Saturday, July 24, 2010

Mini-Heeler Part 4: New Snark Rising

This is fourth and final installment of my chronicle to document the restoration of a free Snark sailboat. In the previous three installments, I documented the original hull damage and subsequent repair, making of new parts to replace those missing and painting the hull to give it a fresh new appearance.

To get to this point took over a month in the restoration effort. Now we are at the of the effort where we put everything together. So settle back, grab your favorite beverage and watch the new Snark come to life over the next topics.

First, lets start fitting some of our new parts to the hull. We start with the daggerboard.

Daggerboard and Rub Rail

As mentioned previously, I was seeking a tight fit of the daggerboard in the trunk. So when I assembled the new daggerboard I deliberately made the side pieces that hold it in place in the top of the trunk oversize so I could sand them down to a precise fit. Once I had gotten the necessary fit, I varnished the modified edges and added the finishing touch to the daggerboard: a rope handle through the top.

For accessory rope like this I used cheap polypropylene line from Home Depot. I picked up 100 feet for $7, more than enough to do what I want. We will use it in several places on the new Snark.

I cut a small two foot length of line, ran it through each hole and tied it off with a stopper knot on the end to keep it in place. Here is how the daggerboard looks fitted into the trunk from the top show the tight fit and rope handle:

With our daggerboard fitted into place, I grab the rub rail I had pulled off and cleaned earlier and worked it back into the hull. Now we're getting a hint of what our new sailboat will look like:

Transom Assembly

With the rub rail and daggerboard in place for balance, let's move on with the transom assembly.

During the wood part crafting, I drilled a set of holes into each new piece using the original piece as a guide. That way the hole spacing would be correct without having to measure. The holes are 5/16 of an inch in diameter matching the holes in the hull that go through the transom. For the bolts, I used 4 inch 5/16 plated steel bolts with matching nuts and washers. You simply thread the bolts through and snug the nuts down. Take care though. Don't tighten them too snug or you'll crush the foam. Just beyond hand tight is good.

Here's the boat with it's new transom attached:

We'll return to the transom when we attach the gudgeon and hang the rudder/tiller assembly. For now, we move on to the last piece of new wood: the mast deck.

Mast Deck Assembly

With the transom attached, we move forward to the last piece of wood to attach: the mast deck.

The mast deck was prepped and dryfitted previously. The critical part with the mast deck, the mast step, was cleaned up the same way the spars were but left unpainted. It fits the centerhole perfectly. Now it is time to drill the remaining holes that hold the deck to the hull.

When detaching the original mast deck, I noticed that the screws that held it in place let go suddenly. A little probing showed there are threaded sleeves/collars inside the hull that accept the screws and allow them to be tightened down. So when I removed the screws I took them to the local hardware store to match them up.

#10 sheet metal screws are the closest match to the originals in terms of head style (panhead) and thread pitch. I bought the closest size they had at 3 1/2 inches long. Unfortunately, these were a shade shorter than the originals and with the thickness of the wood, would only get a couple of turns for snugness. This was not enough.

The only #10 screws longer than 3 1/2 inches that were readily available were wood screws. These were countersunk instead of panhead. When I test threaded them into the hull, they grabbed without resistance and didn't show much play. This would require me to deviate from the original deck mounting since countersunk screws won't allow me to use washers for reinforcement.

I considered this acceptable and drilled my mounting holes at the positions I measured previously with a drill bit slightly smaller than the #10 screw. With those drilled, I used the tip of a 5/16 inch drill bit to create the countersink hole. With that done I threaded the wood screws into their holes and with a set of quick passes with my drill and a screwdriver bit, drove each home snugly. The mast step slid smoothly into place.

It turned out quite nicely...

My boat is becoming a Snark again with all of her new wood in place:

I raise the mast to check fit and see where we're headed...

With all of the wood in place and a waiting mast, it's time to hang the new hardware and rig the Snark.

Gudgeon and Rudder Assembly

I decided not to make a new rudder assembly for the boat based on the original part I had available. Newer Snarks have a much updated rudder assembly with a longer, lighter tiller and a kick-up rudder blade. Since I rated the effort in making a new rudder and obtaining compatible hardware equal in cost to buying a new one, I simply bought a new one. Now we finally mount it.

