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The Big Flip

April 20, 2008

With the hull faired and fibreglassed, it was time to turn the it over. Weighing in at 10,000 pounds, it was a tricky operation. The shop features 100 year old trusses, constructed of riveted angle iron and fairly typical of columnless construction of that era. Philadelphia design codes from the early 20th century dictated a 30 pound per square foot snow load. So with 2000 square feet of roof over head, without any snow on it, I had 2000 x 30 = 60,000 pounds of extra capacity up there, 40,000 pounds of which was supported by the trusses and was available for lifting duty. John Brady at the Independence Seaport Museum was good enough to lend me 2 chain hoists to compliment our own. We bought a spool of 3 strand polyester line rated at 3600 pounds of tension and some ABI blocks (good to 3000 pounds) to back up the chain hoists and better distribute the load. All of this will one day find a home in the rigging. With Alice Hershey, Emiliano Rodriguez and Mike Greenberg in attendance, we lifted the starboard side up, until the boat was tipped up on its side. Large planks with steel pipes underneath were placed under the port gunnel so that it could roll freely as we lifted, allowing the port side to slide under the starboard side as we raised the starboard side. Once the boat was at 90 degrees, we began lowering again, setting the keel down on the ground. We then reattached the hoists, and lifted from boat port and starboard gunnels until the boat was upright. The whole operation only took 3 1/2 hours. May she never capsize again.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. Josh Cutler permalink
    March 5, 2013 4:15 am

    I just saw your story about this fantastic adventure on the BBC and immediately fell in love! If I had the time I would love to come over and volunteer!!
    I’d just like you to know that you have already been so inspirational and have re-egnited my desire to fulfill my own dream of building and sailing my own boat across the Atlantic (at the very least!). You are excellent. I admire you all so much! Keep up the great work.

  2. March 12, 2013 5:17 am

    Hi Jonah. I saw your boat on the BBC site and immediately recognised her as a John Alden. We have a Rena ketch 0744, which we bought last year from the guy who built her (it took him 10 years, so I guess you still have a way to go) We’ve been restoring her – and we too have a way to go!
    We should keep in touch and I guess if you’re going to take her across the Atlantic you could end up here (Greece) which would be fun. I know ours has done the Atlantic more than once – although we prefer the calm seas of the Med. I’m sure we could learn a lot from you (although I doubt that the reverse is true)

    • March 12, 2013 1:10 pm

      “A way to go” is how these projects work! Good to hear from you – agreed – lets keep in touch. I’ll keep posting updates to this site.

      Wishing I was in the med!


  3. Rick Benko permalink
    July 31, 2013 4:10 pm

    This is a wonderful project and your documentation of it is very much appreciated to us sailors who’ve dreampt of undertaking something like this. I sail a William Garden desigh, Hudson Force 50. It’s another classic design and cutter rigged ketch which was originally designed to be built in wood, but ours is fiberglass which was made to look like wood.

    One item which intrigues me in building a boat from scratch is how you know that it will actually float and balance on its designed water line. Hopefully, Alden provided some specs on the construction of the hull so the weight works out correctly. That has to be an anxious moment at launch time to see it turn out correctly.

    We live in the northern Philadelphia suburbs and sail the Chesapeake Bay. We’re planning to retire next year and cruise the tropics. Your plans to cross the Atlantic and then head for the Mediterranean has long been a dream of mine as well. My wife, “the Admiral,” says that she’ll be glad to fly over and meet me on the other side. If you’re looking for crew in the crossing, send me a line!
    Capt. Rick Benko
    S/V “Kukaro”

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