"The Beachcomber" Reborn
by Ronald M Goldwyn - Port Washington, New York - USA

I’m guessing that the year is just after WWII either in the late 40’s or early 50’s when my boat was created by L.V.M. Associates Inc. of Coopersville, Michigan. The hull is of molded polystyrene foam, 11 feet overall and weighs 27 pounds. It has a protective paint coating and has a beam of 36 inches.

It came in two models depending on the sail chosen. Model 600 was of red “heavy guage (06mil) polyethylene heat sealed construction. Model 700 was red and white striped Translene (nylon). Both had a sail area of 60 sqft.

The mast was 7’ and the boom and yard were 10’ long extruded high temper Aliminum (The mast step allowed for a pole of just 1.125” inches in diameter,while the rudder and centerboard were of varnished plywood.

Along the centerline and 3” forward of the stern was a 6” aluminum tube that had an inside diameter of 0.5” with a steel washer crimped on top and bottom and served as the rudder shaft tube. My quess is that originally the Tiller had a steel threaded rod bolted to it, to act as a pivot point and protruded far enough astern so as to allow the rudder to be attached to it. Please remember that this was before the word fiberglass was invented or Kool Cigarettes were offering a “Snark” for 2,000 coupons.

So much for the specifications listed in the sales flyer.

Three years ago, my then 12 year old grandson pulled the hull out of the garbage of a distant neighbor on “Bulk Pickup Day” and dragged it a ½ mile home where it remained until this summer. All it had was the centerboard, now painted blue and in the bow and stern threaded steel rods corroded solid to their aluminum sleeves.

About six weeks ago I searched the internet to find something that looked like this hull and found a brochure (two sides of a single sheet) of what appears to be a duplicate of this boat. Since that time I haven’t been able to find that original site, but at least I have the pictures and the specs to go by, in restoring this hull to sailing condition.

Where to start? For me it was the internet and while searching I surfed into Duckworks and its links. I gained knowledge and soon had in mind how my restoration would come about.

First, how do I restore a 60 year old Styrofoam hull full of holes and gouges especially around where I removed the steel shafts. (Steel and aluminum don’t mix in a salt water marine atmosphere.) My solution was to use a product that my wife had purchased to eliminate drafts through our exterior walls. It is called “Great Stuff” and is a product of the Dow Chemical Co. It is a foam sealant for cracks and gaps and ends up just like Styrofoam. It was worth a try as it is also a bonding agent to most materials. My only fear was that it might dissolve the existing Styrofoam, it didn’t. Soon the entire hull was pockmarked with expanded bubbles of foam and one hour later with a fine tooth hacksaw blade the boat was back to being at a uniform surface level. What I discovered is that this too is foam with thousands of tiny bubbles that end up looking like the surface of the moon. Using an orbital sander the boat’s surface was as good as I
could get it in the absence of a suitable substance like “spackle” or “bondo” substance might do for a sheetrock wall or a car’s exterior body.

Next came two coats of latex paint that did a good job if filling in some of the small craters. Be aware that blue masking tape is good only on smooth flat surfaces, I had to do touchup all along where the blue met the white paint.

In the meantime the search for aluminum poles started and while many Internet sites including Ham antenna companies and fencing companies also had them the cost of shipping anything over 8’ by freight exceeded the cost of the material. The answer was to find a local dealer to avoid shipping costs, but that search was a dead end also. On the way home from a fencing company, I stopped at a pool supply company and found that for $23 apiece I could buy a nested aluminum pole whose outer diameter was perfect for my mast, and was 8’ long with no alteration. The inner pole was 1” in diameter and was also 8’ long so that the maximum length was 16’. I only needed a boom that was 11’ and a yard that was 13’ but more important the inner pole did not lock with a twist action, but rather locked at the top of the outer pole with a compression fitting. This meant that the inner tube could be locked at any length and in any position you set it.

Being a lateen rigged boat the boom and the yard are both not parallel to the water but instead these two poles meet at a point forward of the mast. I decided that the easiest way to join these two poles was by means of stainless steel eyebolts with an aluminum spacer tube with rounded ends to exactly fit the inner diameter of the outer tube so that the tube wall would not collapse when the nylon stop nuts were tightened.

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You will note in the above picture that while I could have interlocked the two eyebolts but I preferred to join the two with a shackle that would allow me to tie the Tack of the sail to this junction.

