This section is from the book "Amateur Work Magazine Vol6". Also available from Amazon: Amateur Work.
George H. Collyer
Much preparatory work of fiting out can be accomplished early in the spring, long before it is practical to commence work upon the hull, unless the boat is under cover.
Hoops, blocks, oars and such movable fittings as cabin doors, tables, glass rack and tiller or wheel can be carried home and scraped, sand papered and varnished during leisure moments; then when spring fairly sets in and you are anxious to be afloat, you can devote your entire time upon spars and hull.
In scraping the hoops and blocks first remove the accumulation of varnish by using some good varnish remover, allow the woodwork to dry thoroughly, then scrape with a steel scraper or broken bits of glass until the bright wood is exposed; sandpaper until a smooth surface is obtained, then shellac and varnish.
If an especially smooth surface is desired sandpaper with fine sandpaper after each coat of shellac until the pores of the wood are thoroughly filled, then apply two or three thin coats of varnish. Do not attempt to varnish if the temperature is less than 65 degrees, -and allow plenty of time for each coat to dry-and harden. The same directions also apply to all fittings which we have heretofore mentioned, although it is not advisable to use glass in scraping a flat surface, and its use should be confined exclusively to hoops and blocks. If the bright work is mahogany a little mahogany stain applied and thoroughly rubbed off with a soft cloth will improve the effect.
During spare moments overhaul the standing and running rigging; a new sheet or halliard may be needed. See that all rope ends are whipped and splices served; test all turn buckles and examine wire rigging, stay and shrouds. Don't be afraid to spend a cent for new rope, and never use running rigging for more than two seasons; you can never tell when you will get caught in a tight place, and when you do there is a certain sense of security if you know your gear is sound and will stand the strain. In buying rope be sure and get Plymouth, as it is softer, more pliable and free from the splinters which you will find in cheaper brands.
If time will permit, get to work on the tender, you will be surprised to see how long it will take to scrape, paint or varnish this necessary adjunct to a boat, and its "dollars to doughnuts" if you don't do the work before the season opens, it won't be done at all, or in such a slipshod manner that it might better be left undone.
Give your sails the same careful inspection that you give the rigging, and make all necessary repairs or have them made. Do not wait until you get ready to bend them on; then, finding it too late, take a chance with the result that it will cost you a new sail or a patched old one. During your leisure moments you can make a sail cover, a cover for skylight, or an awning, and if you are an expert in using the sewing, machine a pennant, burgee or a string of code signals.
As soon as the shores are free from ice it is a good! plan to put down your mooring for the season, and while you are about it make it of sufficient size to hold a boat twice the size you intend to moor to it; then you feel secure no matter how hard it may blow and no matter how rough the sea. Make it like the "Parson's one horse shay;" every part as strong as the other. How often do you see a mooring stone large enough to hold a "forty footer," a 7/8 inch mooring chain, and a cable as big round as your arm, while the shackle is not as large as a baby's teething ring. ,
If you moor in shallow water where your boat grounds at low tide, be sure your mooring is buried in the mud, that no projecting bolt may find its way through your boat's side when she settles at ebb tide. For a small boat a "sucker" mooring is the cheapest and will furnish a secure tie up. Take two planks from a foot to fifteen inches wide and from four to six feet in length, bolt them together at right angles, attach your mooring chain to the eye-bolt and bury in the mud. For a large boat a stone mooring is to be preferred.
If there is sufficient depth of water under your boat at all times and tides, the most satisfactory mooring is the "mushroom." It is easy to put down, easy to take up in the fall, and a mooring which can always be relied upon.
Mooring cans are preferable to kegs, spars or floats for pick-ups, as they will sustain a greater weight and can be more readily handled.
The length of the mooring chain and cable should equal four times the distance from the mooring to the surface at high water, or in other words, if it is 10 feet from the mooring to the surface the chain should be about 10 feet and cable about 30 feet in length. It is well to overhaul the cable occasionally to see if there are any chafed parts or parted strands.
De you moor your boat by a shackle slipped into an eye in the bow as the constant strain upon the stem is sure to loosen the planking, especially so if you are moored in an exposed place where there is a jump of a sea.
