Flying Dutchman Sailboat

History
I got this boat in addition to another Flying Dutchman, down in Tacoma and Puyallup from a Craigslist listing for a FREE boat. I should know better. Anyway, I got the trailer, two FD’s, one wood, one plastic, and a mast, and about ten sails. The wood boat turned out to be made by Bob Hoare, the builder of the 1968 Olympic gold medal boat. The person I bought it from stored the boat nose down in his driveway, and it had filled with water and rotted out. The boat was beyond saving, and I cut it up with a Sawzall. It was absolutely beautiful…. doing some research, I think it might be the one that Peter Bryne and Donald Andrews sailed in the Munich games… the boat is Canadian, so that’s best guess. Sorry fellas, if you wanted that boat for sentimental reasons. Tough year with the Pajot brothers and Pattison sailing. His boat is either in a museum now or it’s being totally made over, depending on which boat you are talking about. Back to my boat.

So now I’m refinishing this plastic boat, a Plastrend, probably from the 1960’s. Interestingly, I read somewhere on the Internet that Ted Turner of TBS and America’s Cup fame, bought the company early on. I’m adding most of the good things from the Hoare boat, in post-mortem named the “Organ Donor”. I’m realizing that the difference between the “new” and “old” boats is loading. The loads on a “real” racing Flying Dutchman, or FD are huge. My boat is lumpy and flexible, kind of like an underinflated inflatable dinghy. So, I’ve decided to make this boat a really FAST daysailer, and keep the loads low, no fancy canting rigs, adjustable spreaders, mast raking, or many if any dual controls from the rail. I’m not going out in 50 mph winds, and proabably will never race another FD around here, so I’m okay with that.

Hull Refinishing
Refinishing the hull has essentially entailed a HUGE amount of sanding. I’ve been counting, thus far it’s been 34 hours of nothing but sanding…not prep time, not trips to the store, not washing, but just sanding, by hand. And it appears there will be at least another ten on top of that. So, the boat was sanded with 50 grit sandpaper. Yes, 50 grit. This was a bit like rubbing gravel on the boat, but I wanted to get through the old paint, through the oxidation, and through to the decent strength matrix underneath. Then I filled the weakest spot on the hull, about 1-2 feet in diameter, with epoxy and fiberglass. At the other areas, where there were big blisters, I cracked them open, and filled them with Bondo Kitty Hair. Then more sanding. Then more Bondo over the sanded glass area, then another round of sanding. This sanding was done with 50 grit paper, again, gravel on a piece of paper.

Then the whole boat was wet sanded using 220 grit sandpaper, to smooth out some of the deep scratching. After this, I washed the boat down with Interlux solvent 202, which gets rid of all oils, waxes, etc. It also f’ing reeks, so if you are following in my footsteps, YOU NEED A RESPIRATOR… this will kill brain cells. That really goes for all of the Interlux paint products.

After that I mixed in the Interlux Brightside paint with the Interlux PreKote, their primer, enough to turn it a good melon pink color. Think of a sick hippopotamus, and you’re pretty close to what it looks like. If you are using a bold color, it takes a lot to cover white. Since I Don’t Know is going to be “fire (engine) red”, it seemed like a good idea to mix it.

So after rolling and drying, it’s back to sanding again, this time wet with 220 grit. Did I mention that I’m sick of sanding? Fast forward six or seven more hours of sanding. Now I have this patchy, huge, sick pink hippopotamus that is begging to be painted.

Okay, so now I’ve washed the boat about ten more times to get rid of any paint dust and oils, then the solvent wash again. However, the 202 wash also acts as a stripper, so it took off the primer! Don’t leave 202 on already painted surfaces. Uggh. Now, more sanding.

Where am I now in the project? I’ve applied one coat of Brightside. The stuff is amazing, but there are some tricks to make it even better. One is to add more 333 Brushing Fluid. It makes the paint flow more easily. The best idea yet is to test the mix on a pane of glass. Since there aren’t any defects in glass, any issues have to come from the paint itself. It’s a great way to determine whether or not the paint will “flow”, which is really what this paint does better than anything else.

