Skerry restoration questions (many)

Hello ladies and gents; I just acquired this (ab)“used” Skerry. (long, so read only if so inclined)

I added plenty of pictures. The boat is functional as is, although in poor shape and needing some (lots of) TLC.IF I use it as-is, it will further deteriorate.

The boat was build in 09 at the boat school in Maine from a CLC kit, in the classroom. The owner/builder finished it at home as is customary. The kids who did not know how to sail, roughed up the boat quite a bit, and it spent a few months under a tarp … underneath trees.

So, here are the pics:

For the outer hull:

1)    I was planning on sanding and painting.

Do I need to:

-    light sand the paint, and fill the bare patches …


-    sand to bare epoxy …


-    sand to bare wood, re-epoxy and fair …

… then, re-paint?

2)    ALSO, there is a crack in the top starboard plank, or in the epoxy (no soft wood) … not sure, yet. What would you suggest for the fix?

3)    One of the lap joints on the outer hull is abraded to the bare wood, and has water damage. Is it wise that I carve it out and replace with epoxy, then fairing it, or is it better that I replace wirh a patch of wood/fiberglass feathered in?

For the interior:

The interior was very poorly, in my humble opinion finished. bulkheads, seats, not rounded-over (preference, I know). Lots of the brightwork is peeling off, or already gone. The epoxy fillets are humongous, rough, and not particularly attractive. Breast hooks on both ends are rough with epoxy peeling off and a bit of a chunk off.

1)    Do I redo the fillets, or leave them alone? (I know it is a personal preference) Just not sure how I would grind those down and not make them worse looking. I could do larger fillets on top, but they are “ginormous” to start with.

2)    Easy to route seat edges when building, but tougher after installed due to clearance for router on sides adjacent to bulkheads. I know I could sand by hand, but maybe looking at worse than leaving alone? Thoughts?

3)    Outwales are rough at various places. Do I patch up with epoxy/wooden flour, sand and varnish, or better off replacing the outwales? If so, how do I remove them? Hand plane? Electric Planer? Do I remove ALL of it, or just the outer layer?

4)    Breast hooks. Do I fix, or remove and replace? How would I remove them? Router, Japanese saw, Jigsaw, other?

5)    Thinking spacered inwales for looks, AND for attachment points. Thoughts?

6)    No bow eye was built in, but a hole on top of the breasthook, with a knotted rope through. With the bow seat installed and 4” deck plate, I am not about to put one under the water line. Am I wise to put one just above the bow seat (through bolt will be seen)?

7)    On top plank inside of the hull (see picture, there is dent where the would is pulled out but not yet broken off completely. Hard to see if water damage, but does not appear soft … do I inject epoxy and try to push flat, or do I carve out and replace with epoxy/micro-balloons mix, sand and varnish? The entire inside is uneven with epoxy that was not sanded flat and looks like orange peel,  or large sags, all varnished on top. Do I go to bare wood (fabric weave on the bottom), or even out and patch where needed, than re-varnish?

8)    What are the protruding blocks on the floor towards the stern? Are those cleats/braces for feet while sailing? Must have been added after: when I flipped the hull I saw screws through the hull and painted over at that location.

Sailing rig is a sprit with a Douglas Fowler, Ithaca, NY, sail.

1)    No tears in the sail, but super dirty (mildew?). Bleach seems to deteriorate the sails and make them yellow. I read an article saying to dunk the sail into water with 2 cups of Oxiclean, then rise in fresh water … Thoughts, suggestions?

2)    The boom is split on 12” right where it goes into the pin on the mast. It looks like the kids glued the piece back on, and boxed it to make it useable. Do I make a new spar, OR remove the boxed job, put epoxy/glass around it?

3)    What knots do I use to lash the sail grommets. I took a picture of the knot, which I could not identify … nor do I know whether they were appropriate.

4)    Can you point me in the right direction to figure out how to lash the sprit? (Never had one, or sailed one) How do I set the lines?

5)    Am I better off putting a lug, or a gunter rig? I can’t stand the look of the skerry with the sprit, BUT … It is there and ought to work, so I may grow to liking it …

6)    Am I wise to apply leather around the mast step, and if so, how much play is wise? Any or snug?

7)    Leather on  mast also, where sprit will rub?

8)    Leather on tiller extension, also?


1)    Kick up rudder with grooved channel for the downhaul …  Is that the right position for the jam cleat? The line cut a groove through the thin wood and epoxy. 

