Dagger Board Blues

August 1999: After 17 years of faithful service, several unscheduled groundings, and one nasty gale encountered during the 1999 Marblehead-Halifax Ocean Race, Triad’s overstressed daggerboard finally gave up the ghost. The board had always been a tight fit in the trunk and jammed in a hyper-extended position during that gale. It sheared off flush to the hull on Friday, July 16th, the first day of our return trip while beating into lumpy seas and a 20 knot southwesterly breeze. “There goes the rest of the season,” I thought morosely as we motor-sailed into Brooklin harbor near Liverpool, Nova Scotia to lay up dockside and assess the damage. I called home to advise Judy of the delay; I also phoned Ted Warren who was summering in Gloucester, messing about with boats. “Don’t worry, we’ll have a new board built within a week,” he assured me. We limped home under eased main in light weather for the next two days.

Ted greeted me at the dock on Monday afternoon with notebook and tape measure in hand. We carefully measured the trunk slot, then tossed the broken daggerboard stub and intact crushbox stick into the back of his pickup truck. Back at the ranch, Ted sketched a new board and we plotted our strategy; he would retreat to his workshop in Boxboro to work up the design on his computer while I rounded up the necessary materials.

I arrived late Tuesday with a load of western red cedar 2" x 8" 12-footers and four gallons of epoxy. Ted had drawn up a nifty nacra-section foil heavily reinforced with inlaid carbon side panels along the length of the board. The strip planked cedar core would have the same weight as high density foam (22 lb./ cubic foot) but with added strength; it would be clad with four layers of 6 ounce fiberglass cloth, with a 1/4" thick G10 (fiberglass laminate) trailing edge for toughness. The finished chord would measure a bit less in width and length than the original to preclude jamming in the future. We immediately set to ripping the stock into 2" widths. The project was underway without delay.
There followed three days of nonstop gluing, cutting, grinding, routing, laminating, fairing (thanks Jed), sanding and sweating. Weekend off for good behavior and a sail on Zachary D. Five more days of sanding, bogging, marking, routing, glassing (thanks for the extra hands Barbara and Judy), and the almost-finished 11-foot board was strapped down to the roof rack of our little Honda Civic wagon for delivery to Gloucester. A weekend of final prep, paint, and installation of hardware and voila: a fait accompli!

We loaded the finished foil into Triad’s daggerboard trunk two weeks to the day after her return from Halifax. Total labor: 137 man hours. Total cost: about $1,000. Next stop, the Buzzard’s Bay Regatta. Thanks Ted, for saving the summer sailing season!