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Thread: Is owning a wooden classic in my home waters a mistake?

  1. #1
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    Default Is owning a wooden classic in my home waters a mistake?

    Iíve been sailing for 40 years and have had a total of 13 sailboats, three of which were wooden but also trailer able boats not kept permanently in a slip. People who know me and my boats say I keep them in excellent shape. Iíve done a fair amount of refurbishing, and I love maintaining bright work.

    Iíll be retiring soon and I recently acquired my USCG MASTER 25 ton license with Sail endorsement, as my desire is to do day and short charters. Although it would be great to make money at it, Iím more about exposing people to the joys of sailing, and hopefully to a classic sailing vessel, preferably gaffed rugged. If I can offset the majority off my costs Iíll be happy.

    Now to where Iím hopeful some input and wisdom from the participants in the forums here will be of help to me.

    I want to charter out of the Orange Beach Alabama area. I know those waters extremely well and other than the heat and humidity love most everything about the area. It is the weather however and its toll on wooden vessels I want input on. The type of boats I am attracted to are typically found in the Northeast and some on the west coast. We have very shallow water so most have a draft that scares me off. I can however find an occasional boat drawling 5 1/2 feet which would work, although less than five is ideal. Iím home battling the flu now so last evening I decided to do some research to determine if what I had heard for years is true regarding how severely the weather in our area affects wooden vessels. I was troubled by what I read, thus read further. One of the boats Iím enamored with is located near Los Angeles California. The other is in Boothbay Maine. I decided to do some weather comparisons and although I knew generally what to expect I was a bit surprised by the below.

    Averages for July 11 arbitrarily picked from mid summer season
    High for the day. Water Temp. Midday humidity. ANNUAL RAINFALL
    Los Angeles. 82. 67. 65%. 15 inches
    Boothbay ME. 74. 58. 22%. 48 inches
    Orange Beach AL. 88. 84. 86%. 68 inches

    Iím not sure how hard the humidity is on a boat. I do know that conventional wisdom says itís freshwater that is hard on a boat and as you can see we get a hell of a lot of rain. I canít imagine water temp has any affect on a hull, but am I wrong? Itís possible there are organisms that flourish in such warm water that might not even exist in the other two ports.

    Previously I stated that my boats stay ď BristolĒ. I foresee an even heightened obligation to something old and classic, so Iím already wondering if I would be being fair to her bringing her to this part of the world. It may well be there are no ďwooden classicsĒ here for a reason, although we still see some wooden shrimp boats.

    I realize Iíd be stepping into an extremely high maintenance world, but am I a fool for wanting to do this? It wouldnít be the first time Iíve made an emotional decision rather than an objective one when it comes to a boat, so Iím hopeful I get plenty of candid and helpful input here.

    Thanks in advance for your thoughts.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Is owning a wooden classic in my home waters a mistake?

    There is an article in WB mag back in 1988 or so that addresses keeping wooden boats in the tropics, which seems very applicable. Would be worth the $3 or so for the digital back issue.

    Their bottom line was yes, it can be done. Special care is needed, particularly being quick to respond to any budding issues before they spread.

    An absolutely tight deck is the biggest important note, which probably means dynel set in epoxy. Good ventilation is the second most important, so fans and open vent paths through all lockers and under the sole.

    After that its a matter of light colored paint, keeping the paint in good condition above and below the water, and replacing any suspect wood immediately. Look for boats with copper or bronze fastenings. Galv steel doesn't do well in those conditions.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Is owning a wooden classic in my home waters a mistake?

    How about those nasty worms that like to burrow into keels and planking? Those are found in warm waters.
    I was born on a wooden boat that I built myself.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Is owning a wooden classic in my home waters a mistake?

    Easily done.

    First: NO VARNISH. Light colors. If you're bold, look at some of the aquamarine and yellow paint plans you find in the Bahamas. Or go with white, off-white, ecru, tan.

    Second: VENTILATION. Invest in solar/battery vents and scatter them everywhere.

    Third: Keep the boat in the water but do a "shave-and-a-haircut" haul to clean and paint the bottom twice a year. Worm is a problem in northern and southern waters but so many in northern waters haul for the winter and paint the bottom annually so they don't get in as often up here. Giving the bottom a refresher coat twice sounds like a lot but it's really only a day's work each time.

