As good as new; Earl Kent works his way down the pier with the pressure washer.

By Tony Owen

Taking off the horrible old mildew and moss! Earl Kent, still at it with the pressure washer, has singlehandedly transformed the pier walkway benches and pickets into like new condition. Earl is a new volunteer at the Center and has undertaken many jobs with wonderful vigor! In Earl’s spare time he is a volunteer dog walker with the SPCA in Duncan.


A member's boat is hauled out on the Maritime Centre's ways last year; rebuilding the ways is our major project for 2012.

Our Heritage Ways Are Important For Members And The Local Community

The Covey Marine Heritage Ways is an authentic piece of Cowichan Bay history. Originally built and operated by Ron Lindsay, owner of Covey Marine, these ways are of the traditional railway type design and one of five that operated in Cowichan Bay for many years.

Ron generously donated the ways to the Cowichan Bay Maritime Centre in 2006 and we took on the task of relocating them to our site as part of our interpretive displays. During the move they were brought up to modern environmental standards.

Six years later, after hauling many boats, the ravages of salt water has taken its toll and the complete refurbishment of the carriage is now required. This has also created an opportunity to further improve the ways by increasing its capacity for hauling larger boats. New maintenance services will also be available, including scrubbing, antifouling, zinc replacement plus mechanical and hull repairs.

The ways has become a valuable asset for the Maritime Centre, generating income and providing an important service for boat-owning members. The ways are also important to the local community, bringing in business to stores and restuarants nearby. The cost of the rebuild has been estimated at $25,000 and we are launching a fund raising campaign to achieve that target. If you can help please contact Suzan at

Maritime Centre ways operator Lance Underwood has undertaken the task of rebuilding the carriage and with the help of Centre volunteers, the ways should reopen in the early spring.

Ways operator Lance Underwood cuts up the badly corroded steel carriage of the old ways.

A block is screwed to extended frame to hold the gunwale inplace.

We have some nice, tight-grained Douglas Fir gunwales, (3/4″ X 1 3/4″) for the Bolger Dory. We decided not to use fastenings and instead use as many clamps as we could rustle-up to hold the gunwales in place while the epoxy cured. However, epoxy is a great lubricant until it’s squeezed from a joint, and without screws to locate the gunwales, we had ensure they didn’t slide around as we clamped them in place. This could be tricky, as the gunwales needed to be bent with considerable force in two directions to conform to the sheer of the boat.

So we screwed a locating block to each of the extended frames (which will be cut-off when the boat is removed from the building jig) and used these with clamps to hold the gunwales into place (see picture above).

Bob and Brian made a “dummy run” with clamps and blocks before doing it for real which is a great way off ensuring the process goes smoothly and avoids last minute scrambles for extra clamps, rope, wire or anything else needed to “tame” a highly stressed piece of lumber!

It went very well and once we turn the hull over any plyood proud of the gunwales will be removed using a router and pattern bit.

Brian makes a "dummy run" to make sure things go smoothly when we use epoxy.


  • Beginner’s Course Ends But Work Continues On The Bolger Designed Goucester Light Dory

  • By David Skelhon
  • Brian (left) and Bob (right) plane the chine logs ready to take the plywood bottom.

After 18 intensive hours we completed the frames and cut, butt-strapped and fitted the hull sides.  The course may have officially ended at this point but that hasn’t stopped Brian and Bob from putting in extra time to get the project completed, and in the process learn some other boat building skills like scarfing plywood for the bottom and using a router to shape the chine logs.

The main challenges came from fairing the frames, stem and stern posts to take the sides. With such a simple dory shape, the concept seems easy enough.  We used a substantial batten sprung across the frames to determine the bevel and then used a combination of planes, draw-knifes and the boat-builders “best friend” – a 5” grinder with a 60 grit disk – to create the bevels.  In practice there’s seemingly endless fitting and trimming otherwise there’s the risk of taking too much off, and we quickly learnt that’s far easier to take stuff off than put it back on!

Part of the learning process is figuring out when a fit is good enough. Sure, we could work towards perfection and although we don’t have serious commercial pressures we still have to keep things moving so that we can clear our limited space for other projects. To borrow a phrase I came across recently, “Perfection is the enemy of The Good.” The “good enough” line between the two will be different for everyone and where you place it ultimately depends on many factors.

We used painter’s tape on all the glue lines to speed clean-up. We used temporary screws, two per frame, to hold the sides in place and these were really important for locating the panels during the gluing. Epoxy with a slow hardener gave us enough time to complete the procedure in a leisurely fashion and would also fill any imperfections caused by over-enthusiastic fairing.

The external chine logs were a little tricky to glue in place because they are bent in 2 directions; we used a combination of clamps and strategically located stainless screws to stop them sliding about. Unfortunately, Gorilla Glue held the screws so well that most of the heads sheared off when trying to remove them, leaving us with permanent fastenings. Next time I would use bronze screws and either pull them out sooner or leave them permanently in place.

Right now, the bottom is about to be glued in place. We plan to sheath it, glue on the gunwales then we will be ready to turn her over. We will let you know how it goes!


It's dusty work! Tony Owen sands primer on the lapstrake dinghy.

The 10 foot dinghy built by students during last August’s Traditonal Boat Building Course with instructor Eric Sandilands is getting its final paint thanks to many careful hours of sanding and priming by Tony Owen. When finished, this beautiful, red-cedar-on-oak lapstrake dinghy will be sold or raffled to raise money for future projects.

Outboard Motor Tips From Tony Owen

Flushing The Cooling System

You have had a super time during the summer and you are going to put your outboard into winter storage, or if you are a saltwater sailor, you may want to keep the keep the rig in the ocean. Either way,  there are some vital parts of your trusty outboard that will need attention.

The first problem that saltwater sailors face is the crystallization of salt in those dark and damp places that are found in marine engines and equipment. The new four-stroke engines are very heavy and are not very portable for service work. An 8 HP four-stroke can weigh upwards of 100lbs, and usually requires the help of another strong back to remove the motor from the dinghy.

All that aside, flushing with fresh water when you are doing your yearly maintenance of the lower-end drive-gear is very important (another Tony tip will be coming about gear oil changing).You can use a simple earmuff device that fixes to the outboard’s lower end or a threaded hose connection available from your engine dealer.

Tony's collection of flushers for outboard motors.

Attach the flushing device, turn on the water and start the motor. Five minutes should do the trick if you have been flushing every year. If there is a problem with the water flow and the motor has been running hotter than usual then put the motor’s lower end in a tub of water containing some off-the-shelf salt deposit remover. Run the motor for 20 minutes so the water in the tub gets warm. This warmed water and salt remover helps to dissolve the salt. Leave overnight and restart in the morning with fresh water in the tub. If this does not help then a workshop manual and some tools may be required. If you don’t know a spanner from a wrench then take the motor to a service depot!

Here is a picture of a motor that had not been fresh water flushed in 5 years. Needless to say this customer’s lower end oil had not been changed either!

When your motor isn't regularly flushed, salt deposits can build up (seen here in the thermostat housing) and create cooling problems.