The Stripping and the Sternpost

Classic wooden boat Alani Guatemala
My beautiful Alani after a week of stripping work

After the unsuccessful haul out attempt in Sarteneja, my only option was to bring Alani back to the Rio Dulce. Things did not look good.

Alani was badly bruised from the cradle and the pulling, I had spent my last money on the Sarteneja project and, to make matters worse, on our way back to Guatemala, the old Westerbeke┬┤s head gasket blew, so we had to sail back engineless. 

My finances, my boat and my spirit was broke. My experienced sailor friends advised me let it go, leave her and find a boat that I could actually go sailing on. I did have neither the money nor the skills or knowledge to take on the huge task of restoring an old wooden boat. 

After pitying myself and my situation for a while, I knew that it was time to make a decision. 

I was not ready to leave Alani behind.

I had bought her with the dream of sailing her, of giving her a new life under sail, of letting this beautiful vessel travel and sail the oceans. I had bought her to be my home, my moving house, my simple little haven. 

So I decided, I would do the repairs myself.

I bought some books. With the financial help of my wonderful dad who was visiting at the time, we hauled Alani out in November.

Wondering what I could do to earn money, the perfect job just came to me. Belize Sailing Vacations, a family owned, luxury charter company in Belize, hired me for the first mate/chef position in December. 

Wooden boat restoration Alani Guatemala
The dismantling

During my time off, I started stripping Alani of all paint, to know the conditions of the hull. I started ripping out the old teak cockpit, to gain access to the stern post. It was hard manual labor, grinding down the whole hull. Demoralising to destroy and rip apart the cockpit.

Wooden boat restoration Alani Sarah

 

Once I had removed the diesel tank from underneath the former cockpit floor, I started cleaning up the stern post area. Someone had tried to repair the leaky part of the deadwood /horn timber before by randomly stacking two-by-fours in place and glueing everything together with a LOT of thickened epoxy. After two days of sweating my butt off while trying to hack, saw and hammer the bad repair out of the way, I finally called a local friend who I knew could do miracles with his chainsaw. It still was a very nervous moment, seeing that big chainsaw being handled in the small rudder post area of my wooden boat.

 

Wooden boat restoration Alani Sarah
The cleaned out area

After finally having removed all the bad wood from the stern post and the horn timber, I started building the replacement pieces. My boat yard neighbours Jeff and Debbie on their wooden boat Fandango were instrumental in those first months of destruction and repair. Jeff, with his years of experience and expertise in wooden boat repairs and his calm and encouraging words, more than once helped me over a major road block. It was Jeff, who suggested to startout with a card board template for the complicated three dimensional horn timber repair. 

 

 

 

 

Wooden boat restoration
My horn timber pyramid
Horn timber repair wooden boat
The pyramid in place
Horn timber repair wooden boat
…and with its lid to seal up the end grain

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The stern post was next. Luckily, quality rot resistant hard wood is abundantly available in Guatemala, and I had bought some local Naranjo wood, the heaviest hardest wood that was available. It was so heavy, that I was not able to build the 6 ft post out of one piece, but instead made two pieces, that I glued together with epoxy. Then, with Toms amazing guidance and help, we built and installed 3 new floors and the transom knee.

Stern post repair wooden boat
Yay, the heavy post is in and fastened down
Stern post and floors wooden boat
Look at those pretty floors!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stern post, horn timber and floors wooden boat
The first step of the structural repair is done! Horn timber repair, the new stern post, floors and transom knee in place and fastened down. We also tied the frames to the post on the port side already.

 

Read the next chapter The Frames