    Little extra things are always nice: bird deterrence at spreaders and truck; good deck and cockpit drainage; an easily deployed and windproof awning that stretches from the main shrouds to the backstay . . .

    Think about a centerboard boat.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Is owning a wooden classic in my home waters a mistake?

    Thank you Ian. A couple of questions.
    1 Do you say no varnish just because i is so hard to stay ahead of it in the GOM climate?
    2 am I correct in my recollection that worms won’t impede good bottom paint, but a brush with the bottom sometimes removes enough bottom protection to give them a way in?
    3 the twice per year approach, I get that you would go ahead and paint it all once out but are you really doing it that often just to make sure you haven’t scuffed it and made it vulnerable?
    4 are you recommending centerboard for reasons related to 2 and 3 above?

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Is owning a wooden classic in my home waters a mistake?

    Some might say owning a woodenboat is a mistake anywhere. Not here mind you!

    I'm about the same latitude as Alabama - which doesn't mean the same climate of course.
    All good advice above, you'd be pretty solid with that I'd say.

    Keep it ventilated, keep the fresh water out, keep the worms out.
    Shade at anchor is so very welcome.
    Philip K. Dick ó 'Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away'.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Is owning a wooden classic in my home waters a mistake?

    Chat with the folks over in Biloxi at the Maritime Museum about their schooners. And the folks over at Panama City had the 140 year old schooner GOVERNOR STONE in fine shape, until Hurricane Michael. She will be rebuilt. I think hurricanes are a big reason that there are not a lot of old boats down here, wood, fiberglass, metal, concrete.... Centerboard is of benefit in the shoal waters off the Gulf Coast.

  8. #8
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    Default

    Some of the Aussies here keep wooden boats in the water in the tropics. As has been said, no deck leaks, good ventilation, and attention to bottom paint. Oh and no galv fastenings. Get those things sorted and you'll be fine. Shade over the cockpit is good but you know that already.

    Sent from my CPH1851 using Tapatalk

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Is owning a wooden classic in my home waters a mistake?

    You could consider "Spirit of Tradition" vessels, built with modern wood techniques.
    Like this Schooner, very well adapted to day charter with its enormous deck space and built in cold molded wood, probably epoxied. She's 55' on deck and drafts 6.3'.
    BTW this one is really a lot of boat for the money.
    If too big for your project smaller Schooners have been designed by the same architect, like my Anthťa.
    Anthťa's generation are not epoxied but built on laminated keel and frames, resorcinol glued. The planking is very strong and waterproof with from inside to outside, strip planking, two layers of molded mahogany, and then " classic" thin iroko planking.
    About the bright work, I'm very happy with Coelan. I had to start to redo it on Anthťa last season, after 9 years without any touch-up, and extensive cruises in the med, Caribbeans and USA within this period.

    Last edited by Rapelapente; 03-06-2019 at 08:38 AM.
    Gerard.
    SCHOONER FOR EVER, GOELETTE A PERPETE

    http://www.goelette-anthea.fr

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Is owning a wooden classic in my home waters a mistake?

    @Rapelapente: Could you share more information about the construction details of the laminated keel? Is it full-width, 1.5 or 3 mm layers epoxied to the overall dimensions of a keel timber, or are the veneers less than full-width? Any useful links about laminated keels would be appreciated. Thanks.

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Is owning a wooden classic in my home waters a mistake?

    Here is the structure design of Anthťa. The veneers are mostly full width and quite thick, around 2 cm.

    Last edited by Rapelapente; 03-06-2019 at 08:51 AM.
    Gerard.
    SCHOONER FOR EVER, GOELETTE A PERPETE

    http://www.goelette-anthea.fr

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Is owning a wooden classic in my home waters a mistake?

    And some pics taken during the building process, showing the keel lamination.

    http://www.goelette-anthea.fr/pages/...struction.html


    and a planking sample, in conformity with the designer specs.



    Last edited by Rapelapente; 03-06-2019 at 08:50 AM.
    Gerard.
    SCHOONER FOR EVER, GOELETTE A PERPETE

    http://www.goelette-anthea.fr

  13. #13
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    Default Re: Is owning a wooden classic in my home waters a mistake?

    Varnish is not all that UV resistant. It used to be that New England boats with varnished spars and trim planning a year or two south would paint over the varnish while down south, sanding down to the varnish when back home. Anyway, paint is far easier to maintain and does a better job of protecting the wood.

