The lovely city of Douarnenez France has become A home away from home for us. This magical waterside city is where we are keeping our wooden boat for the winter. I highly recommend it as a winter storage for any sailing boat on the Brittany coast. It is an exceptional place for wooden boats as there are so many around. Port Rhu has a lock and maintains a 4 meter depth. There are many chandleries, wood workers and repair specialists. 9 month storage coasts less then $1000 euros!

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We arrived early to the festival in dourdenez France. We spent most of that week at the Trombel and port ru part of the waterfront. It wasn’t until about a week in we happened to explore the sardine processing plant and found the other harbor. This is where the 600 wooden boats packed in for the Temps Fete Festival. Here on this side was a massive harbor with a wonderful stone quey. Many restaurants and cafes line the quey overlooking the water.

The amount of local people volunteering to make the festival work was staggering. The amount of wooden boats that sailed from all parts of Europe was amazing. Each day a determined type of sail boat would go out and sail around in front of the festival. We couldn’t figure out where we were to go so we just sailed around feeling a bit goofy.

Along shore there were classes in different nautical traditions. The sculling station was always full and the evening races were my favorite to watch. I also enjoyed watching many large boats sculling onto there moorings after taking all sails in. Here in France sculling is a tradition that are keeping alive. It works, why not.

We can’t say enough about the beautiful coast of Cornwall and Devon. But then we arrived in the Scilly isles with pure water, seaweed low tides and silky sand we thought we were back in the West Indies. So many islands to explore here, 30 miles off lands end- UK s most western point.

All the islands have paths that go round and criss cross each other. Of course it was surprising to pass in front of people kitchen windows but that is what they do.

Most islands do not have cars. Everyone has splendid gardens and veggies for sale.

The many fishermen provide for the islands and mainland. Most all the houses were thick stone with slate roofs. Winters might be tough here as you know everyone and the weather limits your activity’s

On st Martins I found a charity shop shack stacked full with UK Country Living magazines.

On Tresco we explored Cromwell forts and Iron Age burial sites.

On St Mary’s we took some hot much needed showers and wandered thru the star fort.

This is a GOTTA GO place to sail!

They caught our short lines. Made fast my uncleated breast line. Frantically pulling in tiger maru who was running down currant on a pontoon in the harbor entrance of Douarnenez. We were tired from our crossing and the Ushant shipping lane that crossed the Brittany coast and English Channel. Thanks to david and Christina we arrived safely, attached to land or at least a pontoon.

They hail from the fabulous port town of Mevagissey which we couldn’t anchor off because the wind wasn’t right. There’s is a traditional gaff yawl built in Martha’s Vinyard by Ashley Butler and sailed home to the UK .

David bought her. Crossed the Atlantic single handed two times-in that same year. Spent three days in the azores, a few weeks in Antigua for the classics and a few nights on some other islands. Basically he does it for the freedom of sailing alone offshore. He is really the last of true adventurers, setting his oil lamps at night for his running lights, using his sextant for positions and carrying all those sails to be hanked on and off . Christina is the last of the last also – who supports his passion and does not dare get in his way, rather assists him with weather from onshore. She really gets the passion of mad single handed sailor.

The flush deck no cockpit boat must be hard to sail in the weather that dominates the uk. It must be miserable in boarding seas. Actually the only place I would want to sail her is in the tropics with cushions on deck and awnings spread above. Much like how David Wegman set up his flush deck cow horn Afriggan Queen who sailed the world the trade winds route.( now gone due to hurricane Irma) David from mevigissey is clearly different and as he says “has to do it the hard way”.

David’s work shop the crown jewel of the innards of the boat. Look at all those storage spots and space for making, fixing & navigation.

sally b is for sale but David keeps her moving. For him it is a way of life and he can’t seem to get enough. Interested? What’s his email? Gonna find out.

  • First we found rotten wood under the teak decks on the port side. This project set us back a full month in our schuduled departure date for the crossing. A bit stressful as we had crew and hurricane season approaching. 
  • Waiting an extra day in Provincetown to finish shopping and fueling up cost us 5 long days at sea motoring. We should have jumped on that lumpy ass low but there was still so much to do .Because we only carry    40 Gallons of fuel we had to head into St. John’s newfoundland with out charts. We were able to do it when Julien found a navonics chart downloaded four years prior still on his iPad!!!! I found it rediculious as Julien had sailed around engineless before I came into the picture. It was an ocean we were crossing with no obstructions. Oh well captains orders. 
  • Captain Julien hits a weather buoy along the coastline of St. John in fog with the auto helm on and the engine blasting. Who auto helms into a new place with out charts and in fog? We found out a day later that we passed a tanker size ice burg . 
  • our prevented main does a jib in a building brisk wind with the Aires steering and breaks the wooden boom. Two days of repairs during 2o – 25 knot winds with out a main and we are back at it waiting for the next low to bring us heavy 30-35 knot winds. Let’s hope the boom holds out. He slyly repaired it with a 2 by 4 scarf in three spots, west system and several large hose clamps. 
  • Tomorrow is half way day and I have been told to keep the captain crunch cereal at bay until we are tied up at a dock.  Captains orders.

