Erin and I are very excited for our friends Sam and Scott who just purchased a beautiful 1979 Pearson 424. The two of them plan on fixing her up over the next 10 months or so and then head off to chase the sunset on a coconut milk run. I had the pleasure of spending a couple days aboard last weekend and wanted to share the experience with all of you!
After a long drive we arrived at the coast and turned into a sleepy looking neighborhood. A few turns later, I could see a couple masts behind some of the houses and as we pulled up all the boats came into view. Stretching our legs, Scott pointed to the closest sailboat and as we walked closer I got chills. This is a beautiful boat. I could tell she is strong and chomping at the bit, ready to go go go.
Down below I was taken aback by how spacious she was for her vintage. There is a large v-berth up front with its own sink and privacy. Amidships is a folding table flanked by two comfortable settees. Aft of the dining quarters is a great u-shaped galley on the port side and a companionway hatch on the starboard. Under the mid-ships companionway is a head with a private shower stall. Aft of all this is a private stateroom with a nav station on the starboard side. The stateroom has its own companionway leading up to the huge cockpit. It’s hard to describe how big this cockpit is and its definitely not my style but it’s perfect for Sam and Scott who are both much more outgoing than I will ever be 😉
It felt great going to sleep on a boat and after a great breakfast the next morning we got right to work. Sam and Scott have a list of projects they want to complete before setting off and we all figured we should get as much done as we could with my extra set of hands. The big thing on everyones mind was the leaking mast boot. When it rained, water would pour into the cabin and snake its way in between the cabin-top and headliner and drip out all over the boat. Not cool.
We began by pulling the headliner:
Next up was removing the mess that used to protect the inside of the boat from water. This looked like someone poured in a plastic collar and then when that didn’t work they caked on a bunch of wax and silicone… Scott and I pounded it upwards from the inside of the boat and then once it was popped up enough Scott cut it with a multi tool so that we could peel it off the mast.
With all that mess out of the way Sam got to work cleaning up the mast and aluminum collar. She painstakingly scraped away all of the goop and silicone that was tenaciously stuck to the mast, fiberglass, and aluminum. The surface had to be perfectly clean for the new plug we were going to pour and Sam did an excellent job.
Later on, we were rudely interrupted by the rain which presented a unique problem. What to do with this big hole around the mast!?!? Scott developed an excellent solution utilizing some rags, paper towels, a three strand line, and a bucket. I stuffed all the rags in the hole while Scott tied the inside of the mast with the paper towels and line to direct the flow of water into a bucket. We are all pleased to say that this worked quite well.
While we waited on the rain Sam made us a delicious lunch – she is an excellent cook and delicious is really not an understatement. They are still getting “moved in,” however and we were lacking a can opener. A pry bar and hammer worked just fine in its stead 😂
After lunch Sam and I started disassembling the countertop that surrounded the side opening, drop in fridge. The two of them decided they would much rather have a top opening fridge and plan on making one themselves. We dug out all the bungs and unscrewed all the salty old stubborn screws.
Once we were able to crack the countertop open we were pleasantly suprised to find massive amounts of un-used space! A precious commodity on a sailing vessel. In fact, there was so much space, you could almost get lost in it!
Luckily, Scott found Sam and pulled her out of the depths!
After we removed the fridge, they were left with a great space to design a new top access fridge and freezer combo:
The next morning after the rain cleared up we got back to work on the mast boot. Scott and I scored some teak out of a bin in the back of a surplus marine warehouse for pennies and he cut them up into little wedges. We then wedged them up from the bottom of the cabin-top around the mast.
We all collaborated to make a mold that we would then pour the Smooth-Cast 45D into. I should have asked Scott more about why he selected Smooth-Cast for this project so that I could relay it to you here but alas, I was distracted! He did mention that it was similar Spartite which I had recommended to him based on others experience with the product. I will be sure to update everyone after they cross and ocean as to how it holds up.
The mold was made with different types of tape and a ring of hollow rubber gasket with some double sided tape on the bottom. Inside the mast I had positioned a round piece of wood. Inside the boat the bottom was sealed off with rubber foam, tape, rags, and the old plug wedged up against the cabin-top.
Scott and I mixed up the two-part urethane in a plastic bucket and then he poured it in.
It was a tense moment and we did have a pretty significant leak inside the boat but it all came together in the end. We took turns putting pressure on the foam rubber where the leak was inside. Here I am during my turn stopping the leak while the plug set up:
Here is a picture of us anxiously waiting for it to set up during the 30 minute cure time:
And finally, here is the finished product:
I had a great weekend with Scott and Sam and loved being out on their new boat. It was fun taking it apart and seeing how another boat was put together. I have a lot of respect for Pearson boats, they are overbuilt in the best ways. Getting to poke around on this one over a couple days only re-enforced my fondness for Pearson. Over the course of the weekend we also had to diesel mechanics come out and check out the diesel engine and we had a canvas-maker come out and quote a new dodger, bimini, and side panels. I had plans to detail those experiences here but this has already turned into one of the longer posts on the blog so I will cut it off here. I hope everyone found the change of pace interesting and if you are thinking of buying your own boat and sailing off into the sunset I will leave you with this one last piece of inspiration:
When I met Sam and Scott they had just bought their first sailboat, a Catalina 22, and it was the first time they were taking her for a sail on their own (with Erin and I tagging along). That was just two and a half short years ago. They taught themselves how to sail, crewed on a couple other boats here and there to gain some experience, and then bought their new 42 ft Pearson to cross oceans, all in less than three years. That is pretty incredible and we have tons of respect for them and wish them the best on their adventure!
For old times sake, here they are on their Catalina 22: