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The Re-Birth of Crystal Palace
September 26th, 2010 @ 10:14 PM EST by admin

by Michael Kaytor

“…Basically she is held together with glue…”
-Henry Piersig

This is a quote from one of the first times I met Henry while he was working on Fantome over three years ago, which I was reminded of as I was napping below during the Argosy Rose Bowl, as the waves were pounding the hull. An over-simplified statement which really means months and months of planning, Auto-Cad drawings, preparation work, breaking the process down into components and actualizing the project.

Such was the case with Crystal Palace, a Grampian 26 that was acquired by National to use as a student boat. We soon discovered that the boat had some issues and that the floors that hold the cabin sole, and the base for the compression post were rotten. Essentially she needed a new bilge among other things and was starting to look like a considerable undertaking. So with the help of several National Members we went about rolling up our sleeves, making a bilge and “gluing” it back on!

Another over-simplified statement. If anyone is at all curious about how to do this kind of work, I strongly encourage you to work on projects with Henry. He has a very intuitive approach, breaking complex projects into smaller, more manageable steps. You will find that not only do you expand your repertoire of boat-ownership skills, but you will also be able to apply these skills in assisting National with other projects in the future!

When I was filling out the application to become a member at National, I felt a little sheepish when filling out the part about skills. I didn’t have anything to write down. It has been quite a learning curve, but I am happy to have gained some on-the-job training with Henry and other members of National. Boat repair and maintenance seem a bit less daunting. Again, I can not emphasize enough to seek out these members, get active in club projects, learn some new skills, and definitely have a great time.

I will briefly explain some of the work the volunteers did on Crystal Palace to get her back in almost shipshape condition. We manufactured new floors, a base at the companion way, a battery compartment, and a compression post base out of polyester fiberglass. The base was designed to keep water away from the galley and navigation station woodwork, since the boat showed signs of this being an issue. So now with the new fabricated base in place, the water will shed into the bilge. The existing forward hatch was broken and a source for leaks and was repaired, painted and reinstalled. The compression post was reinstalled on a new base made from vertical pieces of plywood that were encased in fiberglass and milled fiber.

A new cabin sole, material graciously donated by John Waddell was cut to size and treated with epoxy. Then another round of fiberglassing and filling with compound, to make a snug base for the new cabin sole, essentially redesigning the base that accommodates the sole.

The base for the sole was given a finishing touch of gel coat. There were suspected leaks in the bilge from bolts that were used as lightning grounding, which were re-bedded. The mainsail was measured and recut. A new electric bilge pump and three-way switch was installed, a new 3″ solar deck vent, and two new Lewmar winches on the dog house.

She was a bit messy after all the grinding, sanding and installations, so she had a good and thorough cleaning and was ready for launch. We launched her in June with the blue crane, stepped the mast, tuned the rigging, bent on the sails with the help of several enthusiastic members and volunteers.

The Captains of Crystal Palace are Ben Webster (also a darn good Air Pilot) and Stefan Mocknachi. They have volunteered to prep her for haul-out and winter storage. In the next newsletter we will have further up-dates regarding the status of Crystal Palace along with another list of jobs. All those who are now inspired to help with this project: stay tuned!

We should all acknowledge the volunteer efforts of those who participated in this project to get Crystal Palace back in the water. John Kitchener has been involved in the project the entire duration, organizing work parties, running all over Toronto buying necessary supplies, washing the hull and donating the use of his trailer. We would also like to thank John Waddell, Dave Richards, Ben Webster, Stefan Mocknachi, Francis Fougere and all others who I may have forgotten with sincere apologies.

A special Thank You to our Commodore, Henry Piersig who did some things now and then, and when I say that I mean countless hours of work and expertise, basically gluing it back together.

As our sailing season comes to a close, I would like to recommend to those who have not already done so to get involved, have fun learning, and just between you and me, when you work with Henry quite often there is beer.