Sunday, November 11, 2012


I've been promising a blog (or two or three) about the renovation of Saralane for quite a while now. So without further delay, I'm turning the blog over to Skip for the details!

This has been a long time coming, but this will be my first blog post describing how we turned a tired old club racer (C&C 40) into a comfortable cruising home for us. Several more posts will follow highlighting specific projects and finally the finished product.

When we first saw “Expectation” (now “Saralane”) in 2007 it was reported that the 28 year old boat had been on the hard in Maryland for four years. Winter cold, summer heat, leaky hatches and ports had taken their toll and there was mold and mildew of epic proportions throughout. The boat had also become a major haven for mud wasps. What a mess! But under the mold and mildew there was potential - and a good boat to be had. I did a cursory survey and felt that structurally she was sound, with flaws that were to be expected on a 28 year old boat. We made a low offer which was accepted. Damn... now what do we do!?

'Expectation' arrives in Rhode Island
In the slings.
She is now a Rhode Islander!
We weren't confident about getting her home on her own bottom so we trucked her to Rhode Island, struck an annual storage deal with a local yard, and began a three year restoration. The first order of business was to remove everything we could from the interior and scrub every surface, including the inside skin of the hull and deck. All old boats have that “old boat” smell and I resolved early on to eliminate the smell by sanding and coating every surface of the interior with a coat of paint, varnish, or epoxy.  

The head, dripping with mold and mildew.
More mold and mildew in the head.
Mold and mildew in the V-berth coats the dark wood.
We took off everything and anything that could be unscrewed or unfastened – the overhead (ceiling) the ceiling (hull walls), the sole (floor), drawers, cupboards, fridge, engine, batteries, pumps, sinks, toilet, doors, hatches  windows, tanks, water heater, steering system, pulpit & pushpit, and more. We pulled out every wire and every piece of hose and all the deck hardware. Everything to be reused went into the basement for refinishing and everything else went into the dumpster.  

Messy interior
Filthy Bilge
More filthy bilge
Household wiring used in Expectation 
We installed an elaborate winter cover and rear staircase for the long haul. No ladders for us! I had become one of ‘those guys’ in the boatyard with a project boat, rose colored binoculars and a set of semi-permanent steps built (with a back door) to access the boat.

Although she was structurally sound… she was still nearly 30 years old and I didn’t want to be tinkering with old pumps, old fixtures, old plumbing, an old engine… all the old stuff old sailors struggle with. So we wound up with and old strong boat and replaced all of the old stuff with brand new stuff. At the end of the renovation we have essentially a new C&C 40 well within current market value.

The old engine - a 1979 Westerbeke 4-107 with an unknown number of hours on it.
With a lifetime of boat features stored in my mind, I had a good idea of what we ought to do with our new project. I also wanted to incorporate some of the sensible and practical features found on the Outbound Yachts, which I represent, some of which were going to require major surgery. Boats the vintage of our C&C tended to be quite dark below with poor ventilation and we needed to address that too. Most importantly, we wanted to create a comfortable home for ourselves and occasional guests.

Hull Repair and Deck Hardware Removal

I went over the hull initially with a moisture meter and did find areas of moisture in the hull – no surprise for a boat of this vintage - and some areas were kindly marked in chalk by a previous surveyor. It would have been a miracle if there had been no moisture in the cored hull (two fiberglass laminations sandwiching a ¾ inch balsa core). With three years to dry out on the hard, I drilled a series of ¼ inch holes (probably 60 or 70) through the outer skin into the wet balsa where the meter indicated, protected the holes so rain wouldn’t get in, and let her dry over time. There also seemed to be 30 years worth of bottom paint on her. I tried solvents and sanding, and got quotes for someone else to strip her but in the end I took two years to scrape her down bit by bit to fiberglass and then sanded her smooth. After nearly three years, when the balsa was completely dry, I filled the holes with epoxy, fiberglassed the holes, then faired the repair. 

A few of the filled and faired drain holes - lots more on the other side!!
One priority was to reduce the number of through hulls in the boat. Most of the old ones had gate valves (like your garden spigot) which are a problem aboard. I tried to unscrew the gate valves, which resulted in the entire through hull assembly turning. I then had to saw all of the bronze valves and through hulls in half to get them out. In the end we were able to eliminate 5 of the 10 through hull holes, which was a big improvement for safety and convenience. The old holes were ground and feathered, inside and out, then were liberally glassed over with 5 layers of triaxial fiberglass and epoxy inside and out. The entire mess was then faired smooth. Before launching we also applied two coats of special epoxy and three coats of epoxy barrier coat – then bottom paint.  

