Nacra 5.2 Redo

(a labor of love) - posted August 2008


I should preference this page with: I owned a Hobie 16, which I bought new in 1983. Being my first sailboat, after crewing for a friend for two years, I sailed and raced it for four years before moving out to the West coast which led me to sell it, although regrettably so. And while the Hobie was a blast to sail, both with and without a crew, I think I always longed for the sleek, sexy symmetrical hulls of a Nacra 5.2 which I discovered sometime after my purchase. My brief research showed that Nacra manufactured the 5.2 from 1979 to the mid/late 1980s when it was replaced by the Nacra 5.5. It's no wonder that this early design was copied and varied over again and became the basis of the design for umpteen formula catamarans F16s, F17s and F18s.

So, after many years away from sailing (since 1987) in 2006 I began, in earnest, to look for a used 5.2 online. I found a few boats, most of which were too far away to examine prior to purchase. While looking, I also looked at used Hobies, since my budget did not allow for a $8,000+ purchase of a new one. And yes, there is an active Hobie fleet here on Oneida Lake which I could easily join and race with. and while I did find a few Hobies my heart was really set to own the 5.2 which I had longed for, for over 20 years. That year I did not find the boat of my dreams so I waited until next year. The following spring (2007) I began my search and research much sooner, and was actively looking at several 5.2s. I even bid on one on eBay that was in Michigan, but was outbid in the last few seconds, buy one $25 bid increment. Other boats, I looked at and communicated with owners,  were a SuperCat 17, the Mystere 5.0 and even a 4.3 because of it's diminutive size and weight, as well as the symmetrical hulls and skeg keels made which made it even more attractive. Finally, in mid June I placed a free Wanted ad in . On July 4th I received an email about my ad. The sender said he had a 1983 N5.2 for sale with trailer and was asking  $600. It was almost too good to be true. I replied asking for some pictures and he wrote back with a few, very small, low resolution (directly below) Two days later, on Friday, I drove to see the boat with the cash in my back pocket. The boat did show some age, but the it was an 83 with some 24 seasons on it. Still for the money, the boat and trailer were a steal. Since I lacked a hitch on my car, I offered him another $20 if he'd be willing to drive it to my home in Cicero, NY. He used a license plate borrowed from an old flatbed trailer and delivered it at my house that evening.



Each of the thumbnails below may be launched into a new window with higher (XGA) resolution.

(remember, in IE 7.0 you may restore a picture to it's original size by left clicking on the picture in the browser)

The next morning, before I found help to step using the non-captive mast base. This was modified a few weeks later to a captive mast base kit. Very visible patch-job on a hole
in the starboard hull. This got
immediate attention and was sanded,
re-filled with gel coat and faired.
Repaired damage to the port
stern, was also sanded and faired
 to be much less noticeable.
Although there was still much work
to do on it, this didn't stop me from
taking her out for a sail almost every opportunity I got.
Sailing this boat is a total blast, even with a dozen to two major problems to fix. Like: lines were oversized
and did not work smoothly in the blocks
and cleats on the boat.
The rudders were badly out of
parallel. (crossbar adjuster added thanks to
Airborne) Above one of my favorite shots
taken at sunset after a day of sailin
At a rest stop on Rt. 81 north, on the
way up to camp on Lake Boneparte. Sadly, while sailing there that w/e I flipped and bounced off the boom, but oddly didn't feel anything.
 At Lake Boneparte, taken with the orig. main, just before  the sail which cost me my boom. My misfortune coincided almost perfectly with Bill's  (Airbone on Luckily we
had exchanged a number of emails previously  and he told  me of his boat's demise, right after I lost my boom.
 No pics right after the sail, but  here is what it looked like on my living room floor. (Thanks again Bill, for the boom, tiller crossbar, adjuster, the tramp and all the other spare parts you sent me last month. I bought a second Pivmatic Assembly for my other tiller arm and now have auto-pop-up rudders. Whew, what a relief.
Parked at the top of the 17' x 12' wide
ramp leading to the top of a 4' high seawall with rises from the water and serves a perfect spot to pull the drain plugs for hull draining.
Summer ended, fall came and sailing
continued, with wetsuit and booties.
And thanks to Bill's parts, it
continued without major costs.
As the fall wore on, the hulls picked
 up more  lake grunge, but that would
be remedied next year.
My 2007 season ended on November 14th with a quick one-hour sail in great winds. Here is an annotated Google map that outlines that last sail, but if I had found a willing crew on Nov. 22nd I might have reset that record. This was actually taken after our first snowfall before Nov. 14th. Check out the two hot-blooded swans beside the birdhouse pole.
  recapped here Spring 08  