5/26/08 Update. Second coat of paint went on beautifully. the coverage was much better, and I learned an important lesson: Put the Brightside on thinly. Too much paint, and it tends to run, and flow into itself. This is the delicate balance here. To thick and it won’t flow. Too thin, it flows too much. Too much and it runs. Too little and it doesn’t cover. Ah, the delicate balance.

Did I mention sanding is great exercise? For better or worse, I’ve wet sanded all my boat projects for one simple reason: Dust. I hate dust, and it keeps things much cleaner. I do have to admit that on this boat it looks like blood running off the boat, but that’s okay. Even as a Seattle chiropractor I am getting lots of exercise sanding and sanding and sanding. I use an oak block of wood with some 1/2 inch thick styrofoam in its shape. The block is only about 3 inches by 7 inches, which allows me to use almost exactly 1/3 a sheet of paper at a time. Anything larger seems too big, anything smaller and I don’t think it’s stable enough to cover the blemishes over a large range. It’s something I can grip onto.

The covering ability of Brightside isn’t that great… it likes to have a similar color underneath it. For this reason the sanding of the primer shouldn’t really go through to the color below.. it looks like the pox underneath if it’s patchy, or you can go with another coat. Which means an entire boat sand, and a whole repaint, with a chance of bringing out the patchiness, you get the idea. Uggh.

It’s also been my experience that you have to let the paint sit for at least a day or two to harden up, regardless what the can says. Paint it, admire it, agonize over the mistakes, but wait to sand it again. Warm temps obviously are better than my cold Seattle climate. One of the best things about redoing the hull paint is like waiting to go out on a date with someone beautiful: If it turns out great, it turns out really great. If not, you just end up kicking yourself for things you wish you had done right or better. Wait for the paint to harden. You’ll like your second date better if you do.

Something that really makes the boat stand out against the crowd is the name lettering. I used this company before; www.streetglo.com, and used their lettering tool. It’s awesome. The letters are super-reflective, and super sticky on the boat. They are also pretty darned easy to put on, move around when you do, and then are super stuck-on. I also got about 40-50 feet of reflective white pinstriping to go along the side of the boat. It’s amazing pulling the boat at night… following cars see the boat and the boat name really easily from like a half mile away. I’ll take a picture of it when it’s done and submit to their website. NOTE: Easiest way to apply the pinstriping: put it on at dusk, with a laser level. I put the laser level line where I want it to go, and then don the appropriate red glasses. When the reflective piping hits the beam, it explodes with light, and I know I’m getting a straight line every time. Pretty tricky, huh?

Last thing to do on the boat bottom is to install a centerboard gasket. I learned this from my last boat, that there needs to be a buffer between the inside and outside of the boat… if not, the pressure difference inside and out can cause water to come shooting out of the well, slowly sinking the boat. Two thin aluminum strips hold down the Dacron material, acting to gasket the centerboard, and to make the boat smoother there, allowing it to (theoretically) plane more easily. I looked at APS for the aluminum strips… 60 bucks?! I went to home depot and got garage door weatherstripping; it’s even drilled out every four inches, like the product they have. It may be too thin, but I’m going to try it anyway.

Hull Stiffening
Okay, before everyone gets excited… the boat hull. It’s about as flexible as an innertube. It’s difficult to work on this boat, since it seems that while there are a lot of Plastrend boats out there, there weren’t very good. I know mine isn’t since it’s such a poor shape, as can be seen from the photos. As for stiffening it up, I’m going to hold off until I see how this boat rates against the local 505 I race against. If I’m “just” behind them, I’ll go about stiffening the mast partners, and some of the more flexy parts of the boat. If I’m way behind, however, I’m going to do absolutely nothing! It’ll be like using an antique Porsche to go camping, but that’s okay, right?

