Saturday, December 10, 2011

Long Beach Boat Show 2011

     After Valerie and I returned from Italy, the organizers of the up coming Long Beach Boat Show, called to ask if the Atkin Yawl could be ready to display at the boat show this year. They wanted to have a public draw and knew that a classic, historic yawl would help bring in patrons. Working fast and furious, we managed to get the last of the finishing touches ready for show. I found an antique brass compass and binnacle on eBay to replace the scratched and dented chrome one. The new brass water pump replaced the old, rusted stainless steel at the galley sink, but the copper tubing to the water tanks was not has yet to be addressed. Also, Lendsey Philpott, author of the definitive decorative knot book, The Ultimate Book of Decorative Knots, came aboard and tied Turks heads on the "King pin" of the wheel, the wheel shaft, made a decorative mat for the cockpit, and made eight new sail ties for the main, mizzen and staysail.

            The show was only a few miles from the boat yard where the restoration was being done, but because of a rail road lift bridge, I had to take the boat the long way around Terminal Island, past San Pedro, and the LA Gate to get around to Rainbow Harbor, where the show was being held. The engine hadn't been run for several months, but it started easily and seemed to run fine. My friend Bill came with me and we eased out to the main channel and pointed her toward the Vincent Thomas bridge. After a couple hundred yards the engine started to slow down. I nudged the throttle, and it picked up but shortly it slowed again. By now we were half way to the fuel dock, where I was headed to top off the tanks. We made it, but when I tried to restart the engine after fueling, the 30's vintage flat-head Gray Marine, refused to start.

            The guys at the fuel dock suggested I call a local mechanic who arrived within the hour and then for the next two hours tinkered with the engine. He finally got it going again, and we were off, but within two hundred more yards the same thing happened. It started to slow and finally died entirely. The wind was whispering at less than five knots, and the tidal currents were pushing us toward the rocks. Bill and I got the mizzen and staysail up, giving us just enough way on to ease away from the rocks and head toward the Queens Gate side of the harbor. I then called the electrician, Ian, who had been replacing the electrical wiring on the boat, and who had a Boston Whaler moored at long Beach's Shore Line Marina; he volunteered to come to our rescue. The wind had picked up a little by the time Ian arrived with the Whaler and we were sailing comfortably down wind. He came along side, secured the lines, and we proceeded toward the show. This was the first sail since the sea trail, more than nine months before. I was even more impressed with Destiny's sailing ability this time. The old sails had been cleaned and still held the shape well.  With the help of the Whaler we maneuvered into the space assigned for the show and tied the lines. I then called the mechanic, who promised to be there in the morning before the show opened.

            The show began on Thursday morning and ran though Sunday.  From the first day, there was a constant stream of admirers coming aboard expounding “ooohs and aaaahs.”   I was told we had more visitors than any other boat in the show; it certainly was the oldest boat in the show.

            The mechanic, actually was at the boat on several mornings before the show opened for the day, showing frustration but espousing confidence he would find the problem and get the engine running.  Finally on Sunday, the last day of the show I came down the docks in my yacht club blazer (boat show attire) the engine was running as smooth as a top.  The mechanic was all smiles, proud that he prevailed and assuring me he would not be charging for all the hours he and his partner had put in to get in running. 

           Monday morning after the close of the show, Bill and I once again cranked the engine, released lines and motored out of the harbor.  It was like déjà vu.  A couple hundred yard past the harbor break water, as we approached the Queen Mary, the engine started slowing.  We were lucky we made it to some open water before it died for good.  Again we scrambled with sails, putting up the main, mizzen and staysail.  I had a Yankee hanked on to the forestay, but had yet to have sheets attached, so we had to settle for what we had.  The morning wind was virtually non existent as usual for this time of year, but give credit to Mr. Atkin, we started to make a little headway.  As morning turned into afternoon the wind picked up and we tacked into the wind for the rest of the afternoon until about 3:30 pm was able to fall off toward the north down the river past Port’s of Call, and under the Vincent Thomas bridge.  At this point my thoughts turned to how would be get Destiny back into her slip since the entry was mostly blocked by a big power cruiser allowing barely a few inches between the dock and the boat to squeeze by.  Bill was going to have to step off the foredeck when I stuck the bow in, with little or no way on, and fend off the dock while I fended off the power boat.  Without and engine in reverse and the river tide current to deal with, this was going to be tricky.  We dropped the main and mizzen up channel and sailed on staysail alone with the wind behind us.  With several hundred feet to go, I tried the engine again, and it fired up like there had been no problem.  We dropped the staysail, and using reverse, I was able to slow down, Bill stepped off and as luck would have it, the owner of the power boat saw us coming and helped guide us safely passed his boat and into the slip.   I tied the lines and called the mechanic.

