Advice to new owner of Hull #10


I have a few questions I am hoping some of you other l-36 owners can answer.

Mystic Puffin needs a fair amount of work, and that's before whatever we discover when we haul out in late June. (yeah, I know the wisdom of getting a survey before buying, but we bought her at a reasonable enough price to deal with issues that come up).

First, we would love to look at an l-36 in good shape- that would tell us a lot about how it should be. Is there anyone in the San Francisco Bay area who would be willing to just give us a "tour" of their boat?

Second, I think that I am looking at mahogany and mahogany plywood on most of the brightwork - cockpit, cabin doors, rub rail, etc. Is that correct?

The mast is painted. What's it made of? Same question for the cabin above deck - we may have to replace everything but the roof there.

We have found a few very small areas on the hull above the waterline with dry rot. Wonder what the opinion is on patching vs replacing the plank? I would be more inclined to the latter, but I may be complicating life for myself.

Finally, the previous owner told us that he had a slight problem with the starboard chain plate "pulling the hull apart" and letting in some water when the boat heeled. Chain plates are fine. We tuned the rigging (it was all way too tight). The only other possible problem we saw was a cracked rib in the area, well above the water line. The others in the area are okay and we're going to at least sister that section before we take her out. The problem sounded pretty strange and the only possible cause I could think of was overly tight rigging. Is there anything else we should be looking for?

Many thanks for any wisdom you're willing to share, also for patience with a beginner. I'm an experienced sailor and woodworker, but my previous wooden boat experience ended when I was about 11 !
Hi Karen,

Welcome to the fleet!

I would be happy to give you a tour of my L-36, Leda, which I think is in reasonably good shape; she is in Belvedere at the San Francisco Yacht Club. She is #71 so there are likely some structural differences depending on what hull number you have; do you happen to know what year Mystic Puffin was built (mine was 1965). I can’t necessarily answer all the questions for your boat, but if it is like Leda the answers would be:

Second, I think that I am looking at mahogany and mahogany plywood on most of the brightwork - cockpit, cabin doors, rub rail, etc. Is that correct?

Yes, Philippine or Honduran mahogany.

Mast is likely spruce if original.

Cabin above deck: mine is fiberglass over marine grade plywood.

Again, welcome to the fleet, and I think you will find the group is quite happy to offer advice ;-)


David James
Dear Karen,

Let me echo David’s welcome to the fleet.

My wife, Carol Leonard, and I have owned Olé since 1977 and over the years have restored her fairly extensively. In the process, we’ve learned a lot about how the boats were built and what they need to keep going. Olé was built in 1960. She is #7 but there is reason to think she was built much later in the series. We would be happy to show her to you and talk through any questions you may have.

Speaking for Olé, the cabin sides and front are solid boards of Philippine mahogany, but their insufficient width required that they be two boards all the way around. All of the cockpit, including front and back bulkheads, is Philippine mahogany faced plywood. The cockpit sole is teak planking.

The toe rail and cabin top grab rails are teak. The spars are Sitka spruce and the interior wood that’s varnished is primavera mahogany.

As to your rot in the hull, the solution may depend on the degree of stress to which that part of the hull is subject. Professional opinions might be sought from Jim Linderman (who did most of the work on Olé), Spaulding Wooden Boat center (where we just hauled out) and Kent Parker (who just surveyed Olé again and knows L-36’s quite well). I can provide contact info for all of them.

What is Mystic Puffin's number? Has she been on the Bay under another name or is she a new arrival?

I hope this helps. Let us know when you’d like to get together. By the way – are you aware of the Master Mariners Benevolent Assn. and the Memorials Day Weekend regatta?

Best regards,

John Hamilton
Hello Karen,

I have s/v Swift, her images are on the L-36 site and I've had her since October. I am a marine carpenter and have consulted with many people on how to proceed with my boat's issues. Regarding the frames, it is my understanding from some very knowledgeable people, that the frames on a stripped planked boat such as the L-36 are inconsequential after construction and do not require any attention other than cutting them out if the harbor dry rot that could infect the adjacent planking. Simply put, they are no longer structurally necessary as they would be in a carvel planked boat.

You are welcome to come see Swift in Alameda anytime.

Brian Linke s/v Swift #47
Hello Karen,

An article which must be read is Chairman Bob's thesis on the L-36 which highlights the hull structure and the gerontology of wooden boats.

A couple of things first pertaining to the planking and rot:

1. Dry rot is a systemic fungus which requires being treaded three feet beyond the last visible infestation in each direction. The hull is stripped planked using resorcinol glue. The a hidden benefit is the glue acts as a barrier greatly reducing the probability of transferring to the adjacent plank in the vertical axis. Each plank is also glued at each horizontal joint reducing the potential lateral spread. This is not to say it cannot spread since the source of the rot has not been determined. If the water intrusion is due to a deck leak resulting in fresh water soaking into the wood without the possibility of drying out there is the potential for severe damage.

2. Planking; the last resort is replacing one of the planks. As Chairman Bob explains in detail the nailing process of the hull construction, the L-36 relies on the nails as a structural component. To replace one of the planks it mist be remove by routering very carefully to expose the nails. The replacement plank needs each nail marked and drilled then split. Each half is then installed, one half from the interior and the other externally then screwed together.

