“Wooden boats are so much work.” We hear that statement regularly here at WoodenBoat magazine. It’s often uttered by people who might otherwise consider owning a boat made of wood, but who are turned away by the perception that a wooden hull is a tough taskmaster. An owner of a boat made of wood, the logic goes, will spend more time working on it than actually using it. My answer is the “80/20” Rule. This labor-saving approach is about getting 80 percent of the results for 20 percent of the work. I hope this installment of Getting Started helps you achieve that and, along the way, helps you understand that wooden boats aren’t as hard to maintain as commonly believed. Beginners often ask us whether a wooden boat must be stripped, recaulked, and refinished every year. The answer is no. There are, indeed, jobs that must be performed annually on a wooden boat, but usually these involve little more than a good cleaning and a scuffing with sandpaper, followed by the application of a coat of paint. For a boat of average standard of finish, these tasks don’t require much more effort than would the maintenance of a fiberglass hull. Look at it this way: If you were the responsible, caring owner of a fiberglass hull, you’d regularly employ a routine of soap, rubbing compound, and wax to keep your hull looking shiny. There’s human energy involved in this job. You’ll burn no more calories on a similar-sized wooden boat in painting it every year. It’s true that many derelict wooden yachts require Herculean effort (and equal bank accounts) to bring them back to life. It’s also true that boats maintained to super-high standards of finish can be surprisingly expensive to keep. But there is a journeyman’s standard between these two extremes—a relatively low-effort one that won’t break the bank or the schedule. Your boat probably won’t win the Lake Tahoe Concours d’Élégance (an annual show for world-class mahogany speedboats) if so maintained, but you can still take great pride in it. This installment of Getting Started will discuss how to maintain a wooden boat, in serviceable condition, with minimal effort. We won’t cover engines, sails, or systems here. Rather, our focus will be on the things that make a wooden boat different from a fiberglass one: the finishes on the topsides, bottom, and trim. For the sake of illustration, we’ll be considering boats that you can trailer home and maintain in your driveway—boats like t

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