Rebirth of a Clipper

First look in the daylight.

At the end of May of this year I was online looking for jobs and wondering what I was going to do with my summer now that I was all caught up in my nursing courses.  Just before preparing to head to bed I decided to log into Facebook.  Here in our little city we have a Buy and Sell Facebook page for folks in the area wishing to hawk their wares.  While scrolling through the list of items for sale I came across a lady looking to sell an old, battered, blue canoe for $20.

The Librarian was already in bed reading a book, though when I mentioned to him that there was a canoe for sale for such a low price he exclaimed, and I quote, “I’d go get it right now!”.  I was a little shocked, “right now?” “Yes, right now” he replied.  So back to the computer to reply that we would be out to pick it up as soon as possible.  The Librarian, who moments before was eager to pick up this steal of deal, sang a entirely different tune when he learned we would need to drive to Mud River (at 9:30pm), a meagre 30 min drive from our door.

Needs fixing…

It took longer than necessary to get out the door as the Librarian kicked and screamed about the late hour, and length of the needed drive.  It was dark when we arrived and we were only able to locate the canoe on the property by the porch light from the front of the house.  As we attempted to load the canoe onto the van it was difficult to see the true condition of the boat.

The next day a proper inspection proved that this $20 canoe was worth the money paid.  Large cracks, holes, and a completely broken thwart and yoke were tokens of the work I had ahead of me.  That’s right, ME.  From the moment I convinced the Librarian to drive to the “middle of nowhere” in the “middle of the night” he was not going to be involved anymore.

So I borrowed some sawhorses, thanks bro-in-law, and set to work sanding.  After 3 hours of sanding I had gone through 3-1/3 sheets of sandpaper, and killed my rotary sander.  The canoe was still very, very blue.  A little discouraged I put a call out for a sander and in no time had a replacement loaner, THANK YOU!  Long story short, I stopped counting sanding hours after 24, the canoe was significantly yellower, and I was ready to fix some holes.

Only a few hours in and that paint is not budging! Oh, and my sander is dead 😦

This didn’t happen right away.  I had never worked with fibreglass before and was nervous about the process.  Many forums suggested the ease of the process, and to “just follow the instructions on the container”…my container didn’t come with instructions did it?  YouTube and some trial and error and I got things figured out.  You can learn how to do anything on YouTube!

By the beginning of August I was ready for some paint…I think.  I wasn’t sure how much preparation needed to be done and if I had done enough.  So again I held off until I had read, reread and reread many forums, as well as watching several different YouTube videos over and over until I felt comfortable.  Once I felt mentally prepared to paint I went searching.  I talked to several people at Home Hardware and Home Depot about what paint to use (since neither places carry any Marine Enamel), they weren’t very helpful and even contradicted what I had read in all my research.  I was told purchasing Marine Enamel was going to be VERY expensive, and I could easily end up paying close to $100 for a quart.  This left me with the impression that I did not want to buy paint from anyone up here in the woods, does anyone around here even own a boat they have to maintain themselves… apparently not 😉

Clipper Explorer 17′ river tripper discontinued in early 1980s

We had a trip planned to Vancouver and so I made sure at some point we would detour to Western Canoe and Kayak, BC’s local Clipper retailer.  A few weeks earlier when I was finishing up the sanding, I had pulled an identifier plate off that canoe.  We wrote WC&K asking them for any info they could give us.  We received this response:



The Explorer was certainly a classic. Very stable and a nice river tripping canoe. Yes this model was discontinued in the mid 80’s. The canoe was originally produced by Goddu Manufacturing in Mission. We purchased the company, Clipper Canoes and all the molds in the late 70’s.

Clipper decals from Western Canoe & Kayak.

When we went into the store I had some pointed questions that the sales clerk couldn’t answer.  So she introduced me to the shop Wiz (a grumpy, older fellow-probably irritated about being torn away from his work).  He explained that I should be able to get the paint I needed from Canadian Tire, and sold me a set of Clipper decals for $12 (but only after I showed him the identifier plate and made an oath that the decals would only go on a Clipper).

So off to Canadian Tire I pranced. Prince George Canadian Tire had 1 quart of white Marine Enamel for $35.  Not the colour I wanted but I thought I had better grab it while it was there.  The moment I left the store, I felt like I hadn’t really shopped around enough (a run-in with my sis-in-law also confirmed that feeling), so I returned the quart and drove around to some speciality paint shops.  General Paints was my first stop but they only had “Safety Yellow” available.  This was closer to the colour I wanted but maybe too bright?  Cloverdale paints ended up being the place to go.  Not only did they have the colour I wanted, they had a whole booklet of colours for a special Nursing Student price of $22/quart.  PERFECT!

Way to go Cloverdale!

Some refreshers from YouTube and I was off painting.  Sanding, then painting, sanding, then painting, sanding, then painting, sanding, then painting, and finally wet sanding.  One would think my arms would be a whole lot bigger from all the sanding I have done in the last 4 months….

4 coats in total, and it looks WAY better than before.  Not perfect, but pretty darn great for my first time ever doing something like this.  I’m not sure how to really finish it, some more YouTube research is in my future.  The gunwales will be painted white, and the yoke still needs some attention at this point.  So I’ll post an update when that is complete.

I realize this isn’t a very technical post, for those who were looking for that sort of thing.  If you would like more detailed information I’ll do my best to respond.

Paddles hanging on the wall.

In between sanding coats of marine enamel on the canoe I decided I clearly didn’t have enough sanding to do and ended up sanding my paddles down to the wood.  They were well used while we were out of the country and required some serious TLC.  Two out of three of the paddles were worn to the wood (likely from dragging along the gunwale of the canoe) and were heavily water damaged, discolouring the wood.  Once sanded down I decided I wanted to put a little extra flair and effort into their repair.  I had thought about pyrographing a design onto the paddles, but not feeling confident in my wood burning skills decided to paint a design onto the paddles with Acrylic paint instead.  The results turned out far better than I imagined.  I finished off the paddles with several coats of an oil-based polyurethane (sanding in between coats of course) and voila, brand new paddles.




One response to “Rebirth of a Clipper”

  1. […] time” on my hands. My last post was in September 2015 apparently. It is titled, “Rebirth of a Clipper“, you should check it out. We were only back in Canada a year and that was a HUGE project. I […]

    Liked by 1 person

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