New O’Day 20 owner with no sailing experience and a project boat I didn’t need

Jan 18, 2021
10
O’Day 20 Brick, NJ
Hello everyone. I recently picked up a free 20 off a guy on Craigslist. I dont know what made me want to save the boat but I’m glad I did. Now I have this thing sitting in my backyard and I am a little overwhelmed on where I should start (besides a deep cleaning). The boat needs work. It probably had around 40 buckets of water in the bilge/floors. It didn’t come with sails or sheets but everything for the mast seems to be there. No electronics, outboard, PFD’s etc. I figured I should check the deck for soft spots but the hull is solid. Wiring is questionable and I am not sure how I am going to access where the battery is supposed to be. I’m a large guy and that’s a small space. But overall it’s not garbage, just a little neglected. The cheapest boat always becomes the most expensive though. When I picked it up, the trailer wasn’t fit for an hour and a half drive so I pulled it up on my car trailer. The trailer will need some repairs as well. Key thing with this find, the owner had a title and paperwork for the boat and trailer.

I’m not clueless to boats. My father had power boats since I was 8. I’m 48 now. First was a 1980 27’ Bayliner cruiser and then a 36’ Mainship aft cabin. I personally had a 20’ Four Winns Sundowner cuddy and a 17’ Whaler. I never learned to sail though.

When I went searching for info this site kept coming up so I joined in hopes to gain knowledge and wisdom from some seasoned sailors. Thank you for having me.
 

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Likes: Jason Whyte
Jan 5, 2017
2,170
Beneteau First 38 Lyall Harbour Saturna Island
Welcome to the world of sailing. You’ve had boats before so you know that there is lots of work to go with all the fun. Find a friend who sails, take some lessons, and enjoy.
 
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Likes: JT Burkard
Jan 18, 2021
10
O’Day 20 Brick, NJ
Welcome to the world of sailing. You’ve had boats before so you know that there is lots of work to go with all the fun. Find a friend who sails, take some lessons, and enjoy.
Thank you. I have a high school friend who grew up sailing who already offered.
 
Nov 6, 2006
9,225
Hunter 34 Mandeville Louisiana
Welcome, JT.. Lots of good info here on the site. The boat looks like a keeper under the "patina".. You will enjoy the game !
 
May 24, 2004
6,792
CC 30 South Florida
Before doing anything conduct a thorough inspection of the boat swing keel, keel raising and lowering mechanism, rudder and tiller, standing rigging wires and fixtures, hull integrity, condition of gelcoat, operation of motor mount, integrity of mast and boom. etc. I would borrow an outboard engine and put the boat in the water to check for leaks, the keel and the rudder. Make a restoration budget, find out what work may be need and the parts required. Price any work you may not do yourself and price the parts required, used and new for comparison. Put down on paper a restoration schedule by order of tasks, obtaining parts and the time anticipated for the work. The big ticket items for sure are the sails and an outboard engine around 4HP. Once you know what you need , how long is going to take (anticipated time X 3) and the cost then you decide whether the project is worth it. It is not free to get rid of a free boat but you have already taken a gamble on that. I got to say the boat looks good and with a lot of patience looking for used parts and hard work you may have a nice sailer. It is not hard to find similar boats in ready to sail conditions in the $3,000 range but if not careful you may spend much more restoring the boat. This leads us to use and purpose; the amount of investment on your part should reflect how you intend to use the boat and what reliability and safety you desire.
 
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Likes: Justin_NSA
Jul 30, 2019
208
Seaward 25 777 Fort St. James
A lot of these free 20's around apparently!

As to your question on battery access, check out this thread for my solution:

 
Jan 18, 2021
10
O’Day 20 Brick, NJ
Welcome, JT.. Lots of good info here on the site. The boat looks like a keeper under the "patina".. You will enjoy the game !
Thank you. Cleaning it up isn't an issue for me. I have detailing experience with a fully stocked detailing shelf in the garage. As soon as the weather starts to break, it will get done.

