The Rot Doctor


Subject: My Dream
Date: Mon, 08 Feb 1999

She is a 42'pilothouse trawler with a 12' beam and draws 4 1/2'. Her Cummins diesel will push her along at a happy 7 kts at 1500RPM for as long as her 200 gals will last (and at 1.3GPH thats quite a while). The hull was built by Mr Warren Pearl of Tancook Isl, Nova Scotia in 1967, our Centennial year. From there her first voyage was by rail car to Montreal where the new and proud owner spent the next 11 years finishing her off with his two hands and some good friends. Finally launched in '78 and registered as a ship out of Halifax, Nova Scotia she wintered in the sunny south making the journey home for summers. She was rarely out of the water for the next 13 years, until the sad passing of her owner builder. With this she passed to new hands who tho they did love her they had neither the time nor the money to serve as she deserved or needed. Now she is mine!!
I bought her last summer and sailed her from Montreal through the Trent-Severn to Lake Simcoe where she now lay. Although I did have a survey done it is apparent that much was missed. A plank in the transom seems in dire need of attention and (God help me) her keel feels a little soft. A few ribs need changing and I plan to use laminated oak for that job rather than the steam bent ones now in place. For myself I am a Tactical Helicopter pilot in the Canadian Air Force and contrary to popular opinion I do not own a bank. The truth be told the bank rather owns me and my boat. I haver no intention of giving her up so I am calling upon you for help.
JEP II has a white oak keel, ribs and transom. She is planked in white pine, sounds thoroughly pedestrian, even awful but it is a very accepted construction method "Down Home".
My main concerns are the keel and transom, can you help me?

Tery L.

Nice boat! I'm a big lover of trawlers, in fact live on one, as noted on our web site. Our old girl chunks along at 7 knots also, but at 2 gal/hr (Detroit diesel -- nice engines but a bit hungrier than 4-cycle machines). We carry 200 gal so can move a ways too before worrying about it. Trawlers are fun!

At the risk of sounding unduly promotional, we use our Clear Penetrating Epoxy Sealer (CPES) freely throughout our boat. That's one of the reasons we became the national distributor, the other being that it is an amazing product that was getting no distribution off the West Coast. However much you use, it'll be worth the trouble (and expense!) that it costs you to get it. More on getting it later.

There is nothing wrong with white pine. These days there is a lot of cache attached to certain woods and not to others. These reputations were based on the old days (real old days -- not 1967), but in more recent history much depends on the quality of the wood obtained, whatever its species. There's a lot of high-end wood out there that is junk, and a lot of low-end wood that is plenty good enough to build a boat with.

Laminated replacement frames or sisters are fine. Bonding with epoxy makes the most sense. I would suggest that after they are completed and ready for installation that you give them a good coat of CPES for the good wood protection it gives you. CPES spreads a long way on new wood (250-300 sq ft per gallon) so the cost isn't that great.

It's not usual for keels to rot with boats that are kept in the water, so it's hard to tell what the *softness* really is. Florida is not a really good environment for old wood boats (I know; I've lived there on one) so maybe something got at the wood. In any case, you need to get the boat out of the water, the keel surface dried (use a kerosene heater-blower if you want to speed things up) and then poke a bit and see how deep the softness is. If it's under 1 inch deep, then two coats of the CPES applied to the surface with a brush should take care of the problem very nicely. If the softness is deeper than that, then you'd better get back to me and tell me what you're finding -- how deep and what does the wood look like? You can put bottom paint over the CPES without any concern.

For the transom plank I need better information. How bad is it, i.e., how deep does the bad wood go? What is the condition of the bad wood -- pretty much intact but just soft or totally shot and falling out? Give me more info -- send pictures if you want, prints or j-peg images via e-mail -- and I'll tell you what I would do under similar circumstances.

Now, getting the CPES if you're interested: We cannot ship CPES into Canada via normal routes because it is a Class II Hazardous Material. Only FedEx will carry it across borders, but at an outrageous price. What our Canadian customers do is have it shipped to some point in the US near the border and then drive over and pick it up. Canada doesn't care and we supply all shipping and NAFTA paperwork -- it's just the US carriers who are uncooperative.

Get back to me -- and have fun! Sounds like a great old boat.