Section No. 4
Finding a Boat
The idea from the start was to take on a boat I could afford, and make her fossil fuel free and have room for guests and a home base for all future adventures. So I searched far and wide across Canada and finally bought a giant plywood boat, right back in the harbour I left on this great big adventure, sight unseen.
Old Dog is a 47ft Wharram Oro launched in 1979 in Victoria, BC. She’s a plywood catamaran having seen better days, sailing the pacific and proving herself only to be neglected in Degnen Bay for the better part of two decades. Her hulls and deck are made of laminated marine plywood 1/2inch thick, with an outer skin of 6 once fiberglass cloth and epoxy. She has old growth fir beams, lashed by galvanized steel lashings. Her backbone is Douglas Fir, and her stringers yellow cedar. All in all she’s an affordable plywood catamaran, her biggest virtue her simplicity and a liberal use of epoxy.
The problem is she’s really big. At this time I really believed this is what I wanted. She has the hull length and beam to allow for higher hull speeds, and the stability of a catamaran. She’s got room for 6+ crew enough solar to run everything.
However when you take on a project it may be worth noting that they’re always bigger than you think they are, and so when you look at the size of this project maybe you start to grasp the overwhelming size of what I took on. I certainly didn’t at the time.
Old Dog’s Stats:
- Launched in Victoria, BC 1979
- 47 ft overall length
- 42ft at the waterline
- 14,000 lbs
- 4 Water Tight Bulkheads
- 5 Berths
- 1 Head
- No Masts
The First Day
I committed a cardinal sin. The greatest of used purchase blunders is buying something sight unseen. That is exactly what I did. To be quite honest, with hindsight being what it is, and being what I hope is halfway through this project, I can say for sure I bit off more than I could chew. In this case the proverbial “Craig” of craigslist must have been smiling on me that day since much of the hull was unrotted, and the epoxy had surprisingly preserved much of that old marine plywood. Even still she certainly was more than I could handle alone, and I’ve since had the pleasure of hosting many helpers onboard as I built her out.
The plan for this project, is to create a totally fossil fuel free cruising catamaran. In part I’m keeping to the simplicity doctorine of James Wharram, but I’m bringing that notion into the 21st century. I firmly believe going fossil fuel free is a key ingredient in the future of simple cruising. Being able to create or catch your own fuel, food and water, as well as do all your own repairs, means no mater the situation you have a vessel that needs no harbor. I’m planning to achieve this using two 10KW outboard motors, 6.6KW of solar (to start) some wind generators, and of course 20KWhrs of lithium battery storage (again to start). The notion is that being free from hauling fuel and doing regular maintenance on complex engines means this boat will be better suited for long term sailing.