Before doing anything conduct a thorough inspection of the boat swing keel, keel raising and lowering mechanism, rudder and tiller, standing rigging wires and fixtures, hull integrity, condition of gelcoat, operation of motor mount, integrity of mast and boom. etc. I would borrow an outboard engine and put the boat in the water to check for leaks, the keel and the rudder. Make a restoration budget, find out what work may be need and the parts required. Price any work you may not do yourself and price the parts required, used and new for comparison. Put down on paper a restoration schedule by order of tasks, obtaining parts and the time anticipated for the work. The big ticket items for sure are the sails and an outboard engine around 4HP. Once you know what you need , how long is going to take (anticipated time X 3) and the cost then you decide whether the project is worth it. It is not free to get rid of a free boat but you have already taken a gamble on that. I got to say the boat looks good and with a lot of patience looking for used parts and hard work you may have a nice sailer. It is not hard to find similar boats in ready to sail conditions in the $3,000 range but if not careful you may spend much more restoring the boat. This leads us to use and purpose; the amount of investment on your part should reflect how you intend to use the boat and what reliability and safety you desire.
Thank you. I don't even know how the keel raises or lowers yet. LOL. The rudder and tiller are in good shape. They were kept inside while the mast keeper was in place. Once the weather breaks I am going to raise the mast to check everything associated with that. From what I see, most of it is in good shape. The motor mount raises and lowers easily. I already have a 4.5 hp Mercury outboard in the garage with a 10 gallon tank. I'll have to service it because its been at least 10 years since it last ran. It was mounted on a Zodiac I had. I restore cars so when you talk about restoration budget, just throw that out the window. What ever you think its going to cost to fix something up it can go from 1.5x - 2x the price when you are done. With that said, if I can spend around $2,500 on this and have a confident sailer, I would be pleased. My attraction to things like this (I've picked up many a cheap classic car) is to save them. And even if I don't finish the project, getting into the right hands of someone that can is satisfaction enough. We've become a throw away society and a boat like this needs to live on.

A lot of these free 20's around apparently!

As to your question on battery access, check out this thread for my solution:

I had read that the other day and it sounds like a great solution. The cost is cheap and it seems simple enough to install.
 
Sep 22, 2018
1,869
Hunter 216 Kingston
I’m not sure what the grey coloured component is - arc shape in the photo but if it’s a furler “foil” you should take it off the mast and lay it out flat so it doesn’t take on a permanent bend.

9F4A0C7B-E67D-444E-8EF4-3F7B322D1BE9.jpeg
 
Jun 2, 2004
1,839
Oday Day Sailer Wareham, MA
The "KEEL" does not go up and down on this boat it is fixed in place (or should be as it is molded as part of the hull and contains all the ballast, 400#). The CENTERBOARD is hosed inside the keel and raises and lowers using a line that should exit the top of the CB trunk thru a tube linked to a thru-hull fitting (plastic) on the "threshold" of the cabin entrance. CB is lightly ballasted, so no winch is needed to raise/lower it (unlike on a heavy, swing-keel that requires a strong winch to operate.) If you need to remove hte CB for inspection, it is pivoted on a nylon/plastic pin that is held into the bottom of the CB slot/trunk by 2 fiberglass wedges that are in turn held in place by a pair of stainless-steel plates screwed to the bottom of the keel, one on each side of the slot. CB weighs about 40-50# and is made of a hollow fiberglass shell with a small amount of lead inside to make it lower easier. CB has no real effect on the stability of the boat, boat will be "Self-Righting" even with the CB raised all the way. Check that line that controls CB position, to be sure it has not frayed or chafed and replace if damaged. Any O'DAY specific parts that you may need can be purchased from D&R Marine in Assonet, MA (www.drmarine.com) Rudy Nickerson who runs D&R, used to be the Parts Dept. Manager at O'DAY and now makes and sells replacement parts for our boats. A phone call to him (508) 644-3001 will be a great source for advice and fix it questions.

Oh, and I forgot to mention, NICE BOAT!! A friend of mine used to have a sistership, also a 1977 model as yours is.
 
Jan 18, 2021
10
O’Day 20 Brick, NJ
I’m not sure what the grey coloured component is - arc shape in the photo but if it’s a furler “foil” you should take it off the mast and lay it out flat so it doesn’t take on a permanent bend.
I don’t know what a furled foil is but I’ll take your advice and straighten it out. It looks like it’s slotted for a sail?

The "KEEL" does not go up and down on this boat it is fixed in place (or should be as it is molded as part of the hull and contains all the ballast, 400#). The CENTERBOARD is hosed inside the keel and raises and lowers using a line that should exit the top of the CB trunk thru a tube linked to a thru-hull fitting (plastic) on the "threshold" of the cabin entrance. CB is lightly ballasted, so no winch is needed to raise/lower it (unlike on a heavy, swing-keel that requires a strong winch to operate.) If you need to remove hte CB for inspection, it is pivoted on a nylon/plastic pin that is held into the bottom of the CB slot/trunk by 2 fiberglass wedges that are in turn held in place by a pair of stainless-steel plates screwed to the bottom of the keel, one on each side of the slot. CB weighs about 40-50# and is made of a hollow fiberglass shell with a small amount of lead inside to make it lower easier. CB has no real effect on the stability of the boat, boat will be "Self-Righting" even with the CB raised all the way. Check that line that controls CB position, to be sure it has not frayed or chafed and replace if damaged. Any O'DAY specific parts that you may need can be purchased from D&R Marine in Assonet, MA (www.drmarine.com) Rudy Nickerson who runs D&R, used to be the Parts Dept. Manager at O'DAY and now makes and sells replacement parts for our boats. A phone call to him (508) 644-3001 will be a great source for advice and fix it questions.

