Sunday, December 20, 2015

On the Way to Covered Moorage

When we first purchased Compadre we hoped to keep her in a non-covered slip, under a full canvas cover.  Of course, we knew covered moorage was the preferred approach.  While covered moorage is readily available on the Seattle side of Puget Sound, it is pretty rare on the west side where we live.  After a couple seasons, however, we realized that canvas was not a practical long-term strategy.  While the canvas kept most of the weather off, and using it gave us great flexibility in choosing moorage locations, enough chafe and other damage occurred each winter to keep us busy with minor repairs well into Spring when we should have been cruising.  And ventilation was an issue, especially in the summer.  On sunny days with the cover in place, which was most of the time, the temperature inside the boat exceeded 100 deg F.  Big temperature swings are not good for wooden boats, as the seams open up due to the constant expansion/contraction of the wood.  We decided covered moorage was not just a luxury; it was essential if we were to be good stewards.

But what to do?  After a brief stint sub-leasing a boat shed from a friend whose boat was in Seattle for repairs, we spent about 6 months in covered moorage at Salmon Bay Marina along the Seattle Ship Canal, just inside the locks.  It was inconvenient, but we enjoyed having a "vacation" home in Seattle.   But it was also much more expensive than we could justify over the long term.  We simply had to find a less expensive alternative.

Fortunately some good friends at Bremerton Yacht Club told us that boat sheds were coming available there because many long-time members were moving on to other activities.  The economics were surprisingly attractive, even considering yacht club dues and initiation fee.  Before long we were members and eligible to purchase a shed if and when one became available.  There was, if fact, a shed available immediately.  The price was right, but there was one problem -- it was barely wide enough for Compadre to squeeze in without fenders and it was 12 ft too short.  What to do?  We could continue paying top dollar in Seattle and hope that a better shed came along, but how long would that take?  We might burn through a lot of moorage money waiting for a shed that fit.  And we knew there was keen competition for larger sheds, and with no seniority we knew we might wait a long time before we were the successful bidders.  So we decided to go ahead with the small shed (a "bird in the hand...").

But how could we us a shed both too narrow and too short?  Expansion was the answer.  During the course of Compadre's travels searching for the right marina, I met some fellows who were experienced in building and repairing boat sheds.  As my good friend Ken Meyer of the Classic Yacht Association says, "It's amazing what you can do with a telephone call and a check book."  Before long they were at work adding 2 ft to the width and 12 ft to the length.

Work began with splitting the shed right down the middle.  The old decking and framing in the front were cut, and temporary framing put in place. Then the front was gradually pried apart.
Spitting front of the shed.
After the front was spread sufficiently, a new truss was fitted at the ridge line, and work moved inward to the next frame station.  More spreading inside, and another new ridge truss fitted and spliced into the existing rafters.  And so on for all eight original frame stations. 
New ridge truss in place
Next came the 12-ft extension.  New upright "frame" pairs were assembled on the work float inside the shed, then muscled into place and joined at the ridge. 
Right half of new frame is moved into place
This would have been tricky enough on dry land, but try it from a tippy, floating platform.  On scaffolding.  I hoped they had good insurance!
Left half in place
And so it went with the second frame station, which gave us 50 ft of overall length.  Roof framing soon followed, along with new corrugated steel and clear plastic roof panels.  Some new steel siding, and we where done.
Home at last!

Although we spent far more to expand the shed than we will ever recover when we sell, we feel it was the right decision given the alternatives.  Even though we own the shed, we still have to rent the slip from the club.  But with the cost of moorage at the club being less than a third of what we were paying in Seattle, our improvements will pay for themselves in just a few years. 

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