Photo: Here’s a picture of my newly rescued mainsail in the backyard, draped over lawn furniture. More to come…
I’m starting a journal of sorts here, to document a journey I am on, that has been ongoing and now requires me to stretch myself in ways I am not used to. It’s a very maritime journey and that’s why I’m writing about it here.
This story is about finishing the restoration of a sailboat I bought 10 years ago with my dad, that he and I worked on up until he died in 2019, a few months before the pandemic started to make itself known. She sat in the barn for two years during the pandemic and I debated sadly whether to sell her as is, or try to get her in the water after all. I finally went down to the barn where she’s currently stored and faced the music a few months ago and decided I wanted to give this a try. At the very least, I want no regrets.
This boat was and is a very special boat to me: she’s a 22 ft double ender, a sloop (formerly a cutter rig) with a woodstove and oar locks for rowing. She’s got so much character. I admired her for years at the Warrenton Marina, where she sat in a berth there, until one day I ran into her owner on the Riverwalk in Astoria. When I admired his boat, for probably the millionth time, he abruptly offered to sell her to me for hardly anything.
My dad, who built our first boat when I was a kid in coastal NY, went down to the boat with me and we looked her over (she was in sorry shape but still afloat) and I asked him, “Can we fix her?”
He stood there for awhile and finally said, “Yes we can…” and so began the journey of him and me and my boat, Passage. I love her name and I hope I can get her in the water. If I do, it will be both a test of my resourcefulness, and a testimony to my dad, who intended this boat restoration to be sort of a gift to me. He died before he could finish it – and one of the last things he said to me was, “I’m sorry I couldn’t finish the boat.”
It’s OK, Dad. I’ll see if I can finish the job. Deep breaths.
In a way, now I get to do what I like best: MacGuyver my way through things, figure them out, think things through, and find a way when there’s no way. This seems like one of those things.
So I thought I would take you on this journey with me and we’ll see where it leads. Yesterday I took the mainsail, stained with mouse pee where it sat in a sailbag in a corner for years – soaked it in the bathtub with Oxyclean for 24 hours, and hosed it off in the backyard. Voila! Stains gone, and the sail is white and lovely again. I just ordered sail cloth and thread to repair a hole where some damn mouse chewed the sail.
There are many tasks like this that I will be taking on in the next month or so. I’ll take you with me in these posts, so you can see what I’m up to. It will be an interesting journey and I’m learning a lot.
I already know a bit about all this sailboat stuff – you don’t grow up as Stu Rideout’s daughter and not know a lot about boats. I spend my childhood in boatyards, helping him build and repair boats, sanding and painting and learning. I’ve done a lot of sailing on the Columbia locally here with the yacht club.
But there are also big holes in my knowledge too. So the Internet is a godsend. About the weirdest things… like where else can you Google “mouse pee on sails” and find a website called the Stingy Sailor that has just the perfect solution I used successfully?
So I thought this would be a fun adventure to share.
Onwards. Wish me courage, and luck.
Takeaway: Oxyclean is amazing for cleaning sails.