            I had a few days before I was supposed to leave on a delivery of another boat to Hawaii, so I managed to retrieve the full boat cover that had only recently been delivered from the canvas maker, and cover the boat.  I knew it would be over a month before I returned. 

Friday, September 23, 2011

Coming down to the wire

Restoration of an Atkin Yawl

We are coming down to the wire with the restoration.  When Valerie and I left town early September, for a long planned island-hopping sail off the Amalfi Coast of Italy, Destiny had been hauled again, this time for the final water-line stripe to be painted and the name and hailing port applied to the stern. The yard agreed they would re-launch in my absence. 


When we returned from Italy, the boat was back in the slip, the white stripe gleaming, the name painted on the stern in bold white and gold, all the sails bent on. The final details were, and are being completed, and so many final details there are.  There is two drawers of leftover screws and parts, when I ask Luis where does this go holding up a brass bracket of some kind, he shrugs his shoulders and says “ I don’t know, I didn’t take it off.”  How did it get in the drawer if you didn’t take it off, I wanted to say; for that matter how did we end up with two extra drawers?  But, she is looking beautiful. 

The decks have been the final outside challenge, more bungs being replaced, and half the caulking had to be dug out and replaced.  The good news is that the teak decks are just that, the whole deck is teak through and through, more than a half an inch thick. I love natural untreated teak decks, but for a practical purpose I decided to have the deck treated with a “natural” sealant protectorate from Seamco. I’ve used it before on previous boats with teak veneer decks, but it makes the color a little darker that I would prefer. It fades after a while so I’ll live with it. 

I can’t believe it is now Fall, and the restoration is still going on, and the electrical is still not completed.  I had high hopes for sailing in the McNish Classic regatta in August, or the wooden boat festival in Newport Beach, or the “One More Time Regatta” at Marina del Rey, in September…but for these I’ll have to wait for next year. 

Did I mention that I heard from Pat Atkin? She still maintains the website with many of the plans William and his son John, Pat’s husband, designed.  She told me William originally drew the plans of the Meridian for an article in Motor Boating magazine, April issue 1934.  She said she would send me a copy with photos…I can’t wait to receive it.

Also, I got an email from a gentleman from Rhode Island, who saw this blog, and sent me photos of a model he owns of the Meridian, built from William Atkin’s original plans for the boat.  What a wonderful tool this internet!!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Around the final turn...and heading for the barn

We have slipped into August, behind schedule of my original time estimate.  I’ve missed the 2011 McNish Classic in Oxnard, but hope to make the Wooden boat festival in Newport Beach in September...we will see. 

            The hull painting is the focus at the moment.  The haul out accomplished the termite treatment, the survey needed for insurance, and a new coat of bottom paint and zincs.  Now, back at the work slip, the hull prep was completed and the first coat of primer has been applied.  We had to replace both corners of the stern transom where fresh water had found its way into the wood and rotting.  Also, one plank about 2 feet long on the starboard side needed replaced.  Hopefully the new hull paint will be applied this week.

            At the same time I’ve ordered some of the specialty parts I’ve been putting off.  You know the saying that 20% of the restoration, cost 80% of the total out lay.  I finally ordered the ‘melon deck prism’ that I decided to install, from a company in London.  After an exhaustive search of the internet and several direct call to various manufacturers I decided on the one from the Davy and Company. It’s beautifully sculptured solid glass in the shape of an old fashion orange juicer. It is flat on top to collect the light and the juicer part disperses the light below deck.  I believe I said in a previous blog, that I decided to get rid of an out of place dorade box and vent on the cabin top, but doing this left a 6” hole.  I got the ideal of filling the hole with a deck prism, and went web surfing.  This is a beautiful piece of nautical nostalgia, with the brass retainer ring, but there may have been a better way to spend $250. 

