Finding and Refitting the S/V Strider

1980 Endeavour 32 - Click Picture for Specifications

Strider arrived by truck in Portland, Maine on the fourth of May, 2005 from near Detroit, Michigan. Since she had spent all, or most, of her life in fresh water, she was in much better condition than I expect boats of this age to be. Her purchase was the result of three months the previous fall looking for the right sailboat. I spent much of the early part of the search going back and forth between my desire for quick, responsive and maneuverable boat and one with the solid and comfortable motion characteristics usually found in slower and more traditional designs. I also wanted an interior with lots of wood, a diesel engine, and modest draft for no more than $15,000. Three seasons of sailing and continued scanning of used boat ads have proven that it wasn't only the best choice, it was just about the only choice.

Back when I was young, and sailing was starting to become the obsession it would remain for the next three decades, boats raced under the CCA, Cruising Club of America, rules and the idea was that yachtsmen would race occasionally in boats that were primarily intended for cruising. The comfort of the crew was still considered one of the most important factors in design and hulls slid through the water instead of pounding over it.

As I researched the Endeavour 32, I learned that it was designed in the twilight of this era of yachting civility, just as the Cal's were ushering in the darkside of the dedicated racer. It was given a first generation fin keel and separate rudder which would improve performance and handling over the traditional keel. In short, it was a boat right in the middle of the two directions I was being tugged. These boats have solid hull layups and there is no balsa or foam core anywhere in the hull or deck. This makes for a heavy hull but also great longevity which is important when buying a quarter century old vessel. Although primarily intended for Caribbean island hopping. these are real boats and have made voyages as far as from Australia to Florida.

A month after the truck arrived, I wrote on my web site:

It has been exactly a month today since the boat arrived. This is the first day I have taken off (if you don't count buying new ground tackle, mowing the lawn, and catching up on all sorts of neglected stuff) in one of the longest and hardest months of my life. Calculating from a reasonable daily average of hours spent on the boat and figuring out the boatyard's rate, I now have just about the same sweat equity in the boat as the purchase price. On top of that is a couple thousand of work done by the shipyard (a good portion paid by the sellers to get the engine running) and "faint when you open them" credit card bills. Even a marine professional who has been writing specifications and drawing plans all his adult life can not even begin to imagine how the little stuff adds up. And, I haven't even looked at the rig yet. One more thousand dollar trip to the marine store and we'll have ourselves a motorboat.

I've been telling people for years that a thirty thousand dollar boat is a thirty thousand dollar boat even if you only pay fifteen for it. Somehow, I just didn't think it applied to me.

She was all ready to go in the water on Friday. I was at the yard at 6:00 AM to take care of a few last minute things:

Install hatch in seat locker.
Install rebuilt winch pocket in cockpit coaming.
Hook up raw water alarm.
Install light for raw water alarm in engine panel.
Check running light circuits.
Install fuses.
Hook up dockside zinc anode terminal.
Put cushions, docklines, and fenders on board.
Check ground tackle (turns out to be junk thus today's $200 dollar visit to the marine store.)

I've noticed that I work a lot faster than the average boatyard worker. This still would have been a $500 day if I had done it under their billing. I got all this done just in time to find out that they had some problems finishing up the boat that had to go in ahead of us so the launch is now scheduled for first thing on Monday.

Another grand should take care of the rig which will certainly need new halyards and other parts. That should bring the cash hemorrhage to a temporary halt or, at least, slow down. Realistically though, only a sales agreement will really do that.

So, what do you get when you spend the better part of $20,000 worth of time, materials, and shipyard bills on a $15,000 boat that you thought you could just jump in and sail a thousand miles home?

* Rebuild battery boxes (these are partly built into this boat's structure so all work had to be performed doubled over at 90 degrees reaching through a small hatch in the recess for the quarter berth).

* Build cover for battery box.

