Restoring a Sailboat Restoring a Sailboat

Restoring a sailboat can be loads of fun because it is a hobby that is not terribly expensive. Many of the older wooden boats have lots of character and whether they are restored to mint condition, or just restored to take out for a fun weekend cruise, they are a joy to behold, especially when you show off your work to your family and friends.

Sailboat Search

It has been said that the best days of a boat owner’s life are the day he buys a boat and the day he sells it. That being established put the word out to friends that you are looking for an old boat to restore. 

Yacht clubs and marinas are great prospects for sailboats as they will often post sailboats for sale on their bulletin boards. Placing an inexpensive ad in the local newspaper will often bring results, especially when the advertisement mentions that you will pick up the boat. Websites such as Craig’s list, eBay and Boat Trader Online are great resources to find older boats to restore. 

Restoration Tips

As long as the main structure of the boat is intact, restoration of other parts of a sailboat will be relatively easy and enjoyable.

  • Begin by inspecting the boat from stem to stern (front to back).
  • The first signs to look for are rotting wooden parts of the structure of the boat.
  • Usually some of the wood has become rotten and can be easily and economically replaced.
  • These repairs can be covered with epoxy and sanded.
  • Most repairs can be made to look like part of the original structure. 

Restoration of Hardware

Restoration of existing hardware is very easy, but can be expensive. Inspect all metal fittings and fixtures for corrosion and for security.

  • Check to see that screws are adequately anchoring fixtures and not rotting.
  • If plating has tarnished, it can easily be polished, but if corrosion has set in, it will be necessary to replace the fittings.
  • Lubricate and check all moving parts for ease of movement, and if necessary apply graphite spray or gel.
  • Ropes and cables should be clean, serviceable and free from defects such as broken strands or rotting. These can be easily replaced, but also need to be checked for ease of movement and lubrication. 

Sailboat Aesthetics

A good finish, be it paint or varnish, will go a long way toward covering up restoration efforts or construction mistakes.

  • Begin by turning the boat over and working on the hull.
  • Begin sanding the hull with 80 grit sandpaper from end to end and side to side.
  • Wipe the hull with a clean rag that has been soaked with mineral spirits to remove dust.
  • Sand the hull again with 100 grit sandpaper and work up to 220 grit sandpaper.
  • Wipe clean and apply the first coat of varnish or paint.
  • Let this first coat dry for 24 hours, sand lightly with 220 grit sandpaper and repeat this process for at least 3 to 4 more applications.

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