The rudder assembly consists of two parts: the gudgeon and the rudder/tiller assembly. The gudgeon is the part that is attached to the transom that we hang the rudder from. On the Snark, this is a plastic part attached with four big self-tapping screws.

Like the mast, it needs to be properly positioned on the boat's centerline. To do this, I measure dthe exact center of the transom at the top and hung a weighted line from that point. Bringing the hull level, the line passes through the exact center of the bottom of the boat. With the vertical centerline established I marked it on the transom. Using the marked line, I use the dimensions of the gudgeon to center it evenly between the top and bottom of the outer transom and its shaft in line with the drawn centerline.

Carefully, I used a drill bit the same size as the gudgeon holes and drilled four pilot holes, just deep enough to allow the screws to get started. With them drilled, I switched to a driver bit and drove all four screws home.

The gudgeon is properly centered. Phew!

With that out of the way, the rest is child's play and I hand the assembled rudder and tiller in place. One shiny, brand-new rudder coming up!


With all of the major subassemblies of the boat attached, the only work remaining is to rerig the spars and mate them to the mast. It is at this point that our Snark "jumps the shark".

The Snark uses nylon eye straps and attached O-rings as line guides on the boom for the mainsheet (the line that controls the main sail from side-to-side). These are basic, no-frills and cheap fittings. Since I have gone to a lot of work to add a touch of class to my Snark, I decided to step things up a bit.

I replaced the nylon eye straps with Harken 1 1/16 inch stainless parts intended as small fairleads. I used new 1/2 inch metal screws to mount them. A total of four are needed: two on the end of each spar, one forward for the mainsheet on the boom and one center on the gaff for the main halyard. I also replaced the pivot bolt for the boom/gaff with a new 1/4 inch stainless machine screw, three fender washers (two in-between, one on the threaded end), a lock washer and nylon lock nut.

To replace the O-rings that guided the mainsheet, I used Ronstan Series 30 Orbit swivel blocks attached to the eye straps. These small blocks fit neatly with their own shackles and two are used on the boom.

Yup, you read that right...a Snark with Harken and Ronstan hardware on it.

We're not done. The original mast deck used a small cleat for the main halyard. The original cleat is perfectly functional but here I am drawing inspiration from my own large sailboat boat and stuff I've read about Snarks. In a capsize I want to ensure the mast stays attached to the boat even if the halyard is undone. A conventional cleat doesn't allow this. I want something different.

My Catalina 27 is rigged for singlehanding. That means all of my lines, both halyards and sheets, are run to the cockpit. With the exception of the boom vang, which requires me to lean into the companionway to access, I can raise or lower the sails from the safety of the cockpit. To achieve this, my halyards descend the mast and go through turning blocks that redirect them along the deck and back to the cockpit and dedicated winches.

I like this setup. So I will repeat it here. Minus the winches, of course.

I use another Harken eyestrap and bolt it through the mast deck. With that in place I mount a third Ronstan swivel block to serve as a 90 degree turning block. This redirects the halyard parallel to the mast deck. To cleat it off when the sail is up or down, I use a Ronstan V-cleat with fairlead instead of a conventional cleat. This allows me to put a stopper knot in the halyard and that prevents the halyard from going through the cleat and stops the mast from parting from the boat.

Lastly, I attach the original Snark capacity plate/sticker from the original mast deck to the new one. This goes on with 3M spray adhesive. It went kind of bubbly but you don't notice from a distance.

Here's the new mast deck rigging:

For the lines, I bought new 3/16" Sta-Set polyester line. Each is 20 feet in length, one for the main halyard and one for the mainsheet. For the working ends, I tied in a small bowline. Through this I ran a 3/16" stainless anchor shackle. The main halyard with shackle attaches to the eye strap on the gaff to allow me to raise and lower the sail. The mainsheet shackle is attached to the top of the tiller, run through the bowline on the mainsheet and the line through the blocks on the boom. A stopper knot on the end of the mainsheet prevents it from being pulled back through the blocks.

