Keeping History Alive:
Blanchard Junior Knockabout Restoration
This summer we launched two of our Blanchard Junior Knockabouts (BJK) after extensive restoration. With funding from 4-Culture, we were able to procure the materials necessary to revitalize our fleet. This was the first restoration project to take place in the new Bill Garden Boatshop (located in the Wagner Education Center) which exemplifies how the new shop will be used for years to come.
The first Blanchard, V Velez was hauled out in November of 2018 thanks to the generous support of CSR Marine in Ballard. The BJK’s are the mainstay of our fleet, and we caretake seven of them. These vessels were designed and built by Norm Blanchard on Lake Union between the 1930’s and 1960’s. We use them every day through rentals or through classes teaching people how to sail. Because of their volume of high use, these vessels need a substantial level of care. For example, V. VELEZ had been in a collision with another vessel requiring new frames, deck, and planking. With the help of shipwright Ben Kahn, we sourced suitable lumber necessary to fix her. We used white oak to steam in frames, larch to fit new garboard planks, okoume plywood for the deck, and Sitka spruce for a new mast. Milling up this lumber required us to install professional grade shop tools such as a planer, jointer, table saw, chop saw, and band saw; all acquired as donated items or through donor funding.
The process to restore the BJK’s does not happen overnight. Three different boatwrights and countless hours of volunteer labor went into these first two restorations. Former CWB staff member Orion Marion started the project in the fall of 2018, and current CWB Maritime Operations Manager Josh Anderson kept the ball rolling through the winter.
Luckily for the boats, former livery attendant Dustin Espey came back to work at the Center as a boatwright after attending the boatbuilding program at the Landing School in Arundel, Maine. He oversaw a lot of the heavy lifting, including actually lifting the planked hull of the boats off of their cast iron keel to re-bed the joint. Most of the BJK’s have steady leaks which results in standing water in the bilge which often leads to rot. One of our goals was to make the vessels as watertight as possible. In PAMALA this meant installing new garboard planks, which are the planks closest to the keel, and the hardest to fit. We also reefed all the seams below the waterline, re-caulked them with cotton, and puttied the seams.
The end result of all this labor and contributions from our community is two beautiful working historic boats that are nearly good as new, despite being over seventy years old. You can walk down to the docks and take one out for a spin if you like. We also now have a professional, fully operational carpentry shop to complete future work. CWB will always have ongoing restoration boat projects as well as the ability to build new boats, and will continue to haul out and maintain the remaining fleet of BJK’s this winter. If you are interested in learning more about boat restoration process, become a volunteer in our boatshop!