descended from mariners on both sides and growing up close to
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
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
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.
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
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.
stripping the rotten carpet and plywood (which was firmly adhered to
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.
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!
With the new sole in place, the fuel tank, battery and side walls go back in.
The following weekend I had a chance to install the Chartplotter/Sonar
and finish the panel wiring before installing the seats and lockable
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
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!
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! ;)