s/v Galena - Bowsprit Sep 20 2006 Galena's bowsprit is now in my garage and she's lying in her slip with her nose cut off. She has lines and rigging scattered about her foredeck.

Her bowsprit looked like this before the operation:

Original Bowsprit

Her anchors and chain rode are piled on the dock and will stay there until I repaint the chain locker. While in the locker unbolting the bowsprit I was embarrassed to see the condition of the inside of the hull in there. After stripping the inside of the hull I'll paint it with half a dozen coats of Bilgekote.

Her bow now dances about three inches high on her lines. With two 35-lb anchors and over 200-ft of 3/8-in chain off her, she's more than 500-lbs lighter than normal.

With the platform removed she looked like this:

Platform Removed

Now she looks like this:


At first inspection the bowsprit seems solid. I'll finish stripping off the hardware (through-bolts, anchor rollers, etc) and do a thorough inspection for rot. If it turns out to be as solid as it seems I'll simply sand it all down, give it a few coats of epoxy sealer, and finish it off with a few coats of some UV-inhibitant.

The platform that sets atop the bowsprit just needs to be sanded and inspected.

Then there's the teak caprail. Taking that off will be a major pain. But that's the real reason for all this. I have to get at the hull-deck joint to reseal it. Exactly how I'll do that is still up in the air. Two thoughts on that: One is to simply seal it with a flexible sealant and slap the caprail back on. That's how the boat was originally made. Should work for at least a while. The other is to glass in four or five layers of fiberglass over the joint to make the hull and the deck one solid piece. That sounds good but if there's any flexing the new glass might crack and I'd be right back where I am now. But it should not crack. It should be as strong as the glass around it, right? I don't know.

Oct 05 2006 After I took all the hardware off and started to probe about on the surface and around the holes drilled through it, I found significant rot. Probably not enough to cause the bowsprit to fail, but far too much to put this bowsprit back on Galena.

More importantly was the complete de-lamination of the planks that make up this bowsprit. The bowsprit is 5x4 inches and about 9-ft long. It was constructed of three 2x4's glued together (vertical seams). As I took off the last bit of hardware and the final throughbolts came off, the three planks simply fell apart! The glue had become completely ineffectual. So instead of a unitized bowsprit, I had three boards that were just held together with a couple of bolts.

I've purchased three new Douglas Fir planks from a local hardwood shop (Exotic Lumber of Annapolis, MD) for $100 and they are now lying in my garage waiting my attention. I had though about using Sitka Spruce or a single post of Fir but either of those options would have cost over $300. I plan the following steps:

Using West System epoxy to glue the planks together.
Drill the holes (there are about 11 of them, mostly 1/2") for the stays and attachment bolts.
Taper the post to the proper dimensions.
Coat the whole thing (especially in the holes) with epoxy.
Paint the bowsprit dark green to match the hull (leaving the teak platform natural)

That should take a few weeks at least.
Pictures to follow as the project moves forward.

Today I painted the inside of the hull at the port v-berth area. I also replaced the anchor rodes into the newly painted chain lockers.

Progress, however slowly, is being made.

I'm also reading cruising guides for the Maine coast for a probable cruise North next summer and guides for the Med for a possible cruise across the Atlantic in '08 or '09. Nothing like big plans to keep the body young.

oct 24 2006 bowsprit glueup

Glued the bowsprit together today. Used West System with 403 microfiber filler. The three 2x6's were clamped together and left to kickoff. The cold temperatures overnight gave me some pause but the epoxy seems to be curing just fine.

This was the first time I'd ever used epoxy and filler to join planks into a beam. I used way too much epoxy. When I started clamping the planks together the excess epoxy ran out and all over the place. I scraped off about a quarter of the epoxy I had mixed.

Also I failed to use any kind of release medium between the wood on the clamps and the wood of the bowsprit. I should have used kitchen plastic wrap at least. I thought of that when I saw the excess epoxy running over the wood of the clamps. I may have to saw/plane the outside.

oct 26 shaping

I've begun to shape the new bowsprit. The three 2x6 planks are now one 4.5" x 5.5" spar. I need to work that down a bit and taper it to 4x4 at the tip.

I started by planing the edges. When I glued up the planks, they shifted during the clamping. I also had a lot of glue on the edges that needed to be ground off. I was going to run the post over my 6" benchtop planer/joiner. But the post is currently about 60lbs and 10' long. Hard to handle I think. So I did the next best thing, I took to planer to the post. I left the post on the saw horses and, turning the planer upside-down, I pulled it the length of the post; several times. Sort of like a big bulky electric plane.

(I know, I'm violating a whole list of OSHA regs but in my garage OSHA is just a small town in Ohio. At least for now. {Don't forget to vote on Nov 7})

It seems to have worked just fine. Although the blades are now in desperate need of sharpening. Next comes the actual cutting to length and taper. Then the hole drilling.

I've noticed that I only work on this (or any project for that mater) for about 2 hrs on any given day. If I would only put in an 8-hr day I could probably finish this thing in a weekend. But then I wouldn't have time to overthink everything, which is my want.

Nov 3 I rounded the tip of the bowsprit to accept the ringband. It fits very snugly, as it should. But there are some voids in there. When I'm ready to attach the ringband I'll give everything a good coating of thickened epoxy and let that fill the voids.

There is still a lot of cleaning up to do around the shoulder. But it's coming along. Also I've glued the teak trim board back on top of the bowsprit.

The next step is to give the whole thing a couple coats of epoxy to seal it up. Then paint to protect the epoxy. Then start the mechanical assembly of the platform, anchor rollers/guides, bow pulpit and lights.

A recent challenge was caused by my desire to reuse the teak trim board that rides on top of the bowsprit. The old trim was in OK shape and very reusable. The problem was that there are three through-bolts that go laterally through the bowsprit just at the teak/bowsprit joint.

My solution was to use a 1/2" half-round router bit to cut a groove in the top of the bowsprit that would line-up with the groove in the teak trim. It ended up looking like this:

To keep the bolt holes from filling with thickened epoxy during the gluing of the teak plank, I placed the bronze bolts in place after wrapping them with kitchen plastic wrap. That worked well as a release agent and the bolts drove out cleanly.

I'm still waiting for delivery of the 2-part polysulfide sealant for the hull-deck joint. I should get that within a week or so. Then I can start putting back the teak toe rail and mount the new bowsprit as soon as it's ready.

A few mistakes have been make (don't look so shocked!) and need to be address.

First was in drilling the holes for the bolts that will attached the bowsprit to Galena. There are three of them that go through the bowsprit, through a support wedge, through the deck and into some backing plates inside the chain locker. I carefully marked them on the bottom of the bowsprit using the teak trim board as a template. I used an auger to cut the half-inch holes. My wife held a t-square on two adjacent sides and watched to keep me plumb while I drilled. We did OK. But we came out about 1/8" off on the top. I figured that the bottom, where it sets on the boat, is the more important place for the holes to be exactly where they should be. After I glued the teak trim to the top, I reamed the bolt holes out and now have a slight curve in the holes. I'll have to ream them out further to get the bolts in. I'll have to fill the bolt holes with epoxy to fill the voids (I'll be using thickened epoxy to hide a lot of mistakes, I think). After I've coated everything (including the inside of all holes) with sealing coats of epoxy they might be tight enough around the bolts, but I want maximum bearing on the bolts.

Secondly, I glued the teak trim on before I cut the bevel on the aft end of the bowsprit. I'll add pictures later to make this more clear. Now I'll have to carefully cut the bevel down to where it's glued to the teak and then chisel it down to fit. Extra work. I should have cut that bevel before glueing the teak in place.