Tony Grove • Artwork - Boatbuilding - Furniture

Home > Boatbuilding
> Restoring Dorothy > Part I | Part II | Part III | Part IV | Part V | Part VI | Part VII | Part VIII

Part 5 of 8

Dorothy’s repairs are still ongoing, and although this winter was supposed to be a big push to get her hull largely put back together, things had to slow down because of a car accident just before Christmas. Not to worry; I am ok and will be able to pick up the pace again by mid-February.

The documentary is still on course, and Tobi Elliott (the producer) and I have been giving several talks through local museums and wooden boat organizations about the documentary and Dorothy’s restoration. Dates of any of these talks are on the Home page side bar under “Public appearances & exposition”.

"Dorothy" Finished painting of Dorothy. I had already stretched a canvas and drawn the image of Dorothy, ready for painting, when I was approached by a past client who was looking for artwork as he ended his term as head of the Law Society of British Columbia. The piece was delivered in January, and will be a permanent art piece in the downtown Vancouver building.

While removing the rubrail one of the interesting things I found (although not uncommon) is the different beddings used behind the wood from different repairs. The older section of rubrail was set onto the boat with what looks like Dolfinite, a name-brand bedding compound that doesn’t adhere like other commonly-used compounds. On one more recently repaired section Polyurethane (5200 or Sikaflex) was used, which basically glues the wood on so strongly it had to be cut off.

This raises the debate as to whether to have something so strongly affixed (in combination with fastenings) that it won’t ever fall off, but which can make something so hard to remove that it potentially can create a lot of damage when having to take it off for repairs. The ideal process would be: use mechanical fastenings to grip the wood in place, then use the bedding compound just to keep out the water that can creep behind the wood due to capillary action, that without which it would cause problems. I have seen it too often that someone who does not really know what they are doing tends to misuse these modern ‘boaty’ products out there, forgetting that one of the main ideas behind traditional construction is that any damage or rot is localized and can be easily replaced and repaired. So a wooden boat needs to hold together strongly, but yet be able to be easily dismantled for future repairs.

Working on older wooden boats for as long as I have, I’ve noticed a trend in that the older products ­– which were invented at a time when all boats were made of wood – along with the experience of their proper usage, is disappearing, replaced with contemporary products that are not favourable to an old wooden boat’s construction. I could go on and on about this but will stop my rant here, and just hope to encourage people to do there research first before just listening to that young kid in the hardware store trying to look like he knows what he is talking about while selling you the wrong thing!

Rubrail being cut in sections and cut away from the boat using a Fein tool.

All of Dorothy’s seams have now been reefed out confirming the spot caulking (caulking spot sections instead of the whole plank) that has been going on over the many years. Because of this patchwork seam-caulking, both by professionals and no doubt a few novices, many of the seams are in terrible shape. The planking is cedar, a very soft wood, and you can imagine that every time the planks are reefed (prying out the caulking with a reefing iron) a little bit of wood is also taken away, which over the years creates ragged, wide seams that now need to be repaired. I am holding to my belief that I would like to preserve as much of the original boat as possible. So the next step on the planking is to repair their edges by gluing on new material, instead of replacing the whole plank as might typically be done.

The gap between the plank seems are too wide from years of reefing and spot caulking the soft cedar wood planks.

Reefing seams: me in the foreground with David Baker, one of Dorothy’s previous owners who came to Gabriola to help reef her seams, in background. Photo Credit: Byron Robb

On the back starboard side there was an area that concerned me when I first looked at Dorothy because of the obvious rot in the plank and under the rubrail. This small plank was about two feet long and an obvious old repair that was not done very well. The fastenings holding it on were galvanised nails and screws - at least I think galvanized as they were very badly corroded. The iron decay was destroying the wood and but luckily it was localized to just that area and very contained and will be an easy repair. Also, an advantage to removing that small plank is that it allowed me to see inside the back area of the fantail, were I found no problems to be concerned about.

If you have any questions about the work, please contact me.

Small plank on the aft starboard side from an old repair was rotten from decaying iron fastenings and removed, luckily was isolated to just that plank.

Another recently found old photo of Dorothy and her beautiful rig.


Part I | Part II | Part III | Part IV | Part V | Part VI | Part VII | Part VIII



MUST SEE A Dorothy website: click here for link

BC Maritime Museum and Dorothy


Any questions contact Tony at
2024© Tony Grove      Email with any edits or suggestions
Site created and maintained by Clayrose Inernet Creations