The Yankee 14

We’ve hauled our three boats out of the water a total of 7 times.  Each time, it’s been fucking miraculous.

For the two weeks we had our boat on the hard at Yankee Marina in Yarmouth, ME, we worked 10-14 hours a day, every single day, rain or shine.  We woke between 5am and 7am and went to bed as early as 9:30pm one night, but mostly between 11pm and midnight.

So when we say that it is hard to give a detailed, blow-by-blow account of each thing we did, it’s because we did so much.  The projects were multifaceted on every level, but really it came down to two major projects.  One – the sagging, rotten deck.  Two – the broken bulkhead below.

Rather than tell this story in painful detail, here’s the last two weeks in pictures.

This is the crack in the bulkhead, before we pulled the mast.  As you can see, it is completely separated along a vertical axis and cracked horizontally above right through the fiberglass, creating a sag where the mast wants to pull through the deck.

This caused cracking all throughout the coach roof.

Once the mast was pulled, the compression system removed, and the step unbolted, it was time to make the cuts.

We set the Skilsaw at 1/8″ and cut along the sagging seam of a previous repair.  In an attempt to salvage whatever intact core material we could, we carefully chisel and pried the top skin upward.  The second goal was to keep the top skin intact in order to use it again rather than recreate it.

Instead of a tidy edge and an intact skin, the previous owners had done a very strange repair that forced us to clear the entire area of rotten material.  We also couldn’t use the skin, because it had been drilled through dozens of times by a (probably different) devious owner who was trying to fix the rot by the “drill and fill” method, whereby you make holes and force some epoxy in, hoping it will seal off the rotted parts…this is putting a bandaid on an ax wound.

When you’re dealing with fiberglass, it’s best to stop and clean every 10 minutes.  Being as though that’s not a realistic working method, you have to live with it.  We did a pretty good job.  We kept up with it the best we could, cleaning the whole boat over and over again while living in “the desert” as that portion of the marina yard is known by the workers.

All the chemistry we use requires a clean, dry surface.  That’s another reason all of our work was two-fold – make the mess, clean it up.  After creating the clean slate in the picture above, we cut two pieces of azek (pvc lumber) for the new core.  We laid fiberglass on the bottom skin to reinforce it and then epoxied the azek down on top of that.

The odd pieces of azek are forcing the core pieces to conform to the curve of the deck.

Once the new core was glued into place and firm, we started the demo below.  This time, we used the grinder to take the bulkhead off completely, including the tabbing that holds it to the roof.  Last time, I chiseled the bulkhead out from between the two layers of tabbing.  This is much stronger.

Measure twice, cut once.

James in the desert.

Once we had the new bulkhead piece cut to fit in place, we had to sketch out the curve we wanted for the hatchway.

Our new hatchway.

Abovedecks, we used the same 3/4″ marine-grade plywood to create a new, solid base for the mast step.  Actually, we bought a half-sheet of the stuff and ended up using it all!

The other thing shown by the picture above is the smooth transition between fiberglass skin and azek core.  We increased the thickness of the core under the mast and made the plywood base a little thicker too.  We want this thing to be solid!

We bought biaxial fiberglass, which means two layers at 90 degrees sewn together rather than woven, with a fiberglass mat backing sewn on as well.  This is thick stuff and both torsionally and compressively superior to fiberglass cloth – the stuff we used before.

The four layers are laid into place and cut in decreasing size.  This allows us to grind it smooth without going through any layers except at their edges.  Once the pieces are prepared, start pouring on the epoxy.

Two of four pieces epoxied…

All four layers in place, epoxied, cured, and ready to grind.

By the way, we used a gallon and a half of epoxy resin on this project.  Some above, some below.

When this is stuff is ground down and finely sanded, it creates an all-encompassing powder that coats the lungs and makes everything taste like plastic.  Yum.  And since the powder consists of tiny glass fragments, it creates rashes that burn and itch like hell for weeks.

It must be ground and sanded or it creates sharp pokey things that cut right through clothing and skin.  We not only want to keep our clothing and skin intact, we also want to have a smooth, even surface once the paint is on.  That means grinding, sanding, and as seen below, fairing.

