The Schooner Sara B Log

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February 27, 2010     Post 29
Looking at a major refit

After considerable thought and discussion we have concluded we should try to extend Sara b's life with a major refit. Sara B is a classic chunk of maritime history, but the workboat heritage that is so much of her appeal includes iron nails and steel drifts. Their deterioration and its impact on her oak and cedar limit our renewal options through refastening. To make Sara B truely strong and young again would require about an 80 to 90 % replacement of her wooden structure. A traditional professional re-build, hull only, equivalent to the existing structure is a six figure job. Even if we could do it ourselves, boat grade lumber would run five figures. And one Sara B associate has asked, is this what we should do? Cut down prime increasingly scarce 200 year old forest trees to make a yacht?

An alternative to a new hull is cover the old with a structural layer. People have used narrow strip blanks edge fastened and epoxy sealed, ferrocement, multiple layers of thin cedar or mahogany to create a cold molded outer hull, and fiberglass. after buying several books on these various methods we chose the Vaitses method of resin and multiple layers of heavy glass cloth stapled to the wood. Vaitses details several boat case histories going out 20 years. I found on the web one of these boats that had recently undergone another professional pricey refit nearly FORTY years after the Vaitses job.

If done right, the boat is strong tight and ready to cruise for at least another two decades. It will not be cheap and it'll probably take most of the summer to do. Our preliminary guess estimate if we can do the job in the boat yard is 4 to 5000 dollars.

We propose to cast some of the lead ballast into a long shallow keel and bolt it on to the bottom eliminating much of the annual lead mining labor. This would bolt on thru the existing floors.

This also will require moving the motor ( already done once for tranny job) so as to re-bolt two floors under it.

We'll remove all hardware from the hull and replace the starboard chain plates ( the port side was done in 05)

We'll pull the rudder and possibly the prop shaft
The bottom seams will be cleaned out and re-caulked

The hull will be covered with 4 to 6 layers of heavy cloth topsides and up to 10 layers around the keel. Then it'll be faired and painted.

The deck will be similarly treated.

If done right, this should eliminate the rudder post leak and the annual soak and swell process. It should give us a strong usable schooner for many years to come.

Chris has put up a Facebook page. Those of you so inclined, we'd like to hear from you. There is a discussion board for posts. This will be a big expensive job but its do-able! Its messy and fussy but a lot less exacting than skilled wood working. With some help we might well get her afloat for part of the 2010 season.

Shall we proceed this spring? Chris and I want to. If you have any questions or comments and aren't up to Facebook, email or call us up. Let's keep Sara B sailing!

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