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October 25, 2005     Post 8
The first season ends



The OMF Ontario - first sail
All too soon the sailing season ends. September's days shorten, fall colors show on shore, and the waters of Fair Haven bay grow emptier of boating even as more wild geese and over wintering ducks appear. Sara B was hauled in September and the crew turned to and made another list for the next round of "fix it" projects. We again trucked the masts home for storage. As we made our lists we also looked back on some very pleasant memories of the short but pleasurable summer. Hard to believe just one year ago we were seeing this old boat for the first time. She's claimed a big chunk of our lives since then. But it's been fun.

We got enough time in with Sara B between June and September to at least begin to get the general idea of sailing a schooner. And the old boat certainly did her share of entertaining taking dozens of relatives and friends out for a sail. She did a sailing lesson of sorts for two Silver Waters Sailing recruits- they are building a 30 foot gaff rigged Tahiti Ketch so I invited them to sail on our own gaffer. We even took Sara B off on a very short cruise - up to Oswego for the commissioning of the OMF Ontario, the educational ship that is nearing completion there. We had a grand romp up with a brisk south wind and flat water. That night it rained and we alas, found that there were still a few deck leaks. Sigh. But it was a good cruise and we lay plans to make more longer trips with her next year - get her over to Canada and Main Duck.


The Sea Scout's schooner Lotus at the OMF commissioning
As the summer went on we continued to get many a look from the jetty walkers and the passing boaters as we sailed our odd little gaffer. Almost every time we went out with her on the bay and sometimes just when we sat on the mooring some one would come by in a boat and call out some sort of complimentary remark- Sara B was photographed and videotaped and she had her portrait painted at least twice. Charter guests and friends said she was "interesting", "gorgeous",”"regal" and a number of times we heard“your boat is so beautiful”from friends and strangers alike. Definitely a boat that turns heads. Shortly before we hauled both boats, Chris took Sara B out and I took Titania and chased him around with a nice ten knots of wind. The two yachts were quite evenly matched on a reach in light wind. Of course, Titania has the advantage going upwind, but I suspect with a stronger breeze Sara B might leave her astern on a reach. I took lots of photos and we'll put one or two up.


Titania out sailing with Sara B
Alas all too soon her season was over and she was back on the shore for another round of work. High on the list is replacement of a worm damaged plank section to starboard ( and at some point probably one on port side.) We called around trying to get some old growth long leaf pine through salvage lumber suppliers but couldn't get the quality and dimensions we wanted. Latest thinking is to use western red cedar for replacement planking. We also have to re-visit the

rudder shaft leaks since the first fix attempt failed. We plan to try the liner idea this time since the casting putty didn't fill in all the holes. What to make the liner out of remains a question, one possible idea, PVC caulked in place. We might have to re-do the rudder stock to compensate for the reduced diameter of the shaft if we do put in some sort of liner. Two bolts where the stem piece joins the keel need replacement. If we can’t get them out, we'll probably put two new ones in along side the old.

Sara B is iron fastened with iron and steel bolts and drifts holding her together. Because a wooden boat is only as good as its fastenings, we are going to be evaluating the state of these more fully this fall and winter. Some supplemental galvanized screws were added to her bottom at some point in the past, however, it appears that additional screws might be appropriate. When we took a 12 foot section of worm damaged plank off we found a number of the nail heads totally wasted. In most the shank remained firmly embedded in the rib, though, which means maybe not too much "nail sickness" to deal with. But the amount of rust and wastage seen here makes us think a refastening program below the waterline is in order this season.

There are two broken frames, both cracked at the tight turn in the bilge back aft of the engine, one to each side, one of which is where we have a plank section removed so we're planning to go ahead and replace/reinforce that broken frame this fall. Still to be determined is how- laminated in place? Sawn frame? Or laminated over a form and then put in place? We're favorably impressed with the 5200 on the rudder stock and thinking we’ll use 5200 for the frame lamination as well.


Sara B
There's some small sections of deck plank that need replacement and one deck beam has suffered from some rot up forward. For now the plan is treat that with preservatives, replace the plank over it, and keep an eye on it. We may eventually need to do a sister or other wood replacement of the beam.

