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The WoodenBoat School

Wooden Boat Repair and Restoration Methods

Strategies and techniques for common wooden boat repairs.

Restoring a wooden boat

Tuition: $1,250

Note: This is a two-week course. Previous woodworking and/or boatbuilding experience is required for this course.

In the early 1970s, Mystic Seaport’s eminent small-craft scholar John Gardner, along with Syl Costelloe, built SANDY FORD, a small 13′ catboat. She’s a copy of the 1890s Crosby-built boat EXPLORER. For the last 20 years, this much-loved spritsail boat has been sailed by countless families and friends on the Mystic River. Part of the museum boat livery, she provides safe sailing with her boomless sail, high topsides, and ample cockpit.

Restoring a wooden boat

At the age of 43, SANDY FORD’s iron plank screws and iron-drifted transom are causing leakage problems. A new keel and stem were installed by the museum staff a few years ago, but now is the time to replace all of her steam-bent frames, transom, and bottom planking.

These two weeks with shipwright Walt Ansel will be an excellent exercise in classic carvel boat hull restoration. SANDY FORD’s relatively small size, good documentation, and construction of easily obtainable timber makes her perfect for a two-week intensive rebuild effort. We will explore stabilizing the hull, removing structural parts, and replacing them with new pieces, ensuring all the time that we preserve the boat’s unique shape. Besides disassembly, a student can expect to do plenty of spiling, steam-bending, and patterning. Plank fastening, re-fastening, and caulking will also be covered. And there will also be time for general related wooden boat repair discussions and demonstrations.

For anyone who’s looking at their own repair projects, these two weeks will be enlightening. And you’ll also be instrumental in helping this little treasure to sail for another 40 years!


WoodenBoat School, 41 WoodenBoat Lane, PO Box 78, Brooklin, Maine 04616 USA
Tel: 207-359-4651, Fax: 207-359-8920
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