We hauled Westward for regular maintenance in late June. My work list included replacing the rotten foremast, building aluminum outrigger poles from which to set our at-anchor stabilizers and giving her hull its annual paint job.
Things took a major twist within a few days when we discovered that much of the wood used in Westward’s pre-2008 Pacific Cruise rebuild was dangerously rotten, and required replacement before she could safely sail.
The initial estimate for this work was five times what I had stretched to commit to the budget for the work originally planned. Then, the shipwright found that the droop that has plagued Westward’s bow for the last fifty years isn’t the result of “hogging”; a settling of her old bones that happens to most of us as we age, but was in fact evidence of a structural failure in her keel timber, which is a boats’ backbone.
There is an obvious repair for this additional problem, but it requires major surgery. And, of course, the budget has now grown to ten times my original budget.
Never the less, I am committed to seeing Westward through this difficult time, and to getting her back to work (to pay for all this!!) as soon as possible. So, here is my plan.
The rotten planks, about 46 of them, on Westward’s bow have been removed, as have the lower three rows of planks above the afflicted area of her keel. This has allowed the shipwright to access her forward timbers, some of which need to be replaced. To make the repairs to the keel, we needed to remove the water tanks located under the guest cabin floor, and to do that we needed to remove the cabin interiors. Completely.
This led to the good news hidden amid all of the bad news: we will be able to build the cabin interiors that I’ve dreamed of since I first saw Westward about twelve years ago. She will still have four staterooms, but now they will each have their own head (bathroom). The new plan calls for a design and hardware that is architecturally appropriate to her age. Each stateroom will have a lower double and an upper single berth, a desk and chair, a hanging locker (closet) and five deep drawers. The woodwork will be a combination of painted lower walls and varnished heart cherry upper paneling. All doors, drawers, cabinet doors and trim will be heart cherry. The light and plumbing fixtures, along with the door and cabinet hardware, will be period correct. All staterooms will still have three opening portholes, and each head space will have one opening porthole.
She will be beautiful, straight and strong. By having every piece of compromised wood removed and replaced she will be ready to face her next half century of exploring the wild places of the Pacific, transporting her passengers back in time and to distant shores.
I will be posting regular updates on our website and Facebook page. If you haven’t already done so, please consider “Liking” Pacific Catalyst on Facebook so that you receive notifications of new posts. And perhaps most importantly, please consider joining us for a trip on either Westward or Catalyst. We need your patronage more than ever to help protect these two classic vessels.
Bill Bailey 7.28.15