April 2008
This was prior to replacing fixed clam cleats
with two
Pivmatic Assemblies. Rather than come about and stall I attempted to pull up both daggers, and reach back to uncleat the rudders. At the speed I was approaching, I ran out of time before I hit the ramp. Just as I turned to check for the ramp my port hull slipped off to the left and hit the seawall dead-on.
That spring I was anxious to hit the water, and with spring winds, sailing was anything but disappointing. On my 3rd sail, while approaching my ramp, I realized that my daggers were down 
and so were my rudders.
This brought my spring sailing season to an abrupt halt. Now I most certainly had the time and motivation to take on the job I was no not looking forward to. Re-Gel Coating my boat. Here is where my post really begins... After cutting away the loose flap, this is what my bow looked like. I researched repairs and found some useful articles, both on and as well as a dozen or so other sites on spraying gel coat. (a brand new venture)
My first impulse was to remove
the top deck so I could get to the
bow from within.
I used the instructions posted by Vernon Greene on Catsailor. I did
actually get hold of once by mail & once my phone, but never reconnected to  confirm
some unanswered questions I had.
One hour later and it was off.
Unfortunately, the reach to
the bow was too far to patch
from within.
The good  part was that I found
three splits in the longitudinal
These got copious amounts of
resin and glass, but from what I could see the stringers and bulkheads were all solid.
After injecting some resin and
clamping the bow back in place
I was ready to repair the hull.
Glass strips attached to the
inside. Here I must apologize
for not breaking to take more
pics, the time taken to clean up and
grab the camera was too valuable. Here is
the same side of the port hull ready
but first there were four spots where
a previous owner got a little too forceful
with the ratchets on the hold-down-straps.
On both hulls, there, ahead of the front crossbar and at the sterns there were stress cracks which had to be sanded down to the glass. New gel coat allowed me to blend it without the top deck in place.  A couple more patches were
installed after beveling the
And another from a mishap done while approaching the shore. Now solid as new.  A layer or gel coat to level it off. Once
the whole boat was faired & sanded with
80 grit, the hulls were ready to spray.
I wanted to be spray from top to bottom without moving the hulls, and here is
where some cleaver brainstorming
came in. I got 8 large screw eyes to fit
the strap bolt holes and suspended the hulls from 4x4s  between the beams.
Before attempting to spray the hulls I decided to shoot the boards and rudders first. (also hung, so both sides were sprayable)
Even with Prestec mixed 50/50 with the gel coat, I still managed to get a fair amount of orange peel. While sanding I found why the boat came with three rudders. The cracked rudder was replaced with a non-shaped one. The sides were flat with no foil shaping. And this is when I decided to repair the damaged one. The rudder was badly split at the trailing edge & internally. So I injected resin between the split layers of glass & clamped, then filled with glass and resin.
Repaired and ready to shoot. Now I was ready to shoot the hulls. I started on the keels to build up extra layers to cover the new glass and resin that I added. Again, time was critical, and I had all I could to to get the gel coat on 20oz. at a time, without stopping to cleanup and pick up the camera, but here they are finished,
now I faced two days of sanding. 1st
with 240 dry on the air file and block, then 500 wet, 1000 wet then 1200
wet before buffing with Finesse It. Great stuff, and I only went though one 16oz. bottle
for the hulls, rudders and daggers.
Shot above shows one sanded and buffed hull on the grass, the one on the horses, was next.
After buffing and polishing both hulls, daggers and rudders, it was time to
With Bills tramp, minus the center bar tunnel, I needed remove the front casting, where it clearly blocked the pocket. The rear remains with main traveler cleat & as a long-reach foothold. Legs are still too short to reach it
or the bar with my butt on the hull.
I also drilled out the fairleads for the jib
block cables & moved them under
the tramp, where they belong. The new
tramp has slits for the blocks to attach to the cables. BTW never drop a rudder tip down onto a concrete floor.
Once back together, it was time to rig her and take her for a well deserved sail. The boat sails great, it is nice to have the kick up rudder feature, which I missed from my H16 although the Hobie system is much nicer. Another sail today 8-5-08. Two hours in 8 - 12 knots. The 12 allowed me to get out on the wire, "the only way to fly."
Days later the wind was blowing more like 20+ on in the channel, here in the bay it looks more like 12 or 13.. Wireless weather station attached to the light pole. Wind vane and anemometer are at the top. A digital display is inside.  Here's that port stern again, the one in the third thumbnail, came out pretty nice.
And another, note the highlight, something totally void from the boat I  bought last  year. New up haul arrangement for the rudders, I actually copied this from someone's shot posted online, THANKS. I also found a good use for those cheap plastic corks they're using on wine bottles. (rudder kick-up bumper) A shot of the new tramp with jib block cables under it, only surfacing for a few inches to connect the blocks.
And another look at those sleek sexy hulls. Not too shabby for a 25 year old boat? If you have any questions, you may reach me here. Went out again Wednesday the 6th. The winds were blowing 20 to 25 from the NW, (prevailing winds) by the weather station on the shoreline, but on in the channel the waves were a good 2' or better. More than enough wind to double trap. I also found a great spot to beach Tuesday, in a bay where boats often anchor to swim & relax, not more than 15 min. from my home. Looks like I may have to join them on occasion. I am really loving this boat, especially now that she looks so great.


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