After two months of determined work we are almost ready to hit the high sea. It has been a long time dream for both Julien and I to cross the pond in our own boat. Little did I know the amount of energy it would consume. I am tired, frazzled & worn. To view our journey by tracking latitude and longitude goto https://forecast.predictwind.com/tracking/display/TigerMaru

Two months prior to leaving , Julien was putting in some structural beams and found rot in the deck. Here we are replacing the port deck without fastening. Up came the old teak. A bit of scarfed wood went in and then some fiberglass. On top of that we g flexed new teak wood clamped down with bolted down cantaleviered 2 by 2 . We then wedged the teak as we went. We also used .155 inch weed whacker cord as a bond breaker between the caulk and bottom.  It was difficult to work with. Next we pulled the clamps off and finished the deck with black roofing pl bought at Home Depot. I found it easier to apply and less air bubbles then teak deck system. It also only cost $5 a tube. We had previously tested it seven years

We also installed an inner stay to hang a storm jib on. Running backs so the mast won’t pump. I have just finished sewing 116 drogue cones with the help of Michele, Julien daughter and crew. We deliberated about how to get weather out at sea and finally came up with predict winds offshore weather and an iridium go. Michelle has been setting it up and soon we will be able to receive weather and get texts and email as well as calls. Our Eperb, Winslow life raft and spin lock PDF were bought at landfall navigation in Stamford conniticut. We will use C- Map on the iPad for charts of Western Europe as we don’t know where we will land. Once I pay the $40 I can download them for keeps. This is very scary for us as we are paper chart people. I will let you know how iPad navigation works out for us,

Brightwork is finiky work.   As an offshore sailor who is pretty rough and tumble, I consider my varnish protection first, perfection second. As a wooden boat owner I am aware not only of the movement of the wood on the boat but also the area’s that take the abuse. Therefor I do things like coat all rounds and surfaces that lay flat to the sun several times. A typical cabinside will get two or three coats on the waterways and eyebrows- to one coat on the horizontal grained cabin wood. Some places will get three cost while others will get one.

Here are a few tricks I have learned over the years that make it a but easier.

  • Clean your surface ( after Sanding ) 3 times. Once with a vacuum, then with a rag with spirits on it and lastly with a fresh tack rag.

I use to tell the people that worked with me doing brightwork in the tropics ” it is all about cleaning” and i would tell my clients “your paying for more then a seasonal coat. Your also getting a complete wash down to your openings including screens, tiles and walls. ”

  • Wait until the pollen has passed and there is no wind

Everyone is in a rush to get evrything knocked off there list for boat season. It pays to do your brightwork on the perfect day with no wind, early in the morning but not so early that dew is around.

  • Always buy and use a new brush.

I now charge one new brush to each job for the last coat. After someone has spent good money on sanding and cleaning they should not have a problem paying 12-18 bucks extra for a new brush, with no dust.

varnish
brightwork on an S- Class Boat

DSC_0186

varnish hatch
varnish on an alden hatch
varnish, brightwork
at urbanboatworks we restore and refinish all matters of wood. On land or sea.

As  owner’s of a wooden boat, Julien & I understand varnish and the stable surface that needs to exist below the varnish. We address the under lying cause of varnish failure. ( caulk seam gone bad, bad bung, leaking port lights, not enough build up) When perfection is not required, we know how to lay on for protection. Prepping and painting wooden hulls – cold molded, plank on frame or strip construction is our pleasure. We work with Awlgrip, Kirby Paints and Fine Paints of Europe. Varnish is always Epifanes.

varnish
varnishing Allegro an s class boat
varnish
brightwork on an S- Class Boat
varnish on an alden hatch
varnish on an alden hatch
door varnish
epifanes matte varnish to a west village New York Door
varnish
Paint on Hope a q class wooden boat

Late fall is always a time for me to work on my own boat. The build up on TIGER MARU was thick. It had been 8 years since the last strip. I use an  inferred heater to strip large surfaces. The build up was thick but it only took a half hour to strip the cabin sides. Next I cabinet scraper the wood back to a uniform red color. If not done properly yellow oxidized wood will remain. The scraper ( when sharp) levels the wood out to an even plane. When the sun hits the varnish the rays will bounce off. If the surface is not fair then the rays will absorb into the wood. After the scraping I check to make sure everything is fair. You can run your hand over the surface with your eyes closed. I promise you will feel divits, high and low spots. Scrape away until it feels even. Then I sand with 150-180 to make sure all marks are out. Next comes the varnish which is played on across the grain and thinned for the first 3 coats. This ensures all the pores are filled. Full strength varnish is played on and sanded back with 320 sand paper until the build up looks right. Round eyebrows and the top of coamings gets more coats and is sanded back with a 400 grit sponge.

Keeping wooden boats floating can be daunting. There is always a problem to address and more coats of varnish to apply. Always a race to get to in to short of a time. ( most of us still sail and do not have motors big enough to get us places with out the sail up) The pace of life on a wooden boat is slower but surely good for the soul.  We, wooden boat owners, certainly have an obsession. Wooden boats are a dream. You cant imagine the amount of work and craftsmenship that has gone into a wooden boat. The sound that resonates off a wooden hull while slipping thru the water is mesmerizing and will lull you to sleep. The creaks and groans of a wooden boat are of a primal comfort.

Next weekend is the Antique Boat Show in Kingston New York. It is put on by the Antique  Boat society . These guys are suckers for wooden boats and try to keep wooden boats showing, moving and remembered. www.acbs.org

Soon after starts the classic races on  Long Island Sound, part of the wooden boat series. www.woodenboat.com/community     These september and october regattas are when wooden boat owners get to show off our beauties and compete with each other. It is wonderful to see so many shapes and sizes of wooden boats out and about on these days. Wooden boats are few and far. American’s wooden boat scene is a drop in the ocean of wooden boats when  compared to Europe.

Tiger Maru- Polish Built Boat Tortola sloop David's boat has sailed the world its wood antigua classics Bahamas boat acorn skiff DSC_0261 woodie gutherie off bannermins sland eggimogin reach regatta- no wind at the start DSC_0971 DSC_1436_3 DSCF1350 before the start- Long Island Sound

We are wooden boat lovers. Ice boats made of wood on the ice of the Hudson River.
We are wooden boat lovers. Ice boats made of wood on the ice of the Hudson River.

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