boat_reiview-power-darling-largeThe air in O'Rourke's Boat Repairs on Penetang Bay is thick with white dust. A grinder churns across the fly bridge, spewing showers of tiny particles in its wake. Raw fingers of fiberglass cloth protrude from the bare hull. The rear deck plates have been removed revealing decades of grime, unfinished surfaces and the skeletal stringers.

It takes vision to see the beauty beneath it all and several sets of expert hands to restore this 28-foot Bertram to its rightfully regal place on the water.

Luxurious lines was only one vital element the owner, a seasoned sailor, was seeking when he began searching for the perfect powerboat to combine comfort with character. He needed something to handle the sometimes unpredictably wicked waves of his home waters of Georgian Bay, a vessel to comfortably accommodate guests for a full-day of cruising or for the weekend and local skilled talent to bring her back from the brink.

A Canadian boat broker began sourcing North America for a suitable boat and came up with the 1983 classic cruiser, her legendary design and traditional deep V-hull translating well to Georgian Bay from her Miami roots. Two days after spotting the Bertram and following a successful survey, Darling was on a truck heading for Larry O'Rourke's Penetanguishene shop.

O'Rourke's three decades of experience rejuvenating boats are backed by the generations of boat builders and lighthouse keepers that run in his family tree. The sense of satisfaction from a job more than well-done keeps him coming back year after year. "When you bring people down to see their boat when it's done, they don't even recognize their own boat. The smile on their faces is priceless."

O'Rourke is no stranger to Bertrams – Darling's shopmate is a 20-foot Bertram and two more wait outside in the yard. These classic beauties are popular projects. "They're desirable boats. They hold their value and they're a really good Georgian Bay boat," O'Rourke said. "To buy a comparable boat new, well, you end up with a better boat restored. There's a certain 'feel good' factor too that can't be defined by price alone. "You get the pleasure of boating on Georgian Bay in a classic boat."

That being said, it's important to embark on the project properly. "You don't put a new house on an old foundation," O'Rourke said. "We started at the basement. When we go right down to the bare hull, it's pretty hard to find surprises later on."

Bertrams boast a deservedly solid reputation. "The original fiberglass is hand laid and it's good solid glass. You start with that and put a new backbone back in and it starts to look pretty. It's a lot of fun, really, to be involved with these," he said running a practiced eye over the work in progress.

It's also good value. O'Rourke said, "Every boat is different but the cost is considerably less than if you purchased the same boat new. Two guys working full time on it will put in about 350 man-hours." He cautioned that's likely a conservative estimate so early in the process. O'Rourke ticked off numbers: $30,000 to strip, repair and rebuild; a $15,000 custom paint job. "It adds up, but to purchase that boat new would be a hundred grand easy, probably $120,000. Even with all the restoration costs it will still be way under the new price."

While many customers prefer to wait for the end result, O'Rourke maintains an open door policy and invites owners to drop in throughout the process. "I encourage customers to come in to have a better appreciation for the money they're spending."

All the old hardware and rod holder holes will be blanked out and O'Rourke's craftsmen will begin with a hull as fresh and pristine as the day it rolled out from the factory.

The work begins with an all new stringer system. "This is quality marine grade mahogany," O'Rourke said, running his hand over the rich dark wood. The wood will be covered in fiberglass so no water will ever penetrate it. "This boat will never have to have new stringers."

It's a complete transformation. Original hardware will be re-chromed; others replaced with new stainless steel. "We'll dress her up with new hardware and then custom build added features to personalize the boat."

For this project a redesign is planned. The Bertram's lower helm will be removed to create a storage locker with a chart table on top and additional galley room to open up the cabin. "It gives a lot more usable space down below," O'Rourke explained. "It's perfect as a weekender boat when foul weather keeps you below." New appliances, sink, faucet and head will also be installed.

The original white hull will be changed to a dark blue hull with a light upper deck. Gold leaf lettering will put the finishing touch on Darling's makeover.

Just up the road at Lee's Marine Service Inc. another piece of the Darling project takes shape. A large cardboard box disgorges its twisted contents, a veritable dog's breakfast of wires, suspicious sections bulging under layers of electrical tape.

Lee Bruce says much of it won't need replacing due to the elimination of the cabin helm for a fly bridge only driver's seat. Across the shop, neat rows of rods, pistons and valves are lined up beside the stripped down block.

The two engines are not a matched set. One is a 305, the other a 350. By the time Bruce is finished with a bigger bore cylinder block, both engines will be 350s.

The information is more fodder for a question to be carefully considered: repower versus restoration? Bruce weighs the pros and cons and said, "If it was me. I'd repower with new technology." He said the consistent performance of fuel injection and reliability of new equipment tips the balance for him. "Old engines are carbureted. Most new ones are fuel-injected. Do they use less fuel? It's fairly close but fuel injection runs the same each time, consistently, and it's more user-friendly."

Cost is another factor. "Everything is going to cost about the same as buying new. Everybody has different reasons for doing restoration." He estimates in the end it may be slightly cheaper, by about 20 per cent. "If you go the restoring route it's expensive as it's labour intensive," Bruce warns. But for many, character wins out over cost. "You have to love the boat, but you could buy a new boat with no character.

This is not for the faint of heart do-it-yourselfer. It takes an eight-hour day per engine just to remove it from the boat and totally disassemble it in the shop. Then the real work begins. With 25 years in the business, Bruce admits to being pretty fussy, but it pays off with dozens of repeat customers who bring him their pet projects. "I've been in business a long time and seen a lot of bad stuff. I don't want any problems [once the boat is back on the water]. I want him to have as good as new. I'll replace everything. Any part that moves will be checked, repaired or replaced. All clearances are checked to see if they're within specifications. I'll look for wear, gouges and other indicators of problems."