2)    Wise to leave the nylon lock nut (on the rudder pivot bolt), or replace with a star knob, or else?

3)    Gudgeons go into pintles but with lot of friction … Is that normal?

4)    Tiller extension is missing from yoke. How long and how thick should it be for the Skerry? (long enough to reach the middle seat, or shorter?

5)    Do I lash it, or am better off using the Racelite universal joint version, previously suggested on the forum?

Finally, is it worth doing all this work on this boat? (Probably looking at about $600 minimum to maybe $1,000 in material and supplies to redo, without accounting for time.)

15 replies:

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RE: Skerry restoration questions (many)


Hi Eric,  Quite a project!  I'd start with your last question first

"is it worth doing all this work on this boat?"

What would you like to get out of this?  Who will use it and what is their sailing experience?  Will you row or sail or both? Are you planning on working on it over the winter to launch in spring (i.e., how much time do you want to spend on it)?

If it were me I'd sand off the paint on the outside and take a good stock of what I'm dealing with in terms of damage, weathering and water infiltration.  I'd patch/fill with thickened epoxy and probably not try to do any wood replacement if I didn't have to, although it would depend on what things looked like (I'll confess I looked through your pics but not in detail). I wouldn't take all the epoxy off unless I saw structural problems.  I'd certainly paint the outside again and take that into account (if you patch, fair, and paint the hull all will be forgiven).

Do you want the inside to stay bright?  You're definitely going to want to adderss any areas with bare wood.  Personally I wouldn't do anything about fixing large filets, other than sanding them smooth. If they really bothered me I'd consider a paint scheme to hide those sins as well.  A painted interior with select bright work can be very attractive.  Obviously the peeling varnish has to go and it sounds like rounding edges and addressing other problems is going to expose a lot of bare wood, so a coat of epoxy on the inside will be needed, but it isn't clear to me whether that can be strategic or if you should just try to do it all.

I'll forgo giving any advice about what to do with the sail and rigging until you clairify what you're looking for there.  If this is a first sailboat, I'd probably suggest keeping the sail and getting it and the rigging functional until whoever is sailing it decides they want something better, or diffferent.  Personally I found the sprit rig a bit awkward and switched to balanced lug and I just think it's prettier as well as nicer to sail. 

I think if it were me, I'd try to focus on the basics to get it useable and then play with it to get aquainted to see if I was going to fall in love.  I'd also skip any of the more ambitious suggestions you floated - spacered inwales, replacing outwales etc.

Those blocks on the floor are for bracing during rowing and were part of the original plan.  I didn't install them and for the most part I don't miss them, although sometimes I regret not having something to brace against.  I absolutely love rowing my skerry! 

I'm sure there is more to say, but I'll leave it there for now.

- Bob

RE: Skerry restoration questions (many)

Hi, Bob!

I appreciate your well thought out perspective; I know my post was extremely long with  many questions, so thank you for taking a great stab at it!

To answer your starter questions: " What would you like to get out of this?  Who will use it and what is their sailing experience?  Will you row or sail or both? Are you planning on working on it over the winter to launch in spring (i.e., how much time do you want to spend on it)?”

I've only sailed a J-boat (J22) about 50 times, or so, while I was spending extensive time for work (and play) in L.A. And, I sailed with friends a bit on a 39' ketch (Choy Lee). I used to go sail someone else's boat off of Hermosa and Redondo beach. I've never owned a sailboat, nor have I ever built one. I tried several boats at Okoumefest, and was planing on building one, but then came across this Skerry about 50 miles away from where I live and bought it for a few hundreds, with trailer. My goal is to restore it to a good looking boat, albeit perhaps not to a piece of furniture like finish. I was hoping to sail it for the next month and 1/2 and use the winter months to work on it. Now, with the water damage (minor, "I think") on the underside, this may not be wise. I think I will put some nail polish or epoxy over just to put it out in the water as-is, and row it a few times. Then, back into the shop to work on it.

I plan on rowing, but mainly sailing it. There is a semi-private lake 2 miles from where I live, with a ramp and two docks (No motors allowed, besides electric) and several other options within a 20 mile radius, or less.) I already have a Chester Yawl I built from CLC, and although I enjoy it much throughout the year, aside from a few winter months, I really built the boat for the way it looks without ever having tried it before. I discovered that I enjoyed rowing, some but did not really care to see the world go by backward. LOL I was, however really enjoying a good sail.

