Category Archives: Albacore restoration

Albacore – Out the Door

Recent blog traffic suggests there are people out there interested in my Albacore restoration project so I thought I’d better post sooner than later that – pardon the pun – the wind has sort of gone out of my sails on this one.

I’m not sure which was the mistake – buying a project boat in the first place or moving up to keelboat lessons last year. Having now experienced both dinghy and keelboat sailing, keelboats rule! Had I simply stuck to dinghies, I might have completed the restoration by now and be frantic to get mobile enough (hip surgery) to be on the water. But no. So she will soon be looking for a new home with a more appreciative owner.

And as much as I’d like to jump into a keelboat of my own, this is not the year for it as I likely won’t have decent sea-legs for sailing till at least July. Perhaps some crewing opportunities will appear after that??

Switching gears to powerboats, we recently upgraded from a fishing boat to a bow-rider! I’ve only seen photos so far but I think I may soon be mobile enough for a trip to the lake* and a maiden voyage. The new boat, with a full windscreen, canopy and zip-on-and-off side panels, should make the trips to and from the island much better on rough days. Or any days really – she’s fiberglass instead of aluminum, beamier and about two feet longer (18’-something …) The seating is higher on the comfort scale and the swim platform, ladder and bigger motor mean skiing or wakeboarding is an option … not likely for me, but you never know …

So goodbye Albacore, hello bow-rider, with sweet dreams of a keelboat in a few years’ time!

*The lake is Big Rideau, where we have just over two acres of property on a 25-acre island – alas, no cottage, just a very modest sleeping cabin (OK, shed, really), however, the beauty and tranquility of the setting, the stellar view, clear water and weed-free swimming are all that really matter! The boat ride from marina-to-island is about five kilometers (three miles).


Back in the Blogging Saddle

I was reminded yesterday, when I pointed my sister-in-law toward my blog to access my cherry chocolate cookie recipe, that it’s been an embarrassingly long time since I last posted anything, so, some bits and pieces from the last few months …

We finished the pool in mid-August and managed to find a few fair-weather days to enjoy it before it started to rain endlessly from late August right through the fall.

The Albacore – I’ve not made any progress since my last post about it and I have to confess that the wind has sort of gone out of my sails (pardon the bad pun) on that one. The past summer’s keelboat sailing is pulling me hard in that direction. The typical two-foot-itis that afflicts so many boaters is ten-foot-itis in my case! A 26-footer is now the dream! I’ll take the winter to decide how best to deal with the Albacore – I’m not sure whether to finish refurbishing prior to selling or list her as is in the spring.

Life got in the way of making more cider this year however I entered last year’s cider in the local small-town (Carp) fair, where it took second place! Then a few weeks ago I found our neighbours across the street pressing a truckload – a whopping 800 pounds – of apples in their driveway. Turns out they own the press and I’m welcome to use it, so I have cider plans a-plenty for next fall.

Winter’s settling in around here. We had freezing rain two days ago, topped with a dusting of snow, but I’ve still successfully managed to avoid wearing socks (hate them!) up to now. I rediscovered an old pair of Haflinger wool felt clogs in the closet just as it was getting too cold for sandals. OK, not the most fashionable thing, however, I have problem feet and those cork-bed clogs are amazingly comfortable! Even my lovely, wonderful Blundstone boots, which I’ve worn both outside and in every winter for the past six or so years, feel like crap after the clogs. I’m not happy at the prospect of parting with the clogs but don’t think I’ll have much choice for much longer – outside, at least …

So here we are at the end of November. The silly season is in full swing – that one where Christmas decorations, commercials and carols debut way too early and serve only to annoy me and most everyone else I know. Is there anyone who really enjoys this stuff in November? Do they really make people shop more, or earlier, than they would anyway? I have strong doubts (and even stronger ones about ‘the reason for the season’, but that’s for another post sometime).

I did buy something seasonal – another IKEA julbock! It’s a Yule goat made of straw, a traditional Swedish thing. I took one in to the office last year, where fun was had my many, endlessly stealing it over the days leading up to Winter Solstice. The rule was that anyone could successfully steal it if they weren’t caught before getting it back to their office. The lucky person who had possession of the goat at noon on December 21st got to keep it and take it home. Last year’s fun was open to about twenty-five people and this year that number has doubled so we’ll see what happens – the game is set to begin on December 1st.

Oh, another purchase – after years of wanting one, I finally bought a ceramic baking dish for making shortbread biscuits. I may use it to bake for my annual cookie exchange this Friday, though I’m leaning toward the chocolate cherry cupcake cookies – or maybe both?

There, I’m caught up again, in broad terms at least. Hopefully, I’ll do a better job of it in future posts. Cheers!

Restoring the Albacore – Part 2

No more on the centreboard yet, but recently I –

– removed all the hardware attached to the thwarts and centreboard trunk
– removed the old, rotten hiking straps
– installed inspection ports on the side flotation tank seats
– purchased an ash board to fashion a thwart support

It was a bit unnerving to cut holes in the tanks for the inspection ports and I also learned a lesson – never cut fibreglass while wearing shorts and a t-shirt, especially in hot & humid weather!

Once the holes were cut, it was a simple job to install the ports and I was happy to find that the tanks were full of block Styrofoam that seems to be in good shape – no bags of foam peanuts or pool noodles needed for extra flotation.