Lead your mooring line over the bow through a chock of sufficient size to prevent jamming, and make fast to bits, cleat or shackle to a bridle around the mast. Be sure that that portion of the cable which comes in contact with the bow or bobstay is protected by strips of canvas wound around it and served with stout marline.
If the spars need attention remove all old varnish, sandpaper thoroughly, apply two coats of shellac, rub down well, then varnish two or three coats. Do not varnish unless the day is fair and warm; if the sun is too hot protect the fresh varnish from the sun's rays or it will blister.
If the wood has become chafed or weather worn, or if you wish to do an "Al" job, go over spars with a spoke shave, then sandpaper, shellac and varnish. Paint all exposed metal parts, such as eye-bolts, gooseneck, withs, shackles, etc., with alluminum paint, if iron rust is showing through the galvanizing.
Now that you have made all preliminary preparations, as soon as the weather settles you may commence work on the hull in earnest. Give it a thorough washing and scrubbing, as the paint will look much cleaner and brighter if all traces of marine growth, mud, etc., are removed.
Scrape and sandpaper the bottom and top sides until a smooth surface if obtained. If the paint is so thick that good results cannot be obtained, it can be burned off by means of gasoline torch or removed with paint remover, but do not attempt it unless you have plenty of time at your disposal as it is a slow and tedious operation, and must be done well or the results will be most unsatisfactory. Fill the seams lightly with white lead putty, then sandpaper the whole surface.
Another bit of advice; don't attempt to paint the hull or draw the water line unless you are an expert with the brush; it is much better to hire some one to do this work for you and the improved appearance will justify the expense. For a bottom paint use a good anti-fouling paint and there are several good brands on the market. For a boat that is moored in deep water all the time "Marblehead Anti-Fouling Green" will give the best results, as it will keep cleaner and resist marine growth longer than almost any other kind of bottom paint upon the market.
In painting the top sides use for first coat white lead and boiled linseed oil well mixed and for a second coat add a little French zinc, as it will give a bluish white surface and counteract the effect of the linseed oil.
Do not buy ready mixed paints, unless you know the brand to be reliable, as many brands are adulterated with cheap mineral oils. If experienced in mixing paint buy your own ingredients, or have your paint mixed by some reliable painter who knows just what proportions to use.
Black paint is not recommended as it draws the heat, blisters, peels and soon looses its gloss.
If your deck, cockpit and cabin house are finished bright, scrape, wash with gasoline and a solution of oxalic acid to brighten the wood, then shelac one coat and varnish two coats, using the best spar composition. Avoid thick and gummy varnishes, as those which spread on thinner will prove more satisfactory.
If, however, your deck house and cockpit are painted, wash the surface carefully, sandpaper and give one or two thin coats of paint. Avoid the use of bright colors, and never use dark colors; a wood color or light drab is to be preferred. It is advisable to paint decks first, then give the hull its first coat just before launching.
Ron your boat into the water until it is partially immersed but not water born and allow it to remain on the cradle until it is perfectly tight.
When leaking ceases, float off under the shears where the mast, which has already been rigged, can be stepped and wedged, rigging can now be set up, sails bent on, and you are ready for your summer's fun.
Should the craft continue to leak and you are convinced that it will not tighten up in the usual way, do not attempt to remedy the difficulty yourself, as in calking a small leak you are apt to create a larger one. If the seams are filled with soap before launching this can be scraped off as the planks come together, but if putty or lead are used in too great quantities, the surface will present a ribbed appearance, and occasion a great deal of hard work in removing it the next year.
Be sure that the hole in the garboard is plugged before launching; this oversight has caused many a tight craft to fill and sink in launching.
If iron is used for ballast, give it one or two coats of red lead before storing.
In rigging, whip all rope ends; nothing looks more slovenly aboard " than "cows tails" on sheets or halliards.
For equipment, carry two good anchors and plenty of cable, also a good compass and charts; a coil of rope is also a necessary adjunct. Don't forget the lights, lead and fog horn. All of these are absolute necessities, and while many articles can be added to your inventory that will increase your comfort, they are largely a matter of taste and capacity of the pocket-book.