For this project he plans to install new starters, alternators and water pumps instead of rebuilding with what he considers inferior parts. The list lengthens as he talks about rebuilding the transmission, resealing parts, disassembling the exhaust manifold and installing new gaskets. At this point it's hard to estimate the true time and project cost since it depends on what Bruce finds. "If you want to be worry free you really need to do it all and do it all at once. Rebuilding in stages is just not economical. Spend a little more and do it right. Anything that is mechanical is eventually going to break. I use the best quality parts I can to assure there's no problems."

Bruce's best advice is, "Find a great service provider and stick with them. Then really look at the cost. Just like a house renovation it always costs more than you expect." Bruce's bottom line when considering restoration is, "You really have to love the boat to do a restoration."

Destinations

  • Prev
Ah Canadian simplicity at its finest; small town, big marina. Little Hilton Beach (population ...
Vancouver-based Big Blue Yacht Charters Worldwide owner Emma Murdoch explains that luxury crewed ...
In the 1920s, a small cove in Canoe Bay was used as a shipping point and safe-haven for rum runners ...
Here’s an update from Caroline Swann with some news for the adventurous types who may be heading to ...
The New Glasgow marina is located about six miles up the East River of Pictou in the heart of the ...
The British Virgins took a huge hit last fall from Irma. Boats were stranded on the shore by the ...
Located about half way between Shediac and the Miramichi on New Brunswick’s Acadian Coast, the town ...
Suddenly the once forsaken city of Hamilton, Ontario is booming for at least two good reasons.
The Salty Dawg Sailing Association (SDSA) invites all sailors to join a cruising rally from the ...
Long popular with New England and St. John area boaters, Passamaquoddy Bay is too often overlooked ...

CYOB Destinations: We Visit the Hilton Beach Marina

Hilton BeachBy Amelia Morris

Ah Canadian simplicity at its finest; small town, big marina. Little Hilton Beach (population 200!), which I am lucky enough to call my cottage country, is located on the north-east coast of St. Joseph Island. The Hilton Beach Marina is one of the largest and most major ports of call in the Western North Channel. It also has a long and rich history dating back to the 1850’s.

I spoke with Marina Manager, Laura McRae and got the full scoop on what goes on in this inconspicuous but busy marina.

Read more about Hilton Beach Marina....

 

 

 

Lifestyle

  • Prev
On Thursday last week, at age 88, Bruce Kirby has been invested into the Order of Canada for his ...
The Olympic Qualification Regatta is now being held in Aarhus Denmark with unlimited entries. That ...
The demographics of sailing are changing, and more women are getting involved and are often rooted ...
Whether he’s sailing celebrities around the BVI’s or sailing an Etchell back home at his native ...
POTW input is irresistible, so this time you get a couple. And don’t forget to send your own Photo ...
After a good night’s sleep, it was a lot easier to work my way through checking into the US. I ...
This photo from a CPS member shows how talented boaters are. Brenda Cochrane from Kelowna BC, a ...
The first part of this blog will show that not every day is blue sky and sunshine in the Bahamas!
This beauty came our way from Reel Deal Yachts in Bahia Mar, Florida. Why not charter for the ...
This new legislation from Washington State Department of Fisheries applies to boats launched in ...

 

Scarab 255 Open

Scarab 255 OpenBy Andy Adams and John Armstrong

You can imagine,at the GroupeBeneteau dealer meeting in Michigan last fall where all the Four Winns, Scarab, Wellcraft, and Glastrondealers had come to see the latest new models, the docks were lined up with gleaming brand-new boats to show the dealers and media – and they certainly put on a show! But for me, the Scarab 255 Open was an immediate stand out. This is a boat that breaks new ground and brings fresh thinking and interpretation of the boating experience to a wide range of buyers.

We had a quick look around but the test drives would have to wait until the next day.

Read more about the Scarab 255 Open....

 

 

 

 

DIY & How to

  • Prev
Nothing stops a vacation faster than a problem with the fresh water system – be it leaks, smells, ...
CYOB readers often ask questions about their boats and system. For this issue, I’ve answered a ...
Modern marine engines run at very high temperatures and rely on a few methods to keep their ...
Pyrotechnic distress flares have been around for decades, while electronic strobe distress flares ...
In the early spring, just after launch, with the hustle and bustle of engine checks, antifouling, ...
All engines, including marine engines (inboards, outboards and stern drives) have many moving parts ...
Most of us don’t give a second thought to our sacrificial anodes – those curious knobs of raw metal ...
I once heard an argument at a yacht club. Two old salts, patiently itching to let go lines and ...
In this time of boat show afterglow, many boaters are counting the days until launch. 
This one-day course consists of both theory and practical demonstration sessions, is designed to ...

Marine Products

  • Prev
Stripping the antifouling paint from the bottom of a boat is physically demanding and is one of the ...
The 2019 Ultimate Sailing Calendar highlights the drama and excitement of blue-water sailing, as ...
Weather nerds and boaters of all stripes will be absorbed by Bruce Kemp’s account of the monstrous ...
Canada Rope promises that its new Night Saver Rope will illuminate at night and act as a reference ...
Take a look as a 68-foot yacht docks itself in between two Volvo Ocean 65 sailing yachts at the ...
Industry Firsts Include Direct Injection and Integrated Electric Steering System
Verviers, Belgium, 18 May 2018 — Mercury Marine, the world leader in marine propulsion technology, ...
Again, we return to the beginning. We started this column with a look at marine navigation for ...
Ga-Oh (spirit of the winds in Algonquin) creates bags and other items from re-purposed sails.
The 2018 Northwest Boat Travel Guide just arrived. This time of the year is the perfect time for ...