Monday, May 10, 2010
The Story of the Dory
George Gosselin recently contacted me from Ottawa, Ontario, Canada to tell of a St. Pierre Dory he found. This project has resonance with me. How often have I walked into a project bigger than life and found that it was do or die?!
George tells a great story. I often paraphrase the notes I receive and sometimes edit too, but in this case to change anything would have lost the poetry of the narrative.
Hope you enjoy the tale as much as I do...
The story of the Dory
"This dory was Inspired from the book The Thousand Dollar Yacht, after reading this story Andrew Montief, the former owner got in contact with the Dory Shop in Lunenburg Nova Scotia, Lawrence Allen the owner then built the dory and it was the biggest one he could build because he couldn't get pitch pine planks any longer than 30 ft. and the widest one is 3/4in. x 14in.wide. The bottom made from pine 12in. x 1 1/2 in. splined the ribs made from tamarack or larch knees, it has a transom well and the tombstone is cut out on an angle to accommodate an outboard engine.
This all went together and was built in 1969 and was put into a train car in 1970 and shipped to Ottawa where Andrew and a friend of his trailered it back home to his work shop where he began to work on the deck and cabin cleats wheel and the engine steering components lites and a mooring bit, it was a work in progress for a few years. every year it was sunk for 2 weeks to take up water before the season and then leaked only a little."
"Andrew and his wife cruised in it down the St. Lawrence river to Montreal and back to Lake Ontario cruised extensively on Lake Ontario and the Redeu Canal made trips up the Trent Severn Canal System to Georgian Bay to Lake Huron and Back to Ottawa.
Andrew got sick and couldn't use the boat anymore and was in hospital for a while he ended up having to sell his home in the country and the boat went with the property.
some people had bought the property no one knew there was a boat back in there on the property nestled in the trees, covered in tarps."
"A friend of mine since past told me about this boat that some people he knew had this boat on their property and wanted to get rid of it, it had been there almost 9-10 years. not knowing anything about wooden boats he was advertising it for sale but no one would bite, just not the right part of the world, mostly farmers. If it had of been near the ocean I'm sure it would have gone right away."
"So my Buddy and I went over to check this boat out he knew i was wanting to either build the boat i had plans for or rebuild one. Well we went down into the dark woods about a 1/4 mile winding little bike trail and finally came across the Dory, well it didn't look like a dory just some moss wood and plastic and an old faded torn orange tarp and some sticks over top."
"Went over to the lump and pulled back the tarps and ok it had a hole in the stern climbed up and in and the moss growing on the gunnels and canvas decks was 2 inches thick."
"Got the door open and it was dark and scary looking inside the port lites were covered in mold and some moss was growing on parts of the plywood cabin interior. crawled in to the bow the floor looked ok, it had a head, two 7' benches and a small galley and a v-berth you could sleep 4 adults in this thing. there was a sump pump large one almost standing height."
"Went back out and started to poke at the planking and the bottom of the boat, seemed solid enough, but the paint on the planking was in really bad shape and made the boat look like it was totally rotten , there were some huge splits in each side running lengthwise on both sides in almost the same area just above the waterline for almost the entire length of the plank. well wasn't quite what i had in mind for a fixer upper. so we went home and i looked on the net to see if i could find out what kind of boat this was i spent a couple days of looking and finally found one, there was no mistaking the tombstone transom, although some of this one was cut off at the bottom to allow for the motor to be kicked up and prop wash and the bow and the rocker in the bottom and the sweeping curves of the gunnels flat bottom and wide flair of the sides."
"Well back to the boat we went to figure out how we are even going to get this 2 tons out of the bush.
There was enough room to just barely get the truck and trailer down to the boat after cutting a couple trees and there were sapling trees growing all round the boat.
I borrowed a flat bed trailer, Bud had some balsam poles he was using to move some logs around for his house and a 2 ton block and tackle.
we got the try pod set up and went up the ladder to put on the tackle 2 large straps around the boat and up and up slowly. the boat was sitting on 2 really large saw horses, so got them out of the way and backed the trailer under the boat and set it down slowly."