Here's the mainsheet rigged and ready to go:

And the main halyard. Note the 3/16" shackle on the top of the gaff:

With these lines attached, we also complete the rigging of the Snark. Without further adieu, may I present Mini-Heeler in her fully restored glory:

I think she turned out quite nicely. The original sail is still a little dirty but what do you expect from free?

Transport and First Sail

With the Snark assembled, there is the natural eagerness to take her out and see how she does on the water. For this, I began fitting the boat for sea and transport to and from. One thing I decided to rig was a means of dragging and carrying the boat. For this, I added an eye screw to the inside transom and loop a double length of polypropylene line to a snap shackle that attaches to the bow eye. On that I tied a large bowline as a drag loop. This allows me to lift the boat using this bridle line or grab the loop to drag the boat across soft surfaces. Works great on grass.

It was during this process I also began to thing of how I was going to arrange storage and equipment in the boat. Since she is an open dinghy, the potential for important things like safety equipment to float away or sink becomes a concern. One of my core ideas for this boat is "all the important stuff stays attached". This concept allows for some neat simple solutions.

One of these is illustrated below in the form of an attached bailer. The bailer is a $2 paint container from Home Depot with a 5/16 inch drilled in the handle. I run a line through it and tie off a stopper knot. On the other end we tie a bowline and attach another 3/16" stainless anchor shackle. To keep the bailer attached, we loop the shackle end around the mast step and close the shackle on the line. The line is long enough to reach the center of the hull and allow the bailer to be retrieved in the event of going overboard or capsize.

Here's the hull derigged for transport with the bridle line attached but with the bailer in place to demonstrate:

The mast step proves to be the central aspect of keeping stuff attached to the boat. In addition to the bailer, I carry a small boat distress kit, a dry sack for my wallet and phone and mesh bag for telescoping paddle, hand compass, water, towel, spare hardware and to store anything else I might need. All of this gets secured around the mast step so it will stay with the boat if she goes over.

With the boat broken down, she gets tied to the roof of my Jeep and off I go to my marina. Four ratchet straps hold the boat securely in place and the spars are bungeed to the roof rack and mast step up underneath. Once at my marina, I reverse the process and carry the new boat to the boat ramp for launching.

Alas, nature intervened. With winds blowing around 10 knots, this was perfect sailing weather despite the heat. However Mr. Murphy decided that the moment I had the boat in the water and was rowing away was the perfect time to have a thunderstorm pass through.

So I found myself holding onto a pier until I was told it would take an hour or so to pass through. So I rowed the Snark to my Catalina and found that it would indeed snuggle nicely against her bigger sister in my slip. I tied her off and climbed aboard my big boat to wait out the storm.

After it passed, I bailed out the boat with her new bailer and went back into the creek to find sunny skies and no wind. So I paddled around the center of the creek, feeling out a sandbar with the paddle and got just enough of a breeze to let me sail, if such a word can be applied, slowly back to the boat ramp.

Here she is after her first successful "sail":

She floats and she looks good doing it!

Final Thoughts

This has been a hugely rewarding project. While I prove the adage that there is no such thing as a free boat, my costs have been reasonable. I did notice some things after my first trip that need resolving. The most notable postscript is the nylon sail really is on its last legs. In the photos above, the lighter diagonal across the sail is actually threadbare nylon and it tore during the first trip out. I can patch it with sail repair tape but a new sail is really in order.

So I ordered a new dacron sail. Now she truly is a new boat. The rest is just some additional fitting and adjustment for the daggerboard in its trunk.

The Snark is not done. I am working on a splash deck forward to give me a little drier space underneath and provide some wave protection. I am also debating cutting some wood and adding a toe rail of sorts to the top of the gunwhales from the mast deck to the transom. This would serve two purposes: to provide some wear protection during transport and give me a place to mount additional sail hardware. I think some cleats added to such a rail would allow me to cleat off the mainsheet instead of having to hold it and likewise do the same for the tiller and let the boat self-steer under sail. I'm thinking some cam cleats would be perfect. Other additions might be a cross beam to allow me to rig a traveller and/or boom vang and a means to hold a raised daggerboard in place. Lots to think about.

It doesn't end here. More posts will come on my trials and experiences with the Snark. I hope you've enjoyed it and learned something. I would welcome any comments and suggestions on how to improve the boat.

