Over the weekend the good folks at LS Blasting came out and stripped all of the paint off of the 46’ Chris Craft Constellation from the deck, down. She looks really beautiful in bare wood. I’m thinking about the possibility of just varnishing above the waterline and not painting over the wood. I’m curious if that will be harder to maintain and I also wonder if I’ll need to remove all the putty on the screw heads and replace with wood plugs or color them somehow.
A varnished hull is not an original look for 1963; the Chris Crafts in this size and from this year were all painted as far as I can tell (with the exception of the stern planks), although earlier decades in this same size and model had varnished wood hulls. They look amazing. I need to read up on whether or not they used stain and what type of varnish was used. My thinking is a gel coat paint on the porthole line around the boat as well as the belt line, just above the water. Probably black or green. The bottom hull (water line down) will be painted red with something like Durabak rubberized paint, and then the rest of the hull will be the varnished wood. We’ll see.
The blasting did remove some of the wood material. Probably equivalent of sanding with a 40 or 60 grit paper. I’ll be sanding the whole boat with 120 and then 220, applying Smith’s CPES to hydrate and protect the wood, and filling in the few spots of dry rot before I have to think too much about paint or varnish.
Lots of progress on the pond this week; we got the initial designs done, the hole was shaped up, and the liner was installed. Of course, the install is only on the lower end of the pond because the truck still needs to be able to bring the boat in. Unfortunately that got delayed from Friday to next Friday. In the meanwhile, I’m going to have the landscaper work on building a dry-stack rock wall along the terraced-earth berm. I think this will tie the pond in with the other rock wall terrace across the drive.
Here are some photos of the plans, complete with a scale drawing of the boat in the pond.
I bought some molds for casting concrete pavers to make a garden path. As I prepared to mix the concrete I thought that scooping it into the molds would be a pain and decided to pour a sidewalk instead and use the molds to imprint it. The outcome is a bit strange but I like it so far. We only finished pouring about half of the path. Here are the results so far.
We’re having an electric gate installed at the main entrance to the farm. In these photos the posts for the gate have been installed and the gates have been hung but not yet adjusted or motorized. There will be a call box with a camera and a magnetic lock. It’s coming along well so far.
I wrapped the boat in tarps at the recommendation of the marine surveyor who came out to inspect it. He said this would be important to preserve the wood while we work on it. Speaking of which, the next step will be having the hull sandblasted so it can be painted.
After much deliberation and hand-wringing I decided to move forward with the pond for the boat. One of the big motivators for me was that I was outside trying to decide if I should scale the project way back and just put the boat in a shallow hole in the dirt when some neighbors walked by. They asked what we were doing with the boat and the hole and I explained what I was thinking about the pond / natural pool but that I was unsure of what to do. They told me that they loved the idea of the pond and couldn’t wait until it was finished so they could come over for a boat party / luau. Then my neighbor across the street came out and also expressed how excited she was about this project. That decided it for me. I called the contractor back who had given me an estimate and told him that I would like to move forward. So…. next week the pond construction begins!
The plan for the pond is actually what’s called a “natural pool”. The hole will get shaped up a bit to have more gradually sloping sides and will be divided (using ecology blocks) into two main areas: the deep area with the boat and with room for swimming and a more shallow area full of plants. There will be a pump that moves water from the deep area to the shallow area and the plants act as a natural filter. The whole thing is lined with felt with a rubber-type liner on top and then the bottom and outside borders are lined with boulders and everything is covered with gravel and sand. The whole thing will be roughly 50’x100’, the deep area is 10’ deep. Oh and of course there will be a pier so we don’t have to take a dinghy to get to the big boat.
So the boat finally arrived today. It sat at the shipyard for a couple of months having the flybridge disassembled to bring the overall height down to 14’ so it could be towed here without having to go around every highway underpass.
While waiting for the boat we had a very large hole excavated in the yard. The initial thinking was that it would be easier to get on and off the boat of it was at a lower level. This morphed into creating a natural swimming pond that we could float the boat in.
The boat delivery driver confirmed that he will be able to come back and put the boat into the hole… so now we have to finalize our decision on what to do. It turns out that building a pond this size (approximately 10’ deep, 50’ wide, and 100’ long) is actually very expensive. In addition, I’m somewhat concerned about keeping it clean and healthy… there’s definitely a fair amount of maintenance that goes into a pond, especially such a big one. This includes selecting the right plants for natural filtration, checking and adjusting the chemical balance of the water, ensuring we don’t get pests (like mosquitoes), and controlling algae blooms. Between the cost and the maintenance concerns I began to worry that this may not be the best plan. The boat delivery driver suggested an interesting alternative; we could put the boat into the hole, seal the hull with a Tyvek wrap, and then backfill dirt around it so it’s resting on the ground and then build a “moat” or smaller pond in a semi-circle around it. This would give the appearance of the boat being in water, it would be more stable than keeping it on boat stands, and it would be a less expensive and more manageable body of water to maintain. I like this idea and so now I need to draw up a plan of what this might look like and get an estimate for construction so I can weigh all the options.
I’m taking next week off from work so I can start rebuilding the flybridge and get all of the electrical and plumbing systems working. Will post pictures as that progresses.
Here are a few photos of the boat in her temporary location on the pasture.
Back in May we bought a boat. It’s a 1963 Chris Craft and it’s 46’ long. It’s in pretty good condition; structurally very sound, intact, and very beautiful inside. She’s been over at Seaview shipyard in Seattle having the flybridge removed in order to bring the total height down for the tow to the farm. Having all 36,000 pounds of her lifted out of the water was a bit of a harrowing experience (video below). So this will be the next project; she gets delivered in two weeks, finally!
Since my cardio exercise is limited to when I mow the lawn these days, I’ve been using a walk-behind mower instead of the tractor for the front acre. I had been using an old Craftsman which was mostly okay other than doing a horrible job at mulching and it’s tendency to launch pine cones and other debris right into my shins constantly.
So anyhow I read a bunch of reviews and bought a Honda mower. Looking forward to finding out if they really live up to the hype!