We got along reasonably well with Lake Ontario's oldest living Thorneycroft, which pretty much always started upon request, though we did weather one crisis in July, a leaking water pump. The pump, a centrifugal type gear driven with a bronze impellor, is not something you're easily going to find a part for. The part in question was a rotary seal. After a spell of research on the Internet, discussion with mechanical acquaintances and thinking it over, Chris decided to try installing a replacement ceramic seal to mate with the graphite seal that was in the pump. He purchased a selection of various sized rotary seals from the local plumbing store and the internet and we found one of them, a Jacuzzi pump seal, was close to the desired size. We crammed it in there and bolted it all together and it worked for the rest of the summer. We hope it'll last a year or two. We think it would be nice to have a functioning temperature gauge and a more easily read oil pressure indicator available when we're motoring. Adding/restoring these items to the engine looks like a reasonably do-able project.


Last year we dosed the area aft including the taff rail, arch and knees with preservatives and CPES and hoped for the best. So far the treatment appears to have worked well at stabilizing rot. At some point new wood is required. Will it go in next spring? Possibly. One project is to procure a grown crook of rot resistant locust, possibly from my sister's hedgerow for use as an arch brace.

In October after the boats were hauled we took a short road trip up the Maine Coast and on to Sara B's homeland of Nova Scotia. This was great fun for neither of us had ever seen this area of northern waters, forested shores and LOTS of rocks. We stopped in at Lunenburg to admire the Bluenose II and the Theresa Connor both docked by the Fishery Museum. We also studied closely the various smaller schooners that we encountered on the trip seeking clues as to how a schooner is supposed to be rigged. And we enjoyed seeing evidence of an ongoing inshore fishery, still pursued in distinctive locally built "Cape Island" boats.


Titania %26 Sara B on a misty morning
We also visited with a schooner owner who was in the midst of a major re-build of his 30 foot Elsie, a boat built by the same boatwright who oversaw Sara B's construction, Ray Stevens. Elsie had undergone a complete refastening, every bolt being removed and replaced in her keel, stringers and deck clamps. She had also been re-planked using locally obtained pine. Her design was originally published in a do-it-yourself magazine and was very different from the traditional Tancook hull that Stevens used for Sara B. Elsie was a good deal beamier, had more free board and had outside ballast. Her construction was also a bit less work boat like than Sara B who has massive knees, doubled frames by the chain plates and an abundance of breast hooks to help tie deck and hull together. Elsie, built in the 1960's also had a more modern arrangement of metal rudder stock and tube rather than the wooden rudder case that makes access to things s

o challenging for us with Sara B. Elsie's owner had been at work for two and a half years. He figured he had about a year to go. His dedication and energy were quite awe inspiring. We hope fervently never to get that deep into Sara B's structure!


Sara B to get a new plank
Our travels also took us to Chester and Mahone Bay and here we took the salty little steel ferry out for a quick look at Tancook Island. We didn’t see much, not having time to go ashore and hike around much, but it was interesting to view Sara B's ancestral "home" first hand. There is still a small community here, a tiny post office and one room school up on a knoll over looking the little harbor on the island's west side. We watched as the ferry unloaded several small pallet sized cargo boxes containing an islander's washing machine, a load of firewood, some groceries and a couple mail sacks all promptly picked up by residents driving assorted unregistered jalopies and trucks. Nearby Little Tancook was much quieter. Only one passenger, a young woman, boarded the ferry here and no cargo transfers.

We left Nova Scotia with memories of its great beauty and sparse population. It's an area we'd like to explore further. As we drove along the St. Lawrence viewing its vast flats and big tidal range and straight uninviting coastline, we thought this looked like a place the outbound cruiser might not linger in. It must have been a long trip back in the 50s for the then unballasted Sara B traveling with her spars on deck from Nova Scotia to NY via Lake Champlain and the Hudson. I'm not sure I'd want to make that trip with a 15 horsepower motor. Maybe we can find a photo or two from the trip to post here.

Sara B's Very big sister Bluenose II




Unloading the ferry at Tancook Island


Rather forbidding St Lawrence shore






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