Glassed from the inside.
Glassed from the outside
Looks good!
Back in the 70’s it seemed like the number of winches on deck was often tied to the owner’s ego. Racing boats were referred to as “winch farms” and  “Expectation” was no exception. In the interest of keeping the boat as simple and uncluttered as possible, we removed 10 winches (two of which were relocated on the mast) and assorted other fittings. This left numerous fastener holes to be filled and glassed over. Since we had removed all of the deck hardware, I also filled the holes we would re-use, to be re-drilled before rebedding the hardware. This would further encapsulate the balsa coring and resist water intrusion.

'Winch farm' on deck
A few of the filled & glassed deck hardware holes left behind
Since we knew this was a multi winter project, some sort of heating system was in order. Mike Bowden, a friend at Ocean Options in Rhode Island, had a used Espar heater that we acquired and installed. It is a forced hot air system that runs off of the boat’s diesel fuel tank. During the renovation I ran it from a jerry jug in the cockpit and used pure kerosene, which would burn cleaner than diesel in the cold winter weather. It worked beautifully during the refit. On snowy winter mornings, I'd turn it on when I got to the boat, then I'd go up the hill for a cup of coffee. By the time I got back it was warm enough to work, and an hour later I was usually in shirtsleeves. It was a lifesaver in the Intracoastal too - we even plumbed a small duct into the head for those chilly mornings!

The C&C 40s (and most boats of this vintage) suffered from lack of ventilation. We solved this by replacing two of the large fixed windows, port and starboard, with four opening ports. We had to build in and fiberglass two “pillars” to divide the two long openings into four shorter openings. Lots of filling and fairing and mess! Two additional opening ports were installed in the aft side of the cabin in the cockpit. This space also used to be occupied by instruments and bulkhead compasses – so these holes needed to be filled and faired also. All of the original plexiglass windows and overhead hatch lenses were replaced with new ones, and we added two dorade boxes with cowl vents just aft of the mast. (Thanks Dad, for your help on this!)

Patching the old instrument holes in the aft cabin bulkhead.
Sketching in the opening port shape (port side).
New "pillar" faired and in place (starboard side).
Holes cut for new ports (port side).
New opening ports and new plexiglass port installed (still covered in protective brown paper) 
I hope this has given you a little view into the scope of our project - and some particulars. I'll post again with details about the systems we replaced on "Saralane" and some serious surgery that I performed (successfully!). Stay tuned...


Eliza said...

Wow!! What an interesting post... really! We should skype soon.

Love, Lize

P.S.- Way to go, Dad, on your first blog post!

P.P.S.- Dockwise still hasn't left the harbor so you'll still be waiting a while on your belongings on Satori. Seems like all the boats successfully loaded onto the ship yesterday.

Cindy Barnard said...

To quote my divine niece...WOW. In fact, double WOW. This was a fascinating FIRST post from the captain. I was impressed before. Now I am really impressed! Sorry, Maddie, I know I shouldn't tell him that. BTW, you write pretty good for an old guy. xo

danbarnardjr said...

It never ceases to amaze me to see the magnitude of the projects you Ponds are willing to undertake.

clay said...

Hi Skip.

Nice writeup. You did avery nice restoration. The boat is overall very nice looking.I have one question,what was the thinking behind the pinched in waterline leading to the transom?

Say hi to Maddie for me

Skip said...

Hi Clay! Great to hear from you. I hope all is well with Becky and you. Back in the day ('70's) the IOR was the current racing rule and for some reason it favored pinching in the waterline at the rudder post, where a girth measurement was. Because of this and other reasons, the IOR fell out of favor. Some boats were very pinched, resulting in lousy control off the wind, and reduced buoyancy aft. "Saralane" was desigbed at the tail end of the IOR era, and is a little tucked, but not extremely. She handles well on all points of sail, and is really sweet upwind.


Skip & Maddie

Miles said...

Skip I know you guys have put a ton of time and hard work into Saralane... But it can't be truly appreciated until you start describing it and showing the photos. Impressive. 'Pretty Work', as my buddy Andrew would say. Looking forward to the next.

clay said...

Hi Skip
Thanks for the explanation. I've read about boats designed to take advantage of racing rules. That does produce a odd looking end to the boat.As long as it sails well doesn't matter.The designer earned his pay.

Take care

Linda said...

I know you two worked your tails off on Saralane's restoration. And it's even more impressive when you see the photos and detailed accounting. Well done!!

Bennett said...

I have to agree with "Wow". I had no idea what you did! Now we really have to come down there and see her . . .

Madeline said...

You & Susan are welcome any time Bennett! Hope all's well with Pratique.

Mad & Skip

Jean-Philip Hudon-Dionne said...

Hi I'm currently looking to buy a 1979 C&C 40 like yours...Is there special things to look (special flaws) more than the usual...

After seeing this post, i'm sure you know a lot about this boat!

The one I'm looking is in better shape than "Expectation"