* Install proper backing blocks for leaking deck drains. Replacement of hull liner rotted from leaks yet to be done.

* Work with shipyard to cap all through hulls except for engine water intake and head intake. Replace engine water intake with proper seacock and strainer. Replace brass ball valve on head intake with bronze.

* Remove unused head overboard discharge line with frozen valves.

* Remove long clog prone cockpit scuppers and install new, larger, direct drains that exit above the waterline and can be cleared with a stick.

* Build a prefabricated, dual pump bilge with sump box for all hotel drains, that could be tested outside the boat and then installed. (This system replaced in 2007. See picture under 2007 work section.)

* Run new hose for all drains to lead to sump box. (You would not believe what marine hose and stainless steel hose clamps cost.)

* Install fuse panel for all circuits and rewire to suit. The boat does have breaker switches but many are over size and it was easier to put in the fuse panel which also provides more flexibility to adjust to changes made in wire sizes over the years. Quarter century old breakers are also not what you want to trust your family to in a highly flammable glass boat.

* Install engine cooling water alarm with additional indicator light in panel and separate warning buzzer.

* Move engine water strainer to proper location where it won't put such a large suction load on the pump and can actually be reached to clean out.

* Replace all engine cooling water intake lines.

* Reinstall tank level gauge properly so it works and doesn't leak oil when tank is full.

* Replace plastic through hull deck drain fittings just above the waterline with bronze and bronze ball valves.

* Install hatch in seat locker so job above can be performed and valves and hoses reached later for inspection and repair. Hatch also allows tank level gauge to be read from cockpit and while filling tank.

* Remove, rebuild, refinish, and replace both winch handle pockets in cockpit coaming.

* Install larger bilge through hull in transom and run new bilge line for second pump.

* Fabricate "Y" fitting to run sump discharge into hand pump bilge line just inboard of through hull.

* Re-bed and secure galley sink.

* Install new tailpieces on head and galley sink to fit new drain lines.

* Re-secure and re-bundle wiring and renew numerous connections.

* Disassemble head and install service kit. Install new vented loop in proper location.

* Remove holding tank and build base so it can be raised enough to turn to proper orientation so pipe connections are on top.

* Reroute sanitary hoses through bulkhead to eliminate low spots and replace head to tank line with new.

* Replace cracked and leaking access hatch to water tank. (The berth cushion lies directly on top of this small hatch so, it had better be tight.) New hatch is transparent for easy tank gauging.

* Replace rotted hull liner panel in head with new after removal for access to holding tank pump out hoses.

* Install bolt with wing nut at transom with connection to hull bonding and grounding system so a zinc anode on a cable can be put over the side in the marina. This will make up for lots of wiring sins by our neighbors.

* Install ground line to steering pedestal for minimal lighting protection.

* Install new battery charger and AC outlet to supply same in engine room.

* Install GFI protection for all AC outlets and circuits.

* Replace dead electric fuel pump and bleed fuel system.

* Track down cooling water air leaks (leading to strainer relocation and hose replacement).

* Repack stuffing box and check engine alignment.

* Wash topsides yourself and then hire crew to buff and wax when you realize that a 32 foot boat actually has two sides equaling 64 feet plus a six foot wide transom and you are 54 years old.

* Adjust engine control cables.

* Repair "un-repairable" plastic portlight cover by gluing hinge lug back on and drilling and tapping in edgewise small brass machine screws (try asking a boatyard to do something like this).

* Have compass dome replaced and compass refilled with fluid.

* Overhaul ground tackle and discover that anchor rode is far too short for Maine waters. Buy 250 feet of half inch nylon and 25 feet of chain for 22 pound anchor previously purchased.

* Buy second anchor rode to go with existing chain for Second anchor.

* Buy kedge / dinghy anchor and rode.

* Buy new flares, horn, fire extinguishers, life jackets, horseshoe ring, radar reflector, etc.

* Re-secure loose hull liner in hanging locker.