The brown parts are an epoxy fairing compound that sands easily and makes a smooth surface.

We also got to do all that down below.  From grinding fiberglass in our living area, through cleaning it as well as possible out of said living area, to more sanding and grinding than we ever want to do in a space where we create food.

Just through the hatchway in the photograph above is where we sleep.


But oh, it does look good with a fresh coat of paint.

Or, in the case of the deck, with several coats of paint, a mast step, some hand rails, a solar panel power inlet, and a couple solar vents.  She’s ready to go.

The paint in the head looks great too, but the smell of marine grade chemical just won’t leave!  The electricity was dangling while we did the job and it’s not all the way back together in the photo above.  We couldn’t finish lassoing all the cables into zip ties until the mast was in place and its wiring brought into the mix.

Oh yeah.  We also bottom-painted the dinghy and rebuilt the solar panel that goes on it while underway.  (Remember the Delaware Bay?  We never want that to happen again.)

This is us.  Exhausted, exhilarated, and thrilled to be underway again.

We got put in the water around 9:30am, the mast was upright by 10:30, and we had her tuned with the boom and sails on and everything by noon.  After a couple hours of motoring down the Royal (Pain-In-The-Ass) River, we settled back in Broad Cove and got eaten by fog.

The Beginning.



  1. Congratulations on getting back in the water. You guy’s amaze me on how well you get through real tough times. The boat looks great and sturdier than ever. I’m so glad that I am able to read about all of you trails and tribulations on this trip. Thanks for thinking of us spectators. Love and Aloha to the 2 Captains.

  2. Ditto to Tom, I really appreciate you two for letting us watch. I know blogging sometimes probably becomes one more task on your list, and you have to cut non-life support activities when you are at the edge of your reserves. You have to.
    But I really missed you. I’m so happy you are back in the water where you belong!!! Mostly for your sake, of course. Absolutely! It sounds like a harrowing recovery, like you are breathing on your own again after getting off a respirator.
    But selfishly too, this is my favorite source for vicarious adventure. Whether you post or not really matters to me. Genuine appreciation, not intended as pressure or reproach. Thank you!!!

    These repairs are insane, y’all. I followed most of it pretty well I think — WHOA. You did this level of reconstruction YOURSELVES. Amazing.
    No seriously, AMAZING. Your highly specialized level of technical intelligence is only matched by your commitment to never half-ass it. You may say Kate we had to. It’s our only spaceship, it keeps us alive, doing it halfway has serious consequences out on the water. If we don’t fix it now we have to fix it more later. And paying someone else to do it is too much for our finances plus we wouldn’t be sure they did it right and and and…
    Just saying, do you have enough perspective to see how incredible, how ~anomalous~ that work ethic is? What integrity. Way to do it RIGHT.
    Mast is wobbly and floor is rotted through? We can rebuild her, we have the technology. Congratulations, bionic boaters!

  3. This is from Heinz @ WM. Glad you are in the H2O again. I know you could do it. Happy sailing.


  4. P. S.
    Enjoying your slideshow ! Also appreciate your taste in cruising boats, meaning yours, and some placed in your slideshow.

    Hereby, therefore, you are invited (by a founding member) to enjoy membership in the IGWRS (Inter-Galactic Wharf Rat Society).

    …thinking that youse might appreciate a coupla pics of my friend’s old-ish yard near Bar Harbor.
    http://ib2cub.blogspot dotcom
    Summer in Maine can be just plain awesome.

    1. Thanks for stopping by. We’re looking forward to heading up to Bar Harbor soon-ish. Stopped by your blog and checked out your photos. Beautiful place you live in. By the way, we’re heading to India, the state of Kerala, district of Thiruvananthapuram, in the south.

  5. Kate,
    I love reading your replies so much! I find it fascinating how much you are into this “crazy” adventure (not my quote, it belongs to a dumbshit I used to work with)of ours. Your level of interest and understanding far out weigh those of most of the boaters I ever met and it further amazes me that you love it, the very same way we do.
    Thank you, again

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