            Then the new brass galley hand pump arrived from Defender. I mentioned before that I want to replace the counter tops with copper, and install a hammered copper sink.   This is not done yet…but at least I have the galley pump!! 

            Finally, I also had to order a new globe for the Harnisch marine lamp that I got from the Ship’s store.  I bought these replicas of old marine lamps  ‘on sale’ early on and put them on the boat. Unfortunately the beautiful globe, with the etched in silhouette of a square rigger, had gotten broken.  I thought there was no way it could ever be replaced.  Thanks god for the internet.  I researched Harnisch lamps and boy, did I get an education.  The company, started in 1841 in Denmark is still be run by the same family, now in Toronto.  I talked to the great, great, great grandson of the founder, also a trained tinsmith, Peter Harnisch.  “No problem” he said just send us $80usd…what could I do? I learned that the lamps were not replicas; the company has been making these authentic marine oil lamps since the late 1800s. I’m happy that another bit of nautical history will be incorporated into the finished project.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Haul out for Termites and other necessities

…And so the work continues.  While preparing the hull for painting we detected a few small signs of termites, so I decided that treatment was in order before painting the hull.  I researched and learned that it was going to be more effective to have the boat tented and filled with gas, than try to treat the boat with spot application.  Having made this decision I learned that it was significantly cheaper to have the boat on the hard for this process, so I decided to bite the bullet and have the boat hauled.  Having made this decision, I needed to get the most for the hauling buck, so I arranged for an out-of-the-water survey at the same time.  I needed this anyway for Insurance pruposes.  All underwriters I contacted wanted fasteners pulled and photos of the bottom by a certified surveyor.  Additionally, it was time to replace zincs as well. 
            Up to this time the boat yard and marina where the restoration was being conducted hasn’t done much work on the boat.  I was going to need a new boot strip painted, and since the boat yard won’t let non-employees work on the boats while in their facility,  I asked them to touch up the bottom paint and paint my new boot stripe while the boat was out of the water. 
            I met the surveyor at the boat mid morning.  He had done the previous survey, and had actually owned this very boat himself some years before.  He said he was blow away by how good the boat looked and how tight the hull was.  He found nothing to be critical about, but did suggest we put another couple stuffing rings in the prop shaft log while the boat was out. 
            The termite company was a day late, claiming a misunderstanding but got the boat wrapped up and gassed by the end of the following day.  Being Thursday, and needing 48 hours, and the yard being closed on weekends meant the tent was now not coming off until Monday.
            I met with the Yard owner and he suggested that they prepare the old boot stripe for painting, but hold off until the hull was painted, saying he would give me a "Free" haul out to paint the strip when the rest of the hull is finished.


    The boat was back in the water by Thursday and the hull preparation continues.  West system was applied to the hull in prperation for the first coat of primer, but when I saw it for the first time over the weekend, it looked as though the hull was varnished....Wow was that pretty!  I was tempted, for a very fleating moment, to varnish the hull but quickly came to my senses.

