Baggy Wrinkles

Baggy Wrinkles
S/V Nautica, Hull #614, Built at Whitby Boatworks Ltd., Ontario, Canada 1977, one of the most recognizeable Carl Alberg designs. A masthead sloop displacing 9000 lbs, keel hull, Yanmar 15 hp diesel, LOA 30.27 Beam 8.75, Draft 4.29, roller furling headsail, tiller, berths for 4, interior teak bulkheads, teak cap rail and cockpit teak coamings, 12 volt lighting, aluminum mast support, Harken self tailing winches, in its day was designed for customers as a Cruiser-Racer, the Alberg 30 remains a Classic design of the modest Alberg inventory.

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Thursday, March 22, 2018

"It's an Alberg 30,...yes, it's an old boat!"

Renovation of an old boat is not easy, nor fast.   

A couple of photographs illustrate this Alberg's progress.  From a deck stripped of all hardware for refitment to a graceful design in a slip at the end of the day are thousands of hours of labor that cannot be reimbursed with other than pure pleasure of the art of sailing.

It really is that nice.  And you're in charge of her for a period of time.  Do your very best!

And the complexity of renovation of an old boat is really made tougher by people who think the world began in 1990.  Well, for them it did, but they joined a "world in progress" not a "new world."   Only new to them.  The rest of us older, lucky souls, have had the pleasure of watching our world for many more years than we care to admit and are constantly shaking our heads at the daily ironies we face with this onset of being the "older" generation of sailors.  I recently experienced this in an online conversation with a sales agent for sailboat hardware who had no idea what an Alberg design was.  He was simply too young, uninformed or inexperienced to grasp the kind of vessel I was attempting to renovate and update. I did not purchase from that vendor either.

And think of the Alberg 30s' out there, the 750 some copies that have etched their mark on sailing's timeline, who have fallen into the hands of us few and our need for upgrading due simply to the effects of age and deterioration in aluminum screws, bolts, loose joinery (not just our own joints), blocked thru-hulls, cracking of old metal brackets, rust, and the list goes on and on.  

Eventually, if we keep our Albergs for the long term, we will have to replace things.  And that is simply due to attrition.  Going beyond waiting for our rigs to fail us, if we wish to renovate our Albergs, we will have the arduous task of keeping what we can in place while working a viable alternative.  I've noticed that many of us newbies focus on the same things routinely, thru-hulls, diesels, mast support, moisture adventures, chain-plates, etc.  And this is because they are key to the integral support of the boat and/or to its safe operation.  If these few items are resolved, these boats are nearly indestructible.

But, going past "safe" one can begin to push the envelope on these vessels and improve them incrementally, bringing about a very satisfying renovation which is shipshape and seaworthy and creates a fine sailing vessel.  I wonder sometimes if my 41 year old Alberg will be around in another 50 years?  I would hope so!

For me, having a boat like the Alberg is a trust assigned.  It's like being handed a charge to keep the vessel and improve it or posterity, or t least the next skipper.  How many of us have decried with some disdain a "previous skipper," whoever that skipper might have been.  Perhaps not the most recent, but perhaps a few back of course, someone who had no sense of the history of the boat and let things fall to their lowest state of affairs.  Or, perhaps a skipper ran long on sailing and short on cash, and could not sustain her, passed her along with  a wistful sigh, hoping that perhaps the next skipper would do to her what he could not start nor ever finish.  In forty one years, the princess meets more than a few frogs!

The usual suspects of a main sliding car, push-pin stops and end pieces of a traveller system that finally failed me.  It wasn't much that failed but when a spring collapsed inside the push-pin I could no longer move the pieces and was constrained to replace the components, and then the track, which would not function with new parts.  It was time.

Like BaggyWrinkles, my first Alberg, a Cape Dory Typhoon, after which this blog is named, Nautica is also a debutante in waiting.  Waiting for my next improvement.  I always try to improve to her level and not beyond.  I'm not trying to make her into someone she's not.  She's an Alberg not a fancy new Beneteau.   And the traveler replacement is going to be along these lines.  Putting the pieces together with consultation, I decided on a Harken kit and track.  

 The traveler and I came to loggerheads when one of the push-pins broke and fixed the setting nearly dead-center.  Well, at least it was a modest attempt to make the vessel useful until a new track and system could be secured.  I didn't fret.  I've come to anticipate things breaking.  It's not a big deal.  It is big dollars but it was inevitable after so many years.  I always think to myself, "this boat is like a teenager...," lots of expenses and little thanks from the kid!  But this ought to pay back handsomely.  Now awaiting that shipment of Harken products to get her ready for spring winds.

At the outset I scribbled a metaphoric flow chart of tasks that I knew had to be done.  I keep that photo everpresent in my expectations and in my approach to fixes aboard.  Not everything is critical.  The water tubing I inserted a few weeks ago has still not been finished as I am awaiting a haul-out to fix one of the thru-hulls which needs to be replaced on the portside.  I'm patient, I'll get to it.  Keep perspective, I say to myself.  These two photos show the progress:

From disorder at the outset to usefully beautiful now. 

It is a process that I scribbled out at the beginning.  When will it all be done?  Never.  This is not a horse race, this is a journey.  You don't fix your car once and declare, "My car is now finished!"  You maintain it and enjoy the ride.  And with this project, you enjoy the sail!  There will be things to fix, replace, and modify, but along the way, you will be part of fine sailing vessel that turns eyes whenever she's on the water.

Notice the traveler system was not on the original cartoon!