A Sail on the Columbia River

I was lucky enough to have a trip to the Pacific Northwest last week, and we managed to take out Aurora, our Cal 20, for a day sail on the Columbia River.

It had rained all morning (so we took a chance to board a Fantasia 35 that was for sale nearby), and then it was sunny but calm when we were on the river.

It was great to be on the river again, in February no less.

Full photo gallery:



Getting Things Done

Long time, no post.

The career has taken over my life a bit for the last year, but the major projects I’ve worked on now look to be growing more tame.  Thus, it’s time to think about sailing again.

One important change– I’ve revamped the entire photo gallery for this site.  It is now located at

Sailing, Travel, Life

It also now contains the very popular “Cal 20 Restoration” galleries that document the 3 month renovation of our 1967 Cal 20.  Go over and check it out.

It also contains some of our older galleries going back to 2003, including when we visiting the San Juan Islands for the first time with our bicycles on the ferries, and wondered aloud how one would be allowed to sail those sailboats around from island to island.

One other need for the revamp– the old gallery fell off of Google images, and this new gallery should be visible again to those searches again in a few days.  Yeah!

How did I find time to do all this?  I got sick over a four day weekend, and I’ve been stuck in bed.  Not a bad time to putter on such things.

Our Cal 20

My brother and I picked up a 1967 Cal 20 for $600. It had sat on barrels for about 8 years, but we restored it over a three month period and learned a great deal. We posted sets of pictures throughout the process, and here’s a link to the final set (maiden sail):


The funny thing about Cal 20s is that they have a real following. There’s an active fleet that races locally, and serious members of the local sailing community own and sail them. They hit a “sweet spot” of being affordable, easy to maintain, fun to sail, and are relatively seaworthy for a 20 foot boat. Down in California they are sailed to Catalina Island on a regular basis, and one was sailed to Hawaii.

Anyway, we love the boat and even sail it in the winter. They are available in the $2k to $5k range in much better shape than the one we started with.

Cal 20 Restoration 7

I just posted our final set of Cal 20 restoration photos at


This set shows the original ’67 Evinrude we used to motor from Schooner Creek Boat Works to McCuddy’s Moorage (barely), some final deck hardware bedding, our new Mercury 4 hp 4 stroke, and then some pics from our maiden sail this evening on the Columbia River (in very light winds).

Thanks to everyone who helped out with advice, parts, and general encouragement. Special thanks to Kevin C for lending us his trailer for three months. The project was enormously rewarding, and my brother actually misses having the boat in his driveway (nothing to stare at in the evenings). Luckily, I’ve located a Pearson 26 that only needs a little…

Project costs: $600 for the boat, sails, and original motor. Then about $2000 in paints, materials, wood, stainless fittings, almost new jib from North sails, running rigging, new rub rail, etc. Then about $1215 for the motor, and $600 for the first year of fleet moorage. Oh, and about 3 months of thinking about working on it, and actually working on it during evenings and weekends.

Main achievement: learning the process and procedures of dealing with repairs and refinishing. And, happy wife and kids on boat.

Lucky factors: being able to borrow a trailer, share the work between two of us, share the costs between two of us, and having a deadline to finish the project so we could return the trailer.

Cal 20 Restoration 6

We had a great experience at Schooner Creek Boatworks yesterday as we launched our Cal 20. After all the hectic preparations, it was great to be met by helpful and enthusiastic help when it was time to raise the mast and have the boat lifted and lowered into the basin. For neophytes like us, this was just what we needed.

Here’s the pictures from the day:


Today, we plan to sail/motor to McCuddy’s later in the afternoon. Before then, we need to work on our old Evinrude 6 hp since the new Mercury 4 hp hasn’t arrived yet. We were graciously offered the loan of a 3.5 hp today if we can’t get the Evinrude running reliably enough. Hmmm– maybe meeting the people who enjoy boats is best part of sailing.

Cal 20 Restoration 5

Well, we’re close. Our launch is set for tomorrow afternoon. The ninth set of restoration photos is at


The previous photo set ended with the application of six coats of VC Tar2 barrier coat, and this new set starts with our VC 17 anti-fouling coats. After that, we re-installed all deck hardware (bedded with Life Caulk), applied two coats of West System clear epoxy to all brightwork, installed brightwork, installed new hardwood backing plates, sanded and waxed the mast, installed new mast hardware (heavy duty spreader brackets, sheaves, jib sheet block), sanded and waxed the topsides, installed new rub-rail (from Steve Seal), painted the name on the transom and put on new license numbers.

The hours involved with this list were significant– just chasing down replacement stainless nuts and bolts took a lot of time. We’ve worked all weekend on the boat, and all evenings after work. I couldn’t take many pictures, because it’s getting dark sooner and normally it was too dark to take pictures once we finished for the evening.

