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Log Entry

Penguin Restoration - Fail

Last week, my memory was jogged about a boat restoration project I attempted fifteen years ago. The project involved restoring a wooden Penguin that I bought from a local who happens to be a boat broker. He who shall remain unnamed assured me that the boat was in a condition to get ready to sail with some cosmetic work.

I digress to the reason it came up this past Wednesday. I serve on the Annapolis Yacht Club History and Artifacts Committee. We had our monthly meeting via Zoom and during the call, the topic of finding an old Penguin to cut in half and mount on a wall in the Spa Creek Galley Club dining room came up. The facility is new and still in the process of getting dressed up with relevant yachting memorabilia. Penguins were used back in the day as the primary boat of the Junior Fleet.

The conversation harkened me back to my project, which I believed to be relatively straightforward because the boat was said to be primarily sound. I began by painting the sides (my favorite color at the time, Chesapeake Green, which is no longer available), the bottom, and varnishing the transom. I'd spent a couple of weekends sanding, painting, and varnishing until the boat looked pretty good. For those who know me... I was doing my usual obsessive thing working so hard to get it perfect - the definition of which is "excellent or complete beyond practical or theoretical improvement / make flawless or faultless.

Next, I flipped the boat over to clean up the centerboard trunk - (the picture is an example I found on the web, not the actual boat I was working on). I found a little surface rot around the base and started digging it out. Well, I kept digging and digging until the bottom of the centerboard trunk was no more. There was no solid wood left to support the centerboard while in its proper position. I gave it a few moments of thought to rebuild it with fiberglass. Then I hastily decided, no, I was not going to spend more good money and time going after bad. There was no shortage of "I love yachting" expressions spoken at a fairly loud volume.

The next day, a Sunday, I broke out a power saw, said my goodbyes to the old boat, and sawed it up for recycling to pick up. It took hours to do the painting and varnishing and only minutes to reduce the poor Penguin to recyclable-sized pieces. It was as sad as it was fulfilling to destroy that little dream, take that rot!

Later that day, my younger daughter, about twelve years old at the time, came home from visiting a friend and I’ll never forget the look on her face when she saw the project remains - a boat I'd promised to take her sailing on - all cut up at the end of our driveway. Poor kid thought I’d lost my mind. I may have a little but really the take-away was inspection, inspection, inspection! Even for a little dinghy.

However, it would have made a good wall hanging...

1 Comment

Jan 18, 2022

At least you got a funny story out of the deal. I find varnishing to be relaxing as well, or maybe it is just the fumes.

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