The fifteen foot Western skiff is our run-around boat and workhorse. It is also great to kick back in and troll for salmon. It works so well that we didn't notice how much it was aging. One day I pushed the skiff out from shore, stepped in, and stepped right through the floorboard in the bow. Huh? Well...it was built in 1990, so that makes it...due for some major TLC. My dad, The Old Salt, told us that it was time to rebuild the skiff. I had only an inkling as to what that entailed, but over the next weeks I helped and learned.
This fits with ‘keeping the dream within reality.’ A new skiff would be far more expensive than making the Western skiff sound again. I didn’t take step-by-step how-to pictures, but the following gives you a good idea of how things went.
We put the skiff in The Old Salt's shop and he happily went about his new project. First, all of the plywood was removed. The handles and kicker (small outboard motor) bracket were taken off of the transom (the vertical part on the very back). Yep, nekkid skiff.
To get the soggy plywood out of the transom, The Old Salt cut the seat supports back. Two pieces of plywood were cut to fit the transom, painted, and installed. Aluminum pieces were cut, welded and bolted in to replace the seat supports. The center support was fabricated. The new aluminum supports were attached through the transom with bolts, washers, and a sealant.
The Old Salt welded some new brackets for the fishing pole holder bases to replace wood brackets that had disintegrated. We drilled holes and bolted those on.
I cut plywood for the seats and the floor in the bow, rounded all of the edges with a sander, and painted them. Extra floatation was installed under the seats before the plywood was bolted on top.
For extra strength in the transom we cut a piece of aluminum plate and screwed it to the outside of the transom. The black walnut board that makes the kicker bracket had started to crack. The Old Salt drilled through it from side to side, drilled a larger diameter hole to countersink the bolt heads, and then through-bolted the board. He filled in around the bolt head with epoxy. That is the greenish spot near the top of the board. Again, the transom was drilled, and the kicker bracket through-bolted on. The handles were through-bolted onto the transom, also.
Two angles were welded, shaped, and bolted to attach the back of the seat to the transom.
A hole was drilled on each side of the transom and a lift eye was bolted through. Those eyes provide points of attachment if the skiff ever needs to be lifted, and good strong places to attach an outboard engine leash. The leash is a safety line in case the outboard comes loose.
The skiff is back in service, and ready for many more Southeast Alaskan adventures.
There's more boat related posts here: Boat Stuff