Inspection Port - Side Flotation Tank

The thwarts are in bad shape and, consequently, the centreboard trunk is quite unstable. A bad repair job by a previous owner was a failure. After looking into various options, I’ve decided to go with what seems like an easy approach that still offers strength and support – simply bevel the edges on a nice hard ash board of ash, apply some stain & clear marine varnish and screw this onto the existing thwarts and seats. We’ll see … (I’d like to think it will happen this week but the slate is already overflowing with other stuff.)

Hardware removed - thwart support will go here

There’s also a previous fibreglass job on the floor – pretty roughly done – that’s a bit of a mystery. Whether reinforcement or done due to seat tank leaks, I don’t know, but I plan to grind off the rough spots as they’re a bit hard on the toes.

Various knick and dents will get filled and a three-stage paint job will happen, in time – the hull, the deck and the interior.

The rudder needs sanding and refinishing too.

My biggest challenge, however, will be to replace and/or bump up some of the rigging bits which, at this point, is a complete mystery to me! But I’ve been in contact with some Albacore sailors at the Nepean Sailing Club who were amazingly friendly and helpful and, when I reach that stage, I will likely send a distress call their way to help me figure it out.

I hope to report on more progress soon but, as usual, other projects are intruding and the next one – pool install and deck! – are top priority. Fingers crossed that I’ll find some spare time in the next week or two.

Restoring the Albacore – The Start

I mentioned in a recent post that I’d finally started to fix up the old Albacore sailboat that I acquired last summer so here’s a rundown on progress made so far, which has been agonizingly slow – not due to any degree of difficulty (so far), it’s just been hard to find time and, without either a workshop or a garage (though plans are afoot on the latter!), rainy days get in the way too. The latest impediment is a yard full of roofers and the resulting mess.

Anyway, here’s a photo of the starting point, after a full-on attack with a scrub brush and hose …

Before Restoration

My first task was to clean off all the caulking that was gunked over the centreboard bolt, remove the bolt and pull the board. I’d not had high expectations for what I’d find and it wasn’t pretty!

Not a pretty sight!

The paint was peeling badly and there were a few punky spots but the worst was a long split running from the top down more than half the length of the board and a smaller one running up from the bottom of the blade. Both were along the original board joints.

If this was a newer boat and I was a more experienced sailor I probably wouldn’t hesitate to buy a new board but the cost is considerable and I’m not sure it’s worth it for this boat – yet, at least – so I stripped the paint off, gave it a good sanding and we then put epoxy in the cracks and clamped it up. A few hours later I had a solid, sturdy board.

Stripped, sanded & glued

What’s next?
I plan to put fibreglass tape along the leading edge of the centreboard, then fibreglass the entire board. It would be beautiful finished clear, as it’s mahogany, but likely beyond my skill level to do well (at least, without a LOT of difficulty) when clad in fibreglass, so a coat of marine paint will be the final finish.

And that’s just the CB – in the next restoration post, I’ll tell you all about installing inspection ports and outline some of the other work that lies ahead.

Back soon!

Renovation, Restoration, Sailing & Garden Salvation

Blogging slipped off my radar in recent months so it’s catch-up time …

Some major things happenings in the last while (apart from the day job, which has been INSANELY busy!) are –

Keelboat sailing lessons – now complete
Front hall renovations – almost complete
Albacore sailboat restoration – just begun

The keelboat lessons, somewhat inspired by the sea-faring voyages of Mike Perham, Jessica Watson, the Bounty Boat and the much-overlooked Alessandro di Benedetto (still out there), were a lot of fun! Though now inflamed with a burning desire to rush off and buy a keelboat, this is not the right time, however, I’ve still managed to spend countless hours looking on-line at boats ads and I’m convinced a nice little 26-footer is in my future. In the meantime, I’ll hone my sailing skills in the Albacore (a 16-foot dinghy) … as soon as she’s seaworthy again.

The front hall reno started as a straightforward tiling project, then grew. I’m very pleased with the (almost) finished results and somewhat proud of my new-found skills at tile-laying, bamboo flooring and crown moulding installation!

And then there’s the Albacore …

I knew when I bought her last summer she was a bit of a project boat – I just didn’t realize how much!

Our one-and-only sail last summer highlighted two things; one, I still have a lot to learn about sailing (having only started last year) and, second, there was more to do on the boat than first thought – and hard to know where to begin. Without a garage, the boat ended up parked for the winter in an inaccessible location that meant her restoration was on hold till spring. Spring came and went with too many other demands on our time and so, now back home in the driveway, the boat remained untouched.

I was also just a little daunted by what to do and how to begin but I finally took the plunge a few weeks ago and got started. The next post will be all about the Albacore so check back to see the beginning transformation. Now that I’ve begun, it doesn’t seem so bad – sort of the way it is with most things, the hardest part is getting started …

When life gets too busy, something gets relegated to the back seat and, sadly, it was the garden. I bought two tomato plants (I had grown my own seedlings last year) and then left them sitting in their tiny pots for weeks … finally planting them only last weekend!!

Those two poor tomato plants looked so pathetically lonely in their 4 x 4 raised bed but then I remembered the pack of scarlet runner beans I bought years ago. I found it, along with a pack of nasturtium seeds, and shoved some of each into the ground. And guess what? Bean plants, now about 4 inches high after just 8 days and the nasturtiums are poking up too! I may just salvage something out of this growing season!!

So stay tuned – more on boat restoration, home renovation and garden salvation to follow …