I didn’t know Ron B. very well, but I do recall him and
his wife Faye having a boat at the Marina I owned on Carlyle Lake
in southern Il. It’s one of those relationships you recall
as casual, and business centered. I really didn’t know just
where they lived, or what their dreams were, but I do remember
them, and especially their boat, a 23 ft Aquarius. I always like
the Aquarius sailboats and can remember how satisfied the owners
seemed to be. I sold the Marina in 1990 and moved on, and over
the next years ended up doing boat canvas and buying and selling
I saw the ad on Craig’s List. “23 ft Aquarius Sailboat
$1,000”. It seemed cheap enough, even in the crashed used
boat market of 2010. I made the call and discovered the boat was
stored for several years in the machine barn of the owners Daughter
and Son in Law, and only a couple of miles from Carlyle Lake.
I offered $500 to see how motivated the seller was. I expected
a counter offer or an outright rejection, but was pleased when
the offer was accepted. The owner had died, and the owner’s
Wife just wanted the boat sold for any amount. She wanted closure
with the sale of the boat
It was only then that I discovered the owner was Ron and Faye
B., my previous Customers. I sent the check to seal the deal and
made arrangements to pick up the boat and titles. It was at that
time I had the opportunity to discover the dream Ron had. He wanted
to re-hab the interior and sail the boat during his retirement.
However, he became ill and unfortunately died before the re-hab
could be realized.
I met Ron’s Daughter at the boat to pick up the titles,
and to discuss setting a date to pull the boat to St Louis. At
that time I discovered the state of the interior and the effect
of being stored for 10 years in a machinery barn.
“Wow! She needs a little work!” my friend offered,
as he opened the hatch to peer inside. The hatch was closed, but
not tight enough to keep the mice outside. The mouse smell wafted
from the interior and you could see several dead mice in the bunks
and on the floor. I couldn’t get up to look because my legs
have given out and climbing on boats is not in my future. My friend
snapped pictures with his cell phone to show just what I had bought
As part of Ron’s rehab, the interior bulkhead that separated
the forward area and the enclosed head was removed. I assume he
wanted the boat’s interior to be more open, but it also
removed the compression post that is necessary to support the
compression of the mast. This necessary structure had to be installed
in any rehab. There was also a shag rug on all the hull’s
interior surface. I can understand wanting to cover the hull interior
which is left raw in the hull lay-up. The Aquarius was designed
to be an affordable trail-able sailboat so the interior took a
back seat to economy. In addition to the tear out was the issue
of smell and mouse bodies and debris.
2,500 lbs from my high pressure water cleaner would take care
of that in short order. Rip every thing out, wash the dickens
out of it, both outside and inside, brought the underlying boat
back to the 21st century and ready for a much needed rehab. When
using any high pressure cleaning equipment be sure to wear eye
protection and keep the water jet away from exposed skin. The
high pressure water stream can give a nasty cut if directed onto
exposed skin. Never go barefoot should be an unbroken rule when
spraying with this effective yet potentially dangerous tool.
The paint chips flew and the dead mice were swept into the trash
can as the clean up proceeded. The mice not only invaded the boat,
but also tried their teeth on all the sail bags. Not being satisfied
to just get in the bag, they also proceeded to gnaw into the layered
sail cloth as well. Sails with mouse holes will still sail, but
not very attractive. It would be a good talking point for PETA
but a little overboard if you want to sell the boat. I decided
to wait on any sail replacement or repair until the new owner
is located. The expense of sails can be saved if the boat becomes
a Terminal Trawler.
The man doing the building is a special skilled mechanic. I
say Mechanic to describe one of those rare individuals that can
do everything needed for a quality amazing job. Ray has worked
for me since I sold him a burned out 47 foot Atlantic yacht that
I purchased as salvage. The boat had sunk in an ice incident with
the superstructure just above water level with the deck being
just below water. While the dock was being removed the above water
structure was set afire from a spark from cutting tools, and the
boat was burned down to the water. The burned debris then fell
inside the remaining underwater hull.
I purchased the burned out mess from the Insurance Company and
had the burned debris removed. Once the boat was cleaned out,
I sold it to Ray as a potential live aboard vessel.. Over a period
of three years, he completely restored the boat to it’s
current yacht quality condition. Since then I have been in awe
for his skills.
I gave Ray my drawings and instructions to what I envisioned
for the Aquarius rebuild and sat back while he did his thing.
Once the mice debris and ten years of accumulated grime was
disposed of and everything spotlessly clean, we started the rehab
by installing the head enclosure. The enclosure includes the needed
compression structure for the mast. I chose to build the structure
with tongue and grove pine for it’s ease of building and
appearance once painted. I included shelf structures for appearance,
and for a visual break from plain wall structures. The Aquarius
has lots of room inside for such inclusions and can offer roominess
and living space not offered by other boats. That’s why
it is my favorite boat for a Terminal Trawler layout.
The faces of all the bunk structures were rotted so a replacement
was included as the cost skyrocketed. So what! When you are on
a roll with the end product in mind, you often throw caution to
the wind and just do it right. That’s what Ron would want
as he watched down on our progress.
Finally, after more time, money, and effort anticipated she
was done. We took pictures of the finished job and emailed them
to Ron’s daughter for a showing to Ron’s wife Faye.
Needless to say she was very pleased to see that Ron’s dream
was finally realized.
Good job Ray, I am always amazed at your input and professional
building skills. Completing dreams, whether your own or someone
else’s, is surely a good thing to do.
Harold's site is https://www.oneuglyboat.com