Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Hatch Rennovation

Aboard Tayana 37 s/v Ramble On, Rich & Jeni continue their re-fit. Here, they refurbish their two Bomar hatches and their mounts...

Hatches & Cabin Top Projects – Week 2

In typical boat-project fashion, refurbishing the two overhead hatches has taken way longer than expected.  Rich managed to get both Bomar metal hatch frames off the boat without bending them too much.  He removed the old glazing, scraped out the weather-stripping, and attempted to remove the old paint with mechanical means, but it was just too tough.  Sand blasting all the old paint off was the better option and after 3 days we finally got the frames back from the sand blasting guy.  Rich used an entire can of zinc phosphate primer on one hatch, ran to West Marine for a second can and finished the last hatch last Friday.

Forward Bomar hatch

Hatch frame after sand blasting

Last Saturday Rich spent spraying Interlux Primkote on the metal hatch frames and faring in the wooden hatch frames on the boat with epoxy.  Those things should never leak again (fingers crossed).  I picked up trash in the morning for the annual Coastal Cleanup day.  It’s always so disappointing to find so much trash right near the water.  It makes you wonder what is wrong with people.

Overhead hatch frame with zinc phosphate primer

Overhead hatch frame with zinc phosphate primer


Interlux Primekote

Last Sunday we lightly sanded the Primekote on the cabin top that Rich put on last summer.  We just had to sand it enough to give the next coat of Interlux Perfection something to hold on to.  Next, we removed all unnecessary tools and the traveler from the boat.  Then we washed the boat and scrubbed the cabin top really well.  What a dirty mess it was; not only from our work on it, but also from the neighboring farmers who are harvesting and planting again.  Finally, late in the day, Rich painted the Interlux Primekote on the two wooden hatch frames.

Forward hatch epoxied, sanded and ready for Primekote

Wiping down the frame with solvent before painting

Painting on Interlux Primekote


Interlux Perfection

Monday I went to work and Rich prepped the boat for painting the shiny Interlux Perfection on the parts of the cabin top that won’t get non-skid.  The mornings have been dewy so Rich had to first dry the boat off.  He taped off the teak trim, teak handrails, and other deck hardware then wiped down the cabin top with solvent.  Late in the day he started the first coat of Interlux Perfection and finished just as the sun went down.  When he started peeling off the masking tape, it was clear that the paint had creeped under the tape on the teak, even though he used the super special masking tape that’s not supposed to bleed.  He spent another hour or so with a putty knife and rag scraping paint off the teak.

Tuesday morning was a drier than it had been.  The paint looked pretty good, but Rich decided to give it a light sanding before painting on a second coat of Perfection.  Wednesday morning we woke up to rain on our faces at 4:20 in the morning.  The paint from the day before was fine, but Rich had to spend the day in the shed due to weather painting the first coat of Perfection on the metal hatch frames.

Metal hatch frames painted with Interlux Perfection

Measuring the old Lexan lens

Sikkaflex adhesive and a test fit of the new lens

Adhesive on the metal hatch frame

Hatch completed with new paint and lens

The whole week went by in a blur.  On Friday Rich installed the new Lexan lenses into the metal hatch frames.  Saturday morning we were determined to finish the non-skid on the cabin top.  I started off masking the white areas that Rich painted on Tuesday.  Rich came over to give me a lesson in masking and when he ripped off some of the tape I had put down, some of the Perfection came up on the tape (ALARM BELLS SOUND!)

We stopped everything to caucus and decide what to do next.  We had to fix the big ding in the paint from the masking tape and Rich also pointed out some other areas where the paint didn’t brush on as smoothly as he’d like.  Plus there were a few drips and sags; nothing major, but enough to sway me to decide that we had to do a touch-up coat of Perfection.  We did a 180 and started masking the teak for another coat of Perfection.

