Friday, March 4, 2011
The Nicholas Allen
Some time around last Halloween, Naomi and I bought the 40' Ferrocement cutter the "Nicholas Allen". We had been shopping around for a live aboard size sailboat for years, and were actually pretty close to buying the "Dos Amores", a 60' steel ketch, that needed extensive work, when we discovered the "Nikki Al", as we call her, for sale, and snatched her up. She was built sometime in the 70s, possibly in Eugene Oregon, to a design by Patrick Cotten, and spent most of her life tied to a dock as a live aboard up in Puget sound somewhere. We bought her from a really nice guy by the name of Gordon who owned her for under a year and put a bunch of work into her, as well as fitting her out with all sorts of useful stuff. Thanks Gordon, good luck NOT buying another boat! This blue ones the "Dos Amores"
The Nicholas Allen has a running MWM 4 cylinder diesel engine in her, with a twin disc transmission. MWM stands for motoren werk mannheim, and they have been making diesels pretty well since they were invented. The original manuals, and spare parts catalog and everything came with the boat, and i've been brushing up on my German reading them, which is good, because i have the vocab of a 3rd grader! The alternator on the engine seems kind of weak though, its impossible to actually read what it says on there, so Naomi splurged and bought a brand new Honda generator, which pretty much rules. The boat came all set up with a Heart Interface Inverter/charger, so we have lots of options, A/c and D/c.
The mast is steel, it tapers, and all the cleats and fittings are welded to it, same for the boom, and all the rigging is stainless. Somebody spent a fortune back in the 70s building this thing, and not a second goes by that we don't appreciate it. Its very cool to climb the mast and stand in the crows nest!
Gordon must have been paranoid about anchoring out, good thing for us, because he set the boat up with 400 feet of bbb chain that is also high tensile, that runs through a simpson/lawrence 555 manual windlass and has a 50 kg bruce anchor on one end and is bolted to the keel on the other. The sampson post is also stepped right down to the keel, and we have tons of extra chain, rode, and anchors. Very robust ground tackle.
The boat itself is Ferrocement, and before we bought it we had Matt, whom we had just met, dive and inspect the bottom, which seems to have no major faults, though it has evidently been a good long time since its been out of the water. Thats Matts boat the Ulanah, which he just spent the winter in the Aleutian islands aboard! I know, not my idea of a winter cruising destination either, there must have been a girl involved!
Anyway, the decks are plywood on laminated fir deck beams, and there are some spongy spots, and in particular there was tons of water seeping in along the gunwales pretty much right around the boat. It being winter, it rains a lot, and the whole inside of the boat was wet. We temporarily cured that problem by covering the entire gunwale with roofing mastic, as well as removing some stanchions and sail tracks, and gooping those as well. The inside of the boats hull had carpet glued to it, seems crazy to me, and it was all soaking wet and covered in mold. it even had mushrooms growing out of it in places. we removed all of that which was a ton of work, as well as all the old moldy ceiling panels and styrofoam insulation, and have started re-insulating with polystyrene foam. Now it actually stays fairly dry inside, especially if we have the Dickinson stove running.
Most of the heat escapes out the pilot unless we have the door closed and a curtain up, but our friend Drew just sold us a small diesel heater that we are going to put in the aft cabin, so we can warm it as well. With all the little projects and things to do on the boat we've only actually had her out sailing one time, and it was really light wind, but sure was fun, I cant wait till summer. The boat is only 40 feet long, but its actually quite large. Its full keeled, 14 feet wide, and bridge decked, so there's standing room from stem to stern. The aft cabin is huge, and there's tons of storage, so really it is the ideal boat for us. The fact that its Ferrocement is the only thing that kept it in our price range because we could easily tear it apart and sell the components for more than we paid for the boat. Nothing generates more controversy in the boat world it seems than ferrocement. Everyone I've met that actually owns one though swears by it. Well see, i cant wait to get the boat out of the water!