stray cat strut

dumpster diving

stray cat strut

I have just about finished restoring a Gougeon Tornado. I have always had and loved catamarans, and I knew about this boat that had been sitting out in the sun at our local club (Oklahoma City Boat Club) for years. I got a phone call from Bob, a fellow club member, offering some parts. . .his plans were to "chain saw" the hulls "tomorrow" and put the pieces in the club dumpster. That was the push I needed–in a moment of insanity I told him there was no way in hell I could let him do that. I knew that boat needed some TLC, and I loved the idea of taking on the project–just not now–would I ever find the time?

Turns out Bob was only looking for a trailer to haul his lawnmower on. I probably saved him $1000 in getting the custom tilt trailer converted. He took my check, went to Lowe’s, and was ready to go the same day.
I promised my wife Julie I would finish the boat and then find a buyer who would appreciate it. We already had too many boats and didn’t have a place to store it out of the sun.

I figured all I had to do was purchase sandpaper and some West Systems, and in a few months I would have her in the water. Well, as with most things in my life, I have a tendency to underestimate my timelines…at least according to my wife. After a long conversation with the guys at West Systems, it dawned on me that restoring a wooden boat is a little different than buffing out some oxidized gelcoat. It has been just about 2 years, but I am finally ready to take her for a sail.

I have had some incredible luck in finishing her. There is a guy in Wichita, Kansas who used to manufacture Tornados back in the 70’s and has still has molds and various parts laying around. He found a set of rudder castings in his archived parts bin that could be modified to fit the original wood blades. He also had some great old stories of going to the Trials back in 1975 with a crew who fell in love with the 8 Gougeons that were there. Six months later, he acquired one which is very likely the boat I have. Stu Bernd pitched in a couple of sets of sails lying around his place, and Jay and Pease Glaser were nice enough to send out some standing rigging.

It turned out so sweet that Julie is trying to convince me to keep it. Imagine that! I knew there was a reason I married her. Only once she did she ask me, "How much more of that epoxy are you going to buy!?" Only, now I need to add on to the garage so that I can fit the boat in it. Should have that done in about 2 weeks.

Sail Faster…
Andy Davison