The shiny edges painted with Interlux Perfection

Interlux Perfection final coat

I also talked Rich into spraying the Perfection instead of brushing.  Spraying is Rich’s preferred painting method, but it was windy this week and it would have been too difficult to spray.  Plus there is a really nice, and expensive powerboat in the slip next to us.  The last thing we need is to get over-spray on their shiny gelcoat.

So with the teak and other bits masked off, Rich sprayed paint while I held a large piece of cardboard to block the wind.  We didn’t spray the entire boat, just the areas that needed touching up; mostly under the grab rail and along the forward edge.

Late in the afternoon on Saturday, we started installing the hatches.  Rich had to drill out the holes in the wood frame that he had epoxied over.  He used 3M’s UV4000 sealant to secure the metal hatches to the wooden frame.  Lastly, he installed the metal pins for the dogs that hold the hatches closed.

Forward hatch refurbished and installed

So we didn’t get the cabin top completely painted before Rich starts his new job on Monday, but the weather should be good next weekend and we’ll try again.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Something Lazy, Something Free

As usual, Drew over at Sail Delmarva has been messing about with chemicals - here's a tip he has for everyone with a head...
Free is always good, except this is not quite free.

Or rather, it is free if you use any sort of holding tank treatment chemical.

I've done all sorts of holding tank stuff for Practical Sailor Mag. Chemicals, hoses, vent filters. Fun stuff. And in the process, in addition to learning all sorts subtleties, I solved all of my own odor problems, save one; odor from the bowl itself. If I flush with seawater and leave it a few days, there's some stink; sulfate in seawater is converted to hydrogen sulfide by millions of wee bacteria. If I flush with fresh water, it's better, but not zero; I guess something sneaks back down the waste hose, or perhaps up the feed hose. And either way, the bowl tends to get ratty, as marine flush volumes are limited and the water isn't chlorinated. I hate scrubbing.


Place a 20% solution of holding tank treatment in a spray bottle and mist the bowl down with each use, or at least each day, or and certainly whenever you'll be leaving the boat for a while. This cleans the bowl, treats the water in the bowl, and treats the water in the waste hose, preventing stink. And since it's the same treatment you would be using anyway, just subtract this from the usual dosage.

 I haven't scrubbed in months; the treatment eats the waste off. Very lazy.

However, not all treatments work.
  • No blue sterilizing treatments, containing with formaldehyde and the like. Toxic, smelly, stain-prone, and well... gross. Too much like a portable toilet. Very tough on joker valves. Formaldehyde is listed as a human carcinogen. I don't understand why they still make these. Ban them from your boat.
  • No bacterial treatments, like Bactank T3 or Happy Camper. They grow in the bottle and get gross. They are quite effective in the tank, just not for this.
  • Pick a scent you like, preferably very mild. I like Forespar Refresh and Raritan CP, but Camco TST Ultra-concentrate is our favoriteCamco TST 4 oz. Orange Power RV Toilet Treatment. These are compatible with any type of holding tank treatment, including bacterial treatments. I tested a bunch for Practical Sailor Mag (February 2012 and December 2012).
Less work. Less money.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Cockpit Cushion Toppers

Aboard s/v Galapagos, Melissa finds a wonderful use for something that would have been simply discarded.  She also has significant puzzling skills:
Regular readers will recall that we recently had new mattresses made for our aft cabin. Part of that remodel was the purchase of some rather expensive latex foam toppers for the berths. These came at a cost of $570 for the space. That’s not an insignificant cost, even though it was completely worth every single penny. As every boat owner knows, boat beds do not come in regular sizes like your earthbound beds. Therefore, in order to get what you need, you frequently have to cut to fit. And you know what that means.  That’s right. That means extra material. Extra EXPENSIVE material!

That nice 3″ latex foam. We still love it.

When we picked up our new mattresses we were blessed to receive all of the extra pieces of latex foam, neatly stuffed down into large plastic bags. I was going to toss them, but being the cheap and easy boat trick queen, I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. I don’t like to throw away perfectly good materials that I might put to use. So I kept them and waited for an idea to pop into my head. And it did.

p1100499
Let’s build some rectangles!