I like your thought of NOT taking all of the epoxy off, and of not doing woodwork on the outer hull. I guess I will know once the paint is off.

With regard to the sprit (I have no idea how it behaves), I just don’t particularly fancy the look and much prefer that of the lug rig. I considered, because I think it may share the same (or similar) mast (could be wrong), but with different booms. I don’t think a sloop is worthwhile for me on such a small boat, as I don’t care to start adding stays and playing with a jib (different story on a bigger boat). The Gunter was a possibility, but same story about the jib.

Since I have the sprit version, and sail for it, I would still love tor try it out and see what it is like to sail the sprit. I am very much leaning toward removing the box the previous owner put around the broken boom, and fill with thickened epoxy and a couple wraps of fiberglass cloth.

Thanks, again for the comments and suggestions, Bob!

RE: Skerry restoration questions (many)

   In no particular order, yep, mildewed sail.  In general, not damaging to Dacron. You can try dilute bleach, that's what many sail lofts use for Dacron, but it may not work completely.  Sail lofts also use fungicides to kill the mildew, but the stains may be forever.  It's likely a feature of the sails for now on, just clean after use and dry to keep it from being worse.  

I painted the inside of my skerry because my filleting skills weren't much better than what you show.  

The blocks are rowing footrests but I declined to put mine in since I sail a lot and they are in the way.  I'd remove screws, cut the blocks off, sand it all down and paint the interior.  Then I'd get a set of the precut adhesive SeaDek pads from CLC and put them in.  I'm glad I did mine.  Not cheap, but they are tough, nonskid, and easy on the feet/butt.  I don't really need foot braces with the SeaDek while rowing.

That breast hook really needs fixing.  Most of the rest is easy stuff, even the crunch in the plank.  I'd consider stripping the bottom paint, grinding and filling any damage on the seams with thickened epoxy and laminating an extra layer of 'glass down the stem onto the bottom because I've had some rubbing and scratching same as that one, just not as bad.

You could take the box off the boom, drill out the hole a bit, fill it with a dowel and thickened epoxy and redrill it.  If it's really cracked, I'd laminate a couple layers of 'glass around  the outside.  Not perfect, but a lot better looking than the box.

I'd also reroute the rudder downhaul line and repair the rudder head.  I brought my line up and over the rudder arm with a nylon fairlead on the back edge and a jam cleat on the top of the arm and don't have that kind of wear.

I enlarged them mast partner hole and step just a little and used some oar leather to make rub protection on both sets of edges. Just tacked down with brass tacks. Then, I took pine wedges (from home depot, in a pack of a dozen) and cut them off to give me the right thicknesses to wedge the mast so it doesn't creak and flop.  I epoxied and varnished them and put little string pull loops through the tops so I can pull them easily when derigging.  Each is labeled where it goes to get the mast straight and raked right (upper forward, lower port, etc).  I have the lug rig and have leathered the mast where each spar crosses.


RE: Skerry restoration questions (many)


Thank you, Mummichog!

All great advice, here too.  I am definitely taking those blocks out.

The sail as been soaking all day, yesterday and all night; change to fresh water and more detergent. Sail looks white, and mildew is much less but brown stains might indeed be there to stay.

Seadeck sounds good and may help the poor appearance of the bottom.

That is my plan with regard to the boom: “unbox,” fix with epoxy and silica, then sheath with fiberglass and feather it in before fill coat and varnish. Will re-drill hole (DFD).

Breathooks will be fixed, also. 

As far as re-routing the rudder downhaul, is it better to have the jam cleat on the rudder arm, or go all the way to the end of the rudder arm, route the line over the tiller extension and place the jam cleat on the tiller extension? I’ve even seen people having two lines: one for downhaul and one for uphaul.

I also saw a bungee to hold it down, and an uphaul to lift the rudder up. Thoughts?

Is the rudder supposed to have any friction, or to move freely and lower of its on weight? Right now, it has quite a bit of friction.

Great idea about leather on mast step. Are you not having problems with water intrusion where the brads go into the wood? Kinda hard to put marine sealant on brads. I know the mast is supposed to stay IN the boat, but it likely more of a matter of when than if the mast ends up in the water. LOL

Will sail the sprit to see how I like the handling, and if I can’t get over the looks (in the eye of the beholder, I know), I will get the lug. I should be able to re-use the mast, and just get sail and booms along with cordage. 