Monday, July 11, 2011


            I had to slip away for a delivery of a 46’ Morgan Ketch from Los Angeles to Hawaii, shortly after the masts were pulled, but the refurbishing of the spars and the new rigging were in good hands during my absents.  We had decided to replace any standing rigging that warranted attention, meaning I had to replace all the standing rigging.  Seeing the process of hand weaving splices in the stainless shrouds and stays to create big loops used to go around rather than connect directly to the wood masts was a wonderful image of the art of yesteryear marine rigging.  After the loops were spliced the entire loop was then wrapped in heavy sail twine to prevent the wire from chaffing the wood. They were then held in place by wood “cleats” which were blocks with a groove at the top to keep the loops in place. At every place on the masts where a stay, shroud, or running rigging block needed to be secured to the mast, this was the process.  Additionally, the boat had empty loops at the top of each mast were previously there were spinnaker and Mizzen staysail halyard blocks attached.  My rigger had to order new wooden blocks before rigging the new halyards…if you thought buying a Harkin spinnaker block for a new racing sloop was expensive, go shopping for period wood block!!
            When I returned, both masts, looking like new with ten coasts of high gloss varnish, were again standing majestically in place.  Several new (scavenged from used boat yards, old bronze) turnbuckles were in place, and all new off-white three-strand running rigging was in place.  I realized right away that these old salts really had to know their stuff, all the lines, the sheets, halyards, out-haul, down-haul, topping lifts, preventers, etc. all looked the same; no color coded braid here.
            Also, while I was gone, the preparation of the hull for painting had started. All the existing multi-layers of old paint had to come off.  This was the part I wasn’t looking forward to.  Paint masks a lot of problems.  I already knew I had a few problem areas in the hull.  A soft spot on the starboard side amidships, and both stern quarters under the cap rail were suspect.  I’m glad to say however, that what I found when seeing the hull naked for the first time was better than I could hope for. Yes, those suspected areas were confirmed, and a section of those planks will have to be removed and replaced, but the rest of the hull proved to be both tight and solid.  The rot in the transom had made it’s way into a 2” thick mahogany board that we were able to dig a hole completely through to the stern lazarette. 
            I’ve been assured that the hull will be completely fixed, sealed with West System epoxy, primed and painted by the end of July…stay turned.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Atkin’s Yawl…The Restoration Continues

Atkin’s Yawl…The Restoration Continues
May 2011
By Capt. Jim Cash
The calendar has rolled into May, the sixth month of the project.  I guess I’m lucky that the majority of the restoration expense was quoted by the job rather than by the hour, for which there are countless numbers.  The work on the deck and topsides has been temporarily interrupted this week so the masts could be pulled.  I initially expected that the boatyard in which we are berthed, would pull the masts and allow temporary storage to have them reconditioned.  In fact, I had discussed this with one of the yard’s owners, but when the time came, the older brother, and I assume senior partner, said no.  No space for the masts, concerns about liability, and size of their crane all played a role in the decision to suggest we have the job done next door at another yard.  I investigated several other boatyards, and even considered bringing the boat up to Marina del Rey temporarily to have the work done.  When I learned that the biggest expense was going to be storage lay-days, my rigger suggested I invest in several Home Depot sawhorses, lay the masts on the deck, and bring the boat back to its slip for the de-rigging and restoration process.  I agreed and made the decision to use the crane next door.
In any case, I was going to have to get the engine started to motor over and back from the yard, down the river.  The last time I ran the engine was for the sea trial in December. It was Saturday, the yard was closed, and I was the only one at the boat.  What are the chances, I thought?  With the battery switch to BOTH, the gas valve in line, the choke engaged, I hit the starter button.  It cranked slowly several times and quit without even a cough.  I called the engine mechanic who, after changing the oil, filters and gave the engine a good cleaning, assured me that all I had to do was “push the button.”  I met him at the boat on Monday.  His first comment was I needed a new battery, but it was new in December, so I suggested he try again.  After tightening loose connections, we charged the battery, and the starter was spinning appropriately.  We were finally able to get a few coughs but no more.  The next thing I see is the carburetor being brought up…it looked like a surgeon ascending from an operating room with a human heart in his hand.  I was asked to go get carb cleaner and fresh gasoline.  At end of day, we were taking the antique carburetor to the shop to be rebuilt.
Wednesday, I picked up the rebuilt carb, met the mechanic and the riggers. Soon the engine was running and we backed out into the river.  The entrance to the other yard was literally a hundred yards away.  We tied up to the holding dock and waited for the crane to free up.  Within two hours we had maneuvered the boat under the crane, lifted and positioned both masts on deck and was back, tied up at our work dock.  When the main mast was secured on the deck, my first question to the rigger who was below to loosen the wedges was: “Did you find the 1938 $20 gold piece under that mast?”  Disappointedly he replied “No.”  I’ve later learned that they discontinued minting the series in 1933, otherwise I’m sure Mr. Johnson would have put one there.  Actually, we did not find any coin under the mast…so much for that superstition; though I have a very nice 1938 Standing Liberty half dollar waiting for when the masts go back in.  Better safe than sorry!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Atkin’s Yawl…The Restoration Continues

