Re-Birth of The Skyla Brianne (My Boat)


It was September 17, 2006 and I’d had a picture of her on my fridge door for four years.  She was big boned with nice curves and every time I saw her I was jealous of the man who got to wake up with her on weekend mornings.  One evening I walked the local marina and I mentioned to a kid on the warf that I’d love to have her.  I left my name and number and the next day I got the call.
She was built at Sointula on the northern tip of Vancouver Island in 1949.   Sointula was blessed with a village of Finnish boat builders and etched on the wall of my engine room is the name Taivo J Aro. Named “Reaper” for 30-odd years, she fished both coasts of Vancouver Island especially Comox, Tofina, Uclulet and Prince Rupert.  Originally owned by a man named Joe Norman, she was later bought by George Stonehouse of Hornby Island and then in about 1997 a local man named Fraser Kaye bought her.  Following a dream, not unlike my own, he had her hauled from Comox to Nelson BC and spent 10 years on her before offering her to me.  He called me and said, "I'll sell her if you're serious" to which I replied, "Where are you?" and immediately we met at the warf and closed the deal... 4 days later, with less instructions than you find on a pack of chewing gum, he drove away on his Harley and I had my first boat.  40’ long and 12’ wide, 32000 lbs of cedar planks on oak frames.  That was September 19th, 2006 and I have spent every possible moment learning her every move, taking her out day and night.. lots at night... in good weather and bad and learning many a good lesson along the way... things like sandbars which I never realized come "up" when the lake goes down and what happens when the tender throws a loop around the prop... how violent it can get out on the main lake in the spring... (talk about rolling!)

The second half of my dream was to bring her down the river from Nelson to Taghum through the shallow Grohman Narrows and despite dozens of people's warnings about how crazy this seemed, I waited for high water, did my research and sounded the channel no less than 20 times... and on June 3rd, 2007 I came down with no problems, skimming under the railway bridge by inches... After a couple of months of enjoying the lower Kootenay River, I bought a trailer and hired a 60-ton crane as well as a 50 ton truck to bring her home for me on August 24, 2007.  Since then I have started numerous projects which are blogged as follows:
Crane day (August 24, 2007)

Hull repairs (planking, caulking and refastening)
My first task, once I got the boat home was to demolish everything aft of the wheel house
though I started at the aft end and worked my way forward.

I had to remove several tons of foam and fiberglass





And then, one by one, I removed and steamed in 52 new oak frames (ribs) using a number of homemade steam boxes.

I attached the new frames with screws from the outside

And then when all the ribs were in, I removed and replaced about 40 planks, also steaming them and using clamps to hold them in place until they were fastened with screws.

Next came the floor timbers
I maintained the tear drop shape of the aft end by following the shape of the hull and building right on top the gunwales.

Then came my roof timbers and a new top deck.

I also renovated the V-berth
added a couple of propane Dickinson stoves

rewired all of my electrical
added a new galley

 and a bunk in my aft cabin.

Oh and I almost forgot, a new mast step



Note how it is bolted into the floor.
and passes through the galley...







And now all thats left is to sheathe the hull in fiberglass using the Vaitses method.  It involves multiple layers of cloth and roving with polyester resin and it is mechanically fastened to the hull with galvanized roofing nails, every few inches in every direction,with the cloth below the waterline on one side of the boat being wrapped under and up to the waterline on the other side.

Oh and one more thing... install my figurehead and launch.