Road to Recovery
A 62-year-old wooden boat that's sustained catastrophic damage has a pretty good chance for a date with a chainsaw. Unless, of course, she can find someone enthusiastic--or foolish--enough to embark on a complete restoration. Paul Kaplan and his wife, Crissy, became Santana's Good Samaritans. It helped that Kaplan co-owns Keefe Kaplan Maritime Inc., one of the largest full-service boatyards on San Francisco Bay. "We never questioned the reasons," he said. "We surveyed the vessel, and we knew what we were in for." They tore the ceilings out and installed new frames, and while they were at it, they resolved to turn Santana back into a schooner. "We wanted to be as authentic as possible, so we procured copies of the original S&S drawings from Mystic Seaport." From the rig to the deck layout and the beveled glass doors, Santana was restored to her original condition. Even navigation electronics were passed over. Still, some changes were inevitable. The cockpit--now moved aft--has a fiberglass well. The galley was modernized, and the forward cabin, formerly the crew quarters entered by a separate scuttle, was turned into a V-berth. The old, rusty engine was replaced with a 75-horsepower Yanmar turbodiesel with a propeller offset to starboard. Just about the only breaks the Kaplans got were with the teak deck and the mainmast. "They used the original schooner mainmast for the yawl conversion in 1942," Kaplan said. "It was a bit too short for a yawl rig, but for us it worked perfectly. It's right back where it was--including the boom--so we only had to build a foremast from Sitka spruce." A creative solution was found for the bowsprit. It's carbon fiber, anchored on a stainless-steel tenon on the boat's stem, and has a faux wood finish. "The boat's very nice and a showcase for good craftsmanship," said Billy Brandt. "It's just a bit more of a project than I'd like to take on." And fellow crewmember Ken Bertino thought that "it probably takes someone with a boatyard to do this kind of work right." It was a monster job that took nearly a full year, but Kaplan believes it was worth the effort. After her relaunch in May 1999, Santana again is the perfect entertainment platform and the toast wherever she goes. And usually, in classic races, she's the schooner to beat.