The Rebuild Project

Photos by Professional Marine Construction, text by Ray R. Collins

In 2002 my wife Frankie and I have decided to retire from our rental business, and go cruising--at least part time.  We've been sailing the Acrux sailboat around Prince William Sound for more than 10 years, and we really liked the boat.  However the boat was not in good enough shape to take cruising, and so we had several options.  We really liked the layout of the Acrux, how she handled, etc so the first option was to fix it up.  Second was to build a whole new sailboat from the Acrux plans, and third was to buy a whole new boat.  After a great deal of looking for new boats we decided we weren't going to find one we liked as well as the Acrux in a length and layout we could handle by ourselves (we did find some we liked, but they were pretty big boats--50 feet and up). 

In the summer of 2002 we went to Seattle and interviewed almost a dozen boatyards.  We asked each yard a) how much they thought it would cost to rebuild the Acrux and b) how much it would cost to build a whole new boat.  The estimates we got for building a new Cross 42 ranged from $200,000 (+/- 40%!) to $600,000.  The estimates for rebuilding the Acrux were, necessarily, fuzzy--but sounded much lower.

In the fall of 2002 I went through the entire boat, taking photos of every little thing I thought was wrong with the boat, and wrote a web site detailing all the things we wanted done to the boat.  The boatyard in Seattle that we had liked the best was Professional Marine Construction, so I had them take a look at the web site, and they said it didn't look too bad, so in the spring (March) of 2003 we asked them to come take a look at .  Ollie flew up and looked the boat over, and said it was in better shape than he'd thought and to bring it on down to Seattle and he'd rebuild it for us.

So we spent the spring and first half of the summer getting the boat ready to sail to Seattle (as we could spare time from the rental business).  We stripped out all the old junk, put a patch on the hull where the fiberglass had delaminated, bought a bunch of gear, and did several shakedown cruises (up to about 200 miles, from Valdez to Cordova and back).  Finally by the middle of July I felt the boat was as ready as we could get it, and all I needed was a weather window.

About a week later the weather looked like it was going to be good for several days, so we drove to Valdez, and I took the Acrux to Seattle (a very nice journey from Alaska), arriving in late August.

I left the Acrux with Professional Marine Construction and headed back to Alaska.  I'd told them we didn't need the boat back until early May, so there wasn't any real hurry to get started.

In early November they moved the boat to Port Orchard (not too far from Seattle) where they stripped the boat down to the hull (removing the mast safety lines, etc), hauled it out and put it inside.  Then they proceeded to completely strip the fiberglass off the boat.  Photos of the progress to date (warning: all these photos load into a single page, so it'll take awhile if you have a slow connection).

By the end of November the boat had been stripped of fiberglass and most of the wood that was in bad, poor or marginal shape had been removed.  The wood around the burn spot and on the starboard outrigger has been stripped back and feathered, ready for new wood to be added.  All the remaining deck hardware was stripped off, including the hatches.  Only a small amount of old fiberglass remains (that on the keel), and will be removed shortly.  As expected the propeller drive shaft needs to be replaced.  A report from Professional Marine Construction on 12/12/03:
"The boat is finally starting to dry out.  We  have opened up all the suspect areas and taken the transom off for the new extension.  I would like your address so I can overnight the cd to you of all the pictures. We have also removed all the rubrails around the boat [port outrigger photo - 677 K] and sanded down a good portion of the interior. We are opening up the keel to facilitate drying as it keeps leaching water.  The chart table area is cut out and we will start putting that hull section together [looking through the burn - 677 K photo].   Everything is still open as we have a few heaters inside to dry things out."  Also a photo of the aft end of the boat [264 K].

12/20/03.  Spoke with Ollie and he reports that the boat is now virtually free of fiberglass; the inside has been mostly sanded; the aft end has been prepared to add the sugar scoup; all the bad wood has been removed and the areas prepared/feathered to allow for putting new wood on; the boat is drying nicely and in general we get the impression the boat is now pretty well torn down and almost ready to begin reconstruction.

12/30-12/31  Frankie and I flew to Seattle from Spokane (where we'd spent a couple days with Frankie's Folks) to review the progress on the boat.  We spent a good part of 2 days with Fred and Dillon, reviewing what had been done and what was planned.  The boat is looking great; the old glass is mostly stripped off (except for an area down by the keel, which did not need to be stripped--if you peeled it off it took some wood with it!); the wood was pretty much sanded and nearly ready for the new FRP (fiberglass re-enforced plastic); the sugar scoup was partly done; all the doors and windows were removed and mostly preped; the areas of damaged wood were all prepped and some of them already redone; the inside is more than half sanded and in general things are moving along.  We took a bunch of photos, finishing a roll, and then another full roll.

