It’s been a VERY busy week here and thought you’d enjoy a quick (consider the source) update for both general interest and the usual entertainment value I provide for you.
It’s been a good week overall and probably mostly because I’m back at work, and have the paint crew here helping and it’s always good for me to just get to work with my hands solving problems, role up my sleeves (purely metaphorically here mind you as I’ve not worn a shirt since I got here!) and dive in. So dive I did.
Baobab Marine, the company that is doing all my work for me got back from their holidays and so I had my crew back as of Monday. Actually several crews or groups; one for the paint work, one for the metal work on the hull an done for the machining of the new prop shaft. They are all very good, I spend most of my time with the paint crew and the metal working crew, working with them to some extent, looking after jobs and attention to details that really only I can do (to my satisfaction) finding things that have been missed or still need to be done, making decisions, etc. There is no issue of their work ethic or workmanship, they are all great to work with and very conscientious, it is just that there are so many details and things that only I can keep track of or know. It is all very enjoyable for me and they seem to enjoy working with me as well.
Also helped a lot that the weather cooperated and we had no rain at all during working hours and really only small showers in the evenings a few days. Next week looks less promising but we’ll just take what we can get and work as much as the weather will allow as all our work is outside and things like welding and painting and sanding just don’t work in the wet.
One of the jobs I spent quite a few hours on this week getting the side windows in the salon ready for the new glass. Back in October I removed all six of these windows and had new glass made up that is double the thickness (10mm) and mirror treated on the outside and tinted on the inside for solar protection. It will look very good and I’m going to install them so the glass sits a few mm proud of the steel and I’ll cove the rubber sealant to create a nice looking black seal the same as I did on the front salon windows when I did those in NZ.
I’ve previously done the prep work on the steel around each window that was covered up by the old teak frames as these were very rusted, pitted and rough, and the crew has them all filled and primed. This week the work was prepping the interior solid teak frames by sanding them all down as the finish was in rough shape there after almost 20 years of sun and condensation from the windows and it is so much easier to do with the windows out when I can work from the outside and also keep the insides taped and covered so not much sawdust gets in. I was also reminded once again what a great purchase my Fein MultiMaster tool has been!
I had a bit of a puzzle to solve with corners of each window now that I’m not going to use an external teak frame and just seal them in as I did with the front windows. The problem is that the corners in the steel cut outs are rounded whereas the teak frames are square and so in many of the corners there is a gap or opening where the rounded corner of the glass misses or cuts across the square corner of the teak frame and would surely start to leak in time. I pondered various solutions for quite a while trying to find something that would provide a good sized surface area for the glass to seal against and yet still look good and meant to be there not some odd patch. What did in the end is make a triangular piece of teak that I epoxied into each corner. These are about ½” thick and I rounded over the new inside edge so it looks molded into the frame and provides about an inch of sealing area for the glass in each corner. Of course all the teak frames are custom built and are all at odd angles so I had to cut and fit each block by hand and then glue them in and clean up the corners, so it took a lot of time but I’m very pleased with the results and today (Sat here) I’m going to be busy refinishing all the window frames while we aren’t creating any sanding dust and get the windows all sealed and masked in prep for the painting (priming coats) which we hope to start next week.
And the other big nasty job this week involved getting rid of the last two remaining rust areas; the inside of the chain locker up in the bow and the inside of the storage areas in the coaming behind the cockpit seats. As you may recall we had cut out all the steel at the bow under the SS windlass plate and welded in a new one, but there was still lots of rust inside the chain locker, mostly the “roof” area where the foam was once again not sprayed in well and has rusted badly. So I crawled in there as best I could and went at it with chipping hammers, wire brush, scrapers, etc. and then went over as much as I could with a big electric grinder with a wire brush on it. A real ugly job in 100+ degrees, breathing in and wearing all that rust and foam and trying to work with the heavy grinder all over my head! But I persevered and got it as clean as I could and will get back in there next week and slap on as much epoxy primer as I can to hold the rust at bay. Then it was on to the cockpit seat storage area which was another nasty bit of work. I’d tried to get the crew to do this and they got some done with the needle gun and a bit of sand blasting but the problem areas are in the corners on the inside edge where the seat backs are and around all the angle iron that they used to frame up this complex shape and then bent and welded the steel plate onto. I thought/hoped they had got it all as I’d spent quite a bit of time showing them what needed to be done, but alas there was still many missed spots so I took over. Another nasty contortion job as I had to turn my head to get it into the cut out openings you may remember are behind each cushion, then get one arm in there as well and go at beating the #@$% out of the rusted areas with a chipping hammer so the rust all flakes away. Even with ear plugs it is VERY noisy to say nothing of sweaty and tiring. And people ask what kind of exercise program I’m on!!! But I finished the last of it yesterday afternoon and got a good thick coat of epoxy primer on the entire bottom and about 6” up the sides and that was a great way to end my day yesterday (Fri). I think I’ve discovered why you always saw such thick coats of paint everyone on things like steel ferry boats and commercial ships! I think that even if there is some rust underneath, as there pretty much always will be, if you can completely seal everywhere with a good surface of tough paint and keep all water out, it holds up pretty well. So my plan is to now do the same on LTY. Particularly in areas that get wet on and off and are not well ventilated such as areas like the chain locker, cockpit seat storage and the big storage locker in the transom steps, have a thick continuous set of coatings of epoxy paint and try my best to keep it that way going forward and keep the rust at bay that way. Time will tell.
