Wanderer dinghy centreboard repair

My Wanderer is about 40 years old. The centreboard isn’t the easiest thing to inspect or get out, plus it is deep so hits things. Overall the condition was fine but the tip had seen better days. The wood was starting to go soft where it had been immersed in water without any varnish. I probably could have just varnished it but being me I wanted to fix it up.

My experience with the rudder meant that I didn’t want to try fibreglass tape and epoxy. Instead I thought I’d try some iroko on the leading edge and tip.

Experiments showed that:

  • Iroko doesn’t like bending very much;
  • Steaming iroko doesn’t make much difference – it still doesn’t want to bend.

Actually I discovered that steaming iroko can work somewhat – but you must leave a thin section (2mm) in the steam for a very long time (1.5hrs) for steaming to have any effect.

I decided to replace the tip to get rid of the soft wood, and add a thin iroko leading edge to absorb any impacts. The tip must be very strong – it will probably have me jumping up and down on it at some point – so as much as possible of the original wood forms a large tennon into the tip. The iroko is a skin over the original wood.

Overall I’m pleased with the result. Lessons learned:

  • The direction of grain of the iroko should match the direction of grain of the centreboard. It would look better and would be slightly less lightly to cause splits if the board absorbs moisture.
  • I should have made the joint between the tip and board more accurately. You can see too much epoxy filler.
  • The tennon is slightly too large and appears on the outside of the tip on one side. Despite not looking perfect I’m actually happy about this compromise – I prefer the tennon to be too big (and strong) rather than too small and break off.

We’ll see how it works in practice.

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