Preview: Basket Case: Restoring a Watch Hill 15 at D.N. Hylan’s

February 22, 2015

Avatar Maynard Bray

This boat arrived at D.N. Hylan & Associates in December, 2011, as GERALDINE, and was completely worn out. No wonder; she was almost ninety years old! She came out of the Herreshoff shops of Bristol, Rhode Island, in 1923 named TOBASCO, and was one of eleven identical sloops known as Watch Hill 15s because of their waterline length. She’s 24’6″ overall, with a 6’9″ beam and 2’3″ draft with her centerboard raised.

Six months later she left the Hylan shop as KRISTIN, and after sailing trials in Brooklin, arrived back in her Noank, Connecticut, home waters in time to be sailed upriver to the 2012 WoodenBoat Show at Mystic Seaport.

As I hope you’ll discover in the photos that follow, the same procedure (outside molds attached to a stiff platform that creates a “basket”) that was used in this extensive restoration could be adapted to other types of boats. With KRISTIN, by using her designer’s measurements (known in the trade as offsets), precise molds were made that brought the weak old hull back to its original shape.

You’ll also note that some strength-enhancing alterations were made—like edge-gluing the three top strakes of planking, using plywood decking, and adding tie-rods to reduce the stress from the shrouds.

With good care, KRISTIN should be good to go for at least another century.

KRISTIN arrived as GERALDINE, looking poorly.

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