As to the basic boat, she was built with Philippine mahogany. The deck was marine grade Douglas Fir covered with one laminate of 10 oz. fiberglas cloth, painted then Silica sand for non-skid. Do not drop objects on the deck since this one layer is not substantial enough for impact loads. Dropping a winch handle will fracture the resin and allow water to penetrate into the wood.

Sort of a footnote to hull construction is the L-36 was not equipped with a rubrail as original construction. If this is improperly installed it may be a leak source.

Read also Allen Edwards' well document articles on Papoose's repairs. Many of which may simulate some of your issues. His articles are well explained with specific details for the repairs.

Fair sailing,

Odin Braathen

Cal 34
Dear Ms. Huff,

I am the owner of JOLIE, Hull number 68. She was built by Chapman & Kalayjian in 1964. I’ve had her for 29 years and in 2004 undertook a major refit. That work was extensively photographed and if you’re interested I can send you a disk of them. I’ve attached a photo.

The quality of construction was a mixed bag, excellent workmanship and top grade material for the hull itself; excellent workmanship and poor quality material in the house and poor workmanship and poor materials in places where it didn’t show. Many if not all of the major maintenance items stem from that mix.

The brightwork is all mahogany or mahogany plywood. In JOLIE the house was a poor grade of Philippine mahogany, with port/starboard sides constructed of three pieces joined by splines. Over the years those joints would open a bit, particularly where they ran into the window areas. In 2004 we essentially jacked up the roof and replaced the sides with single pieces of maranti. Honduran mahogany of sufficient width was not available, and maranti comes close in characteristics.

My cap rail and rub rail are teak, and I would not consider mahogany for them – too soft.

Mast is Sitka spruce. The glue used in assembly obviously was aircraft quality and not the resorsenal (sp?) used in the hull.

With respect to hull dry rot areas I would recommend plank replacement. Here again I feel maranti is a good choice.

The chain plate problem you mentioned showed up in JOLIE also. The problem proved to be poor caulking where the chain plates penetrate the deck, allowing fresh water intrusion in the damp Northwest.

L-36’s are lovely boats and I wish you joy of yours.


Robert G. Moore

Congratulations on you L36 they are great sailing boats. We are Jody and Shelly Ward of Eros, hull #40. We have owned her since 1992 and have completed a refit. Recently we replaced the chain plate bolts, all of them and some in the strap that goes from the uppers down under the mast step. It was fairly easy except for the ones that had bad electrolisis. They came out in pieces. Very tediously and painstakingly. Be careful, you don't want to ruin the wood trying to get a chunk of metal out. Take your time, it will come out. It can be done in the water, except for the ones in the bottom.

Yes you are right the boats are built of Mahogany and probably mahogany plywood in the cockpit area. Our boat was unfortunately dried out and painting out the cabin and cockpit was the best thing for the mahogany and plywood. It also makes a lot less varnishing. The mast should be spruce, hollow box construction, which is very strong as long as it is still glued together. If the seams are coming apart, reef out carefully the old glue and reglue and clamp. DO NOT screw it back together. This will ultamatly kill your mast. This is what happened to ours and now it is a flag pole at Red Sails on Shelter Island in San Diego. We had extensive frame damage, but the still was not leaking, just weeping. We installed 30 sister ribs, lamanated ash from the forward cabin to behind the engine beds. And the boat with in months sprung itself back into shape and the weeping stopped. This was also done in the water after removing the interior. Hauling the boat out and putting it on stands will dry it out unnecessarily and may cause warping from siting on stands for so long. The longest we ever left her out of the water was 5 weeks. Do not let someone talk you into dry storage for the ease of working. It creates more problems than you can imagine. If you find damage in the bottom and can't be done quickly, paint it and put it back in the water unitl you have all your materials. If it is floating and not making water it is probably OK. The underbodies are saturated with salt water and swolen. This is a glued seamed boat and does not react like caulked boats. Again do not leave her out of the water for long periods of time.

Of course replacing the plank is always better, but a patch with a butt block on the inside will do. Here again, this is not a planked boat, it is a glued seam stripped plank boat and needs a particular type of repair. Ask a professional before you start. In other words know what you are doing before you start cutting. The planks are glued and edge nailed together. Sometimes this creates a problem when chiseling the bad wood out. We replaced a section of wood under the water that was electrolisied, it was not rot. Taper your wood at least 5 to 1 fore and aft. Make a patern and as near perfect fit as possible. Then cut your dutchman a little proud so you can hand fit it. The better it fits the easier you can sleep. Epoxy glues are amazing, but the better the fit, the less epoxy you need. It just makes a better job. We live aboard Eros in La Paz and have been cruising Mexico for 6 years now. We just won our class in the Bandaras Bay Regatta for the second time. She sails fast and sweet!

Suggestion: If you have major work to do, consentrate on it, before you consentrate on your varnish. Best of luck. She will make you proud and happy!

Shelly & Jody Ward aboard EROS
Dear Karen and Jerry,

I am the lucky owner of the L-36 Eventide, 1958, #31. I would be happy to show you my boat in Berkeley. She was restored and cared for by Chairman Bob Griffiths since 1975 until he passed away last year and I became the very happy new owner. I live aboard in the Berkeley Marina and we sail her at least weekly. I would be happy to show you Eventide as well as some of Chairman Bob's very detailed (but sometimes indecipherable) maintenance and restoration logs. I also have some very interesting drawings and measurements done by Bob through the years. I'm around often in the evenings, if you drop by the marina my phone number is xxx-xxx-xxxx. Slip F-310.

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