Alaska Radio & Service Co., Inc. KGBU: `The Voice of Alaska'

Handling Your Hull

ANNOUNCER: KGBU Radio brings you the "Mail Buoy" a program especially designed for Alaskan boatmen. It is the hope of this station that the exchange of information regarding sea and ship will be found of benefit to those who wish to brush up on their calling, to those who wish to study the fine art of fighting the sea and to those old-timers who can help the world to remember how to make all things shipshape and Bristol-fashion by keeping close tally on the data contained in this presentation.

Captain L. Ron Hubbard, whose sailoring and engineering and writing have carried his keels through the Seven Seas is here in command. Captain Hubbard, himself a marine authority, has taken every way of authenticating this material, checking it vigorously against the best known authorities. Questions sent to him in care of this station, if accompanied by a self-addressed, stamped envelope, will be answered either by mail or on the air free of charge.

Here now is Captain Hubbard.

SOUND: Four bells and a jingle.

RON: And so, fishermen tall and small, yachtsmen rich and poor, dock loafers tired or argumentative and armchair navigators, we hope sincerely that we will hear from you in volume. Call us liar, thief, wise man or fool, confirm or condemn. The microphone through you letters is yours.

I picked up, for this first broadcast, a puzzle down on the docks the other day. A young fellow who had hauled out his rowboat was gazing at her in sorrowful accusation. The boat was a very sweet round-bottomed, carvel-built craft of some sixteen feet in length, powered with an outboard.

"Look at it," he said. "It’s ruined!"

And it did look very bad. The sight of a two-hundred-dollar boat with the cedar hall frazzled and torn was a sorry one. Shreds stuck out of the planking at all angles. Deep gouges ran athwartship and fore and aft. It seemed as if someone had been working on it with a combination axe and vegetable grater.

When asked what he had been doing to it he maintained with violent gesture that it had never touched reef, that he had used it only as transportation to and from his camp. Further inquiry solicited the information that his beach was rocky and that he had been in the habit of dragging his boat over it. As any sailor knows, that is a fine way to start a boat to the graveyard.

It would have been easy for him to have anchored a raft seaward from the low water mark and attached a pulley upon a three-foot mast. A line reeved through this would have served as an outhaul. Thus, at any stage of tide, he could have run his boat to the beach, unloaded her and then hooked her to the line and, by hauling on the other one, sent her to a secure mooring. A roller or two on the landward side of the float making a lip or ramp, would have allowed the boat to have been pulled up on the float where it would be dry, though its owner is ashore, a hundred yards away. Getting her off is just as simple for one merely pulls upon the stern line.

The young man thought his boat’s ragged bottom was the greatest part of his worries but it had been well built, with thick planking and a plane soon took out the scars. However this was a small part of the damage. Toredos had seized upon that bare wood or, wherever there is a break in anti-fouling paint, even though that break be but microscopic size, the toredo can find his way in. The small pinhole which marks his entrance is always found to be backed with twisting tunnels through which he had devoured his way.

Even then it was not too late to save the boat. When she had been scraped and sanded, the young man went and purchased a can of copper solution. This is a green or colorless liquid which penetrates dry wood deeply and not only kills off everything inside the wood but also prevents future invasion, dry rot and waterlogging as well.

After the boat was painted, a coat of copper paint was added and a close observer could not have seen that anything had been wrong with the boat.

It was fortunate that he dragged it out when he did for his boat would have been a ruin within another three months and it would have cost him the price of a new one. And now his will last him many a year to come.

He maintained that it was too much trouble to build a float at his camp. That seems very shortsighted when one remembers that it took him two days of hard work to undo what damage he had done to his boat and it would have taken him an equal amount of time to have built the float. Some men seem to like work so much that they will do a task over and over rather than remove the cause of the labor.

I knew a fellow once who, each day when he started for the grounds, had to spend an hour or more bailing before he could cast off. He was asked why he didn’t plug the leak which was, after all, very apparent. "Well," he said, "I was going to get after that last year but somehow I can’t see the sense of it. Some day this danged fishpot is going to sink and think of all the time I would have wasted fixing her up." He’s still bailing.

ANNOUNCER: Send in your questions and problems to the "Mail Buoy," and they will be answered free of charge if accompanied by a self-addressed, stamped envelope. The foremost marine architects and authorities will be consulted. Comment and criticism is invited.

The "Mail Buoy," with Captain Hubbard, will be heard regularly over this station.

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