Refurbing - Bowsprit replacement
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South Florida has a bit of an iguana
problem.  This one just wanted to sun
himself on Sloop Du Jour's old bowsprit.
A bowsprit was not standard
equipment on most O'Day models.  A
previous owner of my boat had
installed one of interlaced teak lattice,
and I found it useful in keeping the
anchor away from the hull.  When
that bowsprit deteriorated to the point
where it needed replacement, in
1995, I had a new one made of solid
teak, thinking this would be stronger
and work just as well.  And it did.

Turn the calendar forward a dozen
years.  I removed the cleats on the
foredeck that held the bowsprit in
place, and then the bowsprit itself as
part of the stem-to-stern refinishing.
My original intention was to refinish the bowsprit
and reinstall it, because the top surface didn't
look too bad.  Once removed, though, it was
evident that it had greatly deteriorated from the
underside and would require replacement.  
With no need to preserve the bowsprit's
integrity, I cut a slot in the side of it so it could
be removed without removing the forestay.
Teak rot had set in on the
underside of the bowsprit
I am fortunate to live in Fort
Lauderdale, the self-proclaimed
"Yachting Capital of the World".  In
practical terms, this area is where the
big boats come for repairs and
refitting, and practically anything
marine can be bought or fabricated
somewhere nearby.  To replace the
The old bowsprit and new piece of teak
bowsprit, I visited my favorite marine lumber supply house, Seafarer Marine, and soon
had a suitable piece of teak in hand, ready for shaping.
The bowsprit design required only two types of
shaping to the rectangular raw piece of wood -
rounding the corners on the forward end, and
creating a hole for the forestay.  The corners were
rough-cut with a jigsaw and finished with a wood file
to a smooth curve.  To duplicate the forestay
opening, I made a simple pattern by tracing the old
opening on a piece of paper, then cutting the paper
along the tracing.  The pattern was then retraced
onto the new bowsprit with a pencil, forming a line
Square corners converted
to rounded corners reminds
me of Paris, my favorite city.
for the cut.  I started the cut with a large drill bit to
create a saw opening, followed this with a jigsaw, and
file.  I then sanded down all surfaces and applied
several coats of West Marine's Woodpro finish to the
new bowsprit.

I had previously removed the anchor roller assembly
from the old bowsprit.  The surface of this had some
minor corrosion, which came off quickly with a wire
brush.  The backing plate was likewise slightly
corroded, but again, cleaned up well.  Possibly the
heaviest corrosion was on the bolts and nuts, but this
was not so severe that a few minutes on the wire brush
wheel of the bench grinder could not remove it.  After
cleaning up the components, the anchor roller was
positioned in the center of the forward end of the
bowsprit, holes were drilled for the bolts, and the
anchor roller was reattached with its backing plate.

While all of this work on the bowsprit was progressing, I
was going through a bit of a quandary about cleats.  
The old bowsprit had a 10-inch horn cleat mounted
laterally on the aft end of the cleat, and two 8-inch horn
cleats mounted fore-and-aft on the sides of the
bowsprit.  I found, over time, that the eight-inch cleats
were a bit too small for some lines and chains, and the
ten-inch cleat tended to be over-used.  I at first looked
for an additional ten-inch horn cleat but could not find
one of the same style (with four mounting bolts instead
of two).  I decided to do a bit of updating during this
project and ended up with Herreshoff-style ten-inch
cleats that I found on eBay.  

A rather dull, but important part of the cleat installation
was the fabrication of stainless steel backing plates.  If
A simple paper pattern from old bowsprit
Woodpro on bare teak
Bolts before (left) and after
(right) wire brushing
The cleaned-up anchor
roller positioned but not
yet attached
Bow roller backing plate on
the bowsprit underside
The previously-drilled backing plate on
top is a pattern for the one underneath
you've ever drilled stainless steel, you
probably remember how tough the metal
is.  This is a good thing, but remember
the immortal words of
Mr. Natural from
the 1960's:  "At home or at work, use the
right tool for the job."  In the case of
drilling stainless steel, an ordinary drill
bit will self-destruct, as the metal is
tougher than the bit.  Make a special trip
to your local hardware store and buy
yourself a cobalt bit of the right size for
$15 or so.  You'll be glad you did.
A short piece of chain was  
attached to the jib halyard
and the anchor locker to
keep tension on the mast
The forestay and backstay
were each loosened a few
turns at a time to equalize
Now to the delicate part of the job.  In order to
install the new bowsprit, it would be necessary
to remove the forestay to run it through the
opening in the bowsprit.  Naturally, I wanted to
do this without having the mast fall down.  After
consulting the collective wisdom of other O'Day
owners on SailNet's
O'Day listserver I decided
there was little chance of that happening.

The process was actually pretty simple.  I used
a piece of chain to temporarily lengthen the jib
halyard, attached this to the rim of the anchor
locker, and applied tension to the halyard to
offset the backstay tension.  I then alternately
loosened the forestay and backstay by a few
turns each until I was able to remove the clevis
pin holding the forestay.  (It took 15 turns on
each to accomplish this.)  Once the forestay
was removed, I quickly slid it through the
bowsprit opening, held the bowsprit in place
with a jug of water, and reversed the
procedure to reattach the forestay and tighten
both stays.  Elapsed time, maybe ten minutes.
A water jug holds the bowsprit in place
before the cleats are installed
Now we're getting close to the
finish line.  With the bowsprit in
position, holes were drilled through
the bowsprit and the deck to install
the cleats.  As the deck is solid
fiberglass at this point, leaks
around the cleat bolts are not an
issue.  The bolts were inserted and
the backing plates installed, with
only one plate requiring some
modification due to misalignment
with the bolts.  Finally, new chocks
were installed for the docklines.  I'm
quite satisfied with the results.
The backing plates, inside
the anchor locker
The finished product.  The
new cleats are both
functional and stylish.