By Capt. Jim Cash
Yikes! …The more that is done, the more surfaces that will need to be done.  Meaning, one can’t just do the surfaces that we see on top; what happens when the drawers are pulled out, the floorboards lifted, the settee backs removed?  I wanted the finished product to look, well, finished.  We couldn’t have beautifully varnished and polished cabin sole and have the bilge look like a 50 year old bilge; could we? As a result, the decision was made to disassemble as much of the interior as possible, then clean and spray paint everything white before starting on the bright work.
Also, being Southern California, the “Winter” is interspersed with beautiful sunny 80 degree days between the rainy ones.  To offset the boredom and dust filled confinements of the interior, the exterior was tackled in tandem when the sun came out.   One of the first of the challenges were the teak decks.  It was anyone’s guess when they had last had attention, but since they were solid teak planks and not a veneer laid on top of fiberglass, there was plenty of wood to work with.  When they were bleached and the natural warm golden glow jumped out, they looked like new from Mr. Johnson’s shop.  But, there were a lot of brass screw tops showing so many new “bungs,” the teak cap set in the deck to cover the brass screws, were the order of the day.
For those of you not experienced with this process, fist the old screw must be removed without breaking it—remember, they have been there for over 50 years.  Next, the hole is prepared by drilling a counter sink without enlarging the hole itself, then replacing the screw so the head is at least an 1/8th inch below the surface, then a new teak bung is glued back in the hole.  When set, the top of the bung is then chiseled off flush and sanded to meet the surfaces of the deck. We lost count after several hundred how many of these needed replaced.
All the old varnish, paint and grime had to come off every exterior surface, including cabin trunk, top, spars, cockpit, bow sprit, rails and boomkin.  The heat gun and scraper were the tools of choice.  Heat, scrape, heat scrape, was the process; inch after agonizing inch. 
Back to the interior; three coats of white interior primer with light sanding between coats was applied to every surface, both what could be seen as well as inside and behind the drawers, lockers and storage spaces under the bunks and sinks, except the cabin sole.  Boy, was it white in there!  The interior lit up like an operating room, but that was the objective.  Then, the surfaces that were to remain “bright” were scraped, sanded and varnished, then re-sanded and varnished and re-sanded and varnished and re-sanded and varnished.  We found a whole variety of hard woods had been used.  There was oak on the floors, mahogany counter edges, teak skylight and hatches; the subtle contrast of natural wood colors gave the interior a very rich and warm feel.  The surfaces that were going to stay white was painted with a satin white finish.  I’m told this white and “bright” natural wood trim is a Herrshoff style, named after the famed yacht designer Nathanial Herrshoff.
The countertops had been surfaced at one time with a white Formica type product. It was naturally stained in places and I have been trying to decide what to replace it with.  I want to stay as close to the period as possible and thought about various stone finishes, but decided that Mr. Johnson would not want the weight of a granite counter top in his boat.  I’m leaning toward a copper counter with hammered sink, brass galley pump, and teak trimmed on the sides.  Let me know what you think?
The work continues…

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Willian Atkin's Meridian

A 39' 4" Yawl
By William Atkin

A Seagoing Yawl
Meridian, as my old friend Capt. Abel Brown would say, is "one of them there rule cheaters," meaning that under certain racing rules she would have an advantage in handicap over a single masted yacht. However, this is not the reason she was decked out in the yawl rig. The yawl has always been well considered by cruising men the world over, and has certain advantages, not least of which is that the largest sail is pretty much over the center of the boat and nicely inboard. It is a handy rig, too, because the main and jib can be stowed and the boat be left to jog along under staysail and jigger.

Meridian is 39 feet, 4 inches in over all length; 31 feet on the water line; 10 feet in breadth, and draws 5 feet. The freeboard at the bow is 4 feet, 4 inches and at the stern 3 feet, 6 inches. The displacement is 22,600 pounds. Ballast on the keel, 8,000 pounds, with additional weight in the bilge to the amount of 2,000 pounds. So you see she is a boat of fairly large dimensions and comfortable room below decks without heavy displacement, and by the same token without excessive wetted surface. The lines show somewhat less draft than is usually associated with yachts of this type; there is, however, ample for this particular underwater form as proved by a score of predecessors. The hull is properly balanced and will sail without an excessive degree of heel.
The rig is straightforward and practical. If made exactly as shown in the sail plan without additions and omissions and without changes it will stand through anything that can blow. There is nothing experimental about any feature of the sail plan, nor nothing blindly copied from the work of other designers. It is all designed to conform to practice that has been found to be entirely satisfactory in hard service afloat.

