gaff-rigged schooner

2. Sinking Beer Cans

In the early 1960s I joined Uncle Sam’s Yacht Club and spent four years on active duty. Toward the end of that tour of duty I married Lynne Harley and after I left the Navy we purchased a 31 foot sloop named ESCAPE, but that’s another story. In the meantime Doug purchased the GAMBELLA and began the long process of restoration. To his credit, Doug managed to get her back in the water and functioning again. Lynne and I worked on the ESCAPE and sailed her here and there, mostly within the San Francisco Bay Area. After a couple of years of sailing the ESCAPE we sold it and were without a boat for a while.

About that same time Doug had become somewhat discouraged with the enormous task of restoring the GAMBELLA, and I was missing a nautical element to my life. After some discussion the three of us, Doug, his brother Stan and I decided to form a partnership and continue the GAMBELLA project. We normally spent one day a week (usually Saturday) working on our boat. After a short period of time Stan dropped out of the project, but Doug and I continued on for several years before I bought his share.

Typically, we would meet at the boat Saturday morning with a six-pack of beer. We would have our first beer which we called our “think drink” while planning the day’s work. After working through the morning we would have our second beer with our lunch, and the last beer after finishing up for the day. We used a marlin spike to punch holes in the cans and then tossed them overboard to sink. I liked to think of this as recycling because while going to college I worked summers for W.P. Fuller & Co. in their plant right on the edge of the Bay in South San Francisco. Next door to the plant was another industrial operation that extracted dissolved aluminum from sea water. Doug, on the other hand, being a math major, tried to determine the minimum number of holes and their placement that would be required to insure that the can would always sink.

As fate would have it, Doug and I both ended up working for Matson Navigation Co. in their industrial engineering department, and this gave us the opportunity to plan our Saturday efforts in great detail on company time. Here is the sail plan that we decided upon:

Sail Plan for the GAMBELLA
Sail Plan for the GAMBELLA

(click on image for larger view)

The original rig of the GAMBELLA was probably that of a cutter with bowsprint and double head sails. As rigged by Doug it became a sloop with a single head sail and no bowsprint. However, based on our experience with the LA BAÑERA we decided on a gaff rigged schooner — it’s such a salty rig. The existing mainmast was shortened and moved aft and a new foremast was stepped where the main had been. The following pictures should give an inkling of the scope of work involved in the refit:

(click on images for larger view)

Stepping the Mainmast

Doug Guides the Stepping of the Mainmast

Making Sails

Making Sails

Annual Haul Out

Annual Haul Out

Installing Rebuilt Motor

Installing the Rebuilt Motor

Dad and Deeds Paint the New Bow Sprint

Dad and Deeds Paint the New Bow Sprint

Grinding Rust

Grinding Rust

Patching the Hull

Patching the Hull

Lynne Applies Primer

Lynne Applies Primer

Work Work Work

Work Work Work


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Sunday, November 15th, 2009 GAMBELLA No Comments

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