Saturday, May 29, 2010

Yes, But Will She Float?

She's one of the last wooden skiffs on Ocracoke island. My dad built her about 35 years ago, and she's been out of the water for at least six years. For more than a month I've been working to get her seaworthy again. I've gathered up anchors, life jackets, battery, whistle, and other necessary equipment. I've purchased a new boat hook, steering cables, fuel lines, paint, and assorted small parts. I've repaired the bilge pump, the trailer, and the 48 hp Evinrude outboard (mostly I just needed to replace the spark plugs, and clean the carburetors and fuel pump). The biggest challenge has been to get the juniper planks to swell up and close the seams.

She's a pretty boat...a traditional coastal North Carolina skiff, with a bit of flair at the bow to give her style. This is what she looks like today:

(Click on the photo to view a larger image.)

I'm hoping to launch her sometime today or tomorrow. I'll let you know if the seams have closed up enough to keep her afloat!

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is Captain Rob's essay, "Schooner Windfall Sails into the Final Sunset." You can read it here:


  1. Anonymous8:37 AM

    She's lovely! Can't wait to hear if she stays afloat...happy launching! Celeste et al.

  2. Anonymous8:58 AM

    This is probably a stupid question, but how do you get the juniper planks to swell up?

  3. It's not a stupid question. The planks have dried out since the boat's been out of the water for six or more years. The secret is just to keep it wet. The simplest solution is to put the boat overboard in a shallow area and let it sink. I didn't do that because the motor wasn't running (and the trailer tires wouldn't hold air), so I used another method as I worked on the motor and the trailer. I just pumped water from a hose into the boat. It leaked like a sieve for a couple of weeks, but finally the seams have closed up (or nearly closed up). Sometimes people put blankets and towels over the sides and bottom of the boat to hold in the moisture.

    Even now, after I launch her I'll dock her in a very shallow area until it swells up completely. I hope it works!

  4. How interesting! How much does she weigh?

  5. I don't know how much the boat weighs, but I'm guessing it would take 6-8 strong men to turn her upside down (e.g. in order to fiberglass the bottom, which I may do some day).

  6. Anonymous1:10 PM

    It is a beautiful boat! I know you worked hard on it. Good luck on the launch! Lou Ann

  7. She floats! Right now the boat is sitting at the dock in the harbor (in a very shallow area), and hardly taking on any water at all. Thanks to all who helped me with this project. More photos will follow in a day or so.

  8. Anonymous8:27 AM

    mighty pretty work there mate!

  9. Congratulations, wood is wonderful! If you fiberglass over it, water can get in between and you might not know it and she'll rot.

  10. Anonymous2:12 PM

    It's just "so Ocracoke"! Thanks for sharing!