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Next I realized that since I had an adjustable pole inside the outer pole of the boom and yard, no fitting could be mounted that went through these poles such as the hoist point on the Yard, the gooseneck fitting at the junction of the mast and boom, or the blocks used for guiding the mainsheet along the boom.

I therefore designed all these fittings so that they clamped around the pole with junkbox parts. These clamps also have the advantage of being able to slide the fittings fore or aft to find the ideal location for each one.

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This is my gooseneck fitting using a clamp fitting around the boom with a clevis pin through a backup plate and going into a piece of 2” brass tubing (not pipe) shaped as shown with a section of a nylon or PVC pipe fitting used as a bushing. The clevis pin is held to the brass pipe with a SS cotter pin. The white line seen is the mast halyard. When the yard is lowered the gooseneck is thus free to slide down the mast.

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The above view is a closeup of the halyard cleat that is mounted to another piece of 1.25” of PVC pipe fitting. The area just behind the cleat was sanded flat so that the base of the cleat could mount to a flat surface. Flathead bolts start inside the pipe with the nuts on the top of the cleat instead of the other way around. To do this I had to rout the countersunk holes in the cleat flat for the nuts and lockwashers. The wingnut shown locks a bolt that anchors the fitting in place, but is easily removed so that the gooseneck fitting above may be slid off the mast.

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The above photo shows my masthead fitting and a closeup of the clamping device, where the two white sections tighten to clamp this section of aluminum that is only 12” long.

Have you ever wondered how to tighten the nylon locknut inside the tube when an ordinary open end wrench, a box wrench or a socket wrench either could not fit in or lie flat on the tubes curved inner surface? To solve this problem I took a piece of half inch steel conduit and with a metal cutoff saw blade I cut a slot the width of the nut. Now I was able to hold the nut in place while I used the screwdriver on the outside.

While the mast is in view, let me discuss what I did to modify it. In the above photo I used a 12” tube at the masthead in place of the regular 8’ inner tube. What you don’t see is that I reinforced the 8’ mast with two 5’ hardwood spade replacement handles that were spliced together and cut to the remaining length of the mast (7’) These handles were exactly the proper diameter and were held in place by the bolt holding the halyard cleat. Now there is no flex in
my mast.

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This photo shows the halyard fitting attached to the padeye that is clamped to the Yard pole. Being clamped to the pole allows me to relocate it so that I can find the ideal mounting point while the inner tube is free to move.

Throughout this picture/story you will see that I have used 1/8” “Quicklinks.” Especially through the grommet at the Tack, Clew and Head of my sail Its elongated shape allows the sail’s grommet to be attached to the pole end eyebolts, and may easily be removed. The size of the Quicklink used is determined by the maximum opening between ends. In a couple of cases I found that I had to grind a few threads off the bare end in order to allow a slightly thicker object
to be inserted.

So far I’ve discussed the spars and it fittings, now we move to the styrofoam hull. Unlike any other marine hull material, one cannot mount anything to it with screws or glue, so how do you mount the needed fittings?

In my opening paragraphs I mentioned that the hull had two threaded rods corroded to an aluminum bushing that had steel washers crimped to each end of the tube. These bushings were molded into the hull so that a shaft could be extended through them.

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In the bow, I assumed that they had a cleat installed. In any case I found a 2.5” wide by 1/8” depression. In this depression I mounted a piece of stainless steel that wrapped around the nose of the boat to a point 2” beyond the shaft holes. Finding a small bow cleat in my boat supply box I determined that I had to drill and tap a 5/16” hole in its base. Then I drilled two 5/16” holes in the ss bow plate directly below the cleat and the plate on the bottom. Using two flat head screws I mounted the cleat in the normal fashion to the top of the bow plate with the tapped hole in the cleat directly over the holes in the bowplate. Within the shaft hole I inserted a new spacer tube the length of which was slightly less than the hull’s thickness. Using a stainless steel eyebolt with a shaft long enough to go through the bottom of the plate the spacer tube, the top plate hole and finally tightened into the chock’s threaded hole. Thus the bow now has a towing ring on the hull’s bottom and a chrome cleat on the forward deck.

In the stern we needed a replacement rudder and tiller and a similar stainless steel mounting bracket had to be fashioned to hold an aluminum rudder and tiller as seen in the following photo

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In the photo (Left) above I show the stainless steel mounting plate that was bent in my shop using my vise as a bending brake. The aluminum kickup rudder is the gray object on the right. A stainless steel shaft goes through the entire object holding the rudder to the mounting plate. The second screw up from the bottom locks in a piece of neoprene rubber that is ½” thick with a hole the diameter of the shaft. This prevents the shaft from coming loose under any condition even when turned turtle. The tiller being directly above this shaft also prevents this pin from coming out unless the tiller is raised past vertical. The bolt shown in the photo below secures the mounting bracket on top and below. It goes through the original shaft hole.