* Install heavy ground wire between chain plates and three through hulls for lightning protection.

* Fabricate skeglet ahead of rudder for pot warp guard.

June 9, 2005 - Launched!

Engine Trials in Company with a Sailing Ship that I Designed.

What Could be Finer!

"Strider" after her first sail ready for great adventures.

On October 8, I wrote:

The rain is pouring down, wiping out the weekend's soccer which, in turn, has wiped out most sailing opportunities since school started. Summer passed, as usual, without our doing a quarter of what we expected in the heady days of spring. We only managed two overnight sails although we had a number of fine daysails.

After we bought the boat last winter, I talked to the owner of an E32 who said that he couldn't imagine why a boat designer would choose one of these boats. That made my heart sink a little bit. So, what do I think of the Endeavor 32 after sailing if for a summer?

I love this boat. I go through the on-line listings from time to time and I have yet to see a boat I think I would rather have for close to the price. If I won the lottery and designed and built a custom boat, it would be pretty clear to the discerning eye that I had owned an E32. If anything happened to this boat, I would start looking for another one tomorrow.

The thing that impresses me most about her is marvelous control authority. Even when driven right down she just keeps going where you point her. There is plenty of helm force but, when you overcome it, she does exactly what you need with never a hint of taking charge. Add quick response and tight turning radius with comfortable and reassuring motion and you have a vessel I would have been proud to have designed.

You never really know a boat until you sail it in some fairly heavy air. That's been nagging me all summer so, when a fairly windy day came along last week, I went out to find out.

Getting out of the marina was an adventure in itself. There was a good five degrees of heel showing on the inclinometer under bare poles. After I let the lines that hold her off the dock loose, I couldn't push her off enough to get the fenders out. I got her hauled over to the windward side of the slip with a lot of swigging and grunting and set up bow, breast, and sternlines. I was alone so I doubled them short enough not to foul the prop and just hooked under the cleat ends so they would let themselves go. Then I took a deep breath and put her in reverse.

The friction was enough that it took a lot more power than I've used undocking before just to pull the lines off the cleats. When she came loose, the bow started swinging fast. There was no question of putting her in neutral in that breeze to stop the prop walk and let the rudder bite. Between the propwalk and the momentum of the swinging bow, I ended up with the stern outside the unprotected metal corner of the outer dock finger and being rapidly blown down on it. There was nothing for it but to go back ahead and try to turn around in the slip.

The stern missed the metal corner by about a foot. If I had had 18 inches more channel width I could have made the turn but I wound up too close to continue swinging the stern. I backed around in another 180 turn with only a slight brush of the anchor against someone's rail mounted BBQ grill. From this position, exactly stern to wind and without the swinging momentum of the bow, I was able to back straight out hanging on the prop. Next time I'll know. Kill the swing by going forward, establish that stern to wind attitude, and then back out. No damage and highly instructional.

After retrieving my lines, I got the main up and tried that alone for future reference. It felt like plenty of sail but the boat wasn't going anywhere fast. I put in a reef, unrolled about half of the genoa and the fun began.

The genoa was baggy from too much cloth on the luff roller but she put her shoulder to it and started moving out in fine style. It was turning into the kind of day when there is a white cap on every wave, the gusts were shock like, and seem to flatten and gouge the water's surface. We settled down on a very close reach and started working up Hussy Sound. This boat will steer herself for short periods on the wind with the friction lock on. I was able to dodge below for knit cap and more clothes in a lull but I was working hard most of the time. She was overpowered enough that she would lose headway pretty fast when pinching up to control the heel in the stronger gusts. I don't remember sailing a heavy boat that was so easy to keep on the line. Good thing because it would have been pretty hard on the rig doing a flogging recovery from running out of steerage way and either going aback or having to get her moving again after falling off and letting the sheets run. It was still too much sail.