Fair winds!

Friday, July 23, 2010

Mini-Heeler Part 3: A Splash of Color

With the wood parts completed, we turn our attention to our repaired but still forlorn and faded hull and the spars. We will begin our work with the spars.

As mentioned in the previous installment, I had obtained a set of spars off of a nice fellow from Craigslist along with a spare daggerboard. The spars that had come with the Snark were painted a gold color with the original nylon eye straps and O-rings for the rigging but using standard hardware store eye screws on the ends for the sail outhauls (the lines that tie and pull the sail tight towards the back of the boat). The masthead "sheave" where the main halyard (line that raises and lowers the sail) had an open top to it.

In the spar set I got afterward, they were plain aluminum but the hardware on them was original and in better condition. So I decided instead to use these spars on the Snark instead of the set that came with it. They would be easier to clean and by this point I had decided I wanted to paint the mast and booms. The mast also had an enclosed hole for the halyard instead of an open top which would allow the line to stay on the mast in the event of capsize.

However, like anything involving an old Snark, these spars had sat neglected for years. An old sail was wrapped around them and when I cut the line holding the spar set together, it started falling to pieces. When I got the booms apart, all that remained of the sail was that on the boom itself. The center had disintegrated years prior. So the remaining useless nylon was cut off and thrown away.

This left me with three dirty aluminum poles with some surface corrosion. Well, there's an easy way to clean up aluminum and make it ready to paint when in this condition.

Go pick up a 3M medium sanding pad from your local hardware store. The type with a sponge center and has the sanding surface wrapped around it. A medium/fine works well too. Then strip all the hardware off the spars, press the pad against the spar so it conforms and sand back and forth. The aluminum corrosion will come right off and with a few strokes, you'll be down to clean, smooth, bare aluminum.

In 10 minutes I went from dirty to shiny and clean. Wear gloves or prepare to wash your hands afterward as the aluminum residue comes off black on the surface of the spars and on your hands. Then get a clean rag or two, put some acetone on it and wipe down the spars to clean the residue off. This removes any oil from your hands and preps the metal for painting.

For paint, I went with a high gloss lacquer enamel. Valdspar from Lowe's in this case. For this boat, I wanted a black mast and booms. Pure aesthetics. I happen to like boats with black rigs.

To paint the spars, I first masked off the end cap where the halyard comes through. Now, how do you paint an 8 foot aluminum pole and its companion 10 foot aluminum poles on all sides evenly?

Lean them up against a tree.

As long as you don't mind a little paint on your tree and grass, it supports the spars and lets you get access to all sides to lay down an even coat of paint at the proper distance and you don't have to strain or find some way to rotate the spar after painting one side.

So we shake up our can of spray paint and lay down several thin coats. The Valdspar is nice because it dries to the touch in minutes and allows you to rotate the spars to get at the hidden ends on the tree and the grass. A single can is also exactly the right amount to paint all three spars.

Let the spars sit overnight and here is the result:

They didn't turn out as nicely as I hoped and it was my fault. I moved the spars from the tree to a table and they rested against each other. However, despite being dry to the touch, the paint hadn't set yet and when I went to move the spars, they stuck together and had picked up some debris that had stuck to them. Portions had gone close to metal or been roughed up. I cleaned them up as best I could since I was out of paint and figured the portions messed would be hidden by the sail anyway and pass the "10 foot" test.

We leave the spars and move on to the main attraction: hull paint.

To a lot of people, finishing the hull represents most of the work. Admittedly, in this project, the hull did represent a significant amount of the time. But that was to get the hull into a condition that I found acceptable and most of that was to accommodate the time needed for the coats of paint to dry. In reality, the biggest piece in the form of the hull is often a fraction of the work when you take into account rigging, electrics and so on. For the Snark, the hull was about half the overall work.

Now for the big question: What color scheme for our Snark? Well, there are two color schemes I prefer in sailboats. One is basic white. You can't go wrong with it. But what typically turns my head and that of many sailors are navy blue hulls with beautiful wood trim. Properly done say with AwlGrip, the finishes are gorgeous and in my view, very traditional and high class. Navy blue just makes a boat look rich. Don't believe me? Look at the color schemes for multi-million dollar megayachts. White ones look like mini cruise ships. Blue ones look wealthy.