1/13/04: From Fred.  "We started glassing some of the repaired areas today and fairing (filling) others. All the first wood layers are in and we resin coated the outer wood areas today. The outer layers are going in tomorrow and fill thoughs area seams. We will be glass tapping the hull seams tomorrow also.
         Things are going very well, and she is starting to look like a boat again as you will see from the photos."

1/21/04:   Phone conversation with Keith: the fiberglassing is progressing.  The engine (a Westerbeke 44B four) has been ordered; it should arrive in a week.  The boat should be ready to start building the engine mounts & etc by the time it arrives.

3/4/04: Received a letter from Fred:  "We put the last primer coat on the hulls and wings yesterday. we are sanding out the deck basis primer coat today so we can finish prime it tomorrow.
      We want to get all sanded out and top coated by wendsday.After the top coat goes on we can't touch the outside for 48 hours.
     Ollie brought the engine over yesterday, so while paint is drying that will give us something to do. Ollie also picked up the old shaft and the fuel tank temp. to get thoughts things rolling. Pretty cool stuff. I think your going to really like how things are coming along. It does look like a real boat."

3/12/04:  Frankie and I spent the last week down in Seattle, finalizing the work contracts.  The Acrux now has a new coat of paint (just the primer) on the outside, and the final coat of paint will be on the outside of the boat within a week.  The engine is in the boat, though it is just sitting there right now; it still needs to be mounted.  The interior of the boat is pretty well sanded and nearly ready for paint.  We signed a contract for some additional money to cover items that weren't covered in the original contract; it still leaves a number of things unfinished (eg self-steering), but we have pretty much spent all the available money so we'll have to wait to do the additional items after we accumulate more money.  We will still end up with a boat we can use.  The completion deadline is April 28th; PMC is fairly confident they will succeed in completing it by then.  We took some photos (roll1)  (roll2) of the boat; enjoy (warning: all these photos load into a single page, so it'll take awhile if you have a slow connection).

3/14/04:  Received a letter from Fred; the hull is painted!  We can't wait to see it...Now they move on to the hatches, windows, doors and then interior and engine.

4/3/04:  Received a letter from Fred; the cabins are mostly painted, the exterior hatches are painted, and bottom paint & waterline are on. Engine work is progressing.

4/9/04:  Vickie sent more photos (warning: all these photos load into a single page, so it'll take awhile if you have a slow connection).

4/11-4/18/04:  I flew into Spokane, arriving at 9 am on the 18th.  I stopped at Bob's to leave a little more junk and to take a nap.  He fed me a very nice lunch, and then I headed to Seattle.  In spite of the nap I didn't make it all the way over there before I got too tired to drive, so I stopped about 30 miles short and got a hotel room for the night.  The next morning I got up early, and by 10 I was in Port Orchard looking the boat over.  The boat is really coming along.  I spent the day there working, kept going until about 9 pm.  I spent the night on the boat, and was up early for another very long day (started about 7 am, and didn't stop until 9 pm).  That night I drove over to the Sea Tac area and spent the night and all of Wednesday over there.  I returned to the boat late Wednesday night, but there was fresh paint so I went to a hotel in Bremerton.  I was over to the boat early Thursday morning, and worked until 10 pm.  Had a comfortable night on the boat.  Vickie (PMC) had asked me to develope a problem list so when I got up at 6 am I started going over the boat and came up with a list, which I reviewed with her when she came later in the morning.  Worked until about 8 pm, but there was fresh paint again so I went to the Bremerton hotel again.  Friday was another early morning, but we knocked off at 6 because everyone was getting burnt out.  I headed to Seattle, returning on Saturday to try take a bunch of photos (roll a; roll b--warning: if you have a slow connection they may be a little slow to load) (and show Morgan (= friend) the boat.  The rebuild of the Acrux is very nearly done; it looks pretty promising for meeting the deadline of 4/28.

4/23/04:  Vickie (PMC) sent a couple of photos:  The binacle and the new hatches on the aft cabin.

p.s. I'm writing this mostly so interested friends and family can keep up with the progress on the boat.

by Ray R. Collins
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