Friday, December 18, 2015

Bad Boat Day

Some people have bad hair days.  When you are living on a boat you can have bad boat days (after all, we generally don't worry much about our hair).  Today was one of those days.  I guess I should have expected it having just had a nice positive with the move and partial installation of the hardtop...you know, yin and yang.

It all started when I got up this morning.  I usually make coffee before my wife gets up.  I grind some beans and put them in my AeroPress.  Then I proceeded to knock the AeroPress over, and the freshly ground coffee landed on the galley floor.  I'm a little grumpy before my first cup-o-joe, so this mess didn't help. I drag out the little shop vac and dispense with the coffee on the floor and grind some more. Fortunately there are no other mishaps, and I drink my coffee while checking the weather on the computer.

What?  Where did this 90% chance of rain in the morning come from?  Yesterday evening the forecast said nothing about rain.  I look out the window and sure enough, it's the one time the meteorologists got it right. Guess I won't be installing the window in the top today.  The forecast also showed that winds up to 15 mph were likely.  Now that the top is bolted on in the back, it probably won't just blow away; however, the front end is only resting on jack stands sitting in my cockpit.  After all the work we have put in on the thing, I figure the prudent thing to do would be to lash it down to the deck so it is held onto the stands just in case some stronger gusts make an appearance between now and when the front supports are complete.

I find some line and determine the D rings on the deck are a perfect place to tie it down as the line would be right across the front quarter of the top.  Then I remember that one of the D rings is a little loose.  Guess I had better fix that first. I wonder if I will need to make a backing plate for the D ring as I've found the backing plates on much of the hardware on this boat to be a little lacking. I open up the access panel to access the nuts on the back of the screws holding the D ring. Imagine my surprise when I find that not only was there no backing plate, there were no fender washers or nuts either. The screws were just dangling through the fiberglass like little sealant-coated metal stalactites. I look around and see no evidence of nuts or washers below them.  No metal, no rust, nothing. Apparently, the only thing holding this D ring in place was the failing sealant.  The only explanation I can come up with for the lack of retaining hardware is that I think the boat had been repaired in that area in the past.  I could see a worker going to install the D ring, getting the sealant down and then being distracted and forgetting to install the hardware.

Oh, and the sealant was failing.  Below the stalactites is a recess in the fiberglass.  This recess apparently has no where to drain and is full of water.  Hmm...wonder how long this has been leaking.  I go back up on deck and give the D ring a pull and out it pops with the bolts.  This is where I discover that the manufacturer didn't bother to seal the holes in the cored deck.  The result of this is that the balsa core (the deck is made of two layers of fiberglass with a core of end-grain balsa) is quite wet.  Actually, around the holes it passed wet a while ago and was more decaying now.

Cleaning up the D-ring mount.

I spend most of the rest of the day digging out wet and/or rotting balsa from three 10 mm holes using a bent piece of safety wire.  There is a trick for getting wet balsa core out of a hole where you can take an alan wrench or bent piece of safety wire, put it in a drill, and use that to dig out wet core from a hole.  But not in this case. The balsa core appears to be sealed into small-ish sections, with fiberglass dividing them and the D ring was mounted right over one of these dividers.  The wrench couldn't turn full circle without hitting the divider.  All I was left with was taking a bent piece of safety wire and tediously coaxing each little bit of balsa out of its hiding place. I did reach clean looking balsa about the time the sun was setting so now I need to let it air out and dry for a few days. Once dry, I'll do one last sweep to clean out any remaining loose bits and then fill the void with epoxy to make a permanent repair to the core and seal the core material so this won't happen again.

There was another little discovery while dealing with the D ring.  Remember that recess I mentioned that was holding water.  It sits at the top of the bulkhead that separates the hall and the shower.  While inspecting the bulkhead to make sure there weren't any other surprises, I found one.  The only saving grace is that it isn't too serious of a problem.  As I was "percussion testing" (a.k.a knocking on) the bulkhead wall in the shower, I hit one spot near the top and heard a slosh.  Not the click of solid fiberglass nor the dull thud of a delaminating fiberglass core, but the sound of water. The bulkhead wall appears to be fine, but water apparently made its way between the bulkhead wall and the plastic panel that lines the shower.  Looking across the surface of the panel, you could just barely see the slight bulge. Obviously the water needed to be let out.  The only solution I could think of, short of ripping down the whole panel, was to drill a small hole at the low spot of the bubble and let the water drain.

We have a fountain on our boat.

Not yet sure how to repair the panel or hole, but it does look like a nice place for a towel hook.

So, no work on the project at hand was done today.  Instead, it was spent preparing to repair other "discoveries".  Of course, I guess I can't complain too much.  If these problems weren't discovered, the issues might have become much worse, requiring much more extensive repairs. Such is life living on a boat.

Oh, and the welder I found did drop by to make a wood template for the supports so that was a tick in the positive column.  Guess I lied, a little work was done on the top after all.

8 comments:

  1. Oh no, what a day :-( I feel for you.

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    1. Yeah, it's not all beaches and sunsets in this cruising lifestyle. But it's OK, Better to have found now than later. And at least I know how the water got there. ;-)

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  2. uh oh! but as you say, on the plus side you found the issues now. Way way better than down the road when something fails or the water situation gets even worse :-(. So maybe the wet weather was a good thing? ;-). You'll get there
    Liz

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    1. Hey Liz,

      I know we will get there...some days are just more trying than others. Glad we found it when we did and not via some more serious failure.

      Guess I will have to go rebed all the hardware on the boat (that hasn't already been done) and check the mounting holes...I suspect the builder may have taken this shortcut of not sealing the core elsewhere. But I think I'll wait on that until we can get to warmer climates.

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  3. I feel your pain. I have lived your pain.

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    1. Such is life on a boat. Not everything is sunsets and rainbows.

      I know there are folks that follow my blog that are where I was a few years ago...just dreaming about the lifestyle. I always appreciated the more "real-life" posts so I try to do the same.

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  4. On the positive side.... It sounds like the balsa in your deck has been installed correctly. Each piece of end grain balsa, when laid up correctly, should have that membrane of resin surrounding it. A resulting benefit being that should water enter a piece of the balsa, it will be trapped in the small 1/2" x 1" cell.

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    1. Well, I don't know if the cells are that small, and the D ring mount seems to have penetrated two or three of them, but at least it isn't the whole deck.

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