Where It All Began
Before I post all the progress pics from my Challenger build I suppose it makes sense to post some “before” shots. What better way to gauge how far the skiff restoration has come than to see where it all started?
Despite it’s gorgeous shape I knew I was getting a skiff that had seen some use. After all, I just bought a flats boat that had seen a few decades of fishing. Forever the optimist I let the skiff’s beautiful flared hull pictured below distract me from some warning signs that there were a few major issues to deal with.
I suspected the boat had some water damage when I purchased her but it didn’t take me long before I was compelled to get out the hole saw and confirm my suspicions. I begrudgingly drilled a few holes into the cockpit deck where I thought was suspect. It was immediately evident that he wood was rotten due to water intrusion.
I knew that since the cockpit floor was water logged, odds were there was water in the hull and the stringers would be rotted as well. Once water seeps into a wooden boat design it becomes a cancer that slowly kills everything in its’ path. Unfortunately the only way to know for sure is to tear it out and see what lies inside!
What a disaster! I was expecting to find a small amount of water but what I found was quite a bit more. Sitting inside the hull was at least a few gallons of water. That water had been hidden under the deck, silently eating away at everything it came in contact with.
As you can see from the photos, in the course of the boat’s life someone attempted to fill in the hull with a two part, expanding closed cell foam. The problem is that the foam never really filled the space correctly and left large voids. Those voids allowed for the intruding water to work its’ way in and rot the foam.
The stringers were of course also rotted and needed to be replaced. Considering that all the remaining bulk heads and transom were also old wood construction I decided the only safe bet was to remove it all. If I was going to have to get the grinder out I might as well do it right and replace everything with properly encapsulated composites.
I remember telling my brother at the time “It won’t take that much longer to do it all right.” Little did I know that I’d still be here sixteen years later unfinished.