Otis Evolutions

As mentioned in my previous blog post, I did build Otis in a bit of a hurry both to make the Florida 120 and to beat Scott Gosnell in his build of the IMB. Add this to a new design by an amateur (me) and some experimental build methods (canvas and tightbond III) and you get a boat that will need some fixes and corrections down the road.

This first came to notice during the first Florida 120 (www.florida120.com) I took Otis to when the canvas and tightbond III coating started coming off the bow of the boat…big flap of cloth hanging down. I also found the main rather hard to tension as I hadn’t made the mast quite tall enough. Finally, my wife and I took Otis to Lake Jocassee for two nights and we got wet thanks to water intrusion. Ended up being from the chines which I never did properly tape or glass. The canvas and tightbond III let in water and the wood quickly rotted despite the paint.

One of the many waterfalls on Lake Jocassee.
My wife wondering why the cabin is always wet?
She still enjoyed the trip!
Fixing the rot and replacing the Canvass and Tightbond III skin with a proper fiberglass one. Bottom part of the hull now has 2 layers evened out with thickened epoxy.
Graphite in the last epoxy coat for abrasion resistance.
Repainted in the original colors.

After this fix, Otis didn’t leak a drop of water. I also took the opportunity to lengthen the mast for better geometry for raising the sail. Really helped! I took Otis to the Florida 120 event again…first time I used the same boat in two consecutive years! This year we met up at Dupont point and then sailed to Ft. McCree area. The next morning, only 8 boats made the trip down to Navarre due to rough conditions crossing Pensacola Bay. I did end up motorsailing because I wasn’t making good time going to windward in a fickle wind against some nasty chop. Once under the Pensacola Beach bridge, the conditions improved for a great windward sail down to Navarre.

The next day (Saturday) I had my best sailing experience ever in the Pensacola area which is saying a lot. We went all the way from Navarre to Dupont point, a distance of 45 miles. We arrived at Dupont point around 4pm.

No description available.
Otis and the other boats that made it to Navarre
Sailing past Big Lagoon State Park. Note my taller mast.
Happy sailor. Another recent modification was shortening and widening the bowsprit. Allowed for better geometry on the sails and also made for a nice place for a bow anchor.

It was an incredible day followed by a fairly miserable night. That night we had a major storm pull through that dumped a lot of rain. First time I had slept in Otis during a downpour only to have about two inches of water join me down below in the cabin. Completely soaked my bedding and made for a cold night and yet another modification for the future. I recovered Otis and stored it in Pat Jackson’s boat cave for use in the BEER (Backwater Environmental Escape Rendezvous) in June.

In June, I drove back down enjoying not having to tow a boat all the way from Atlanta. I picked up Otis and headed to Galvez Landing to launch my Otis for the BEER cruise. Unfortunately, on the way there I was rear ended by an inattentive driver. The winch stand bashed in Otis’s bow and crushed the Evinrude outboard my family had since I was six years old. I ended up hitching a ride with Pat Jackson on his Mirage sailboat for the BEER cruise.

Hole caused by the collision.
No more outboard
But at least the outboard fought back.

So, back to the boatshed to rebuild Otis once again. Beginning to think this wonderful boat is a bit cursed! I rebuilt the bow using 2 layers of 1/4 inch plywood instead of the one layer I originally had. Be a bit more comfortable when the waves bash against the bow. I fixed other damage caused by the collision before addressing the water intrusion into the cabin the last Florida 120 trip. I realized the water snuck in via the storage niches I had put into the seat backs. I hadn’t done a good job sealing up the path from those seat backs into the cabin. When I took the seat backs off, I found rot so decided it was best if I got rid of those storage niches. Could add flotation at the same time! Finally, I decided to increase the height on the cockpit coamings to prevent water coming in when sailing hard.

Bow and bottom rebuilt stronger than ever if not a bit crooked…gave it character!
New taller and well-sealed coamings.
New transom boards as well. I also added large holes to the transom at seat-top level to allow for good drainage of water. Added one-way flapper valves to prevent getting pooped.
Managed to save the graphics from the old Transom boards to put on the new one.
Replaced the old soft pine rudder and rudder head with a stronger oak setup. This is before adding led to the bottom of the new rudder.

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