The deck shows a shallow cockpit 6 feet, 2 inches long by 5 feet, 8 inches wide. There is a seat each side and under these the gasoline tanks. The cockpit floor is water tight the full width of the hull and the side walls under the coaming are water tight as well. The main cabin house is 4 feet 8 1/2 inches wide, with parallel sides ending forward in a hinged lid, the latter extending the full width of the deck house. Then there is a main deck and a small deck house over the forecastle. The advantage of this arrangement is its strength; that little piece of main deck spanning the beam at the mast ties the hull together properly and securely. I have drawn many designs showing the mast piercing the deck house; but this is a bad arrangement, weak, not shipshape, unhandy, and ugly looking. There is really more available room below decks with the two house deck arrangement.

The cabin arrangement is designed to accommodate four people, more than four crowd up the place; and besides it is not possible to supply locker space for clothes, food, etc., for any more than four. This is one of the faults of many cruising boats; no place to put anything. The galley is aft under the companionway and equipped with range, sink, dish lockers, lockers for cooking utensils, ice box and storage locker for food. The top of the ice box serves as a chart table. The main cabin contains a sofa on the port side with a folding box berth behind, an extension berth is on the starboard backed by large lockers. Notice the el end of the extension berth and the fixed cabin drop leaf table. There is something homelike in a cabin like this with its table always set up and berths out of sight. The toilet room is big and equipped with a regulation water closet and folding wash basin. Lockers are supplied for linen and supplies. A large hanging locker is abreast the toilet room; a real closet in which to hang clothing. There is full 6 feet headroom throughout the cabin, galley and toilet room. The stateroom contains two built in berths, lockers, bureau, and generous hanging space. Leaving an opening in the berth front makes the space below available for the storage of sails. There is also a handy locker in the forward end of the stateroom. One water tank is installed in the bow, two additional water tanks are located under the sofas in the main cabin.

The motor should be of approximately 140 cubic inches pulling about 25 h.p. at 1300 to 1400 r.p.m. The motor in Meridian sits level, a feature which has many unseen advantages. It is not necessary to use a reduction gear in this installation.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Restoring an Atkin’s Yawl …continued

Now that the purchase decision was made, Oh my God, what have I done? 

The boat had been pulled out of the water, the bottom painted and the zincs replaced by the boat yard that sold me the boat before the sea trial.  Normally, that would have been my first chore, so in the interest of saving money and not duplicating effort, I decided we should start inside and work our way out.  It was January 2011 in Southern California, rainy season, so working inside to start the project was ideal. 
I started by removing the sails and covers both from the spars and the fo’c’s’le and taking them to the loft. There were two set of sails, the old ones and the very old ones.  The sail maker actually recognized the names of the lofts that made them originally, (Schoonmaker Campbell Sails) though no longer in business, were considered high quality for the time.  We decided to have the newest set cleaned and repaired where necessary.  There was a large, faded red, Genoa, a staysail, a main and mizzen sails; these were left to be reclaimed later. Next was to remove everything not screwed down form the inside.  Out came anchor, chain, rode, sail covers, life jackets, cushions…even the toilet was unbolted from the floor (which was brand new, never used with the manual, still in the plastic taped to the seat) and  taken out in preparation for a complete redo of the interior. 
Let me digress here for a minute and discuss my philosophy of restoration of an old boat.  Ideally the total amount invested will not exceed the expected market value of the completed boat on the open market.  This number, of-course, is rather abstract.  I did research on similar vintage and type boats to learn what the asking prices were currently.  But, given the height of the depressed economy, with boat dealers and brokers dropping out like flies, and the actual sale prices of used boats at an all time low, it was anyone’s guess what my restoration budget should be…not enough, for sure.  However, I told myself, this project was for the love of the saving a piece of history, not for profit in the resale of the finished product, no matter how that went against my grain.  So, my philosophic modification was; I would not skimp or compromise on anything that was needed, but at the same time I would not be extravagant either.  Also, before making the final decision to buy the boat I did a preliminary budget, and got quotes from several of the artisans that I’ve used before, on the various aspect of the restoration, and decided that the project was worth the effort.