Thank you, all!

RE: Skerry restoration questions (many)

About the rudder:

1. The rudder goes up on its own usually. That's why you need a downhaul to get the rudder down and keep it there. You can also apply friction to keep it down, so you don't have to tighten the downhaul.
To get the rudder up, you can loosen the downhaul or remove the friction. In either case, it is never certain that the rudder will lift, especially at low speeds. That's why I installed an uphaul.
By the way, if you want to remove the friction, you have to go to the very rear of the boat and turn your arm deep into the water to loosen the nut or knob. I prefer a star knob with a little friction.

UP and downhaul lines end at the top of the helm on the boat side. As an example I used Christine de Merchants construction and adjusted it so that the lines come out at the front (boat side). From there they go on board through an eye on the aft breasthook where they each come in a clip so that I can easily operate them while sailing. Downhaul in a autorelease camcleat. Uphaul in an ordinary one. Scroll this page:

2. I use a starknob, you can easily change the fricition.

3. No, the rudder must be able to move back and forth easily.

4. This tiller extension came with the kit (Fyne boats): 214cm / 84.25 inch long, 2.5cm / 0.98 inch wide, 2cm / 0.78 inch thick.

5. I use the racelite joint, much stronger than a string and never unintentionally comes loose.


RE: Skerry restoration questions (many)

Thank you Ruud

Very helpful, indeed! I knew of Christine and her really neat website, but had forgotten about it. Thank you for the re,minder: just what I needed for the rudder up/dpownhaul.

Will likely adopt that system, too. If only I can fix the rudder so that it moved freely. I undid the nylon nut, but it appears the rudder is either to thick, or the enclosure is too narrow ... in either case, the rudder blade binds into the rudder enclosure. Given that it is built, I am not going to be able to sand the enclosure, so I could sand the blade; just weary of weakening it. Just need to get it to move freely.

Racelite it is ... I did not care for the feel of the lashed tiller extension on the NE Dory I tried at Okoume fest.

Thank you! ~ Eric


RE: Skerry restoration questions (many)

Sometimes it can be useful to fix the rudder, for example when rowing with the rudder on the boat. I'm using this clip: to secure the tiller extension right under the oarlock on the starboard side.

Search this forum, there is alread a lot of infrmation. Like this page:



RE: Skerry restoration questions (many)

Perfect, thank you for the links Ruud. Sometimes, using the wrong keywords makes finding something nearly impossible.

Some great ideas, indeed. I've disassembled the rudder and started sanding for fit. I am going to implement a bungee to keep rudder down (and still kick-up when unintentional beaching, or hitting something), and and uphaul when coming back to shallow waters, or for storage. Seems to make more sense to me than locking the rudder in place with a jam cleat (may as well have a fixed rudder, then).

Thank you!

RE: Skerry restoration questions (many)

I didn't mean to lock the rudder, but to feed the downhaul into an automatic camcleat. It keeps the rudder down and it will come off as soon as the rudder hits something underwater. :)


RE: Skerry restoration questions (many)

 Gotcha, Ruud :-) I didn't know there was such a thing as an "automatic camcleat." Found it on your link; pretty nifty!


RE: Skerry restoration questions (many)

Eric –

Lots of good advice here already.  I’ll join the chorus in recommending you start by stripping the paint from the hull so you can see what you’re dealing with.  I think this should be the first thing you do.  You’ve got to restore the integrity of the hull.  If you can’t do that with an acceptable amount of effort, there’s no point in going further.

Interesting that 24 hours after you express some concern about weakening your rudder, someone else posts about a broken rudder blade on their Passagemaker!  That is the first post I can recall about a rudder blade breaking.  Mine has survived numerous impacts with submerged rocks, some of them quite forcible.  The only damage I’ve had is to the leading edge and the bottom edge, which I patch up over the winter.  I like what Ruud did about routing and cleating the uphaul and downhaul lines.  I also have separate lines, but the Commodore complains she hasn’t got the arm strength to start the blade moving - I could have done a better job locating the holes in the rudder blade where the lines are knotted.  This winter perhaps I’ll see if I can come up with an over-center spring arrangement with a lever to flip the rudder up or down.  FWIW, I use the nylock nut, set just tight enough to take up slack but not introduce any friction. 