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The bar on top is the tiller is an aluminum extendable tiller extension as seen below.

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The extension mounts to the tiller by means of a simple key holder that divides in two to hold your car keys on one ring and your other keys on another ring. The lower right photo shows the clamping device to adjust the length of the extension handle.

The next item mounted in the stern is the main sheet traveler as shown in the next photo.

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This simple device allows the end of the main sheet to be clear of the tiller, yet allows the boom to swing if you change tacks. The block used has a steel sheave and the two eyebolts have ¼”brass rods going through the hull and secured with similar large washers and nuts.

The last items are in the center of the hull. – The centerboard and the main sheet block.

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In this photo (above) we see the centerboard baseplate and the sheet block assembly. Originally this plate was made of wood, but I’m not sure how it was secured. My plates were made of stiff but thin sheet aluminum By using a thin kerf blade I preserved the center section without cutting the ends, so that by cutting this 5/8” wide piece of metal in two I created two legs that were bent down against the bow and stern walls of the centerboard shaft. Thus the bottom plate and the deck plate were mated together with pop rivets inside the shaft.

Next I had determined that the best place for handling the main sheet was in the center and not in the stern, so I had to find a way to clamp the sheet in that location. With the centerboard plates secured to each other, I had a secure location to mount the main sheet block.

This block was in my parts box and was perfect as it had a V cleat built into it, but mounting the block required that I create out of a strip of stainless steel a special pad eye.

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As seen above this padeye was poprivited not only on top but also within the shaft wall also.

Next, problem was the centerboard and how to prevent it from falling through the shaft. What I did was to saw a 1.25’ deep cut along its top edge centerline, and inserted a piece of aluminum T–Bar.

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Using wood screws through the aluminum (pre-drilled) from both sides the T-bar was locked into place. A small padeye securing a brass ring. It allows the raising of the board safely and with the ring lying flat prevents toe injury.

The item saved for last was the sail.

The first thing I did before any restoration took place was to search the internet. That was how I was able to find the flyer about the boat and the size and type of sail it came with. I learned that cloth sails sold for as much as $500, and that was beyond my means. This led me to Polytarp and Polysail and then to Polytarp companies where I learned about the weave the mil thickness UV protection, the cost and the difference between the tarp size and the actual dimension edge to edge that can vary as much as 9” shorter.

I decided that while a sail kit might come with more detailed instructions, I was going to build the oldest sail in the world that is still being used. The Lateen Sail.

The flyer said that my boat originally had a 7’ mast and 10’ boom and yard with a total sail area of 60 sqft. With my purchased spars having a capacity of 16’ long, I could in theory build a lateen sail of 128 sqft. But that would be overpowering. I searched the internet for building a lateen sail such as the Sunfish, the Sailfish and the Funfish as well as 9 other boats and compiled a list that had the dimensions of the Luff, Foot, Leech and total area. By simply adjusting the length of my poles and the toppinglift length as a temporary substitute for the leech, I could make any of the sails on my list. I chose to make a sail that had a luff of 13’ and a foot of 11’ for an area of 61.48 sqft. My reasoning being that the length of the boat was 11’ and a boom length of 11’. Therefore the Clew would not overhang the stern if the Tack was at the bow. All my fittings were adjustable so I have the ability of moving the Tack to the stern by as much as 2.5 feet and the same with the Yard, thus giving me more or less headroom below the boom.

I followed the instructions of Dave Gray of Polysail Int. and laid out my 14’ square white tarp that cost less than $15, on my asphalt driveway (why do we park on a driveway and drive on a parkway?) In any case, I used cut-nails in the corner grommets and stretched the tarp as tight as possible, yet the fold line creases remained. These creases were to haunt me later on.

Removing the spars from the boat (actually just the boom and the yard which were adjusted to the proper lengths required along with the rope representing the leech length) they were laid down on the tarp and positioned to allow my adding a curve to the foot and luff.

My instructions said that 1/3rd the distance from the tack should be the maximum dimension of the curve. For the Foot it was 2” and on the luff it was 3.5 inches.