    Breaking the bottom paint barrier lets worms in. That can be from either simple age and sloughing (if an ablative paint) or from physical damage as scraping the bottom.

    In glass boats you'll see more "keel/centerboard" boats while in wooden boats it's more likely that the centerboard and trunk intrude into the accommodation. Mainly, a board gives a bit more shallow water room. If you have a centerboard, some attention needs to be paid to the inside of the trunk and to the board itself.

    Up here I haul and paint once a year but I put her aground every three or so months for a scrub down. Were I down south I might do one of those scrubs on a tide with a bit of touch up bottom painting and one real haul with full painting.

    A smart dodge is to put down two coats of bottom paint with contrasting colors. That way you can easily see when the outer barrier is getting thin.

  14. #14
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    Default Re: Is owning a wooden classic in my home waters a mistake?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ian McColgin View Post

    A smart dodge is to put down two coats of bottom paint with contrasting colors. That way you can easily see when the outer barrier is getting thin.
    Bien vu ! I'm gonna do it in April!
    Gerard.
    SCHOONER FOR EVER, GOELETTE A PERPETE

    http://www.goelette-anthea.fr

  15. #15
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    Default Re: Is owning a wooden classic in my home waters a mistake?

    My 39' ketch Wandering Star was built near Tampa and lived her first 40 years in South Florida. She is still sound after 50 years, you could spend the day looking for rot, and might find the two small spots in hatch coamings. Her construction is strip planked cedar on Long Leaf Yellow Pine, no glass or resin on the hull. The decks are glass/ply. Except for the helm, the only varnish is inside. The exterior teak is bare, everything else is painted. She has large vents on the hatches that let air in, but not rain. I think you can own a wooden boat on the Gulf. Good luck, keep us posted.

  16. #16
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    Default

    I'd suggest you study the designs of the East coast. The Meriwold oyster schooner does faitly well in the waters out this way, also there are cat boats, cat ketches, sharpies, but it's the same old same old, shallow draft is generally for blue water.

    I've been out on a couple windjammers in Maine that were wood, fully crewed fully operational and still lacking in maintenance. Maybe, just maybe an old vessel that's been encapsulated with veneer and epoxy and cloth (cold molding) would fair better in warm Waters.

    The old sacrificial keel is usually long gone before anyone even thinks about checking the the deep dark recesses of one of these craft. For example just look at Victoria our friends are tearing apart up in Massachusetts on the Arabella thread here.

    Go glass go sailing!🤣
    Denise, Bristol PA, Oday30, Anchor Yacht Club, On tidal Delaware River. my current project; http://forum.woodenboat.com/showthre...0-Ducker-Resto

  17. #17
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    Default Re: Is owning a wooden classic in my home waters a mistake?

    @Rapelapente: Thank you so much for the pictures. Very instructive. I'm warming to the notion of a laminated keel. Very much so, in fact. And, I liked being able to see narrow veneers being used. Yours look about 10 cm wide. All others I've seen appear at least 30 cm wide.

  18. #18
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    Default Re: Is owning a wooden classic in my home waters a mistake?

    Be aware that to take paying guests out on the water may require some significant changes to ballast, railings/lifelines, etc -- best to build for those CG requirements rather than have to retroactively install them as has happened to some big boats out here.

    Another option is to go with a heavy fiberglass hull, then build the hell outa her with lovely wood interior, spars, railings, etc. I sailed on a 72' ferro schooner here a few times and she was magnificent, but sadly was lost some years ago. This also avoids the insurance and marina-approval issues that large wooden-hulled boats often encounter.





    Last edited by Thorne; 03-06-2019 at 11:35 AM.
    "The enemies of reason have a certain blind look."
    Doctor Jacquin to Lieutenant D'Hubert, in Ridley Scott's first major film _The Duellists_.

  19. #19
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    Default Re: Is owning a wooden classic in my home waters a mistake?

    Can you tie up in a freshwater creek or river, but sail in salt water? Seems to me that would help a lot with the bottom care.

    If your boat is shallow-draft, this beomes a lot easier, and more cruising places become available for you and your guests too.

  20. #20
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    Default Re: Is owning a wooden classic in my home waters a mistake?

    How many passengers are your considering? Six or few so you can use an "uninspected" boat or over six which will require a inspected boat which meets sub-chapter T rules? The latter may significantly reduce the number of suitable boats.

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