Chip Ford's 1974 Catalina 22 Restoration Project
Sail #3282  l  Marblehead, Massachusetts

My Introduction to Boat Restoration and Sailing:
The Even Song (1975-76)

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In late 1975 I met a couple guys who were restoring a 48' wooden ketch originally built in 1928, with the intent to sail the "Even Song" down to the Caribbean upon completion.  Eventually I was invited to join them.  With the support and backing of my faculty counselor I dropped out of Mass. College of Art in my senior year, from which I was expected to graduate with honors, and jumped into this new project.  "That's what being an artist is all about, life experience," Prof. Ron Hayes advised.

In this photo, what appears to be the boat restoring itself was hardly the case -- it was a whole lot of fulltime work on the part of us for some time to come.

I gave up my apartment, stored or sold off my belongings and moved aboard a boat for the first time in mid-1976,  joining the restoration project fulltime.

I was still a student, but had changed my major from illustration to wooden boat restoration.

After replacing the bulwarks and rotted planks we went to work on the cockpit deck, fully replacing it with a new frame and strips of caulked oak.  (Spring, 1976)

The new cockpit sole, oak strips before they were caulked, sanded and sealed.  That's Rip, my boat wonder-dog, in the foreground.  At the time this labrador-shepard mix was about three years old.

With the bulwarks, worst of the planks, and the cockpit deck replaced, we hauled out in a boatyard up on the Danvers River and began the exterior hull work in mid-July, 1976.  We worked nonstop, sunrise to sunset, to keep the yard storage bill down.  The boatyard left "Even Song" on its railway; many of our friends came down from time to time each day to lend a hand and get the job done.  (Jul. 14, 1976)

The first order of business was to grind down the hull to bare wood, so we could check the bungs and fastenings on the planks, the planks themselves, and recaulk the seams.  (That's my second old '63 Plymouth Valiant, with the yellow door from my completely restored previous Valiant, before it was broadsided at an intersection.  The initial restored one became a great parts car!)

With those planks needing it refastened and rebunged, the seams recaulked, we moved on to painting the hull.  We put on two coats, then with me the artiste eyeballing it from a distance using a yard stick and shouting directions, we marked then painted on the waterline boot stripe.  (Jul. 19, 1976)

With the hull and boot stripe painted, we moved on to painting the bottom.  (Jul. 20, 1976)

On July 21st we were ready to launch, including most of our friends who'd lent a hand and showed up for the ceremony.  We were known as hard workers -- and notorious as hard partiers.  That evening was a night to party and show our gratitude after all the quick and hard work!  (That's Brad playing the lead on his air-guitar.  He's helping me out still these days with Chip Ahoy.)  Warren Patick is to his left.  He comes into this saga at the end.

As the sun was setting, the traditional bottle of champagne was broken against the bow by Brad's girlfriend Linda, with an assist from able hand Jeff Clements handling the line from the deck. . . .

. . .  and off slipped Even Song down the rails and back into the briny with high tide that evening.  We received lots of compliments from boaters nearby who'd  watched our progress, and from the boatyard management, for how much we'd accomplished in a mere week.  That was due to a relentless crew and a great bunch of friends who dug in to give a hand whenever they could.

Back at our dock at the Congress St. (Salem) Marine Basin -- which has since been replaced by the upscale Derby Wharf -- the partying began!  This photo is of Brad and Linda entering the cabin.

Left to right is Linda, Vinny Anastasio of Revere (a frequent helper), and yours truly (when he had more beard and hair!) on the starboard side settee.

Jeff Lawton at the dinette, also often a helper, later moved aboard.  While living aboard our next boat, "Idle Hours II," he disappeared overboard one night in 1978 while anchored off Misery Island.  We found him the next morning drowned up on the island's shoreline rocks, along with another crewmate, Billy Salazar in the depths beneath the boat.  Their deaths remain a mystery.

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