Living with a classic yacht

Owning a wooden classic doesn’t have to be a nightmare of paint, varnish, rot and corruption. A planned maintenance program with the work spread over the year makes lite of the work and keeps the yacht pristine.  Planned maintenance also is the great excuse to go down to the boat to do a bit of sanding, a bit of painting and a bit of shuteye in a nice comfortable bunk.

But as they say the best laid plans.  Wooden boats have their own agenda. A leak in the garboard waits on no man. It demands action. Failure to do so means relying on bilge pumps and float switches to keep the boat afloat.  This is the path to broken sleep wondering whether the solar panel is keeping up with the laboring pump.

If you need to contract out the work remember shipwrights cultivate a vast vocabulary of nautical terms to insure the PBOs (poor bloody owner’s) can’t query the bill without admitting their ignorance.

If you intend doing the work yourself prepare to be inundated with fatuitous advice from the spectators who will gather like crows at a road kill. Their usual habitat is the Club bar.

There are plenty of books that will lead the uninitiated carefully through the pitfalls of boat repair.   Learning the skills necessary to maintain it is one of the great pleasures of owning a wooden boat.  Looking at a seam of perfectly even loop and tuck caulking ready to be hardened is enough to make the heart sing.

My favorite reference would have to be Bud McIntosh’s book “How to build a Wooden Boat. Excellently illustrated the book takes us through the tried and true techniques of shipbuilding. In this folksy narrative Bud McIntosh takes the student shipwright through all the skills needed to build and maintain the student’s wooden boat.

If you have decided that the skills and time required are not your scene prepare yourself to meet the shipwright. The shipwright is a master tradesman. He can build a boat; he can paint it, wire it and perform all manner of the skills in a nautical environment. The shipwright is invariably busy and one might get the impression he is doing you a favour with his presence.  He may not be able to walk on water but his boats certainly can. He will keep your pride and joy afloat in good order and the bilge dry.

So now that you or your shipwright have restored your classic yacht to its former glory just remember you are only the custodian of a work of the shipwright’s art that may well out last the soulless fiberglass  production boats that have succeeded it.

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