I want my giveaway Snark to look beautiful. So I decided my paint scheme will be gloss navy blue for the hull and off-white for the interior and black for the spars. It's a beautiful mix especially with the light shade of varnish of the wood for contrast. After much back-and-forth and research, I took the advice of the Snark sailboat list and went with exterior grade latex house paint. I wanted to use a one-part marine polyurethane but all of them are petroleum-based and would have eaten the hull alive had they come in contact with the foam.

Off to Home Depot I went. So while couples are looking at color chips for their household projects, I'm looking at them for just the right shade for my boat. I went with Behr paint because it was the right type of exterior latex enamel but for another reason....

They actually have a shade of navy blue called "Sailboat"! That's a karmic hint and I asked for two gallons. One of flat off-white for the inside and the other high gloss in "Sailboat". I picked up a set of rollers and trays while I wait and walk out with my paint and the means to apply it.

Little did I know what I'd gotten myself into.

I cleaned the hull of dirt and bugs and wiped it down with acetone. Once that evaporated, I popped the can, mixed the paint, filled the tray and laid down my first coat. Magically, our hull went from a faded yellow to a bright blue:

As you can see, the bleed through of the hull below means we're looking at many coats. Which I apply. This process was the longest taking about 10 days to complete. I managed to do about 1 coat per day. I sanded the paint very, very lightly between coats because it will go back down to the hull if you sand too hard.

So we sand and paint, sand and paint. Contrast the photo of the first coat above with this one after we've applied 6 coats:

The proper shade of navy blue is beginning to appear and blotchiness of the original color is fading. It was this point I flipped the hull over to paint the interior.

The off-white is quite the contrast compared to the original yellow as these two pictures show as I started to apply the first coat of off-white to the interior:

Despite the blue needing several coats to get even coverage, the white went on nicely and dried fast. What had taken me a week to achieve with the navy blue, I achieved in a day with just two coats of off-white.

Here's the hull after the second coat of off-white:

Now she's starting to look like a proper sailboat! I was very pleased with the coverage of the off-white and the nice contrast with the navy blue. Not bad for $30 worth of house paint!

By this point I have the end in sight. After the interior paint dried, I flip the hull back over and apply three more coats of navy blue to cover the hull to my satisfaction and provide a beautiful color. Here is the end result of our hull painting effort:

Again, not perfect but I am pleased with the finish. Hopefully it will hold up nicely. With the painting work done, now it is time to bring everything together. While this work was being done, I acquired the remaining hardware needed to finish the hull and assemble the boat including the new rudder assembly, line, rigging hardware and so on.

I can say looking back a 4 inch roller was best for this work. I put the first coat on with a 9 inch roller and I had some trouble getting even paint onto the compound curves. I switched to the 3 inch roller and used that going forward before getting some additional rollers that were 4 inches instead of 3 inches. These worked very well. They allowed me good control of paint coverage and let me put a coat of paint down in about fifteen minutes. The key to doing this is many thin coats. The rollers make it easy. Use a smooth or semi-smooth roller for this work with a 3/8 inch or higher nap. That is most appropriate allow the gloss paint to settle down smooth and conform to the original hull texture.

We're heading for the finish line. In the next and final installment, we bring it all together and present our new Snark. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Mini-Heeler Part 2: Sawing and Sanding

With our Snark hull cleaned up and inventory taken it is time to begin turning her back into a usable sailboat. Given the state of the wood shown previously, we have no choice but to make new parts. Now in most modern dinghies like Sunfish or Lasers, these are often molded fiberglass parts and quite pricey. On the Snark however, basic marine plywood is the standard material.

Over the years these boats have been around parts have worn out such as those shown here. Given the inexpensive nature of the boat, it is not a surprise there are recommendations for do-it-yourselfers who don't want to order new parts.

As it turns out, 1/2 inch plywood is the standard material throughout. While we can use marine plywood, for an inexpensive boat like a Snark and especially because she's a "free" boat, good exterior grade plywood from the local hardware superstore will do just fine. As long as it straight, lacks any serious edge voids and is properly sealed it will do fine in the water.

