And now a word from our engine…

The heart of any old vessel is her engine. The Carlyle III originally had a 46 horsepower four-cylinder Gardner engine. Gardners can still be found on some older Canadian commercial fishing boats, and have enjoyed a long reputation as reliable and fuel efficient. In 1939, the fisherman who then owned the Carlyle had Finning Tractor Equipment Company install a brand new marine Caterpillar Diesel engine. According to Finning Company literature, this was the first CAT engine installed in a boat in Western Canada. A few years later when the fisherman retired Mr. Finning purchased the boat and had her lengthened and turned into a company yacht, in which capacity she gave many years of service and tens of thousands of miles along the beautiful British Columbia coast. Here is the original installation plate :


And some of the original instrumentation:


One of the great things about this boat is the extensive documentation. The Carlyle III is a piece of history – I am just a temporary custodian. The previous owner, Rick, recognized this and I was delighted when he came up with the original engine owner’s manual and parts manual from 1939:



One of the greatest challenges of caretaking this boat is becoming competent with the engine. Learning to care for the engine is as daunting as medical school for me: it’s part engineering, part foreign language, part physics PhD, and part voodoo. I have captained boats for decades, done basic shipwright repairs, dealt with emergencies at sea – but this engine will be a new and challenging responsibility. In the youtube link below video Rick showed me how to start her and checked on her after a lay-up:


A little bit of painting weather…

20160317_162500We got a little weather break in March and got some painting done. Celeste wanted the blue and green exterior paint gone, so I went with older more traditional colors…

My deckhand is showing off the new colors on the front of the wheelhouse:


Remember the old spider webs?


The wheelhouse cleaned up and looks better with the original cabinet doors in place.


We also got the new (1920’s) compass installed.

Sometimes you have to stop and just enjoy it…



Safety First…

One of the first projects I undertook after initial cleaning was to get the handrails and lifelines up around the boat. The back deck was really open and I didn’t want to hear a splash when my little deckhand was aboard.


The previous owner, Rick, found most of the original bronze stanchions and handrails in his incredible boat shop. Overall we were missing seven stanchions which were recreated in mild steel…




So the stanchions were made, the wood handrails were patched together, and the stainless steel lifelines were run.


Quarter inch stainless wire cable, by the way, turns out to be $1.03 per foot if you buy a 500 foot roll. Yikes!

Let there be light…

One of the first projects was to add light to the engine room. An afternoon spent policing dangling wiring , removing an old dead garage-type fluorescent fixture and wiring in new LED strip lighting turned night into day. And made me realize how much more work there is to do in the engine room…


The Carlyle is powered by a 1939 D13000 Caterpillar engine that produces 100 HP at a maximum 900 rpm. she is started by a two-cylinder gas pony motor, and it is pretty much a religious ceremony to get her started. The little engine warms up the big engine and turns it until it creates enough heat in the cylinders to ignite the diesel fuel. but thankfully I will never again have to lay on my belly to work on an engine below the floorboards…


I have always dreamed of an engine room big enough to have a workbench and a vise. And now with new lights I can see I need to clean and paint an engine room big enough to have a workbench and a vise…



Before photos, interior

Inside the vessel most of what was needed was some serious elbow grease, and it took about two weeks of solid cleaning to remove the mildew and spider webs. I thought about leaving the swallows nests, but my bride gave me “the look” when I suggested it, so they had to go.

Salon looking forward:


Galley looking forward:20160126_105253

Aft stateroom:


The wheelhouse (did I mention there were spider webs?):


The Holy Place:


The foc’sle (which was a rain forest):


Before photos, exterior

Here are some before pictures to reference¬†our starting point. The worst of it is she needs half a dozen planks each side, a lot of “bleeding” fasteners dealt with, and serious work on the front half of the decks.


Parts of the foredeck were spongy, and it was all covered in every bright idea in deck coating since the 1980’s, about six different materials in all.


I love the ghost in the window in this picture.


It’s Celeste, but it’s hard to see her through all the spider webs.

Here’s a look at things topside:


And where the decks are stepped is pretty spooky, this will need some attention:


The good news is that the entire stern was rebuilt less than a decade ago, and it is purpleheart about a foot thick. Along with that project the leaky aft decks were replaced with two layers of marine plywood and a very professionally done fiberglass job. But there’s plenty in the above pictures to keep me busy for a while.

Here’s a picture of the rebuilt stern – the plywood rub rail is a temporary feature and will have to be replaced around the entire vessel.




From the Beginning


Anyone who knows me understands that I have boat issues. So nobody was too surprised when they heard I was looking at an old wood boat that had sat unused for many years. I took my friend Dan, skipper of the 99 year old seiner Pheonix III, to try to talk me out of it. Not a bright idea to take a friend who is investing tens of thousands in an almost century old boat to talk common sense into you.

Then came the true test – taking my beautiful bride Celeste to see the boat. Keep in mind this poor old vessel had bird’s nests stuck to the salon walls inside and you couldn’t see through the windows for all the spider webs. I was sure this would be the visit that would kill my aspirations. My wife puts up with a lot from me – but surely this was too much.

Instead, much to my amazement, she looked up at me from the galley below and said “This is big enough that we could live on it after the kids are gone.” I looked over at the current owner and said “sold.”

Here’s Celeste in the galley on that first visit:


Looking at the picture, this was on January 26th, 2016.