Using a dry marker pen (removable ink) I marked the tarp along the outside of the tubing and the rope (leech) and then removed the spars. In each corner I drew two 6x6 squares of extra material that was to be used for re-enforcing the corners.

Locating the maximum curve points I laid the corner of a brick on those points and by using a 25’ x 1” tape measure on edge, I was able to layout a perfect curve along the luff and foot. Again I used the dry marker and marked the curve on the tarp, while at the same time removing the original lines with a damp rag.

With the help of my grandson, we now applied carpet tape along the inside of my remaining lines, and tried to make sure I had 100% adhesion. This was where the fold marks in the tarp came into play as the tape was not flat where it passed over the folds. With a scissor I had to cut the tape so that the cut ends would overlap each other and thus be flat.

Now with a sharp scissor we followed the outside edge of the carpet tape and the two boxes of extra material in each corner and cut out the sail and removed the excess material.

So far the sail looked good with the curves on the Foot and Luff. I now removed the protective paper from the second side of the carpet tape and laid 1/8” Dacron bolt rope on the inside edge of the carpet tape starting and ending at the Tack where I left an extra 12” of line. ¼ inch line would have been overkill and using Nylon would have been wrong as it stretches.

The next operation was the most difficult. I had to fold the inside edge of the carpet tape over the bolt rope and seal down the carpet tape without wrinkles. Doing this and following the curve with the bolt rope stretched and in the exact position was near impossible to accomplish perfectly. By the way, I mention bolt rope, do you know the only other rope on a sailboat? The rest are all called lines. The one other exception is called the Bell rope and is attached to the clapper of the ships bell to make ringing easier. We all knew that- right?

The next step was locating where to place the grommets and starting at the Tack I marked every 18” along the Foot and Luff and wrapped a 2’ wide by 4” piece of vinyl tape around the edge of the sail for added reinforcement. I didn’t but most at this point should wrap the edges of the sail in vinyl tape for a more finished look.

The next step was to finish and reinforce the corners with the extra material held down with carpet tape and with the end of the sail folded in so that the corner grommet would be close to the bolt rope that curves around at this point The corner is then finished with vinyl tape leaving no exposed polytarp.

The last step was to install the grommets and here I used ½” brass grommets in the corners and 3/8” ones in-between.

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As you see in the last two photos above, the Tack, Clew, and Head were anchored to the spars with 1/8” “Quicklinks” going to eyebolts with the adjustable pole now used to stretch the sail tight.

My final idea was how to secure the sail to the spars and still allow the sail to travel toward the tack when I collapsed the boom and yard down to 8’ for travel and storage. My solution may be seen in the final photos below.

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Normally there are a couple of ways to secure the sail to spars. We often see line laced around the spar and through the grommets using one long line or by using individual lines or electric cable ties. I used cable ties but different from the designed method. I went to Home Depot and purchased a package of extra heavy 24” cable ties of nylon that are 1/16” thick by 3/8” wide. I cut off the head and cut the remainder into three equal strips. I then drilled a 3/16” hole in the center about ½” in from each end and inserted what is called aluminum “Post nuts” These are items obtained in stationery stores for binding various thickness reports into binders. Shown in the photo are posts that are ¼” long, but they are available in many size lengths and fit the standard three hole paper. The left photo shows the normal mounting position.

There remains but two tasks to complete the project. One is to add a nameplate to the stern and the second is to launch the craft and see if it sinks or sails. Wish me a fair wind at my back, as I have never sailed in a centerboard boat. My total sailing experience has been in sail canoes with leeboards and keel sailboats in sizes from 16’ up to 52’.

I sincerely hope that this article will inspire others and give them ideas that they can emulate. I wish to thank all who have posted to the internet and those who posted on the “dwforum” for their aid and knowledge.



In the article, Robert Goldwyn guesses that his Beachcomber sailboat is from the 1940s or 1950s.  According to his papers, Lawrence Valentine Meyer (L.V.M. Associates), was building boats from 1960-1963 at his Michigan Fiberglass Company plant in Holland and then Borculo, which made Super Porpoise sailboats and Lake 'n Sea runabouts.  He was employed by another firm from 1942-1959 making reinforced plastic products, but not boats.  I remember his son, Lawrence Valentine Meyering, Jr., telling me that his family had moved to Coopersville after the boat plant was lost.


Geoffrey Reynolds
Joint Archives of Holland
Hope College
P.O. Box 9000
Holland, MI  49422-9000

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