Galapagos has a great cockpit. We love it. But one of the things that I’ve wanted to improve is the napability of the two longest sides. They are long enough to lie down on (one of the absolute requirements for us in a boat, being the famous sleepers that we are), but the hard Bottomsider-style cushions that came with the boat are dead uncomfortable. I decided to see if I had enough latex foam to make cushion toppers for them.

After measuring the sides, I lay the foam pieces out on some plastic up in our workshop/storage space at the marina. Supplied with Elmer’s spray glue and a healthy love of puzzles, I began piecing the foam together to make the long, thin rectangles required. I glued the seams as firmly as possible and then let them sit for a day to cure. Although I had the garage door open for all the gluing, I cannot swear that I didn’t lose a few brain cells to that spray. Do make sure you have good ventilation with that stuff. I trimmed the uneven ends with large scissors, making several cuts from the top down. Sure, I have an electric knife, the tool of choice for this job. It’s at  home. Not at the marina. Scissors worked just fine. We’re not building the Parthenon here.

p1100501


As I did with the new cushions in the v-berth and aft cabin, I decided I wanted to protect these with that PUL fabric I used to keep water from soaking into the foam. This also makes coverings easy to take off and put back on.  Once again, I used the handy 40% off coupon Hobby Lobby has each week.

My only concern here is that there really are a lot of glued seams on these. It is possible that the glue will not hold up in the heat of Mexico and beyond. If that happens, though, I will still have all the other materials all set up to pop the latex out and replace it with foam all in one piece. The PUL fabric has a lot of stretch to it so it can be pulled tightly around the latex. It supports the seams in the foam as well as making the whole thing waterproof. The extra support makes it less likely that we’ll experience a total fail just from moving the cushions around.

Neatly covered in waterproof fabric.
Neatly covered in waterproof fabric, ready for canvas.

To ‘upholster’ these, I wanted outdoor canvas that was water and UV resistant. Since it’s fall, this is a good time to look for summer fabric in the clearance section of Joanne Fabrics. I made a beeline for the clearance bin and found some perfect yellow canvas for $3.50/yard. Done! I actually bought extra of this because I liked it and it was such an excellent price. Retail on this canvas is $29.99/yard. As if I would ever pay that much.

The sewing was straight forward; not exactly my favorite kind of sewing but at least with this project my machine doesn’t protest. I cut two rectangles, some sides, then sewed them together.

Cheerful and comfortable!
Cheerful and comfortable!

These are just the ticket in the cockpit for sitting or laying around at anchor. While underway they can be stored along the sides in the v-berth, or even in the aft cabin, just tucked under the shelf, which will hold them in place. They are a cheap and cheerful addition to the comforts of home on board Galapagos.

Cost Breakdown:
  • Latex foam – 0 because it was leftover from another project, destined to be thrown out
  • PUL fabric – 4 yards, 40% off – $31.20
  • Yellow Canvas – 4 yards at $3.50/yd – $14.00
  • Yellow thread – $3.00
Total cost: $48.20 plus tax. Win!

Stored in the v berth with Patrick.
Stored in the v berth with Patrick.


Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Storm Windows? On A Boat??

This post originally appeared on Windborne in Puget Sound

We use Eolian all winter long (at the dock anyway), therefore we heat her all winter long.  On houses, storm windows are used to provide an extra layer of insulation against the winter cold and weather.  If you have ports like these:

Do you have ports like this?
...you can easily make and fit storm windows for them too!  I  don't take credit for this idea - it came from Drew, 6 years ago.  

