Technical Articles
A Star Is Reborn
By James Keesling
Apr 16, 2003, 15:04

"There is nothing, absolutely nothing half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats." (Kenneth Graham)

Some people say that there is nothing better than finding an old Harley in a barn that has been sitting there untouched for 40 years, except maybe finding an old Star in a barn that had been untouched.

I started my search for a boat to put together on the Star Class web site. There was a message posted that someone had found boat #36 (or so they thought) and was it worth anything. After several e-mails, the boat was available, however, was in very rough condition, (no barn) I asked for pictures to see if magic could be performed and what would be required to put her back sailing again (read: time and money). Needless to say, the photo's were taken some distance from the boat, so how much work was needed was hard to tell. I asked why so far away, and the answer was all the poison ivy around the boat.

I couldn't determine what hull number the boat was, simply because no one had actually been in the boat to look. (polson ivy and all ... ) Finally, another e-mail arrived from a gentleman who would be in the area and knew something of Star boats. He would climb on in and see if any resemblance of a hull number could be found. To my surprise, number 25 was actually in readable shape. The rest of the description confirmed that much magic would be needed to put her back together:

"Got up there Saturday and caught up with Tom. I went up and looked at the boat. It had what looked like 25 in the hull, not 36. The 5 was just about rotted, but the 2 was clearly there. The boat looked salvageable but a project. The deck is plywood and maybe not original. The deck is completely shot. The boat is laying over to one side and where the water is collecting it is rotting. One plank is rotted and I suspect some of the framing also along that side is also rotted. The boom was wood and is completely rotted away. It would be nice to get the boat covered in case someone decided to salvage it."

So ended my search for an old Star. I called the Star Class office and asked for information regarding Hull #25, and warned them that a new member and a transfer of ownership was on its way. Mike at Triad trailers was the next phone call., "One Star trailer please, float off options and paint it blue, I hope to be there in a few weeks." So much for the easy part. I now own an old Star and a new trailer.

I had the directions to the Silver Bay Guideboat and Canoe Company on lake George and was on my way from Colorado. First stop, one freshly painted Star trailer in New Milford, CT. Second stop, Silver Bay, NY. Tom James owned the star and had purchased her 30 or 40 years ago, along with 2 old Chris Crafts, just to resell. Well, the star has been around for some time. There was a big forklift available to use to help load the boat on the trailer. I showed up at 3:00 pm hoping for some help, and ready to start transferring boats and trailers. To my dismay, the forklift driver had gone home for the day. I started trying to move the boat out of the woods onto the pavement. I hooked up the winch on the Hummer to the old Desoto cradle, and started to pull it out of the ground. It was sitting in 6" of dirt and the rubber had rotted the wheels. First, it pulled the Hummer about a foot across the road, then it broke free and the Star was dragged out of its hiding place. I hooked up the hitch to the back of the truck and dragged the whole mess up the hill to a flat spot where I could get the fork lift to it. "OK, now what?" I thought. I needed to find the keys to the forklift. After looking under seats, and in all the usual hiding spots, no keys. Back down the hill to Tom's place for some help. I think I had him convinced that it would be
OK for me to drive the fork lift without hurting me, other boats or the star. I packed extra line and lifting straps Just in case. I really didn't want the hull to just lift off the keel while trying to load her onto the new trailer. Luckily, inside the boat were lifting rings bolt ed to the keel, made out of solid brass. I tied the slings to the lifting rings and then to the forks. Up she went in one piece! I backed up slowly and let the Star hang while I switched trailers. The boat fit nicely on the new trailer. One hour later, after hosing her down and some cleanup, I wrapped her with shrink-wrap just to keep the boat together for the trip back to Colorado.

So much for the fun part, now the work starts.

Several hundred hours, many phone calls to John MacCausland, one set of plans, new spars, vang track, Harken, Harken, and more Harken, one North Sails tuning guide, 10 gallons West System, 6 large metal grinding disks, 250 fasteners, 180 sanding disks, I broken old mast section, 3 sheets teak and holly plywood, varnish, adjustable jack stands, one set used sails for training, measuring tape, scale, and 5000 ping-pong balls later, we have a Star!

My wife Joanie and I knew the name of the boat before it even made it back to Colorado, "Poison Ivy". We featured her in the Denver Boat Show in January, 2002. Next, we trial sailed her in a local lake just to make sure nothing cracked, broke, or worse, sank. From there we resanded the rudder and sprayed epoxy primer on the bottom to fair and fill. Now we were ready for the first regatta of the summer.

Six Stars showed up to the first event May 4-5 at Cherry Creek Lake. This would be a good test to see if Poison Ivy would even be able to compete. Prior to the first gun, we tore the forestay turning block out of the deck, Cool!. One line tied to the bow cleat and around the forestay, we were at least sailing. This of course set the rake totally wrong, so we didn't really know how speed and pointing were going to be compared to the other boats. After 3 races, we were in 3rd place. Sunday morning, I fixed the forestay fitting and re-tuned the rig. Off we went and managed to tie for second but lose the tiebreaker in the regatta. At least the boat worked and sailed well.

Back to the fun part, Sailing. Having never sailed a Star before, we were totally excited about "Poison Ivy" and learning how to make her go fast. She had her moments of speed and pointing, Now I get to spend the time on the water sailing and figuring it all out. This really is better than finding an old Harley in a barn!

© Copyright 2007 by