I rolled up the jib to put another reef in the main and discovered that she would keep jogging along quite nicely by herself. This would be a great way to have lunch or take a break on a long haul. I put in the second reef and then unrolled a bit more jib. This got enough out that the shape was more like a sail than a sack. With the better balance, the helm was eased and we started really moving.

The wind kept increasing so we were pretty quickly back to serious work. I dodged below and found the hand held anemometer. It was blowing a solid 20 - 25 mph at the level of the top lifeline with gusts to just above 30. This doesn't sound like a lot but, with correction for wind gradient, the gusts would have been 35 to 40 at the top of the mast, the height where weather report wind speeds are measured. There was a larger sail boat way up ahead motoring on the same course with sails furled. We gradually closed the gap and were only a couple hundred feet apart when we reached the head of the sound.

There was a bit of a lee up under Cousin's Island and the wind eased with a bit of heading as the surface flow was turned by the land. We were sailing along quite easily when I heard a pop and slap up in the rig. I didn't realize until moments later that the unconscious part of my brain had recognized it for the eddy in front of a powerful gust and I had turned the boat automatically to proper heading to take it at the optimum angle. A moment later we were hit with the strongest gust of the day. We were slow for the force involved and it would have been a knockdown if not for the instinctive action I didn't really notice taking. I realized at that moment that a fair portion of my life has been spent steering sailboats.

I took the boat close up under Little John Island where it was calm and warm in the bright sun. Lunch was a handful of fig newtons munched while I shook out the reefs in anticipation of the diminishing wind and the bluer look of the sound.

The wind hadn't eased as much as it appeared from under the land but the return course was an easy beam reach. We were overcanvased but the boat tolerated it well and we boomed along with the GPS bumping up over 7 in the gusts.

My hopes for an easy docking evaporated just as we reached the area where I usually strike sails. It suddenly started blowing as hard as it had all day. Getting the jib rolled up was a project. The jib furling cut into the coil and jammed as I was booming towards the East End anchorage. That took a bit to clear but I was able to do it without having to run off and smother the jib behind the main until I could head up again.

I sailed up into the harbor for a lee to lower the main. The boat kept jogging along at a good clip under bare poles while I stowed the main and rigged docklines. She kept a straighter course with the quartering wind than I could have asked from a crew. Quite nice.

Docking turned out not to be much of an adventure at all. The wind was straight broadside. I just turned into the middle of the slip and let her blow sideways in while I held position with the engine. I should have tried to get a little closer because she picked up enough sideways speed in that five feet to fetch up with the heaviest bump she's had under my command. She then immediately leaned over against the dock under the wind pressure for all the world as if she was looking for support after a great effort.

I put her away and went home whistling to meet the kids coming home from school. It was a grand sail and I am now confident that this boat will stand by me when the going gets tough. It was far from a really rough day but it was enough to show her character.

The Last Sail of the Season

(previously published in "Points East" magazine)

I learned a good lesson on this trip. If you are going to have your boat hauled several miles away, don't take all the cushions, food, spare clothes, and other gear off at your home dock just because it's handy to the car. You might need that stuff.

It wasn't supposed to be a sail but just a quick trip as a powerboat from Portland up to Yarmouth for the haul out. I'd taken the 130% roller Genoa home in anticipation of a solo slog to windward on a day when it was blowing hard and gray out of the northeast. There was enough of a slant to the wind to set the main and motorsailing with a steadier motion and less noise than engine alone was an attractive option.

It was reasonably gnarly. I was heeling 30 degrees under main alone in the harder gusts and getting well wet down with flying spray. It didn't seem worth reefing so I put up with some sail flogging and worked up under the lee of the Diamonds. That got me far enough to windward that I could ease the sheets sufficiently to send almost half the spray off to leeward instead of straight into my face. It became quite pleasant storming along at maximum speed, modest heel, and mid range engine speed.

