Above is, Glaros on the slipway in the boatyard, Corfu. Wooden Boats don’t like rain. One of the things I have learnt over the years, about wooden boats, is they simply can’t handle it; they are not great with the sun either.
When wood gets soaked in fresh water without protection. It is not long before wood rot sets in. Rot is actually a wood-decaying fungus which absorbs and digests moist wood, causing it to become soft. The woods structural integrity is ruined by the fungus.
How Do You Fight Wood Rot?
One of the best ways to stop wood rot naturally is with saltwater, as the saltwater from the sea helps prevent rot by killing the fungus.
Look at HMS Victory, Lord Nelson’s flag ship. There is an on going fight to save her. She now sits in an uncovered concrete basin in Portsmouth harbour. The deck leaks and the rain pours inside, causing rot below decks. Also because the ship can not roll any more with the waves, and salt spray does not splash up over the wooden planks. Rain water gets trapped in the stringers, which run along the outside of the hull. If the water is not removed it quickly causes a rapid spread of wood rot. It is then a continuous job cutting it out, and replacing it. The Victory has had so much of her planking and ribs repaired, that there is not much left of the original oak she was built with.
Cutting Rot Out Of Wooden Boats
This is a problem I too face. It might not be on the same scale as Lord Nelson’s vessel, but it is still quite a task. My partner, bless her, she tells me that she loves me, but she hates looking after wooden boats. One of her main jobs is going around the boat looking for cracks. When Jo finds one. It is scrapped out, to check for any rot. She is usually on her hands and knees, when doing this, with her stern up in the air. If no rot is found, and it is dry, it is then filled with a resin filler, West system or SP 60. Then it has to be sanded and painted again. It’s a bit like the Forth Road Bridge paint job, it’s never finished.
Wooden boats don’t like sun
You would think that the opposite of the rain, sunshine, would be good news for a wooden boat. The trouble is that the dry weather, unsurprisingly, dries the wood out, which causes it to shrink. When it shrinks, cracks begin to appear and my partner’s back on her hands and knees, making sure we don’t miss any. We often wash our deck off with salt water and it runs over the side, down the planking. This not only protects from fungus, but also hydrates the woodwork. We have a deck wash pump rigged up, just for this job. As you can imagine, however, if wood rot thrives in both wet and sunny conditions, high humidity can be a nightmare. This requires more aggressive tactics.
Getting Started on Wood Rot Prevention
My first year working on the boat, I repaired some ribs and planking on the bow, port side. It was my first go at planking, and I was as proud as punch with the job when we had finished. I felt like I was getting somewhere with this massive project. Not three years later I was repairing some of those same planks. Mainly because of a carpenter’s bad workmanship while renewing the deck. It has been an expensive lesson for me. I have spent thousands on getting canvas covers made and repaired over the years, but it has been worth it. They stop both the rain and sun doing any harm to the wood. Unfortunately though they don’t come in sizes big enough to cover the HMS Victory, or their problems would be solved as well.
Keeping Her Covered
When we have a charter the covers come off and go in to our storage. As soon as we stop using the boat for a while, the covers go back on. When I get a dry forecast for the day, we open all the doors and windows on the boat, to let air flow through. The suns UV rays also cause damage to any varnished surfaces. Every couple of months we give any varnished surfaces a light sand and then a few coats of varnish. The new varnish replaces the varnish which has been broken down by the sun’s rays.
This work is carried out through the winter months, so that Glaros is ready for charter at the start of the season in May. So book a charter with us, and we will greet you with pride and joy when you arrive on-board for your holiday.
Thinking of visiting Greece? Contact us now to find out how to board the Glaros and visit our beautiful country in a completely unique way.
Wooden boats take a lot of looking after, but their beauty makes it well worth the effort. I will be happy to answer any questions, or comments that you may have. So please feel free to leave them.