Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Installing new Lewmar Ocean hatches, part 1

I went with Lewmar hatches, to stay consistent with the Lewmar portholes I will be also installing. The forward hatch is a Lewmar Ocean 60 which is just about an inch smaller than the existing deck hole for the forward hatch, and the aft hatch located under the boom will be a Lewmar Ocean 40 which is just about an inch larger than the existing hatch hole. A Lewmar Low Profile size 20 hatch will go over the head compartment. The hole for it will have to be cut out of the deck since there's no hatch or ventilation there already (a decent sized opening porthole in combination with the hatch, should keep the head quite well-ventilated.)

Since the aft hatch was going to be easier to install (simply enlarge the existing hole, rather than make a larger hole smaller, or make a new hole) I started with that one. The process was simple: I made a pattern from the new hatch out of cardboard, and transferred the outline to the deck top, around the existing hatch frame. It was obvious that the whole frame had to go, so I cut it off with an oscillating tool (I started with a smaller tool, but after having to repeatedly re-tighten the blade, I brought out the Makita oscillating tool to finish the job.)

Once the old hatch frame was cut off, you could see the gap between cabin liner and the external deck. I put some off-cuts of foam and wood in the gap, and filled it all with filler which I then sanded smooth and flush with the deck top.

Then, it was simply a matter of finessing the fit of the hatch flange into the newly-enlarged hole. I had to sand down a couple of places around the new hole but the hatch flange dropped into the new hole without much trouble. The good thing was that since the new hatch is not much larger than the old one, I don't have to do a lot of fairing and finessing of the interior area around the hatch -- the hatch fills the pre-existing interior hatch frame in the ceiling quite well.

Since the decktop is cambered, there is a slight gap of about a half-inch on the sides of the hatch frame with the deck top that I will have to fill-in with shims that are glassed in place. I also have to drill the screw holes for the new hatch, making sure to fill over-sized holes with resin to prevent any water intrusion around the new screw holes. I also have to cut the 4.5 inch hole for the solar vent in the center of the hatch plexiglass.

Next, installing the forward hatch.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Lewmar replacement hatches arrived

The foredeck hatch on my boat blew off in the last hurricane so I was right about to start making a plug to mold a new hatch in solid fiberglass, when I decided heck, might as well buy some modern plexiglass replacement hatches to bring light into the v-berth.

Afterall, I was going to install a 10x10 inch hatch to ventilate the head area anyway

And heck while I am replacing the fore hatch, might as well replace the aft one beneath the boom too.

"Heck, might as well" is how project inflation works.

Anyway, the fore hatch is a Lewmar 60 Ocean with a flange (not flat) bottom and it is just about a half-inch smaller than the existing hole in the foredeck, so fitting it in place won't be a big deal; I will just need to shim the sides with fiberglass and grind down the area on top of the existing hatch hole to remove the camber and make it flat.

Installing the other two hatches will require cutting out new holes in the cabin roof, and probably building-up a level base for the hatches to set on.
The hatches are meant to screwed-down but I want at least 4 bolts that go clear through the deck with washers and cap-nuts on the other side. All the screw holes will have to be pre-drilled a larger size and filled with fiberglass too, to prevent water intrusion into the core around the hatch. Easy-peasy.

Monday, January 14, 2019

Sanding down interior cabin sides

Previously, I had plugged-up the old holes on the cabin sides left by the removal of the previous portlights, with foam and fiberglass filler placed between the exterior and ceiling liner. All together, I will be installing 8 opening Lewmar portlights, which in combination with the new opening hatch in the head and the two existing ceiling hatches, will ensure maximum boat interior ventilation.

I had faired and sanded the exterior but I hadn't paid much attention to the interior of the cabin-sides, largely because I hadn't decided on the decor. There are a bunch of options: wooden panels, vinyl, bare fiberglass, or laminate veneers, or a combination of each. I mentally played around with a variety of ideas before settling back on my original plan.

Bare fiberglass would make the interior look too plastic-y, even if I added some texture and color to the surface (with a coating of Kiwi Grip applied with a low-abrasive texture pattern). That would have been the easiest route of course. Stencils etc were also an option to make it look less like the inside of a Clorox bottle.

Another option is to put a wooden panel up against the interior cabin sides either with glue or heavy-duty velcro (the installed portlights would hold the panel too) maybe even with an insulating backing, then finishing the front-face of the panel with several layers of glossy varnish to bring out the texture of the wood, maybe using a veneer laminates with an exotic woods, add some trim... etc etc.

However I really didn't see the point of trying to simulate the interior of a wooden sailboat. My decor philosophy is to create an open, bright, functional space. Keeping the panel uncluttered was a priority, except for the addition  of unobstrusive courtesy wall lights that will go in between the portlights, and shoulder-level teak grab rails.

There's also the complication of the curve where the cabin sides meet the deck. Any paneling would have to account for that shape.

 So, back to the original plan: vinyl, but attached very securely with contact adhesive to make sure there would be no future sagging, and kept in place with wood trim. The vinyl will provide a nice clear surface, some texture, as well as insulation (but I'll mainly rely on the air-gap behind the ceiling liner for that.)

I had decided a while ago to go with vinyl and I had already bought a bolt of very high-quality vinyl from France, with felt backing (not the cheap foam that crumbles into dust).  I wanted to go with white vinyl because it is easy to maintain, waterproof, and if I ever decide to on something else I could just tear off the vinyl.

But, before any of that can happen, I have to sand and fair the cabin-sides because any bumps or irregularities would show-up on the white vinyl. This required taking some dust-control measures including an 8-inch blower with with aluminum venting stuck down the cabin hatch, plus my shop-vac connected to my random orbital sander, and of course the whole place was more or less covered with plastic drop-cloth -- much to the amusement of the cats -- but lets face it, fiberglass dust gets everywhere no matter what and so I'm going to have to vacuum the place well later anyway, For now, I mainly just wanted to keep the dust out of the v-berth where we sleep with the cats, but the rest of the boat interior is bare and empty anyway.

The cats, by the way, are now going outdoors regularly and are quite well-adjusted to the boatyard life. No more litter to manage! Pasha even brought home a dead bird once so I think they're happy.