So for our new wood, we will follow the advice of CastleCraft and their handy Snark repair tips and obtain new materials locally and to repair our Snark.

Before we can do this, we need to strip the old wood and hardware off the hull and start repairing the dents, punctures and holes in the hull. This is also necessary in preparation to paint the hull. You didn't think we were leaving this boat in boring yellow, did you?

I removed the bow eye, used a pair of bolt cutters to cut the rusted bolts holding the transom piece on and the screws holding down the mast deck backed out with no problems. With the fasteners removed, the wood was taken off the hull and set aside to be used as patterns for new pieces. I removed the mast step and set it aside. Finally the rub rail was peeled off, cleaned after an hour and a bucket of water and soap and hung on the shed to dry. The hull was then placed upside-down on a pair of cheap plastic sawhorses to make it easier to work on.

For repairing the holes, we will do two types of repair. For the big hole from pictures in the previous installment we are going to cut a new piece of styrofoam to fill it in since the hole is so deep, fill the gaps and sand it smooth. For the smaller punctures and dents, we will use two-part epoxy putty.

For epoxy putty, a wonderful kind for this type of repair is called PC-7 or PC-11 epoxy paste. It is available at places like Ace Hardware. It comes it two tins and is mixed 1:1 in equal parts. It has the consistency of thick peanut butter when mixed. It is a great compound for general boat work and I've used it for reinforcing deck core and bedding permanent hardware on my large sailboat. For the Snark, we will use the PC-11 type of putty. The reason is it mixes to a white color making it easier to paint. PC-7 is the "hardcore" stuff and mixes to a dark grey. Great for backing plates on deck hardware, by the way.

First we will start with the large hole repair. For this, we will use styrofoam and an adhesive called Gorilla Glue (available from most hardware stores). Gorilla Glue is waterproof and has excellent gap filling properties. When you apply it, it expands into a foam-like substance making it excellent for filling large spaces. In fact, you can use it for all of your hole repairs if you wish. I didn't except for this case since I prefer epoxy and happen to have a lot of the epoxy putty I use for boat repair available. But if you're on a budget, Gorilla Glue will work fine.

Grabbing some old packing foam, I cut a small piece the same shape as the large bottom hole and worked it into place. With it in place, I squirted a small amount of Gorilla Glue around the edges and into the empty space between the ABS and foam hull to allow it to fill it. After it sets, our repair looks like this:

Once set, I trimmed the foam as close to the hull as possible and lightly sanded it to fair it in. With that done, I was now ready to do final fill of this hole and fill all of the others with epoxy putty.

So we mixed up a small batch of PC-11 and using a putty knife worked it into all of the small holes and cracks over the hull and removed the excess level with the surface of the hull to minimize the amount of sanding we need to do. When filling holes with this stuff, press it into the hole and when you smooth it off, you should see a slight bulge up from the hole. This indicates the hole is full. Leave the bulge and you can sand it off later. With the holes filled, step aside from them for 24 hours to allow the putty to cure and harden. It is good stuff and won't attack the foam beneath. Here an example with the main large hole filled along with some surrounding ones:

With the holes filled, I then broke out my orbit sander with some 150 grit sandpaper and carefully sanded the filled holes even with the surface of the hull. Here are the results after sanding and filling:

The four holes on the transom in a neat square were from the original rudder gudgeon now long gone. On the bow, we used the putty to fill some long cracks in the hull from some long-past previous grounding.

With the hull dents, cracks and holes filled and sanded smooth, we can set aside the hull and turn our attention to the real nub of this restoration effort: new wooden parts.

I decided to make new parts for all of the parts present or missing save for the rudder. Since this Snark uses the old style rudder and I don't have a proper matched gudgeon/pintle to mount it, I decided it was just easier to order a new complete rudder and tiller assembly from the factory. With that decision made and the order placed, I need to make the following pieces:
  • Daggerboard
  • Mast deck
  • Inner and outer transom pieces
The daggerboard is the most challenging since all I have is the bottom of the original. According to CastleCraft, the daggerboard is 1/2 inch plywood 8 1/2 inches wide and 30 inches long. When I applied these measurements to the daggerboard trunk I found them to be rather small. In the interim, I had posted an ad on Craigslist looking for old Snark parts including the daggerboard. To my pleasure, I received a reply offering me a set of spars along with a daggerboard if he could find it. He did so I wound up with a daggerboard to compare against.

