Ship Work Day - 5 May 2013

Retrieval of Our 22-Foot Catalina Sailboat

from the Delaware River Yacht Club


Ship 461 held a work day on the afternoon of Sunday, 5 May 2013, in order to retrieve the twenty-two (22) foot Catalina sailboat that had been donated to the Ship from the boat yard of the Delaware River Yacht Club (DRYC).  The DRYC is located on Milnor Street in Northeast Philadelphia, right near the border with Bucks County, and has been very gracious with us with respect to getting the donated sailboat out of their boat yard.  The DRYC has its own Sea Scout Ship based there.


Our work party assembled at Zion Mennonite Church in Souderton after lunch on Sunday afternoon and headed down to the DRYC to ready the sailboat and its trailer for the trek from Philadelphia to Souderton.  Taking the quickest route there, we traveled the Pennsylvania Turnpike from Fort Washington to the Philadelphia exit and then proceeded to the DRYC.  The trip took about an hour.


Upon arriving at the DRYC, we assessed what needed to be done and split our work crew into two parts.  One part began working on the sailboat, doing some initial clean up and pumping out the water that had accumulated inside of the boat while it was sitting in the boat yard.  The sailboat had not been in the water for nearly ten (10) years as its owner was in failing health.  As a result, there was quite a bit of debris that had to be cleared off of the boat as a result of a decade's worth of sitting in the boat yard.


The other crew began work on getting the Catalina's 500 pound swing keel into the back of our pickup truck for transport.  The former owner had removed the swing keel from the Catalina to replace some worn hardware and, as a result of his failing health, never finished the job.  Re-installing the swing keel into the Catalina is going to be one of our major projects in returning the Catalina to sea-worthiness.  Weighing 500 pounds, it took four (4) adults and some primitive engineering feats to wrestle the swing keel into Ernie Gambone's pickup truck.  The photo at left shows Skipper Tim Wile and Mate Andy Cowles trying to figure out how to get the Catalina's detached swing keel into the pickup truck.  Oddly enough, that was the part of the retrieval job that was finished first.  Of course, getting the swing keel into the truck was relatively easy when compared to the chore of re-installing it on the Catalina once we get the new hardware.  We're still working on some ideas on how to accomplish that chore.


Returning to the Catalina and its trailer, it took about a half-hour for two of our crew members to pump out the brackish water that had accumulated in the Catalina.  We wanted to pump out the water so that the weight on the trailer would be less and, once we left, we wouldn't have the weight of the water inside of the boat moving about and changing the center of gravity of the boat on the trailer.  Using both a battery-operated pump and a hand pump, the two lads working on that project finished it more quickly than we anticipated.


Work then centered on securing the mast to the Catalina so that it would not shift during the drive from Philadelphia to Souderton.  Fortunately, we had brought with us a wealth of bungee cords and rope so it was not a difficult chore to secure the Catalina's mast to the boat for the trip home.  Fortunately, the Catalina's boom fit inside of the cabin so that was an easy chore.  The photo above left shows two of our crew, Mate Randy van der Kleut and Purser Aaron Guttenplan, working to secure the mast.  The photo at right shows two of our crew, Purser Aaron Guttenplan and Yeoman Sean van der Kleut, working on cleaning out the debris from the deck and cabin of the Catalina.  From the look on their faces, they appear to be enjoying themselves.  Looks, however, can be deceiving.  The photo below left shows Mate Cowles on the bow of our Catalina while crew members van der Kleut and Guttenplan continue to clear accumulated debris from the deck of the sailboat.  Every pound of debris cleared from the boat was one less pound to move.


Once we had the Catalina secured to the trailer, it was time to ensure that the trailer was made road-worthy.  Fortunately for us, the trailer's condition looked worse than it actually was.  It was a relatively easy chore to replace the trailer's two tires with spares that we brought along with us.  Three (3) ton floor jacks made quick work of jacking up the trailer and replacing the two tires.  Having sprayed the lug bolts with PB Blaster as soon as we arrived also helped to ensure that those lug bolts came out as easy as possible after sitting in place for over a decade.


Once we replaced the trailer's two tires, it was not time to wire the trailer for lights.  One of the first things that we noticed during earlier trips to scope out the boat was that the trailer's wiring was completely gone.  As a result, we came prepared to re-wire the trailer at the boat yard before we even attempted to move the Catalina.  With Mate Cowles in charge, the re-wiring process took nearly no time at all and within a half-hour, the trailer had working lights and turn signals.  The photo below right shows Skipper Wile and Mate Cowles installing one of the trailer's tail lights.  Since the lights were hand-me-downs and the mounting hardware was less than ideal, we used zip ties to fasten the lights to the metal brackets on the trailer.  The zip ties worked their magic and the lights remained secured in their fixtures for the trip back to Souderton.

The photo at left shows most of our work crew right after we had the Catalina and its trailer hooked up to Andy Cowle's Tahoe.  Andy was confident that he could back the trailer out of the boat yard and onto the street with a minimum of difficulty and, to most of our surprise, he was right. 


The trip from the boat yard back to Souderton was relatively uneventful.  On the way home, we stopped at a super-WAWA to purchase refreshments and take care of some necessary personal business.  We traveled the Pennsylvania Turnpike from the Philadelphia exit at Route 1 to the Lansdale exit at Route 63 on the Northeast Extension.  The travel time home was a bit less than our time down to the DRYC boat yard and we parked the Catalina at Skipper Wile's home without any problems (other than grief from the Skipper's wife who apparently did not know that the Catalina was going to be parked there for a while).


A hearty thanks and well-done to our Activity Chair, Purser Aaron Guttenplan, and Mate Andrew Cowles for setting up and overseeing this project. 


Now that we finally have the Catalina in our possession, the real work begins on cleaning up the boat and getting her sea-worthy. 



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This page last updated on Friday, 10 May 2013.