I built my Skerry in a class, so the hull was complete and the seats and bulkheads were already installed by the time I got home.  I was able to find an old-style router attachment for my Dremel on eBay (the new ones are way too complicated).  I fashioned a new, much smaller sole plate and used a 1/8” round-over bit to break the edges of the seats, bulkheads, and the top inner edge all the way around the hull (don’t do this last step if you are going to add spacered inwales).  The special sole plate allowed me to get deep into the corners.  The part number for the router attachment is 2615300792.

Finally, you might want to purchase a Skerry manual from CLC – they cost only $15, and I’m sure you’d get a lot of ideas about how to address some of the issues you’re dealing with.


RE: Skerry restoration questions (many)

   Can anyone help me understand how a boat gets in this condition?  This is the second skerry in the past few months I've seen come up with water damage and peeling brightwork/epoxy.  I can understand bad fillets, that's an art and requires patience and experience but as I'm building my skerry and I see these posts I can't helpbut wonder if I am repeating the same mistakes.  I've sold myself on these boats lasting forever, but it's clear a small subset don't.  Based on the previous skerry I've already put in an extra six hours to resand my entire interior and make sure I have a good solid layer of epoxy on and don't accidentally sand through without noticing.

Are these stored outdoor and weathered causing this or are there other issues?

RE: Skerry restoration questions (many)

Thanks, Hokker!

You guys are an amazing wealth of expertise and info. I knew that, and it is confirmed everytime. I really appreciate the people on this forum.

Indeed, interesting the “synchronicity” of talking about weakening the rudder and a report of sheared off rudder. Call me “crazy,” and I am going to draw a template of the rudder blade on a piece of cheap ply, since I do not have the plans.

I am also doing a DFD on the rudder pivot hole, and will insert a tiny bronze sleeve for the bolt to go through. It looks like it was only bedded with silicone in the original.

Great idea about the dremel and 1/8 roundover. I have a dremel, so will get one of those bits.

Yes, for $15 I am adding the manual to my order, which I am placing, today. 

Perhaps worth mentioning: If you went to my initial link, you probably saw the picture of the terrible mildew stains and who knows what else on that sail.I soaked it in a clean trashcan of water with mild detergent … Nada!I then used Oxiclean powder (two scoops) for a full day with intermittent squishing around with a broom stick. Even tried a medium bristle brush to scrub it, to no avail.

I rinsed it, and repeated the process with clean water and more Oxiclean, and low and behold: here is the result (before and after):

RE: Skerry restoration questions (many)



Hi wookmaster,

I cannot tell you about all of the other boats in that condition, but I can tell you that I just recently purchased this boat as you see it, in order to redo it. The previous owner took great care of it while alive. It was hanging to the ceiling of a garage. 

The kids who did not know how to sail, much less how to care for a wooden boat banged it pretty good. The "coup de grace" was leaving it on the trailer under trees with a polytarp on and a bunch of wooden pieces to weigh it down. There was a nest, a bunch of spiders and dirt you would not believe. It only (as far as I am told) lived there for a few months (obviously long enough to get to that point).

Add that to a sloppy epoxy job and you get what you see. The other boat I built is in prestine condition in the garage. There was so much epoxy on that boat, there is very little water damage. Only where someone must have hit a plank, and opn the breathooks where UV degraded the varnish and eventually the yellow epoxy chipped off.

I like the piece of furniture look of those wooden boats, but to be honnest it is stressful to take take them out without bumpers on top, bottom, port and starboard. I use my boat quite a bit, but I take a lot of precautions that using a "plastic" boat would not be nearly as critical. I cleaned it very well and put it on the water to try it before It ends up like a turtle on sawhorses. Let's jusyt say I was not nearly as careful at the dock, knowing I was going to redo it.

I've seen people drage a couple of kayaks onto the concrete boat ramp, not by accident, mind you, but as a way of launching. I asked if they were not afraid of damaging it. I was told "that's what those dynel strips are for!" Well, I guess if one does not mind taking the paint/varnish off and redoing the work over and over, or they are happy to live with it as such, as long as she floats. 

RE: Skerry restoration questions (many)

  I'd like to add my thanks to all who contributed to this thread.  I've just acquired a used Skerry of my own.  It's in much better condition than the one described here but will still need some touch ups and additions.  The info in this thread is a great resource.

I'm sure I'll be starting a thread of my own with some additional questions as i get familiar with the Skerry.

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