SEA DOG's Restoration

Yacht restoration is like shoveling against the tide except that you shovel money rather than water. Bringing SEA-DOG back to life is a prime example of what can be expected when such a project is attempted.

I had just sold my 1928 Chris Craft 38 foot commuter (see ALTHEA's website) and had decided that I would rest a while before I took on an other boat when a friend called and told me that there was a 1932 Stephens for sale.

Though I had never seen the boat , Jim Butz who owned her is a fellow member of the Classic Yacht Association and I had met him at some of the National Meetings. He had owned SEA-DOG for 20 years and he and his wife had used it for family cruising and entertainment. His wife died several years ago and his interest in boating retreated, so he mentioned to some friends that he might sell her and when I heard about it I went down to Los Angeles to take a look.

The SEA DOG LINE of marine hardware was named after SEA DOG. You may view other historical information in the Documents section at the bottom of page 1.

I met with Jim Butz and his shipwright and we crawled through her and they pointed out those things that they knew needed fixing, but by and large she appeared to be basically sound. We agreed on the price and I called Patrick Curry in Seattle and asked him to come on down and survey the boat. After Pat had looked her over we consummated the sale, negotiated with a trucker, and she was trailered North to Anacortes, Washington.

And now the fun began! Two people, one of whom has extensive knowledge of wooden boats and their foibles, had gone through her and her owner and his employee had, honestly I'm convinced, revealed all the problems of which they were aware. In the opinions of all four SEA-DOG was a bit tired and some pretty major reconstruction was needed but otherwise she was in basic good health. Surprise! In my enthusiasm I neglected two basic rules of restoration. They are:

1. If it looks OK it's probably bad.
2. If it looks bad it will be terrible.

Pat Curry, who supervised the rehab, put her up in a yard in Seattle and a crowd of shipwrights started in gutting her her vital parts. All the major departments were replaced. These included electrical,engines, fuel, fresh water, electronics and navigation, housekeeping, shafts and props, generator, ground tackle and windlass. and hundreds of lesser items that were old or non functional.

Galley (starboard side) before...



The extent of any repairs or replacements that were needed was always three time greater than expected and for each dollar budgeted we spent three. It took about a year to do the job but the results are pretty spectacular.

Transom during...


Not only does she look great, she is also very sea-kindley and comfortable. Her top speed of 20 knots gives her the ability to run from bad conditions and her length bridges a short chop. There is enough flare and buoyancy to the bows to keep the foredecks dry in most conditions.

Though my bank balance took a bruising we not only got a good boat, we also saved an other grand old lady from the breaking yard. We also are having fun and I can't deny a feeling of pride and satisfaction as heads snap and people wave and cheer when we come into port.

I think that I'd do it again.

Les Gunther
January, 2010