Painting the Tub

The cockpit in the Goderich 37 reminds me a lot like a big square bathtub. Although fairly deep it is only about 6 feet long by a little less wide. It is a tight little area that makes it cramped for entertaining more than a couple people at a time so I won’t be have big dinner parties on board thats for sure. But the small space does provide a sense of comfort and safety while sailing in big seas. It is going to be pretty hard to knock me overboard deep inside this little tub ūüôā

The original paint sure needed a refresh and brightening. But additionally there were a few minor rust areas that needed attention. It was a few hours work scrapping off the old paint. Initially I was only going to do it in patches and slap a coat of fresh paint over everything. But as with most jobs once you get into it more and more work reveals itself and requires much more effort. I ended up having to scrape of all the top paint right down to the zinc coating with a few places ground down to remove any pitting and rusted areas. 

I started first with the a sander and the needle descaler but surprising these need up rather slow. The tool that worked the best was simple elbow grease and a wood chisel. Who knew? Well I do now. The chisel will be my go to tool for the rest of the deck which I will soon have to turn my attention to.


I am quickly running out of time and summer to get the boat ready for departure. In fact I have resigned myself to setting out in early October, before completion of the Sea Gypsea, to catch the last days of the operation of the Erie Canal that runs through New York State. Because I still have to work for a living, or rather work to pay for boat repairs, I have had to return to work for the month of June and into July. I am currently in a Northern Ontario First Nations community called Sandy Lake. I will return to the boat in a few days and have an additional 6 weeks to work on her before yet again having to return to the cold reality of work.

The Erie Canal system that runs from the Hudson River to both Lake Ontario and Lake Erie will be my route out of the Great White North before the snow flies. 


The above map is found at

The Erie Canal, original known as the New York State Barge Canal, began construction in 1817 to provide a cheap transportation route for bulk goods. It now serves as a wonderful recreational waterway through New York State and best of all a fast way out of dodge for many sailors heading south for the winter.

“Hey, you are headed the¬†wrong way”

I had navigated the canal only once before after a¬†circuit¬†route to¬†Newfoundland in 1997 when I participated with the¬†Newfoundland¬†Flotilla for Cabot’s 500¬†Anniversary of ¬†the discovery of the New World. I sailed with this flotilla of boats from Lake Ontario to Bonavista Newfoundland then returning to Toronto via Nova Scotia and the Eastern Seaboard and ultimately up the Hudson and Erie Canal. I still remember the smart ass shouts of the passing¬†southbound¬†sailboats…. “Hey, you are headed the¬†wrong way” ¬†as I meandered the canal heading north into Lake Ontario and the coming winter season. I wonder if I will be able to call out to a north bound vessel and taunt them in return come this¬†October?¬†

My plan is to head down to, I think Charleston, South Carolina, to complete the boat in the warmth with the knowledge that I am free on the cold ice grip of winter. I expect the remaining repairs will take another month, perhaps 2 allowing me a final glorious departure to ports unknown in late December or January. 

For most of my journey south I intend to take the Intracoastal Waterway and am quite looking forward to seeing some interesting countryside that would otherwise be overlooked  by a purely Ocean passage. I think it also prudent to take this route as the Sea Gypsea II will be untested as I was unable to finish her for sea trials this summer. 

So stay tuned, more repairs to come as I tackle the electronics and battery installations. And soon…. video presentations ūüėõ



A Sea Gypsea Comes to Life

I am caught in a current that is sweeping me toward the distant haze of my childhood dreams.

The dream of sailing the world has been so long in my psyche that I feel I had been born with it. In my youth I would often feel in a melancholy mood and wonder if I should not have been born at an earlier time in history. A time where the globe stretched like countless waves into the haze of distance beyond ones knowledge. I always dreamed of traveling by sea to lands yet undiscovered to marvel at the newness of the landscape and the strange ways of the indigenous people. 

Once, great men defying all odds undertook passages into the unknown…

The world today seems simultaneously immense and tiny when considering an adventure circumnavigating the globe by sailboat. Once, great men defying all odds undertook passages into the unknown and with heroic effort of will returned to tell their strange tales. Soon a not so herculean man will voyage into the unknown aboard a small sailboat named Sea Gypsea. The Sea Gypsea will travel into an unknown that is both foreign and familiar. Familiar by default of the many over the millennia who have gone before and returned to their homes with the riches found afar. Riches I could read about, watch on documentaries and latest still, watch in real time on You tube and other social medium platforms. And yet to me it was as distant as the moon. 

I am now so close I can almost feel the waves rocking me towards the future. I am caught in a current that is sweeping me toward the distant haze of my childhood dreams. Soon the boat will be re-fitted and complete enough to begin the journey. Soon I too will marvel the familiar ports of yet to call.

I am caught in a current that is sweeping me toward the distant haze of my childhood dreams…

To celebrate my journey I had for many years now thought I would¬†commemorate the¬†occasion with a¬†tattoo. I have been considering a design for a very long time and I am now considering immortalizing the Sea Gypsea in ink upon a most personal canvas. To that end I tripped upon a website called Fiverr and found an excellent illustrator going by the name jowyanderson ( He was able to produce an excellent image for me and was¬†extremely easy and helpful to work with. Thank you Jowy ūüôā¬†

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The slide show above shows the progression of images. From his image I am sure I will be able to find my tattoo, and logo for the boat.

