Inspecting and tightening clinker fixings on a lovely but old 26ft wooden cruiser

by Josh

Hi all I've got my eye on a lovely looking Owens Sea Skiff, clinker built.

She's a generous lovely fitted out period boat, the hull presently held together I think by being in the water, a few leaks being pumped out by an automatic bilge pump.

The seller pre-ports that she will need pulling out of the water for inspection.

I don't mind committing to work on her but wondered whether taking care of the fastenings meant gutting the boat to get to the inside of the hull for one.

Again the owner (really nice chap) said having not slipped her in a long while that he could not accurately make suggestions about rot etc.

Other comments in this forum have even suggested that the best way to assess a wooden clinker boat was to put them in the water for a season and "get to know them".

Please any comprehensive or point by point advice on this would be most welcome as I'm not work shy, drawn to the boat but don't want to take on an absolute money pit.

Very best

Comments for Inspecting and tightening clinker fixings on a lovely but old 26ft wooden cruiser

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Jun 11, 2024
Sea Skiff
by: Al

Hello Josh,

Buying and restoring an older wooden cruiser like an Owens Sea Skiff can be a rewarding project, but it definitely helps to know what you're getting into before making a commitment. Here's some advice to consider as you decide whether to purchase and undertake the work on this boat:

1. **Detailed Inspection Prior to Purchase**:
- Since the boat has been in the water for an extended period without being dry-docked, it’s crucial to inspect the hull out of the water. You need to look for signs of rot, particularly in the frames, keel, and planks. Hiring a marine surveyor with experience in wooden boats could be a worthwhile investment here.

2. **Understanding the Scope of Necessary Work**:
- Fastenings in wooden boats can deteriorate due to corrosion or wear. Inspecting these will usually require access to the interior side of the hull. You should evaluate if interior furnishings or structural elements need removal to access these areas.
- Determine whether you are looking at simply tightening existing fasteners or if there is a need for replacing them. Replacement could entail removing planks, which is a more extensive job.

3. **Dealing with Swelling and Water Tightness**:
- Wooden boats rely on the swelling of wood to ensure water tightness. If the hull has dried out or there are gaps in the plank seams, these issues need addressing. This might involve caulking and refastening, which can be labor-intensive but essential for the boat’s integrity.

4. **Evaluating Long-Term Maintenance**:
- Understand that wooden boats require continual maintenance. Regular inspections, varnishing, and attention to any new signs of water ingress or rot are necessary to keep the boat in good condition.

5. **Budget Considerations**:
- Restoring a wooden boat can often end up costing more than initially expected. Make sure to set a realistic budget for both the purchase and restoration, considering also the ongoing maintenance costs.

6. **Getting to Know the Boat**:
- As some forum members suggested, spending time with the boat in the water can help you understand its behavior, idiosyncrasies, and areas that may need more urgent attention. However, ensuring it’s structurally sound and safe should be your priority before any prolonged use.

7. **Resource and Community Support**:
- Tap into communities (both online and local) of wooden boat enthusiasts. These individuals can offer invaluable advice, resources, and possibly assistance with parts of your project.

8. **Plan Your Work**:
- If you decide to proceed, plan your restoration work in phases. Prioritize structural integrity and safety first before moving onto aesthetics or fittings.

In conclusion, if you have a passion for wooden boats and are ready for the challenge, this could be a wonderful project. Just make sure to go in with a clear understanding of what the restoration will require in terms of time, money, and effort. Good luck with your decision!

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