Pendleton Yacht Yard (PYY), of Islesboro is helping to pioneer a new method to repair and enhance the performance of traditional carvel planked wooden boats. The local yacht club races an aging class of Sparkman and Stephens designed Dark Harbor 20s. The Dark Harbor 20s are 20 feet long on the waterline and 30 feet overall; they were built during the 1930s and as a result of much loving care, are still racing today. However, many of the boats have been refastened multiple times and they are becoming harder to keep dry while racing. The club has even been considering the building of new Dark Harbor 20s, in fiberglass.

Pendleton Yacht Yard, known for its custom wooden boat work, has been maintaining the majority of the fleet for many years. As the boats age, the costs involved with keeping them competitive is increasing. Although some owners maintain their boats purely in the traditional fashion, others are experimenting with new technologies.

None more then the owner of SPRITZER who, this winter, contracted PYY to strip, spline, and epoxy coat his DH 20. It is anticipated that by splining and epoxy coating the boat, it will be stiffer and dryer, ideally making it faster. Classic boats are a labor of love. It takes as much passion as it does financing to keep their spirit alive. The DH 20 class was at the technological forefront of sailboat racing when it was conceived. Yard owner Stanley Pendleton talks of the DH20s with an air of nostalgia. His vision to keep the class active has landed his yard many restoration projects. Although SPRITZER’s is a little alternative, Pendleton is happy to know she will be on the water and racing next year.

Although splining and epoxy coating is not a new idea in regards to wooden boat restoration, PYY has refined the technique in an effort to ensure successful and superior results. Based on the actions of some West Coast yards, PYY is using resin soaked fiberglass cord instead of wood as splining between the planks. Project manager Tom Norton feels that this will help to stiffen the boat and will minimize the delamination potential induced by wood splinings.

Norton stresses that this is not a technique to fix a rotten boat. To be a good candidate for an epoxy splining restoration, a boat must be dry, rot-free, and well fastened. SPRITZER met all of these criteria. Although the yard commented, “she looked like Swiss cheese (with her many re-fastenings),” SPRITZER was a well-maintained and strong boat. Epoxy coating creates a rigid hull by securing the plank edges to each other; it does not build a new glass hull over the old boat.