It is coming along… One Project at a Time.

I began manufacturing a hard dodger a couple days ago. The canvas ones are pretty and all but when you really need a dodger they just¬†won’t stand up. One of those guys pictured above landing on deck and …. well…ya get a wee wet ūüėõ

Progress is slow as I am redesigning it on the hour with each new piece cut out and welded in. I really wish I knew how I manage to measure things incorrectly so often when I am living by the rule of measure twice and cut once. Well it just aint so. I measure 3 or 4 times and yet I am often cutting twice ūüė¶ Thank God welding can help make up for my¬†incompetence. Speaking of welding…. I am slowly improving. I think one major mistake was I¬†wasn’t providing enough power as I was fearful of burning through the steel. I finally turned it up for the¬†gauge and I am now getting much better results¬†albeit my aim still needs improvement.

Manufacturing with steel has some distinct advantages over a fibreglass boat as I can easily (well relative for me) weld the dodger directly to the cabin top. With fibreglass I would be drilling holes and bolting it down with back plates, so I think this is somewhat easier and probably stronger. Now that I have the framing structure in place it is very strong and stable.

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I initially considered using plate steel as the roof but I have changed my mind and will now use 3/4 inch plywood as it is much stronger, stiffer actually,  and will allow me to stand on top should I need to. I can also insert sweet little windows in the roof flush with the surface by routing a recessed edge.

Yesterday I went into the big smoke to pick up my electronics. It felt a bit like Christmas until I had to pay for them. The it felt a bit like bankruptcy ūüėõ I will begin installing the hydraulic auto helm in a day or two by manufacturing a base in the lazerette. I can’t start to install the electronics until I get out of the indoor storage as I will have to cut some holes in the steel and the management at the harbour won’t like that too much. Hopefully I will get outside this week. Maybe it will warm up and dry out a bit too. Wouldn’t that be nice ūüôā

I am quickly running out of time. I have to return to work the end of May. Bills to pay you know. I figure I have another 2 good weeks to dedicate to the refit. I do have to complete a recertification in Controlled Substances for work and that will be a pain in the butt that no narcotic can alleviate. Aa well the last few days in May I will have to knuckle down and review for the Advanced Cardiovascular Life Support (ACLS) course I have to do. 

Next week…… Autohelm installation ūüôā

Oppppps :( The Irony of Another Major Problem Found….

“Bad news me thinks Cap’n”.

I have yet again another major repair to undertake before I sail off into the wild blue yonder. 

A short time ago I was examining the anchor rollers in their twisted metal Frankenstein like frame to determine how to best manufacture a new and better system than what is there at present. Upon removing a stainless cap on the nose of the bow I noted some rust and a possible hole. When I poked my finger into it the bondo (can you believe it) the previous owners had stuffed in to keep the water out (Hehehehehe…really!) crumbled away revealing¬†a good sized gap. I could literally put my finger in it making me feel a bit like the Dutch boy trying to save his village¬†from the flood streaming out of the dyke.


I now know one of the inlets for the major intrusion of water into the boat that has been the cause of all my repairs and the major headaches.

If you look a little closer you will see something even more disturbing…….

largerNotice how the deck appears pulled up at the plate where the tack of the sail is attached (silver plate in centre). Well…. This plate had not been welded directly to the stem of the boat and either through the tension of the forestay or a head on collision directly on the bow has caused the deck to buckle. “Bad news me thinks Cap’n”. Any real force applied to the forestay… I am thinking maybe a storm at sea and a very real chance of a DEMASTING¬†ūüė¶ ¬†and possible loss of LIFE!

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The repair will entail cutting back the wood capped toerail a good 6 inches on either side, cutting a substantial portion out of the bent deck at the tack attachment bar, welding an extension onto the tack bar and welding this directly to the stem which terminated right below the deck. I then of course will need to patch the hole in the bow by welding further patch into the boat…. What?… That makes this about the 12th hole ūüė¶

I have finally realized how appropriate it was that have¬†named the boat the “Artful Dodger”. As Jack Dawkins replied to the perhaps naive Oliver, “Huh! A Friend’s just an enemy in disguise. You can’t trust nobody”.

It is unbelievable what some will do for money!


International Rescue Group

Providing coastal and island support and humanitarian aid to disaster-hit people, using boats to deliver food, fresh water and medical supplies to help coastal communities until governmental or large-scale relief arrives.

International Rescue Group (IRG)…

is a support and disaster response charity that helps to provide aid to coastal and island communities in the Caribbean. 

While following some of my favourite sailing Vlogs, of which the you tube channel SY Zero is high on the list, I came across this interview with Ray the main organizer of IRG.

A worthwhile charity that sailors around the world might be interested in helping.

Check out the interview and the IRG website (


Head Repairs

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What a mess I found after removing the floorboards. Rusted holed hull, rusted stringers, old corroded and foul pipes.