Standing Rigging
I inherited a Z-Spar extrusion, it’s a flexible aluminum spar. (New FD’s have a carbon fiber mast) The weird thing about rigging my boat will be the shrouds; apparently the shroud dives into a fiberglass tube that bends through 90 degrees and then attaches to a Highfield lever mounted horizontally on the foward bulkhead. Interesting, but weird. The forestay on the FD is weaker than the genoa halyard, I think, its a funky roller furling arrangement I’ve never seen before. Standing rigging is always the most fun part of getting the boat ready. Well, that and launching it and sailing it, of course.

Foils/ Flotation

Yeah, I called them foils. I was really fortunate to have the Organ Donor boat, it came with ally nice foils. They are going to be transferred to the new boat. The tiller on the FD is HUGE, about five feet long! The tiller extension will go another four or five feet as well. Wow! I just finished sanding and varnishing the tiller… it’s a big wooden “box” that hooks over the rudder blade. The extension looks cool, too.

Rigging
The coolest thing I’m installing is the spinnaker pump-up system, using the mysterious Northfix pump cleat. It’s essentially a way that the skipper can raise the spinnaker with one or two pulls and the crew can worry about something else. I’ll have to go into more detail about how its rigged in the future. Because “Organ Donor” had so many pulleys and blocks, I’ve got lots of options on how to get some purchase, without purchasing anything.

The main sheet is something I had to fab up a new option for, so for now I’m going to use small Harken blocks for the sheet. I also bought a windward sheeting car on ebay for a song, spent another 20 bucks on parts to rebuild it, and have to cut some new track down fom the Organ Donor boat, so it has something to travel on. Maybe that’s cool, too. Since the boat is upside down for painting right now, I can’t do much except look at other boat pictures to see how they are rigged. It’s the best I can do for now. Since this won’t be all out racer, (I’d buy a different boat for that) I have the luxury of not making a stringy mess of the boat, keeping things “clean”, and “orderly”, not “fast”.

Spinnaker, part deux
The latest development is that of including an on-the-boom pole launching system, as explained by USA-7, an owner of an FD back east. Much of the information I have gleaned about the boat was from this man, and he has willingly shared his drawings and knowledge. Anyway, the boom holds the pole until it’s ready for use, and then, POOF! out it pops and gets attached to the mast. Easy peasy.

Sails

Ah, sails. Finally, one area where I can really kick the crap out of everything else. My boat has three mains, multiple jibs, three spinnakers. I think all of the sails are from the Olympics in 1972, in Munich, and haven’t been used really at all since then. In fact, I haven’t taken most of the sails out of their respective bags yet. If there’s one thing I probably won’t be spending money on, it’ll be the sails for this boat.

Trailer
I’ve decided to name the trailer “Rusty Two”, as I used to have another trailer named “Rusty”. As the name implies, it’s had some interaction between the metal a chemical we call dihydrogen monoxide. (Water). My plan is to take the wheels off, repack the bearings, and grind the rust off the rims. I’m then going to paint the rims with PreKote, not sand them afterwards, and then paint them with a bit of the Brightside paint, so that the “carpet matches the drapes”. I think I may even put the pinstriping in the angle of the rim so that it reflects, as well.

Who knows if the lights work.. I don’t think they’ve ever been hooked up in the last three decades. I was concerned initially that the trailer wasn’t supportive enough and would deform the boat. Now, I’m thinking I may get lucky and it may take some of the lumps OUT! We’ll see. or Wheel See.

For an update, I bought a newer trailer and and am now getting it ready for I Don’t Know. I took the arm off the other, and painted the whole thing white. I had some ancient one-part polyurethane topside paint that was al,most the consistency of toothpaste… it actually looks pretty good! Ithink the next step will be to turn the boat over and make an epoxy base for the boat, so that the trailer doesn’t deform the hull over time. After all, maybe the boat will be fast?