The Amador March 31, 1999
The Amador is a twin screw wooden river tug about 70′ LOA, 19′ of beam, and a 6′ draft. It was built in 1952 at Broderick, CA, just across the river from our fair Capitol of Sacramento. It was originally powered with a pair of Cleveland 8-268A diesel engines, which had been removed from a WWII minesweeper. Some other parts of the minesweeper were used in the construction as well, such as the beautiful wooden doors that grace her interior and the aluminum portholes in her galley.
When I purchased the boat, in Petaluma, CA, at Haystack Landing in 1983 it was in pretty tough shape. One of the doors to the galley was missing. Every time it rained there was a cascade of water that ran down the walls and though the decks. Not to mention the steady flow of water coming in from the bottom. The boat had not been out of the water in 12 years. This is a rather long period for a wooden boat to go without the aid of antifouling paint. I decided that I would bunk in the pilothouse, as this was the farthest point from the largest amount of water I had to worry about. Although it was closest to the heavenly downpours that were occurring with great regularity in that El Niño year of 1983.
The other problem with the pilothouse was that it had become something of a feral cat lair and was quite overrun with fleas. After fumigating the fleas from the boat, the next order of business was to tow the boat to Sausalito, CA, my hometown. Yes, it had to be towed as the engines were missing. The second owner of the boat was fanatical about reducing competition from other tugboat outfits and reasoned that “if we remove the engines and take our old boats outside the Golden Gate and sink them we will live like Kings”. Or something like that. The snafu about this arrangement is that once you remove the big heavy engines on a wooden boat like the Amador, sinking it is akin to going deep sea fishing and forgetting to bring the weights along. In other words, it’s not going to happen. So, I acquired the services of the Slackwater Towboat Company and their tugboat, the California Eagle, who, for the grand sum of $600 dollars agreed to tow my pride and joy to its new home at Schoonamaker Point in Sausalito. We managed to make the trip without submerging–and didn’t even run aground until we were within 50 yards of our new berth!
Now in Sausalito, I had to make arrangements to haul the boat out of the water and repair and paint the bottom. In the process, I met Thomsen, the man who ran the local Shipyard known as Sausalito Marine Ways. Thomsen told me that he, himself, had owned three boats of this very type and he would be quite willing to “block and haul” my precious boat. That he was wise in the ways of all aspects of boat repair and after careful consideration and a few hours of listening to the bilge pump run, I concluded that the boat should be hauled immediately, if not sooner. And, that Mr. Thomsen was the right man for the job. So, two weeks later my boat is being towed down to the local shipyard for a “shave and a haircut”. Out of the water she came, she was washed down with a high-pressure water wash which revealed her secrets, causing me to exclame, “Hey, what’s with all the holes!” Yes, the boat was full of holes–large holes, medium holes and small holes–lots of small holes. The termite’s seagoing cousin, the Toredo Worm, had eaten into my precious boat. “My god the thing is full of holes” would be the exclamation of all the people passing by her. My beautiful graceful tug was now becoming the object of people’s unkind comments on her holes! But, thankfully, the cunning shipbuilder, Thomsen knew exactly what to do. “Jeez, Scott, all we have to do is burn them out with a blowtorch and then fill the holes with Portland cement”. Well, that idea got me out of most of the hot water. However, we did have to replace a couple of planks on the port side water line. The rest of the haulout went smoothly. The antifouling paint was sprayed on and the boat was splashed back into the bay.
The Amador at Haystack Landing 1983, getting ready to tow it to Sausalito
Haulout 1983 replacing planks where the wind and the water meet.
Launching the Amador after the haulout
installing the new engines 1984
Building a new deckhouse
Lots of cutting
Work progressing on the deckhouse.
Dad helping out