Oh, and I forgot to mention, NICE BOAT!! A friend of mine used to have a sistership, also a 1977 model as yours is.
Thanks for the CB explanation and parts recommendation. I’m going to write down Rudy’s / D&R’s number inside the folder I made for this so I have it in a safe place.
 
Jul 30, 2019
208
Seaward 25 777 Fort St. James
Furler foil: Google furling jib. You'll find plenty to inform you. That's a very desirable $2000 upgrade. I don't have one!
 
Sep 22, 2018
1,869
Hunter 216 Kingston
I don’t know what a furled foil is but I’ll take your advice and straighten it out. It looks like it’s slotted for a sail?
The idea is the “furler” device lets you roll the sail (jib or headsail) mounted at the bow of the boat either in or out making it larger or smaller depending on how windy it is. There are other benefits as well. The “slot”is where the sail attaches to the furler,if the grey part gets warped it won’t work.
 
Jan 18, 2021
10
O’Day 20 Brick, NJ
Furler foil: Google furling jib. You'll find plenty to inform you. That's a very desirable $2000 upgrade. I don't have one!
Yes, now I know what you are referring to. I don’t think that’s what it is but I’ll try to sneak a peak under the tarp tomorrow. I don’t recall the lower round unit on the boat or rigging.
 
Jul 30, 2019
208
Seaward 25 777 Fort St. James
That's great, but you need to get it off the boat and straighten out the track portion. It is not doing it any good having the weight of the reel hanging there. Half an hour's work will do it.
 
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JRT

.
Feb 14, 2017
1,970
Catalina 310 211 Lake Guntersville, AL
Congrats my first boat was a O'Day 25, was ready to sail but still a major project. Besides getting that boat in the water with your outboard to check for leaks, which I doubt since it is holding water, the swing keel needs to be checked to lower. Oday are known to have this issue. I had to routinely dive under my boat and pull the centerboard out.

Please get new sails, used are false economy and you don't know what you are looking at. I made this mistake with used sails and until I got new ones I didn't realize how bad my sails were and how much better and more comfortable the boat handled.

SBO has a good service and lots of parts you can get. There sail loft has an estimate of about $1200 for a new set of sails for you which is very reasonable and great quality.


There are lots of options for sail lofts, it can be overwhelming but ask and read and you will learn.

I'd deep clean, do only work required first, get her functional and sailing before going crazy with restoration and improvements. First boats should get you started and on the water or she may become a yard decoration again
 
Jul 7, 2004
8,013
Hunter 30T Cheney, KS
Looks like a CDI furler. As mentioned, you should make sure that the plastic foil has better support and doesn't kink.
 

JRT

.
Feb 14, 2017
1,970
Catalina 310 211 Lake Guntersville, AL
I have to be honest, knowing how bad dealing with a poorly maintained old furlers, I'd pull it off entirely and just switch to hanked on jib to make it simple to learn and deal with. We aren't talking about a huge sail in a 20' and for learning since you need new sails I would stick with nothing bigger then a 110 size in a basic sail. Save those boat bucks for down the road for when you really know what you want out of this new and exciting journey.
 
Jul 30, 2019
208
Seaward 25 777 Fort St. James
The key word to me in the original post is "overwhelmed".

I was overwhelmed by sailing's apparent complexity when I started just 3 years ago. I also had bought a 1974 O'Day 20 before I knew anything, although mine at least was a turnkey proposition. I too had plenty of experience with powerboats, but that didn't stop the feeling that I just did not understand the fundamentals of what I had bought into.

What I did was to a. take an introductory sailing course over 4 weekends, and b. pay for an extra couple of private sessions with the instructor first to go over my boat and its equipment and then to spend a half day out on my first sail. By the end it all made sense, and for relatively little expenditure.

To the OP I would say: Get some help. If you have, or can make, a friend with experience of sailing, that will make all the difference. I would also say take a hands-on course in a small sailboat, out on the water, and find out if sailing really is for you. If it isn't to your liking, best to sell the boat on. Whatever you do don't let the O'Day lie rotting away outside your house as it did with the previous well-intentioned owner. They are great little boats and this one deserves another chance.
 
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Likes: JRT
Dec 30, 2018
35
O'Day 26 Onset, MA
Looks like plenty of folks have chimed in with proper advice, but I'll give my two cents because the coffee if flowing.

As others have mentioned: start with the fiberglass. Get it cleaned, then work on the gel coat. I've seen similar conditioned boats look almost new with a little a lot of wet sanding and some gel coat conditioner before building up a nice wax sheen.

The next step is the rigging: like with any of the metal components check for rust and corrosion. The big difference is with the rigging, you could have some failures that you really don't want to have. If you see something and say to yourself "I'm not sure about this, it looks iffy." then it only becomes a matter of time before you say "****! I knew I should have replaced that!!! Yeah, TowBoat US?, this is....", so just fix early.