When we got to the yard yesterday, the crew had finished sanding our bottom. So, I fired up my grinder with an 80 grit sanding disk and proceeded to try to uncover more information about the unexplained patch that showed up on the stem. Turned out that the patch ended just below where the crew stopped heavy sanding. And the craters below the patch turned out to be more of the gel coat blisters like we saw along the water line except these were a lot larger.
Since the crater picture was taken, I have attacked the cracks with my pocket knife and dislodged and loose white gel coat. What’s left seems to be pretty well attached to the layer below. They must have really been having problems at the factory the day they laid our gel coat down because this looks terrible.
But, the problems may not have ended there. Another boater in the yard, one who built his own boat from a bare hull some thirty years ago and is still sailing it full-time, asked about the red stripe. He said that it must have been the original waterline. I said, “No way!” She’d bob like a cork if she was floating that high out of the water. Take a look at the next few photos. The one below is current and shows the mystery repair as well as the mystery stripe. You can see that the bobstay chainplate is fitted just above the mystery stripe and also just above the mystery repair.
In the next photo, taken when we hauled the boat for a pre-purchase inspection in 2007, you can see where the water line was when we bought her. The red boot stripe was above the water. The bobstay chainplate was on its forward end and you can see that the cockpit drain outlets (white circles) were sitting right in the middle of the boot stripe at the aft end of the boat.
The next photo shows how high we raised the boot stripe after loading the boat down with cruising “necessities” in 2010. In this photo, you can see that the cockpit drain is now about 2-3″ below the new water line.
Let’s go back to the picture of what the bow looks like now:
See the red stripe that’s not quite sanded away? The one that ends at the bobstay fitting? That’s the boot stripe before we raised it as it was when the boat was Drifter. The boot stripe is supposed to be out of the water so, if the lower red stripe is the original boot stripe, the boat would have been floating a good 6″ higher than it did before we raised the waterline and 8-9″ higher than she does now. What makes this really improbable is that, when we bought her, she didn’t have anything on her that didn’t come with the original boat except a Webasto diesel heater that must weigh all of 5 lbs. And even at that, if that was the original boot stripe, it would have been completely under water judging by how Drifter floated. Not likely.
So, another scenario arose as we discussed what we were looking at. What if somebody at Westsail wasn’t paying attention back in February of 1976? What if they put the boot stripe too low? And then what if they installed the bobstay chainplate ate the end of the boot stripe like the drawing showed? When they finally floated her, the boot stripe and the bobstay chainplate would be completely underwater. Nothing to do then except bring her back up and move the chainplate up out of the water and repair the spot that it had been in. And then paint a new boot stripe on. Which would explain why Drifter’s boot stripe, which should have been gel coat, sanded off of the layer of white gel coat so nicely while the mystery stripe stayed put.
Finally, looking at the original line drawing of the W28, it looks like the boot stripe should be just above the turn of the rudder, right where it was on Drifter and somewhat higher than the mystery stripe.