But in any case, it couldn't be simpler.  First you need to remove the screens from your ports (we don't have ours installed - no bugs to speak of in the PNW... :^) ).   It is easy to do this.  The rubber gasket that traps the screens in place is not glued in - it is just wedged into a slot on the port frame:

Just pull it out
You just need to pull it out.  If you haven't ever had yours off, they may be glued in there with algae and other growth tho.  With the gasket off, simply lift the screen out of its recess.

Of course, you'll need the actual storm windows.  For these you'll want some kind of thin plastic - less than 1/8" (the thickness of the screens).  I made mine out of the glazing from a couple of old poster frames that were destined for the recycle bin.  I just traced the outline of the screen on the plastic sheet and then cut them out on my bandsaw.  I suppose you could use a sabre saw, or even a hack saw (tho the corners would be tedious).  And you might even want to smooth out the edges with a bench grinder and/or a file - I did this with mine.

And just slip them in where the screens were

And then you just drop them into the recess that the screen was in, and reinstall the rubber gasket.  (If you look closely, you'll notice that there is a joint on the gasket - this should go to the top.)  Be sure to get the gasket flange firmly pushed into the slot all the way around, otherwise the window won't close - you could break it if you try.

Easy peasy.


Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Windlass Locker Refit: Epoxy is Your Friend

Rot is insidious. It sneaks in quietly, eating away at the structure of your boat. Mike and Melissa on s/v Galapagos discovered the rot monster eating away at their anchor locker - this is how they defeated it:
When we bought Galapagos we were kind of enthralled with our Lofrans electric windlass. It’s a love affair that continues to this day and because we love her, we want her to live in a nice place. Long ago we noticed that her locker on the foredeck had seen better days. It looked to me like there was wood rot underneath her foot switches and a couple of times when we pulled up anchor, Mike saw the floor of the locker move a little bit. This gave us pause.




So it came to pass that we decided we better get to it and refurbish that part of the boat. This has been one of those projects that takes much longer than you’d like, simply because there are a lot more parts to it than you think, and because Mike still works for a living. That leaves the weekends. And me.

Mike pulled the windlass off and carried her home to take her apart and make sure all of her parts were shiny and new looking and give her a general going over. He can write about that part soon. The windlass has always worked great and we want to keep it that way considering that pulling up anchor by hand on this boat, even given the hand ‘crank’ we can use, would cost a lot in terms of energy, time, and effort. Whatever needs to be done to keep this windlass in good shape is time and money well spent.



When we examined the wood under the switches it was clear that there was not only rot, but that there was a lot of it. If it were not for the fact that this entire locker is hell for stout, we would have had a bigger job on our hands. The wood in this area is about 10” thick meaning you can have a lot of rot before things start getting serious. That also means that after I removed all the rotted wood, we still had plenty to work with. We decided we did not need to remove the entire floor (thank you, gods of windlass lockers!) and that we could fix the area with a series of epoxies, from the liquid kind that soaks into wood to give it new structure, to the kind you smear on like wood putty.

After drilling holes all over the place to make sure we found all the rot, and a good thing we did, too because water came out of some of the holes, we waited as everything dried out in the hot summer sun. Then, over a week or so we mixed batch after batch of System Three End Rot liquid epoxy and their wood putty version called Sculp Wood. When we ran out of the End Rot stuff, we used the straight System Three liquid resin epoxy. We poured the liquid stuff down into the holes and let it seep into the surrounding wood on the topside. When that was cured, we poured in more. We added fiberglass fibers to thicken the paste and troweled it onto the inside of the locker from below, filling in gaps left by the wood we removed. It was a long process that involved a lot of boat yoga, waiting, and sanding in close quarters.


You may be wondering how rot got involved with this windlass locker in the first place. Two reasons became apparent. Let the first reason be a cautionary tale about being sure you are bedding your screws with butyl tape or the equivalent if they are going to be exposed to water. On our two foot switches, the screws holding one switch onto the wood were bedded with something that protected them from water. The screws on the other side were not. So one side had rusty screws, proving that water was ingressing in that area. The wood around that switch was where the rot started and it spread from there. Of course, it’s probably been 20 years or more since those switches were installed. Let’s keep things in perspective here.

