Anniversaries come too often. Every year! The one for marriage is particularly daunting. What do you give the girl who has given you so much this year? More diamonds? A new vacuum cleaner? You see my dilemma. It is easy to get in a rut, but how many appliances can one women own? This year I’m not sure I played it safe, but I hope both wheels aren’t in the ditch. No, not a new car! You crazy? However, I may be closer to one end of the spectrum of desires. Anyway, in looking across Craigslist (Yes I said it. Should I have gone to Wally Mart?), I found a 1958 Beetle Cat, in much need of love. Despite its disheveled condition, it brought to mind the simple joy at 9 years old when I sailed my first boat, a similar small craft called a Turnabout. I’ve long thought that if I could place anyone at the helm of such a boat, they’d be hooked on the joy so many know. But as a gift to your wife?! I know. I know.
Well, I went to see the little 12′ boat anyway and determined there was too much involved, thanked the seller for his time and left. The mistake was that I had taken pictures and continued later to gaze at them. This boat wasn’t so horrible. Look at that “moccasin” sheer (Thanks Peter). Before long I had a list of repairs and, predictably, had rationalized a second visit.
The now 4th owner had her for several years, but said he’d never launched her. Before his time the hull and deck were glassed in 1986, not something generally done to a wooden boat, but it just may have been this one’s salvation. After sounding the hull and reassessing that list, my offer was accepted. “Watermelon” was secretly hauled home. Her color scheme befit her name, green, pink and beige. That had to go. Renamed, “Camille”, after my girl, the ownership stuck and a commitment began. All the bronze hardware mounted to the spars was removed to soak in antifreeze held in a crock pot (no, not the one from the kitchen). Decades of varnish sloughed off overnight. Removing the same layers from the spars chemically proved too arduous. Scrapers, a hand plane and sanding worked faster. Mast hoops were stripped and restored with a “boat soup” used on my kayak paddles. The hoops are now a nice contrast to the varnished mast and slide much better. Perhaps the biggest task was repairing the broken fiberglass cracks parallel to either side of the keel at the centerboard case. This required cutting out old glass, fastening stainless screws from keel to case, bunging holes, fairing all with epoxy and wood flour and then tapering two layers of glass from keel to inside of case. One item not foreseen was a swollen centerboard from old rusted iron drift pins. After some scraping and discovering rot there also, I elected to make a new board. Three layers of Okoume marine ply sandwiched epoxy and glass between. Lead was cast in a cut out and the entire thing glassed with an epoxied and graphite mix.
Topsides were primed, sanded and given 3 coats of Interlux Brightsides using the roll and tip method. A portable garage kept dust and bugs to a minimum. One more coat of bottom paint, and she is going for a sail. The remaining interior cleanup can come along later. So far I’ve 4-5 solid days in the effort. She’s starting to shine and debuted this past Sunday. As insurance a long loving letter accompanied the presentation. Hard to believe, but the sentiments were reciprocated. I had a feeling. Camille was too pretty to cast off.
Has anyone seen my wife? More later-