In this I decided to play amateur marine architect. Knowing that I wanted a tight fitting daggerboard and feeling the original board looks a little short under the waterline (and the fact I am not planning to use this boat for one-design racing), I decided to deepen and widen the daggerboard. I added about 3/4 of an inch in width to allow it to snug nicely fore and aft in my daggerboard trunk. Depthwise, I increased the length of the board an extra 9 inches giving me just shy of 24 inches (two feet) of board below the hull. While this would increase the Snark's draw by almost a foot, I figured the extra depth would improve stability and make the dinghy a little stiffer under sail. And if it doesn't work, I can always make a new daggerboard to the smaller original dimensions.

So I have nothing to lose except some time and effort. With this in mind, I set aside the free daggerboard I had acquired for later restoration, measured out a rectangle of plywood 9 1/4 inches wide by 39 inches long and used the rotten bottom of the original board as a template for the rounded bottom.

A note on the plywood. For the project I went to Home Depot and bought two sheets of 2x4 hardwood exterior grade plywood. I wound up with some stuff called "Sandeply" because a) it was cheap b) it was stiff, c) it was straight and d) it had the cleanest edges with the least amount of voids as compared to the other hardwood plywoods they offered.

Research has shown that this stuff is not highly regarded by wood workers. It's a South American blend of hardwoods and quality is really hit-or-miss. I recommend sticking to the smaller sheets of any plywood you would use for something like this. Easier to transport, easier to inspect and more likely to have fewer defects over a larger sheet. Total investment was a little over $20. Straightness and lack of edge voids are your primary items.

With the daggerboard pattern traced on one side of a sheet, I laid the delaminated mast deck (actually one layer of it) on the other side, clamped it in place and traced it out. I paid careful attention to the centerhole position as this is critical in insuring the mast step will fit and be vertical. In between, I used the original transom piece and traced out two new matching pieces. Finally on the remaining unused edge, I traced out a strip 18 1/2 inches long and just over an inch wide. This strip will be cut in two and used as a top of the daggerboard that will hold it up and side-to-side when lowered into the trunk.

With the outlines done, I took the plywood outside, broke out the jigsaw and cut out the new pieces. I used a large wood drill bit to drill out the hole for the mast step. I then cut the two daggerboard supports and epoxied them 2 1/2 inches below the top of the daggerboard. I used my sander to round the edges of the daggerboard and tapered the bottom. With everything assembled, I light sanded the surfaces of all the pieces with 220 grit sandpaper to smooth them and then applied a coat of West System epoxy to the daggerboard to seal it. Here are the parts are cutting and initial preparation:

With the pieces cut and shaped, it was time to varnish them. For varnish, I bought a pint of Z-Spar golden amber varnish from West Marine. I wanted something that would dry reasonably quickly and would add a little color to the naked wood.

For the next several days, I would apply a coat of varnish, let the parts sit overnight and in the morning, flip them over and varnish the other side. Between each coat I would lightly sand the varnish smooth with 220 grit sandpaper from a quick pass with the sander, remove any globs and repeat the process. Fortunately the weather co-operated for the week I was doing this. In the end, four coats of varnish were sufficient.

Before the final coat, I drilled out holes on the top of the daggerboard to allow me to create a rope handle. Easier than hollowing out one at the top. I used the original transom as a guide, clamped the two transom pieces together and drilled their holes as a matched part. For the mast deck, I dryfitted it into place. The mast step fit perfectly and I carefully highlighted the mounting holes on the hull with black ink and pressed the deck into them. This left marks on the wood for the hole positions to drill later.

With all of that done, here is the result of a weeks worth of work:

I'm happy with how the completed parts turned out. Not perfect but this is my first time restoring a dinghy as well. With these parts completed and ready to go on the boat, we set them aside and turn our attention to the hull and rigging. Stay tuned!