Book Review: Optimizing the Trailerable Sailboat

After reading Optimizing the Trailerable Sailboat, you might find yourself thinking, as I did, that author Paul Esterle could be the handiest boater alive. His useful 326-page book is filled with a mind-boggling array of small-boat modification, upgrade, maintenance and repair projects—a do-it-yourselfer’s bible!

Captain Paul and his wife Pat.

Esterle, who came to sailing when he was 40 and lives in Delaware, was taken with the idea of a small, trailerable sailboat that could be used for weekend boat-camping trips on various local lakes, bays and rivers. He and his wife Pat eventually purchased a used 1972 Matilda 20, which they named Ternabout, and immediately began customizing it to fit their needs.

Diagram: Quick Release Ladder

Over the years, Ternabout has served as a veritable DIY-idea factory, and Esterle has sold at least 500 how-to stories to boating magazines based on his projects and adventures aboard the boat. Optimizing the Trailerable Sailboat is a compilation of these projects, all of them meticulously detailed and illustrated with B&W photos and diagrams.

Photo: Installation of Quick Release Ladder

From installing chart-holder tubes to resurfacing the cabin sole to replacing a handrail, Esterle walks the reader through each project using clear, concise step-by-step instructions, all the while explaining his reasoning behind choice of materials, tools and methods. He even describes some of the pitfalls and challenges he encountered, and how he eventually came up with solutions. The man does things right, and his experiences will save you hours of time.

Diagram: Bearing Protectors

The book goes far beyond basic DIY projects, however; indeed, it could serve as a beginner’s guide to small-boat sailing. For example, Esterle covers how to raise the mast singlehanded with the boat on a trailer, how to rig sails and lines, how to change the oil and impeller on an auxiliary outboard, how care for sails, how to use GPS, how to select the right house battery, how to care for and repair the trailer, and much more.

As Esterle points out, some of the projects are particular to the Matilda 20, although they can be modified to fit other boats, both power and sail. The following are just a few of the clever projects covered in the book that can be applied to almost any vessel:

  • Building an anchor/rode organizer
  • Installing a DC electrical panel install
  • Building a “galley box” (portable grill and utensil storage)
  • Building a food-prep area
  • Installing a flare canister holder
  • Replacing leaky hatches and ports
  • Repairing hull blisters
  • Installing a fire-extinguisher holder
  • Installing storage compartment vents
  • Replacing a watertight cockpit locker hatch

Ordering Information:

Optimizing the Trailerable Sailboat can be ordered direct from Capt’n Pauley’s Place for $27.95 (hard copy) or $13.50 (digital).

A companion DVD is also available for $24.95.

Do you have any good boat-modification projects?

Please share them with us below.