Second, the drainage in this locker was poorly designed in our opinion. I don’t know about you, but I don’t think that drains that are above the level where water stands make sense. Think about it. In your sink, the drain is installed slightly lower than the bottom of the sink. That’s because water runs…..down. Not up. So a drain that stands proud of the surface will never, due to the laws of the physical universe, drain all the water out. Standing water is a bad thing, especially if it is close to electric switches installed with unbedded screws. Voila, rot.


So Mike decided to redesign the drains making them much simpler, and making them drain correctly. You know how when people are married for a long time they start thinking alike? We both came up with the exact same idea independent of each other. When that happens, it’s a go. So instead of reinstalling the drains as they were, he filled in the hole where they would be set, cut off the top of the drain that was too high, then drilled out an area and epoxied the drain directly into the hole. Then he attached the hose. It’s not going anywhere and it drains really well now. Plus with all that epoxy the wood will stay protected long after we’re dead. We are considering this simple solution for some other areas of the boat.


When all the epoxy was cured, he sanded everything smooth on top and on bottom. I followed behind him with two coats of bilgecoat, since this area is protected from UV rays unless the locker is open. Although I didn’t bother with a photo yet, the inside of the locker has a nice smooth ‘ceiling’ now. Our windlass will be much happier in her newly refurbished digs. And we have a locker that will see another 25 years in good shape. Stay tuned for part two, where Mike fills you in on the insides of the windlass. Or something like that.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Sailor, and now Author


Drew, a frequent contributor to Practical Sailor and to this blog, has branched out - he is now a published author!  Aside from making a few bucks to cover his time and effort in producing these books, Drew is paying it forward; he is giving new and less-experienced sailors the benefit of his extensive experience.

Drew, as an engineer (disclaimer:  as am I), has a precise, unambiguous writing style.  But he will also wax poetic, in the fashion of a man who has carefully examined his own motivations.

What is rare in the sailing genre is that Drew, again being an engineer, does not shy away from experimentation.  He does not accept "everyone knows" without actually testing it himself, rigorously.  What Drew reports is derived from first person experience and experimentation.  If he says it, he's tested it, and you can believe it.

So far, there are four books in the bookstore:
  • Keeping a Cruising Boat on Peanuts
    PDF, Pending 2017 Kindle, about 400 pages
  • Rigging Modern Anchors
    Pending 2017, TBD, about 250 pages.
  • Singlehanded Sailing for the Coastal Sailor
    Kindle, 143 pages, PDF, 154 pages
  • Faster Cruising for the Coast Sailor
    PDF, 183 pages, Pending 2017, Kindle, about 200 pages

To provide a little view into what's included, here is the Table of Contents from Singlehanded Sailing for the Coastal Sailor:
  • Acknowledgments 4
  • Preface 7
  • Part 1: The Singlehander
    • Chapter 1: The Reasons We Go Alone 11
    • Chapter 2: The Costal Philosophy 14
  • Part II: Preparations
    • Chapter 3: Docks 21
    • Chapter 4: Sailing 24
    • Chapter 5: Safety 41
  • Part III: Practices
    • Chapter 6: Sailing 63
    • Chapter 7: Safety 74
    • Chapter 8: Living 80
    • Chapter 9: Kids 85
    • Chapter 10: Summer 87
    • Chapter 11: Winter 88
  • Summary 100
  • Glossary 102
  • Appendix I: Annual Inspection 103
  • Appendix II: Tethers and Jacklines 108
  • Appendix III: Rainwater and Water Filtration 122
  • Appendix IV:  Climbing the Mast, Ladders, and Falling 136
  • Appendix V: Extension Ladders and Webbing Ladders 141
  • Appendix VI: Stropes 148
Come on, you know these books are going to make for wonderful reading at anchor!
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