About half way up the sound, I heard a beeping and looked down at the engine panel to see the water flow alarm blinking. I thought it might be the intake sucking air from the heel but heading up wind to level the boat didn't help. I ducked below and felt the water pump. It was very hot. Moments later, we were a sailboat again.

This was a pickle. I got the boat jogging along and took out the chart book to study my options. Yarmouth was on the next page. Wow, I'd never realized how long, narrow and twisted that river is. The dingy was back at the marina so anchoring and rowing ashore was out. Returning to Portland to attempt a docking under sail in those conditions wasn't a very attractive prospect either. I called Susan on the cell phone to tell her that the engine had died and the plan to pick me up was subject to alteration.

I went below and started trying to restore the cooling water. The strainer was clear, I was able to blow air back through the intake line. We didn't have a lot of sea room. I ducked back up and could see the ledge and daymark off Cousins Island coming up fast so I tacked. Then, I learned another new thing. This boat steers herself quite well to windward under main alone when you shut off the engine or roll up the big jib. Once you slow down by tacking however, she can't pick up enough speed under main alone to reach equilibrium. I tried but she just ended up slatting and jibing while I took the water pump cover off expecting to find a toasted impeller.

The impeller looked fine but I decided to put in the spare. The old one wouldn't come out. Trying to work in snatches while running back and forth to steer isn't conducive to careful work or clear thinking so I buggered up the old impeller enough to render it useless in the process of discovering that it wouldn't come out. (I now have an impeller puller in my on-board tool box.)

I went to plan B, put up the working jib and start sailing. It wasn't really a plan. I didn't know how I would get up the river or spend the night without sleeping bag, food, or even cushions. I figured vaguely on anchoring as close as possible to minimize the bill if I had to have the yard come out and tow me in. Something would work out.

The wind had eased a bit and the sun was low and red on a cloud tossed horizon. It would have been a grand and stirring sail if it weren't for the uncertainty of it all. I looked over at the lights of the Chebeague Island Inn and thought, mooring, fine dinner, luxurious bed, two hundered and fifty bucks, nope.

I finally beat far enough to windward of Little John Island that I could ease the sheets and we went tearing off on a close reach into the deepening twilight toward the blinking green buoy at the mouth of the river. I'd checked the compass close hauled and studied the chart and figured I could make it up the worst part of the channel pinching hard. Short tacking up a 100 foot wide channel with infrequent buoys and wide invisible shallows on either side wasn't in my plans.

By the second buoy, it was dark enough that I couldn't spot the next more than a hundred feet away. The buoys are a few hundred yards apart and there were few shore lights so it took some careful steering. There are people who would be impressed if I told them that I sailed a 32 foot boat up the Royal River. There are more who would be impressed if I told them that I did it on a very dark and windy night. Even more if I mentioned that I've never seen the place before. I'm sure there are few though who, also knowing that I did it alone without an engine and on the top of a falling tide, would not think that I was very foolish. Ah, nothing quite matches the satisfaction of doing something foolish and difficult and pulling it off.

I got all the way up to the first boat yard in the town before I touched. The depth sounder said ten feet and I was less than 100 feet from the boat yard dock so it took a while to figure out that, yes, I was on the bank. The keel was on the edge of the steep drop off to the dredged channel while the sounder was reading out in the deeper water. Thanks to the separate rudder, I was able to pivot around the keel and let the current drag the bow around to break her free, thus depriving you all of an even better story.

I unrolled the jib again but we were making no headway at all against the increasing current and dropping breeze. I swung the bow over towards the dock of the wrong boat yard and we slowly, very slowly, inched sideways to the dock. About a foot away, I stepped ashore and had plenty of time to put the lines out before she covered the remaining distance.

I then stripped off the sails and straightened up. I heard something rolling around as I moved about the decks. It turned out to be the tag end of a bottle of single malt Scotch so I had a quick toast to the gods of the sea and the end of the sailing season before walking up the road to meet Susan and the boys.

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