Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Cats, what can I say?

Apparently I've been feeding not just my cats but also a family of boatyard raccoons they've befriended, together they're eating me out of house and home.

Monday, February 18, 2019

Interior sailboat cabin insulation

The interior of the cabin side over the starboard settee was bare fiberglass when I got the boat; there was only a splotch of gel coat. I had considered many options to cover up the area including just sanding it smooth and gel coating or covering it with the vinyl but I decided ultimately to do a proper job of insulating the hull, and again "might as well" do the v-berth too later. I don't expect to sail a lot to cold places since I hate the cold but since I have access, and may one day want to go to the Pacific Northwest, I might as well insulate now to minimize condensation.

It wasn't a complicated job. First, I had to strengthen the knee where the chainplate attaches. Then furring strips made of 1" by 3/4" lengths of PVC trim bought from the hardware store was cut to length (about 2 feet) and sanded to provide some "tooth" and remove the smooth surface, wiped down with acetone and stuck to the hull interior vertically using fiberglass filler (I had to hold them in place by hand for a few minutes each until the filler hardened.)

Next some closed-cell foam insulating sheets (3/4") were stuck to the hull between the furring strips using contact cement and I used a bottle to roll over the foam to make sure it got a good contact with the hull surface, in order to make sure there were no air gaps where condensation (and mold) can accumulate. Later, I covered the furring strips themselves with some neoprene tape though I don't think that was strictly necessary.

Next I got some cedar tongue-and-groove boards that are used to line closets, stained and then sealed them with a few coats of gloss lacquer (which dries much faster than the traditional epoxy-varnish thought it doesn't  result in as hard a surface -- the weather was too wet and cold for that), cut them to fit and screwed them into the furring strips using some brass slot screws (thank you Mike at Sailor's Exchange!) with finish washers.

The project isn't totally done -- I have to to the top row of cedar planking still but I'm going to put that off until I re-bed the jib track screws that are around there but otherwise that's one thing checked-off the to do list!

I will have to insulate the rest of the boat later -including the v-berth - and I have bought a couple of rolls of closed cell foam that is 1/2" thick with an aluminized/mylar face on one side, which I will be gluing onto the interior "ceilings" of the closets and cubby holes. The mylar will help reduce the "solar gain" from above 

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Installing a hatch over the head compartment

I decided to install a Lewmar low-profile size 20 hatch to ventilate the head compartment. The head will already have an opening portlight but the more ventilation, the better and there's no serious risk created by this hatch, so I figures why not.

I made a point of getting hatches that have a flange rather than the Lewmar hatch models with a flat base, because I figure the flange provides a bit more security but also because the trim kit for the hatches only fit on the models with the flange base. Since I definitely want the fly screen attachment, I need to get the trim kits, and so I had to order the flange-base hatch.

The installation process was pretty straightforward: make an outline of the hatch base on a piece of cardboard, and figure out where you want it to go from the interior, making sure that the hatch won't catch on anything (especially once opened) nor require cutting away electrical wires etc.

Drill a hole through the center of the cardboard cutout straight up through the "ceiling" to the deck so you can then find the location of the hatch from the outside, and then line up the same cardboard cutout over the same hole from the outside (since the hatch is a symmetrical square shape, you don't need to keep track of the "inside" and "outside" of the cardboard cutout) and trace the outline for cutting the hatch hole on top of the deck.

I used hole saws to make the corner cuts match the hatch, but if you're handy with a jig saw you can do the whole thing using only a jigsaw. Because of the camber on the deck, there's a 1/4" gap around the sides under the hatch frame which, weather permitting, will have to be filled-in with shims and fiberglass filler to create a flat surface.

Having cut open the deck I was happy to see that it was more than an inch thick, and balsa wood in the core of the deck was in perfect shape. I dug the wood core out from for about an inch all the way around the interior of the new hatch hole using a chisel and oscillating tool, and then smothered the gap with filler and sanded it down smooth and flat. This ensures that no water can sneak into the wooden deck core from around the hatch hole to cause rot.

Screwing down the hatch will require good weather but I don't think it will be necessary to through-bolt the hatch. Things can't simply be screwed into the deck as water will intrude into the wooden core from around the screw holes and cause rot. I bought 8x 1.25" number 10 Philips-head stainless screws to attach the hatch to the deck but first I will drill out the screw holes to a larger size, fill the holes with structural fiberglass filler and put the (wax-covered) screws into the screw holes along with the filler. The wax will prevent the screws from getting stuck permanently into the filler once it sets but the fiberglass will take the impression of the screw threads well. The idea is to let the filler set around the screws to give them a real solid "bite" to hold onto the deck top when I permanently install the hatch, and also keep out moisture. 

Friday, February 1, 2019

Strengthening chainplate knee

It has been unusually cold the last few days as a record-breaking "polar vortex" has covered the Midwest and we catch the tail end of such storms here in St Augustine, so I've just basically hibernated rather than work on the boat.

But I still managed to get a couple of things done. One was to consider insulation and the other was to strengthen a chainplate knee

The boat came to me with the interior side above the starboard settee already down to bare fiberglass. There was a splotch of gelcoat on the surface so I suspect someone was considering just gelcoating the area but stopped because the weave pattern of the fiberglass would show. I have sanded it down so it is relatively smooth now but I intend to cover the area with insulation so I'm not as concerned with looks (but I will be gelcoating the surface to protect it anyway)

Meanwhile I have taken the opportunity to strengthen the knee where the aft stb chainplate attaches. I drilled a hole into the knee to made sure the wood inside was still in good shape and it seemed to be so there was no need to replace the knee, however I want to take this chance to strengthen it. I have epoxied-in 1/3-inch thick plate made of G10 high-pressure fiberglass laminate to act as a back plate for the chainplate, waiting for it to cure (put a heater nearby) before sanding it back a bit so I can put strips of fiberglass directional matting to extend the knee a couple of more inches, and get it really stuck well to the hull interior. Then, I will smooth it out with fairing and wrap it in some laminate wood veneer. The chainplate itself attach on the outside, over the veneer, so I can check it visually regularly