"Home we go. I agreed the give the gentleman a hundred dollars for it, instead of him burning it like he was threatening to do, met him at the top of the hill gave him his money, he was surprised we managed to get it out in one piece. got it home went back got the poles and ladder and lifted it and put it on blocks.
that was in 2007."
"Winter had set in and all i was able to do was to scrape some of the paint off and some of the trim off her and get it covered."
"Spring 2008 came finally that year and summer with lots of rain so I was limited on how much work I could do on her got some more paint, trim, cabin plywood off the decks and got the head and galley out then the floors which again were plywood saved all the hard wood that was it for that summer went fast but with not as much progress as i thought but the weather was bad and I couldn't afford a good enough shelter for her, so I tarped her over for another winter."
"Well spring 2009 here again well i better get this project going, we don't have to many summers left, if I'm ever going to get out on this girl.
so this year i decided that i needed to turn the boat over to get at the bottom paint and scrape the seams."
"So over the boat turns used the tripod again and some tires went over nice and easy, blocked it again. finished the scraping with scraper and heat gun.
The paint was on thick and the copper paint was the worst to take off a couple inches at a time, seriously wear a good mask the fumes are terrible!"
"Well now the paint is off and down to wood I've got the seams scraped and cleaned. some nails needed to be re clenched but i found that the planks cupped out a little and the plank seams are open a little now and clenching won't bring them back to make them tight. now for those splits in the planks the best fix for this is the replace the planks, well this is a really nasty process and almost impossible without replacing most of the planks. After searching and trying to find another way to fix this problem every where on the net, boat yards every one had there opinion, so many contradictions and no real answer i felt like i opened a can of worms from dolphinite to mixed epoxy to bondo. the split if not cut out would be a never ending problem, so i opted for the George Gosselin way. I used a tapered router bit and plunge cut a 2 inch hole around the split and round on the end of the split to keep it from traveling any further, i used the planks as a guide they were straight just made 2 different bases for the router. got the new pieces made and tapered edges couldn't get boards long enough so i scarfed 2 boards together one was over 21 feet and the other side was 18 feet got the CPES out and primed the seams then i mixed some epoxy and thinner s to make a thinner mix painted that on the edges that meet then mixed more without thinner and sanding dust from the palm sander, glued them in and screwed them to keep them from moving, filled holes and filleted the new pieces.
i put wood preservative on over the entire hull and let it dry for 2 weeks in the sun sucked and soaked rite in. got out the CPES again clear penetrating epoxy, great stuff but expensive gave to hull 2 coats then mixed up more epoxy thinned 2 coats of that sanding in between coats then 2 more coats not thinned.
sanding the entire hull
I decided to use sikaflex for the seams and small cracks in the laps too after a week it had set up and i sanded the hull again mostly the seams."
"Ah now the what paint to use here we go again the choices well needless to say you could put anything on and there would be someone saying you should have used something else but i take all words of advice seriously. some really good advise i have been given.
"I ended up using a 100% acrylic latex paint the most expensive i could find its a exterior bear porch and floor paint. I used the recommended primer as well 14 coats brushed on, not as nice as spray job but its not a Cadillac either its an east coaster and i wanted something that would wear off and not peel off."
"That's it for another summer, time to wrap it up for another year."
"Spring 2010, well another winter gone, was sort of short but i consumed more wood in the stove than in the past years. cut some new balsam poles and skinned them, they are 30 ft. 6 inch on bottom.
got them roped together, hammered in some stakes at the feet,to heavy to lift buy hand so i got them up as high as i could in the middle, then hooked on to them with the truck and raised them just waiting for some warmer weather now to rig the tarp for the summer season."
Best of luck to George! He's done a great job. He's planning to use a junk rig for it's sails or possibly a gaff rig with a tabernacle. The hull is repaired, painted and ready to be turned back upright.
The next step is to design and build a new cabin and George has asked for input. I made a couple of suggestions and I'm sure he would appreciate help from you, if you're so inclined...
To keep in step with George's progress, I will post updates to a Flickr set as George sends them in.