Ah, workin’ on my boat… Well, not too much has happened lately, but a big push is about to occur. Two of my best friends arrive in a couple weeks, and they’ve made a lot of big talk about helping with the boat!
In the meantime, i’ve been focussed on the companionway hatch. The sliding hatch itself was pretty much tore down to a few bits of wood; the four basic framing pieces were salvagable, while the planking atop the unit was all scrapped. The hatch garage and attached dodger coaming have been removed, and new pieces made up to replace the rough parts. i’ve sanded the cabintop smooth for a clean mating surface, and drilled out the old screw holes to accept beefy 1/4″ lag screws.
i’ve milled new runners for the hatch slides, and salvaged the funky-looking bronze bearing surface; amazing what muriatic acid and a little wet-sanding will do to renew gunky bronze!
The previous tops to both the hatch and garage were of splined teak planking. The new surfaces will be of West-saturated marine ply, fiberglassed. The drawback to this technique is that it makes it very difficult to get the garage apart later, if needed. The plus side is that, if all goes well, i should never eveer need to!
It’s important to me to have both a hatch and garage that can be stood on with impunity. Too many flimsy ‘glass garages make you second-guess your footing; when you happen to be standing there, wrestling a bouncing boom into the gallows, or setting up the third reef, you don’t want to think about whether the surface you’re standing on is tough enough or not!
The old cabintop grab rails were artfully built running forward out of the dodger coaming, but that left a tight corner at the joint aft where water and gunk looked apt to collect. Also, the grabrails, besides being worn, were too short to let me get my fingers wrapped completely around them. i prefer tall, burly grab rails, tall enough both to grab, but also tall and stout enough to quickly hitch a line around without any struggling. Stowed dinghies, sail-ties, fenders… all will end up lashed to a grab rail eventually, on any boat, so i’m gonna go ahead and build stout, through-bolted steel rails with rough service in mind.
Another big project in the works is the bowsprit. i want an “a-frame” bowsprit; this eliminates whsker stays, and provides a wide, comfortable platform for anchor- and sail-handling. i have a salvaged anchor platform from a Gulfstar 60 that is going to serve as the basis of the construction. The Gulfstar unit is a “U” shape of 2″ stainless tubing, with the body of the “U” filled with a single flat 1/4″ stainless plate. slot-boxes and anchor-rollers are supported by the plate, and the whole is overlain with 1 3/4″ teak. Obviously, waaaaay to heavy. i’ll delete the rollers, the teak, and all of the plate excepting a 1″ tab all around the perimiter of the tubing, then section the tubing and re-weld to turn it from a “U” to a “V”. The footpads will have to be redone to fit my hull shape. i’ll save a lot on labour and materials this way, as the overall size is close, the material is good, and the curves are already bent. To keep the weight down, i’m looking at alternatives to teak planking or grating for the bowsprit infill; fiberglass grating is something that appeals to me.
Centaurea is, frankly, an unusual-looking boat. One advantage of this is that i don’t feel particulary beholden to stick to any certain classic-boat aesthetic; steel grabrails, a-frame bowsprits, and plastic grating wouldn’t seem so out of place on her. The original factory-option bowsprits were of cast aluminum, and the spars are already in fibreglass! For a sailboat, this was all pretty radical, cutting-edge stuff in ’65. My co-worker has a ’72 Bristol 35, and he’s taking great pains to redo all the woodwork and deck fittings in a way that best suits the clean, classic lines of the boat. On the other hand, i feel like i have more of a free hand to experiment and use what construction and materials will give best performance in the long haul.