The Schooner Sara B Log

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May 10, 2007     Post 13
Canvasing the deck

Foredeck refastened and patched
(April 28)
As the birds head north and the ice goes out of the bay, we find ourselves back at the boat yard, concentrating on renewing Sara B's decks. After pulling up a couple of punky sections of deck plank and evaluating the condition of the deck beams underneath (which ranged from ok to awful) we have decided to replace a half dozen or so sections of decking. We cut out a nuber of six to 10 foot long sections of old deck strips, then sprung new strips of locally obtained white pine, supplied by Sanzotta's sawmill last fall and air dried over the winter. Then we'll re-caulk and then fair and smooth the deck and lay canvas. This is we think a better solution than Gluvit and yet could be reversed at a later date if some ambitious person or group of persons wanted to replace deck beams and restore the original laid plank deck.

Prolonged leakage and rusted galvanized steel fasteners have taken their toll on the oak deck beams in a number of areas. The present plan is to dig out the rot pockets, treat with cpes and borates, fill with epoxy putty, install new sections of plank, and then hopefully cover the whole works with a waterproof covering. At some distant future, Sara B probably ought to get about a half dozen new deck beams. The worst rot and fastener sickness seems to be in the shortœhalf beams along the side decks, especially to starboard. There are a couple of beams aft with soft spots on the ends especially to port, and one forward that was treated last year with Cpes and borates and seems to have stayed stable.

Afterdeck refastened and patched
>A partial refastening of the existing deck with stainless has given us some idea of the condition of the underlying beams. Roughly a third of the new 2 inch screws put in next to old ones failed to find solid wood. Three inchers put in the holes generally did get down into something solid except in a couple of spots where we hit another fastener. So the corrosion/rot has taken its toll, and now we know why the old timers put those husky three by three deck beams in their boats. So there would be something left in fifty years.

We'll continue to monitor this situation as best as possible, and our hope is that by doing a canvas job we can prevent further water intrusion and with it, more rot.

We have started removing fittings in preparation for the re-canvas job. This includes the bowsprit, forward pin rail, windlass, deck hardware, and the arch, and knees, which came off with the hole saw technique around the screws. The deck under the arch didn't look too bad. The mushy knee that we filled with putty and antifreeze didn't seem to have infected the oak plank beneath too badly. We suspect that the original bedding of these with white lead might have helped. And the arch looks solid enough to save and re-use. The original arch and knees was a tricky little piece of wood working, the knees being made from grown crooks and having all sorts of subtle bevels and angles. After a search for some local crooks, we've decided to just make up two pieces with a joint and cut the knee from that. Not as classy, but that's what we have on hand. I think the original assembly was somebody's extra credit project as part of their apprenticeship- alas, we are not apprentices. Just total amateurs.

The aft trim piece on the stern (properly termed the taff rail, I think) which we had also previously doused with antifreeze is off and scheduled for replacement. The piece of mahogany underneath looks so-so - we did antifreeze and borates treatment here and will keep an eye on it as best we can.

Canvasing begins
>(May 10)
We've been toiling away on the deck job. Last week we got all the patches in and caulked after giving the soft spots in the deck beams a dose of antifreeze-borates with a cpes chaser. I then filled all the cavities with epoxy putty so the screws would have something to hold.

We spent last Saturday trimming and laying canvas. We laid it in wet paint and used some wonder glue "goop" from the hardware store that my brother-in-law uses to repair his blue jeans to glue it down at strategic points. After crawling around on our hands and knees painting and trimming and laying it down for seven hours, we were about toiled out. But it looked pretty good when finished. I told Chris he could always take up a new career as a carpet layer if he gets tired of software.

I've since put four coats of paint and this weekend we're planning on starting to screw all the various hardware back on and also install wooden trim around the cabin-deck joint and at edge of canvas. I hope to finish a re-caulking of topsides so as to allow for sanding and painting of hull early next week. We are going to try putting flat black on this year - something that the magazine says is suitable for traditional boats ( translation - beat up old boats with lots of age marks on their topsides). Then it's on to the bottom...

Foredeck canvased
>Brother-in-law Toby took on the arch and knees job and has used 5200 on a mortise and tenon type joint to create a right angle of white oak. He now has to cut the bevel. He found that the knees also had a slight inward curve (to follow the arch). He figures maybe he can put that on with the belt sander. I suppose this is not proper traditional boat carpentry but it's what we think might work.

We scheduled the launch for weekend of May 19.