Boat Build Project

original Slo Goin exterior stern starboardThis is Slo Goin as I found her on craigslist. She was a fin-keel with a spade rudder. Not attributes I was looking for, but the price was right and I had to have closer look.

I started with a search for info on this model and found out several striking characteristics that got me really interested. The major quality was the ballast to displacement ratio (weight of ballast/total weight of boat = X %). In this case I was amazed to find it was 38%, which is a very high number for boats of this era and type of use. A high quality Bluewater boat is going to have a ratio somewhere around 40% or higher. Most coastal/lake cruisers have a ratio somewhere around 30%-35%. More weight in the keel translates to better stability in rough waters.

Another feature that most people don’t look for, infact they look for the opposite, is having a small cockpit. This is the area where you stand or sit and do most of your sailing from. This is also the area most people congregate when eating/ drinking, where you board the boat and most of the equipment is mounted here within reach. It tends to be a high use area and most people want a spacious cockpit with enough room for everything and not feel cramped. A  27 ft, ’72 Coronado has a tiny cockpit. The transom is only 4 ft wide! A small cockpit is desirable for bluewater sailing for when the seas get big and the probability of getting swamped by a wave is high. If a boat with a huge cockpit gets swamped there is A LOT of water to drain out before the next wave comes crashing in.

Other features I was attracted to was that there was enough headroom for me to stand in the cabin. There seemed to be well placed storage compartments. And the layout was basic so my improvements would be easier to install. On deck, the rigging was a familiar setup, similar to my Laguna Windrose 18, except on the Coronado 27 I will have room to add additional things that I feel I need to handle the boat.

Boats are amazingly similar to cars in many ways. I found the way you shop for them, the way they depreciate, the way you restore older models and the number of years its been actively sailed or stored on drydock affects the condition of the boat. This boat was a ’72 Coronado made by a respectable company at the time with solid building techniques. My first boat was a Coronado 15 so I was familiar with their style. ’72 is getting kinda old for a fiberglass boat, but like a car, the condition is a reflection of how well it was maintained. I decided I had nothing to loose if I went to have a look at the boat. It was conveniently located on a trailer in a marina on Flathead Lake, MT, making it easy to find and inspect all areas of the boat.

These are pics the owner sent to me and I found them to be very accurate in regards to the condition of the boat. It was very clean and maintained and had that 70′s camper smell! Perfect for my plans!! I did find though, that the inboard engine was really an outboard motor mounted to a frame in the hull with an inboard exhaust system, throttle control, and a modified lower unit called a sail-drive. The motor or drive felt seized up and I made a mental note that it should be replaced. The rudder and keel were another big concern cause I wanted a full keel boat with a keel hung rudder. From my experience with rebuilding my first boat I knew re-fitting a new keel to a boat this size would be a lot of work but the benefits would pay for themselves right away in peace of mind and stability. All the other equipment seemed to be there and in acceptable condition so I would not have a huge expense buying new gear just to get started.

I got a quick plan in my head of what a boat project like this would need, how long it would take and roughly how much to spend on it. After several hours of climbing around the boat, poking my head into dirty corners and checking out the details, I called the owner back and said I would buy the boat.

I figured there are two ways I could get myself into a Sailboat I like; One is to do a complete over-haul like what I was planning, and the other is to save all the money I would spend on this project till the day I want to leave and then go shopping for a ready-for-the-water boat. Either way I would end up with a vessel I could sail around the world. But in the first approach, I would gain an intimate knowledge of all the workings, the mechanics and condition of all the systems and materials used. With this project boat, if it fails, it will be my fault and my responsibility. I wont have the excuse of some oversight the surveyor left out when inspecting a boat I purchased, or that I trusted the hardware cause it looked fine at the dock. Everything in the project boat is going to be taken apart, cleaned and put back together right. I will have no excuses. More importantly, I wont need excuses cause I will have gone over everything myself and I’ll know what condition its in!

This story continues on the “So Starts the Project page.

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