Hard to get to. It’s worth the trouble

I bought Marzipan instead. She was a diamond in the rough and I knew I'd be spending a couple of years fixing and shining her up. Sadly, I had few skills. If there had been such a prize as "Canada's Worst Handyman" when I was a boy, it would have gone to my father. Not only were his do-it-yourself projects painfully sloppy but I learned more curse words while he was making them.

As soon as Marzipan was on the hard, I signed up for a woodworking class in night school and set about learning about carpentry. I started small with re-building the tiller, making a wood floor for the cockpit, replacing the companionway boards and repairing the cabin steps.

The winter of 2011 was very mild in Toronto, so I had several opportunities to return to the boat for new projects. It became obvious that I was burning through the small projects quickly. I needed something to slow me down. One day I brought the old sole back home with me to use as a template.

I first had to choose the material for the project. Teak, even engineered teak was very expensive and I contemplated using a lesser material, staining it like teak and then routing in fake holly pieces. Choosing the path of least resistance was buying a piece of engineered teak and holly on a 4X8 foot marine plywood base from a specialty shop. They were kind enough to cut it in half lengthwise so I could drive it home in my wife's car with the end sticking out.

The teak in Marzipan has a mahogany stain, so the trendy light bleached teak look really didn't work. To stain the wood I needed to mask the holly strips. Luckily, a rough trim of the 2X8 piece before routing give me pieces to practice on. Masking tape was not sticky enough to keep the stain from running underneath and staining the holly. I found that using crafters tape and a dry-ish foam brush and only using strokes parallel to the tape made for a decent job with little or no bleeding into the light coloured wood.

It turns out that that was only the first of many challenges. My sole needs an inspection door near the bilge pump, so I have to cut a small hole. I opt to use a borrowed multi-tool to cut the pilot hole for the jig saw. Never cut a pilot hole without practising first.

Building your Teak and Holly Cabin Sole

When I bought Marzipan, my 26 foot Grampian sailboat, the one thing I really hated was the cabin sole. It was a piece of unfinished spruce plywood, cut to shape and painted dark green. It looked cheap and really brought down the look of the interior. One of the boats I'd looked at before had a redone sole made from teak and holly. I fell in love immediately, but sadly the affair was not to be. She was a rich man's toy and I a mere pauper.