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Dean's is the first 'RESTORE AN OLD SAILBOAT' Entry

May 22, 2017 by Monica Grant
Dean's is the first 'RESTORE AN OLD SAILBOAT' Entry

Dean Hinton has entered his 1970 Ericson 32’, ‘Vivant’ in the 2017 ‘Restore An Old Sailboat’ contest. The family has been working on the boat for the past 4 years 'making repairs and improvements,' but still manage to enjoy the boat at the same time.

'We usually like to sail for a few hours, swim for a few hours, and either head home, or cook dinner on the boat and spend the night.'

After buying the Ericson through Craigslist for $1,500, the first jobs were to replace the rotted section of bulkhead, replace the leaking fuel tank, replace the batteries, get the engine running, and install a solar panel for battery charging on while on the mooring.

Seems simple enough doesn't it?  But Dean learned a lesson when working on the solar panel -

'I planned on drilling holes to install my solar panel and left my drill battery at home. Turns out the 12v battery on the boat will spin the drill just fine at about half speed.  Lessons learned:  Make sure one of the jumper wires has a fuse in it.  Zap!'


Regardless, this handyman-sailor must have been pretty happy with his work so far, and in March 2014 convinced three friends to help him sail ‘Vivant’ from the South River to the Sassafras River, MD, '...with 39 degree temperatures, 35 knot winds, rain, sleet and snow.' Oops!

'We only made it as far as Annapolis after numerous misadventures, where they made the suggestion to run the boat onto the shore, light it on fire, get warm, and then walk away from it forever. We managed to snag a slip at a marina without burning the boat to the waterline, go back to one of their houses, and warm up with some adult beverages. The next day, only one of them came back to continue the trip in calm winds and glassy seas. The logbook page from this trip is very educational.'

Since that exhilarating sounding adventure, Dean has done more work on the Ericson. 

'We installed a head and holding tank, made a bimini for the helmsman, replaced the frayed sail cover, fixed the sinks, replaced the engine and engine mounts, replaced the prop, prop shaft, coupling, shaft log, and cutlass bearing. We've replaced most of the cabin lights with LED's, installed a dual battery charger, and an ELCI protected AC shore power system.' 

Before and after photos of the exhaust piping between the manifold and the muffler -

And if that doesn't sound like enougn work, Dean didn’t stop there. He’s also fitted a new (used) Mylar headsail, and has repaired, '...too many soft spots on the deck to remember how many.

It seems Dean enjoys innovation when it comes to restoring sailboats. His boarding ladder is custom designed and handmade the sits on the transom.  It folds up when not in user and can be deployed from in the water and is '…my favorite, a custom folding, wood boarding ladder with stainless steel garlick ladder that extends well underwater.

Restoring sailboats seems to be a long held passion for Dean who seems to have grown up “messing around in boats.”

'As a kid, we grew up sailing on other people's boats, modifying canoes into sailing canoes, and in the winter, putting sails on our snow sleds to scoot across open fields. More recently, my brother and I bought a 23' Kells sailboat on eBay for $100, threw an old, borrowed Johnson outboard on it, and sailed it across the bay two hours after seeing it for the first time (in November). That one had a 2x10 for a rudder and a branch from a dogwood tree for a tiller.  My next boat was a $75 23' Kells that I pulled out of the weeds behind a barn. After fixing those two up and selling them, I bought a 26' Islander sight unseen for $600 and sailed it 40 miles up the bay on the first day we saw that one as well.'

After enjoying the Islander for a few seasons, Dean sold her to buy the Ericson, and had enough money left over to cover some of the immediate repairs. Money may not always buy happiness when it comes to boats, as is demonstrated by Dean's pride and pleasure in being able to find new uses for old items. The spinnaker aboard Dean's 1970 Boston Whaler Squall (which he has also restored), is made out of the original Ericson mainsail and some clear vinyl. His ’house flag’ on Vivant is also home made, and he flies them both proudly.

Dean and his wife and three children will be sailing the Chester River, MD, for this year’s Summer Sailstice - 

Going to head out to Eastern Neck Island just north of Kent Narrows and hang out on the sailboat for the day. Hopefully we'll have a gorgeous sailing day, but if not, we're prepared to float about on inflatable toys or play cards in the cabin out of the rain.’

Maybe you’ll see them out there!

If you’ve been restoring a sailboat, send us your entry, for the Restore An Old Sailboat contest. We’d love to see what you’re up to!

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