Tomorrow, we’re scheduled for an afternoon launch at Schooner Creek boatworks. One missing part: our new Mercury 4 HP four stroke hasn’t arrived yet, so we may revive the original 6 HP Evinrude to motor from the launch site to our mooring with the fleet. Maybe we’ll go sailing in all our spare time when this is done…

Cal 20 Restoration 4

Aurora is nearing completion as we approach exhaustion. The eighth set of restoration photos is at


In the last week, we continued to have problems with the deck paint. On the second from last coat, we covered the boat with a tarp too soon and “cross hatched” most of the high areas. On Wednesday evening after an hour of sanding off the cross hatch, we finished the final coat and left the boat uncovered overnight, only to find that the morning dew turned the shiny finish to caulk in the morning. Ugh. To recover, we had to change color to Matterhorn white (couldn’t wait to special order what we had before), and did two more coats in the morning hours (my brother took two days off from work) so that the paint could dry all day before be covered with a tarp. It looks great now, but at $70 a quart, and one quart per coat, we definitely don’t want to do any more.

After the decks, it was almost a pleasure to do final hull repairs and prep, including the removal and filling in of both thru hulls (which were there for the marine toilet). We finished the painting of the deck, and cleaned and sealed the deck hull joint with 5200. We then used boards and ropes to secure the boat laterally so that we could lower all four trailer pads at once to paint the bottom. Pretty much all the weight of the boat is on the bulb of the keel, and the four support boards did a fine job of holding the boat as we painted the bottom, although we won’t go aboard again until the boat is back on the pads.

We chose VC Tar2 for our barrier coats. It’s glossy black and went on well. We needed two hours between overcoats, but we still managed to apply six coats in one day, starting at nine a.m. and finishing after nine p.m. The six coats took four quarts, and doing all the coats in one day allowed us to use part of a quart for one coat and then the rest on the next (four hour pot life). Between coats, we also “color matched” the topsides with repair resin and started to fill in scratches. The boat spent the last eight years sitting on barrels, so there are more than a few topsides imperfections. Still, we’d rather sand, clean and wax the topsides than paint them, so…

Today we’ll apply two coats of VC-17m anti-fouling paint (amazing how fast it dries), and tomorrow we hope to put the boat back down on the trailer pads and get started on re-installed deck hardware. We ordered a new Mercury 4 HP 4 Stroke outboard for it yesterday, but it won’t likely make it for a launch next Friday, so our new launch date is Friday, September 16th.

Cal 20 Restoration 3

The seventh set of Cal 20 Restoration Pictues is now available at


For reasons unknown, we soldier on with our Cal 20 restoration. This week, we finished the epoxy repairs on deck cracks and points of damage, and then we did a complete sanding of the entire deck before the first coat of Interlux Primekote primer.

At that point, we made a mistake and didn’t add 20-25% thinner, and as a result the primer went on like spackle. The quart covered less than half of the deck, and the vertical areas had pretty terrible brush strokes. It took four hours of sanding to flatten everything out again.

We then used two more quarts of thinned Primekote and completed two complete coats. Then we sanded a little and painted on two coats of Interlux Perfection Mediterranean White. It dried with a much higher shine than we expected, even if a bit “whiter” than we hoped.

Now we’re working on deck hardware, wood and fittings. We’ve found that a portable planner is literally recovering warped wood that we thought was ruined. The washboards and mounting wood all planed out flat and pretty once again.

After that, we’re doing 5-6 coats of VC Tar2 barrier coats before the VC 17 antifouling. We hope to launch on September 10th.

Cal 20 Restoration 2

Here’s the link to the sixth set of restoration photos:


During the last week, we Easypoxied the interior, finished the ceiling repairs, fabricated and installed new plywood supports under the cockpit, scrubbed and sanded the deck, opened and patched cracks in the deck, did final sanding on topsides and below waterline, cleaned and waxed the boom, and wire brushed the hull/deck joint. We also ordered deck paint, a used North Sails jib, and new gunnel rubber (from Steve Seal).

This week, we plan to finish deck prep, prime the deck, do two coats of Interlux Perfection on the decks, re-install deck hardware, and then begin the epoxy barrier coats below the waterline.

Some questions for knowledgeable Cal 20 mavens:

1) I need to order or buy new running rigging. Does anyone have any recent measurements for correct lengths of lines needed? Also, we need to figure out how the mainsheet is supposed to be routed between the pulleys on the side decks, the end of the boom, and central pulley in the middle of the aft deck.

2) Is it safe to have a remote gas tank under the cockpit seat hatch? I noticed there’s a notch for the line, but it seems like fumes from the vent would go into the bilge area. On the club boats we sail, the remote tanks are always in a locker that is sealed from the bilge.

Cal 20 Restoration 1

My brother and I purchased a Cal 20 that needed work, and we’ve posted five sets of photos of our progress so far. The latest set is available at


Links to the previous four sets of photos are at the top of page.

So far, we’ve dropped and refinished the keel, and reconnected it with stainless keel bolts. We’ve prepped the hull for epoxy barrier coats, and over the last three days we’ve prepped the interior and primed it for Pettit EasyPoxy. Next weekend, we hope to finish the deck prep and paint it. All hardware is removed, and we’ve begun work on crack repairs.