Cockpit and Decks

Having Alani in her parking spot under a roof in the tranquil bay of Cayo Quemado was a nice change to the dirty, blazing hot boat yard. Tom´s sail repair and rigging workshop is very well equipped with all the tools and materials you can imagine and it has always been a delight to work alongside Tom, Damian, their customers and, many days, random friends, sailors, locals who came to use the shop.

Cockpit rebuilding on classic wooden boat
Destruction before rebuilt

The first project I needed to tackle on my now floating vessel, was to close up that huge hole in the back part – the cockpit. Some more destruction was necessary before I could start. I built the cockpit framing of Laurel wood, a fairly light local hard wood. I loved the process of building the framing, especially the dovetail style connection part of them. While beginning the cockpit construction, I also started employing my local friend Susana to paint the inside of the hull. Having taken off all paint and badly painted epoxy on the frames and planks inside, we primed the whole hull with thin penetrating epoxy and then painted with two layers of one part polyurethane paint and the bilge with Interlux Bilgekote.

Female carpenters wooden boat
Susana and I

I had been thinking about getting some paid help on the boat to get some simple jobs done faster, to have an extra set of hands when needed and to also, pass on some of the money blessings from my charter job to a local family. I have always believed in empowering women and therefore was delighted, that after my friend Susana had helped me for some weeks, my friend Lorena also showed interest in “learning the man work”.

Female worker varnishing wooden boat
Sweetheart Lorena at work

Lorena worked for me several mornings a week until Alani was finished. She did most of the sanding and varnishing, all of the mast refinish and learned a great lot about tools and wood work. She was always dedicated, very hard working and we both had great fun working together.



After finishing the cockpit framing, we laid down sheets of 3/4 inch treated plywood. To make sure the boat was sealed up well, the whole deck area, together with the new cockpit, was to be covered with a new layer of fiberglass. 

Re-building cockpit of classic wooden boat
Putting the cockpit together
Rebuilding cockpit of classic wooden boat

The prepping took some time. The deck paint had to be ground off (and of course we found some rotten wood here and there), the deck-hull joint rounded and the cockpit edges rounded over to receive the fibreglass, everything painted with epoxy once and sanded again.

Classic wooden boat restoration by woman
Building bulkheads

Since the interior of the boat was still easily accessible, I also replaced the bulkheads separating interior from  cockpit lockers and started building the chart table area.

Thanks to detailed preparation, the deck and cockpit glassing was a fun team work day tackled by Tom, Damian, Lorena and I. 

Alani wooden boat Rio Dulce
The decks are glassed in.

After the glass was dry, I faired deck, cockpit and also the topsides with thickened epoxy to make it look pretty. Then everything had to be sanded again before we could put the primer on.

Glassed decks Alani Rio Dulce
The fairing took another good chunk of time, but I became really good with the trowel and ? in the end.
Female captain Sarah rebuilding wooden boat Alani
So much sanding… and yes, I should be wearing a mask.
Wooden boat Alani being painted
The primer is going on! You can also see the forward hatch I rebuilt.
Sail Repair and Rigging Rio Dulce Guatemala
Tom´s workshop


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