A Third Rebirth of a Woody
by Granger B. Whitney

Dulcinea, commissioning on Memorial Day, 26 May 2008, White Bear Lake, MN.In last year's "Northern Breezes" I wrote about the fascination a small gaff rigged half-scale harbor pilot sloop had for me and the intimidating task that stood before us in her restoration. By way of review of that article: The 20' boat was hand built over a couple of years by Lee Pastor, a Ford Motor Company engineer in a yard north of Chicago, being finished in 1941, only in time for Lee to enter military service for the duration of WWII. On return, he sailed, restored, and refined the little craft to have the features that you would expect to find on any full scale blue water cruiser. Ford transferred Lee to St. Paul, Minnesota where he sailed, and restored again, the boat in Lake Pepin until his death. The boat sat dry in brokerage for several years after a brief failure serving as a Courage Center training vessel. A friend bought the boat with intentions to restore it, and after a brief St. Louis River, Spirit Lake dunking several years followed, again, on the cradle dry, mostly out of doors. The fall of 2007 brought her to my attention, and the third restoration project ensued

She was initially renamed the Guppy (a tongue in cheek observation) which was shortly revised to Dulcinea, corroborated by her commissioning on Memorial Day, 26 May 2008. A crowd of over 50 souls paid witness to her rebirth and acceptance by the ancient Gods of the Sea.

Her restoration, under the auspices of White Bear Boat Works, included sistering broken ribs, backing up certain planks, digging out entirely a variety of plank caulking, splicing in structural pieces at her stem and rudder post, garboard fastenings and reinforcement, a keel and ballast reconfiguration with a steel sandwich over the wood keel, a steel keel base skid with a full length wing, also it became necessary to delaminate then restore and re-laminate her mast. Putting her in Bristol Fashion included all new plank caulking, fasteners reset, stripping all old hull finishes, sanding and more sanding, new through hulls, new sleeves and bolts for the stainless chain plates (bowsprit and mast), new teak rub-rail, a West Epoxy saturation coating, three prime coats, three finish coats at the waterline and above, with a sacrificial bottom paint also in three coats. Teak topsides were all sanded, caulking restored, and teak oiled in multiple applications all summer 2008. The mast was reinforced with a fiberglass mat/epoxy lamination, while other spars were stripped and varnished.

Sails were cleaned, reinforced, where required, with a replaced 115 genoa. Running and standing rigs were refurbished, lines replaced, winches lubricated, with certain items supplemented/ replaced. Other sails are planned: a new main with two conventional reef points (currently the main is roller-reefed on the boom via a gearboxed gooseneck), an accommodation for a double headed cutter rig, a topsail, and a spinnaker. Winches serve the main halyard, the gaff lift, the genoa sheets, and the anchor.

Cabin goodies were all put back into service, pressure water with tankage, a full featured galley, VHF and FM radios (the later with a cassette player), safety equipment and fire extinguishers, two electric and one manual bilge pumps, and a new water closet with holding tank. Sailing instruments restored/replaced include: compass, wind, speed, and depth as well as a bilge sensor… all with night lighting

Being berthed at the White Bear Boat Works docks on White Bear Lake has its advantages. Taking but a few minutes to prepare for getting underway, a skipper can go from an agonizingly dull business meeting to being afloat, reaching out under the sun in less than a half an hour. New canvas covers, color coordinated in teal to match her freeboard include a boom cover, or an optional full boat stem to stern cover. Her new hull sides are amply protected by a combination of fenders and vinyl dock plank strips. The maiden sailing season and its varied weather conditions of 2008 was mostly a delight with the restored hull swelling nicely.

The little craft is well handled by her new Yamaha 4 hp, 4 cycle long stem outboard engine. The engine contained fuel tank allows for two circumnavigations of the lake, while the transom concealed tank provides a full season of powered maneuvering under normal sail-power use. A one-third throttle setting gives an easy 6 knot speed.

Setting sail under an authentic gaff rig presents several more tasks than the conventional modern rig. Hoisting the gaff topping lift coincidentally with the main halyard is the first challenge, and those skills get repeated in reverse when dousing or reefing sail. Outhauls on the gaff and the boom assist in trim. The mainsail appears substantially over scale with its head dangling well off the mast and much higher than the gooseneck of the gaff. But, when well trimmed, the massive trapezoid gives the impression of a powerhouse. Playing her genoa in a conventional manner (she has a roller reefing option as well as a hanked-on headsail plan) the boat moves out smartly. KIND OF LIKE A PETERBUILT TRUCK. She handles in a purposeful, deliberate way, not at all fast, but very assuredly. Her full keel gives her rudder the feel of an afterthought. One learns to guide her through a turn with a fair degree of patience to find out how much influence your last urging has made. The whole thing makes immense sense as the bowsprit dips in rhythm to our pace as it responds to whatever the condition are on the water's surface. The little rascal is completely deceptive in her ability to persuade her crew that they have the privilege of being far out at sea aboard a craft twice her size. I can hardly wait to further complicate her rig and sail-plan so as to find out if all can be set before the opposing shoreline forces the impossible next maneuver. She handles well single-handed with critical lines all fed to the cockpit, and can engage other crew assistance as the skipper sees fit.

Most good things are immeasurably enhanced when they can be shared, particularly if the carefully applied expenses run to a level that sharing them makes much more sense. From the outset I have held the opinion that there are other "wingnuts" out there that would take pleasure in having the experience that I am willing to speculate that only little Dulcinea, on White bear Lake can provide. Not only is the sailing experience unique (try a setting sun dipping up and down over her nose on your return to port), but the anchorage experience would have to rival being underway. Dulcinea is set up with every above- and below deck lighting requirement imaginable, plentiful ventilation with screens, and accommodations for every personal need expected during overnight stays. She'll comfortably sleep two below deck with others on deck. The cockpit seats two well, with her decks accepting another two. I don't recommend more than four sailors. Her movement under sail or power doesn't appear to be much affected by a crew from one to four as her gross weight approaches 4,300 lbs. and her fat wooden hull enhance stability.

A preliminary draft partnership agreement has been prepared to facilitate shared ownership. Details of her costs and other business/technical matters are available. Contact: Granger Whitney, 2801-A Lexington Ave. No., Roseville, MN 55113-2020, ph: 651- 493-3859, cell: 651-235-3668, fx: 651- 493-3869, or e-mail: grangerwhitney@hotmail.com

Granger B. Whitney, of Roseville, MN, sails on White Bear Lake, Minnesota and charters on Lake Michigan.