I’m also feeling much better now that I’ve got a plan for the hull and the work has begun. In the end we’ve cut out 4 sections; one long skinny one on the port side of the bow, one small square one under the starboard side of the bow thruster tube (a totally random spot I can’t figure out why), and then two large panels on either side of the center rib behind the prop shaft exit. I decided not to cut out any more in the aft area and instead we are going to add an additional layer of 6mm plate fore and aft. At the bow this will go from the very front of the bow starting just above the waterline and going down to just past the bottom of the bow thruster tube, about 5’ long, and then a very large section aft that starts about 1m forward of the aft end of the keel and runs aft all the way to where there is already and added reinforcement layer of steel plate for the two arms of the aft cutlass bearing/prop shaft support. This piece is about over 2m/7 ft long and about 40cm/18” wide. I decided to add this additional layer of new steel plate on top of these and a large area of the existing hull was the best solution overall for LTY and me (confidence) and also because I’ve been talking with a few others and beginning to consider possibly trying out some extreme latitude sailing adventures near the south or north poles and so I’m designing these new extra steel panels as “ice breaker” sections just in case I want to give that a try. For now though I assure you I’m sticking in the 20/20 zone (20 degrees N/S of the equator) and these tropical climes I have come to love.
I ran into some “legal” issues with Baobab around the wording in the contracts for all this new work after they had a some incidents last year with other boats apparently so it took me almost a week of back and forth with them to get the language in the contract to match what we were agreeing to. The good news is that we were in agreement from the start as to what we both wanted and just needed to get the wording in the contract to match. And by the time we were done, all the new work on fixing the hull came in at less than I was fearing and while still a very unexpected hit on my budget it is all money well spent to restore my confidence and for the amount of work and steel involved so this is “cheap” peace of mind for me and has my confidence in the boat building daily.
The 4x8 plate of 6mm steel arrived on Wednesday night and so I have been working with two crew, the main metal guy and his very good assistant, to cut out all the steel around the rusted out sections and make up templates for these and templates for the large new additional steel plate layer we are adding in. I worked with them for fitting and welding in the new steel patches in the bow and am now very confident in their welding abilities. They grind out the steel edges to make a good V and then make two passes over the whole joint so I think it will be both very strong and water tight. Even then we will be welding in a 2nd layer on top of all this so it will be double the thickness and strength of the original. I’ll turn this “bug” into a “feature” as I mentioned earlier by making this an “extreme latitude ice readiness retrofit”!! Next week we/they will be busy welding in the new plate for the two aft cut out sections and then welding in the big new steel plates are going to be added to the aft area on either side of the center rib.
Most of the work with my crew this week was up on the deck were we continue to be very busy working to sand, fill and prime all the little nooks and crannies that are everywhere on the deck. It may look like a mess to the untrained eye but this patchwork quilt look is very good as it shows how all the areas are being filled and levelled in preparation for spraying it all with layers of primer/sander. This is then followed my more sanding to find any remaining high and low spots, which at the beginning there will be lots of, and either sanding them out with large sanding boards or filling them in. This is the same process used in auto body work as you need to have a perfectly flat surface before you but on the final layers of gloss paint as this mirror like coating will show the tiniest of imperfections.
And finally, the good news is that the prop shaft is now being machined in Suva. They ordered in the new SS round stock last month and finally shipped it down to the shipyard in Suva for machining of the two ends. Bad news is that the quote they gave me for the machining was WAY out and more than doubled! But not much I can do and all part of the “stupid tax” I have to pay for my “learning experience” when I bounced LTY into that coral hole last year so is just a price I have to pay I guess. I’ve got all new cutlass bearings and I also bit the bullet and ordered a good Lasdrop dripless prop shaft seal that I’ll install when we put in the new prop and eliminate that source of salt water in the engine room bilge.
That my friends is how my week has gone over on my side of the world! Hope yours went as well and that you saw as much progress and I’ll be back with another weekly update next weekend.
Wayne & Ruby the Wonderdog