This brings me back to the interior finish.  When I first descended into the interior I found an all natural wood finish.  The natural oak floor boards, the walls and cabinetry all natural wood finish.  Though beautiful it also made the interior very dark.  I also learned that the interior had been modified from the designer’s original scheme.  What I couldn’t tell was weather that was a modification in the original building or a change made later.  In any event, I made the decision change the interior from all natural dark wood to the classic Hershoff style of white with natural wood varnished trimmed highlights. This decision was partially steered by economics; it’s much cheaper to paint than scrape and varnish, and partially to brighten the interior.  Having made this decision the first steps were to prepare the interior for painting.  And, so it began.     

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Saving an Atkin Yawl
By Capt. Jim Cash
After seeing the old yawl for the first time and having ducked under the torn canvas and into the interior, I knew I was in trouble.  I was told it was a William Atkin design so I did a little research.  I googled his name and to my surprise, a link to many of his old plans came up. I found the plans for this very yawl I had crawled though.  It was called the Meridian, 39’4” on deck, 31’ on the water line, 10’ beam and 5’ draft.  It was rigged with a jib tacked to a bowsprit, a club footed staysail, main and mizzen.  She displaced 22,000 pounds and had an 8,000 pound of lead in her keel.  He (William Atkin) said it was called a “rule cheater,” meaning she had certain advantages in handicap over her competition.  However, this of course was in the early 1930s when the plans were first drawn.  All this further piqued my interest, and the desire to save this boat from the chainsaw grew even stronger.
The yawl was now the property of a local boatyard, having been abandoned by its previous owner with quite a yard tab left unpaid.  The acquaintance that had brought the boat to my attention was a salvage dealer and had done past business with the yard.  I asked, what did he think it would take to buy the boat?  He started quoting the current price of lead on the wholesale market, the value of the brass cleats and windows, the tab owed by the past owner.  I listened, less than patient, wanting to say “Yeah, yeah, yeah…so?”  I finally said “Offer them $3,500.”  Well, that didn’t cut it, but after several weeks of negotiations and the yard agreeing to haul the boat for new bottom paint and shaft zincs, and having their mechanic put in a new battery and get the old flathead four-banger “…running just like a song” to quote Johnny Cash, we came to a price.  The final price was a little more than double my original offer.
The day arrived for the sea trial and I was accompanied by a couple friends, both of whom had owned and restored wooden boats.  The owner of the yard also wanted to go, though he confessed he’d never sailed before.  I could tell that he was a little apprehensive the when the big 150% genoa was raised up the forestay.  We healed over 15 degrees and accelerated to six knots in a heart beat, and he took a step back and lowered himself down the companion way.  “Are we OK?”  he asked, his voice gravely trying to remain calm and be brave. The rest of us were smiling.
“You are going to love sailing this boat.” My friend said already knowing from my expression that my decision was made. What a ride it was that day.  Though the winds were not strong it was evident this was a real sailors boat. I agreed to buy the boat that day and as I wrote the check, I thought to myself “What am I going to do now?”
It was agreed that I could leave the boat in the water at the yard’s marina for restoration process, but I would hire my own craftsmen.  I called the paint and varnish man that had worked for me on three previous boat projects and asked for a quote.  My goal was not to invest any more into the purchase and restoration than I thought the market would bear for the finished product.  We came to an agreement with quotes for the job, broken down by a price for restoration of decks, paint topside, varnish spars, varnish topside, interior paint and varnish, and hull above the waterline.  Since the bottom had just been repainted by the yard, I decided to leave taking the bottom down to bare wood until the next required bottom painting.
The next week we stripped the sails off, bagged them up, and I took them along with the covers to the loft for evaluation.  There were actually two sets of sails, the newest of which was estimated at about 30 years old.  The interior cushions were stored in the yard’s warehouse for attention later, and the old cover was turned over to the yard’s canvas man to be re-stitched.  I paid a deposit for materials and the process began … it was mid-December 2010.