It is now starting to look fresher. I am Building a new holding tank out of plywood and fibreglass. The old tank was aft of the head below the bilge but too was rotten and poorly plumbed with hoses coming and going everywhere. It was removed and now I can use that space for heavy storage and future expansion of a water desalinator. The new holding tank will be above the waterline behind the head but hidden by a removable wall. It will be gravity drained which will be very helpful while off shore.

I haven’t decided what to do with the walls. Any suggestions? I was thinking a clean simple look of white as it is or even pine wainscotting or even stainless steel… Hmmmmm?

Boat and website under construction

I purchased the boat in the late summer of 2015. But being so late in the sailing season and from work commitments I could only sail the boat to Hamilton from Picton from where she was purchased. The sail was difficult because of very bad weather and complicated by fuel that was grossly contaminated by sludge.

Through the exuberant boat motion the years of quietly settled bio-contaminants were blendered¬†into what was surely now the pea soup thickened diesel fuel. All was good while sailing as the confused seas agitated fuel and kept the offending contamination in suspension but almost as soon as the boat entered the shelter of a Marina the precipitate would clog the fuel intake line choking the engine of its life’s blood. Consequently the engine would quickly sputter to a stop leaving the boat to drift quickly under high winds towards all too close docks or brake walls. Fortunately being so late in the season there were very few other boats to be found or to collide with. The only means to keep from hitting something was to drop the anchor and try to hold the boat where she was.¬†

boat profile bluffers
Departing Bluffers Park Marina

Quickly, as I was unsure how long the anchor would hold with such short scope, I would clear the sediment from the fuel line, and get the engine running for another few seconds to make some headway towards a dock. Sometimes this anchor, clear lines, running the engine routine would be repeated 3 or 4 times before a barely controlled docking could occur and relief for the days trials be found.

The weather was quite sever for Lake Ontario. The night before¬†I was sailing towards Scarborough to make Bluffer’s Park Marina for the night the winds had managed to blow one of the Bluffer’s docks, laden with boats off it’s moorings and towards other docks. If it wasn’t for the quick thinking of ¬†a power boat, who’s skipper was aboard, many boats would have sustained a great deal of damage. This skipper fired up his boat while tied to the now drifting dock and managed to keep his boat and the dock full of boats off the rest of the docks until help could tie off the free floating dock somewhere away from others.

After 4 days sailing I finally entered Harbour West Marina in Hamilton. Shortly after the boat was put on the hard for winter storage and I resumed my work in remote Northern Ontario. Sailing season seemed such a long time coming as I longed for the spring so I could begin fixing up the new boat. The first order of business was a new Engine.

During the Toronto boat show I ordered a spanking brand new Beta 43. A Beta is a marinized Kubota diesel engine. The engine is a beauty and it sure looks good but sadly it was installed into a disaster of a boat. Turns out the Marine surveyor that I hoped to provide me with an assessment of the boat either was completely incompetent to survey a steel hulled boat or he just didn’t care to do his job. It appeared the only thing keeping me afloat sailing to Hamilton was PAINT.¬†

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Yep, you heard right, a few layers of PAINT

The first indication of trouble for a steel hulled boat is a tell tail redish looking stain to the exterior paint. When the paint is sanded down it reveals the extent of the problem. Sadly it was rusted straight through in a place or two or so thin I was able to easily poke a screw driver trough . There were more than a few expletives loudly pronounced as you might imagine.

All this the surveyor failed to find. The following is page of the survey concerning hull integrity…….Notice that minor degradation of the steel is indicated……… WT#F

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Sadly I have spent too much on the boat not to continue, not to fix it. I am committed now. I must fix the hull before I can turn to the known deficiencies that needed¬†addressing. Over the remaining summer I with help from my father and a professional welder, Barry, a friend of my sister, we managed to cut out the rusted parts and exterior weld new steel into place. I was once again able to call it a boat and not a reef. The worst part of the hull repair¬†meant that much of the interior had to be removed and destroyed in the process just to get at the hull. The interior has proven, a great challenge as I am certainly no carpenter. ūüėõ

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It is now April 2017, it will be 2 years this August when the boat was purchased. Much had been done and much has yet to do. Unfortunately the over run cost and time of the hull repairs has prevented me from doing everything I would like to in order to prepare for my grand adventure. 

Here is the interior now………. So I am getting there… Slowly.

Many days are disheartening as the amount of work is extremely daunting. I don’t always know what to start first. In fact there are many projects on going.

Stay tuned for…..

‚ÄĘ New plumbing fresh water and black water

‚ÄĘ Complete electrical over haul with new Furuno electronics

‚ÄĘ New auto helm from Furuno

‚ÄĘ New sails from North Sails

‚ÄĘ New running rigging

‚ÄĘ New build of hard dodger

‚ÄĘ New build of hard bimini

‚ÄĘ Reconstruction of galley

‚ÄĘ Repair of rotten deck at anchor windlass

‚ÄĘ New Muir anchor windlass

‚ÄĘ New hull above and bellow waterline and deck paint

I am sure there is more…. just slipped my mind….no actually too much to remember ūüėõ

Cheers and happy sailing

Herb skipper of the S/V Sea Gypsea