Sylvan Project
Page 1
Initial Work

Page 2
The First Season

Being descended from mariners on both sides and growing  up close to the north shore of Lake Erie it was natural that 'big water', sailors and boats became part of my life. Summers revolved around the water, swimming, boating, or just hanging out around marinas and ports. Many relatives and friends had boats so it wasn't surprising that I eventually ended up with a boat, a 2.5 ton 26 foot steel cruiser with a Chrysler 383 Marine inboard. It had been quite the boat in it's day, built by brothers in the Bruce Peninsula (of Ontario) with a deep-V bow and steel superstructure. I only had the cruiser a couple of years before leaving home and it was one of the few items I really missed but many years of frugal living away from the water didn't offer many boating options.

Some 30 years after leaving the Great Lakes region and settling in eastern Manitoba I happened to be perusing maps on-line and noted the size an complexity of Lake Of The Woods! Being an explorer in my previous marine incarnation I realized the possibilities for wasting time on Lake Of The Woods (LOL!) and started thinking about another boat. Due to economic hard times and the price of fuel, large cruisers were selling remarkably cheap but the fashion of 'plastic boats' wasn't to my taste! I wanted a solid boat with lots of open space, room to move around, and the potential to be customized to suit my utilitarian preferences.

In searching for boats in the 20 to 30 foot range, I came across a retired camp boat, a 21 foot Sylvan, at Pinewoood Sports in Fort Frances (Ontario). The dealer (Bob) seemed scrupulously honest and candid about the condition of the boat  and despite its cosmetic shortcomings it was mechanically sound and seaworthy so the Sylvan ended up in my driveway. :) Powered by a Yamaha stern drive, 3.0 Litre gasoline engine (supposedly rated at 130 H.P.!) it should be both economical and zippy.



The rear section of the sole (floor) was pretty rotten, as was the upholstery and the carpets. Though I wanted to spend one season on the water before deciding on the design of the new interior, part of the sole and at least two seats needed to be replaced so, while waiting for warmer weather to resume work on the house, I started ripping out rotten stuff.

The old seats, doghouse, and flooring were all rotten and went to trash (minus any stainless steel hardware), and the side walls were removed to get at the sole. The original 1/2 plywood was pretty much totally rotten.


After stripping the rotten carpet and plywood (which was firmly adhered to expanded foam underneath) the next task was separating the foam from the hull which took a number of hours, and removing all the original rivets.

A new sole was made with 1/2" marine ply, two stringers were added to support the floor outboard of the metal stingers in the hull, and everything was given two coats of marine rosin before being installed in the boat.

With the new sole in place, the fuel tank, battery and side walls go back in.

After a trip away, I got the sonar transducer, loud-hailer horn and VHF antenna installed and spent some time getting the navigation lights working (broken wires, corroded connections) and realized my nice navigation panel (VHF radio, chartplotter, depth display) is a wee bit too big for the dash! The nice 3/4" board I mounted everything on makes it 1/2" too tall to fit well :( Redesign time!

The next task was to fabricate a couple of lockable boxes  for seat mounts.

The following weekend I had a chance to install the Chartplotter/Sonar and finish the panel wiring before installing the seats and lockable boxes.
The engine was test run (on muffs) and started instantly :) After a brief warm-up, it idled down nicely and the drive ran fine in both forward and reverse. Since time permitted, I decided to build a doghouse for it's inaugural run, hopefully next weekend (April 24). I also scrubbed and installed the original vinyl sunshade but the vinyl has shrunk and become quite stiff so will have to be replaced.

See Page 2 for sea trials

Since I don't have a tow vehicle (at the moment) but was offered the occasional use of a truck, I rented a slip on Lake of the Woods and since I want to do some boat-camping, I needed a camper top. I bought a suitable amount of Sunbrella-Plus (premium marine material) before discovering that my 1921 Singer treadle sewing machine (which has sewed waterproof canvas before) is "sick" and wouldn't sew the heavy Sunbrella fabric. Since there is a good chance I will rearrange the interior in the near futures, I decided to pick up some rip-stop nylon for a temporary top. I couldn't get sufficient quantity in a single colour so I opted for two "noticeable" colours :)

I don't think visibility will be a problem (even on a dark night!) LOL!

One final test run and assuming the mooring cover arrives on time, the boat will be off to the lake on 19 May. It ain't much but it's MINE! ;)

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