, so I set about putting some oars into place. Thankfully Bell Woodworking thoughtfully built a matched pair of Mahogany blocks beneath Spark's deck right where the oarlocks would mount. You might think they had thought of this exact scenario.
With the blocks already in place, all I needed to do was drill some holes and bolt the mounts into place. Chesapeake Light Craft was kind enough to sell me these mounts and locks, the polished bronze looks lovely and shipshape.
It goes without saying that oarlocks are useless without oars. Shaw and Tenney supplied these custom length oars just for me. Straight Bladed and beautifully varnished, they look better than almost all the wood currently on Spark.
They also store nicely out of the way, blades towards the bow, behind the seating surfaces of the side benches.
Tomorrow, if all goes well, I will give her the Float test at Lake Lenape in Mays Landing. After being out of the water for close to 40 years, I want to make sure she has no leaks to keep me up at night.