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Finally finished up this little project. Always a challenge when I have to dodge rain drops. I installed the trim back into a fresh application of Boatlife teak-colored bedding compound, then installed the plugs with varnish as glue. Some folks use shellac, but varnish seems to work just as well. Gluing them in with anything stronger makes them difficult to remove next time.

Plugs set, waiting for the varnish to cure so I can trim and sand flush.

To trim, set a sharp (very sharp) chisel 1/8″ proud of the surface being finished, and gently tap. The top of the plug splits away. You can do this several more times for a curved profile to pare away excess material at the edges before you begin to sand. Just don’t set the chisel too closely to the base material, or the plug may split away below the surface. I set the beveled edge of the chisel towards the eyebrow so that plug tends to split up and away from the base. After trimming with a chisel, use a small block with 150 grit sandpaper wrapped around, and sand only the proud part of the plug, as much as possible. You will certainly sand a little bit of the base material as well, but careful attention to the level of the plug will keep it to a minimum. After all is smooth and flush, coat with your finish of choice. I use Cetol on these.

Done. Trimmed, sanded, and coated with Cetol.

I finally wrapped up the starboard side eyebrow trim, paring the plugs and coating each plug twice with Cetol. My slip neighbor had a box of teak plugs containing a number of different sizes and I was able to match the two remaining fastener holes with plugs from his collection. Thanks Frank!

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Here the plugs are trimmed with a razor-sharp chisel. All you have to do is set the chisel at the base of the plug, leaving enough to sand flush, and touch the end of the chisel with a mallet. The top of the plug splits away cleanly.

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Here it is sanded flush and coated twice with Cetal.

I also cleared Cay of Sea of all the stuff that should come off for winter storage ashore – bed linens, pillows, foodstuffs, liquid soap and shaving kits, sleeping bags – and schlepped it up to the house. I managed to choose the dock cart with a flat tire, but couldn’t tell, of course, until it was loaded. I used it anyway.

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Bags of stuff to come ashore.

I left the by-products of oil changing (two seasons’ worth) on the galley counter so I would remember to empty them into recycled oil drum at the boat yard. There is also a special bin for old oil filters and absorbing pads.

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Waste-oil products for disposal, and a gallon of pink stuff the last bit of winterizing after haulout.

I brought down the winter storage hatches from my shed and removed the the varnished drop boards and fore hatch for stowage below, out of the rain, ice and snow for the next four months. These old hatches still keep the weather out, but aren’t serviceable for daily use. They are ugly, broken, and worn, but can be left out in the weather without consequence.

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These didn’t get their fall re-coat of varnish and now it’s too cold. They won’t suffer, though, being inside the boat. Next spring I need to strip and completely refinish the board with vents in it. Water has gotten under one side and begun to turn black.

I removed the headsail and its bag, which needs repairing over the cold months (the bag, that is). It’s old and the stitching is giving way. New stitching will put it good as new, though.

I also brought the dinghy gear ashore. I’ve been inspired lately by Dylan Winter’s video blog KeepTurningLeft that chronicles his love of small boats and his gradual, multi-seasonal circumnavigation of England and Scotland. He posts delicious, beautifully edited videos of his experiences in boats as large as a Westerly Centaur, and as small as a duck punt. So inspired by Dylan this winter, I’m going to sail Sea Minor on nice days as far as time and inclination allow.

I delivered Cay of Sea to the boat yard across the the creek today and left her beside the travel lift slip. She’ll wait patiently through the winter as I plan and execute another slate of maintenance and improvement projects.  A tentative list includes servicing the prop shaft coupling, replacing cockpit drain hoses, inspecting/replacing any engine hoses that need it, neatening up the engine compartment, rebuilding raw water pump (it’s beginning to leak), replacing circulator (coolant) engine pump (it’s leaked ever since the engine was installed new!), re-bedding fasteners in cockpit sole.

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Here she is waiting for high water to haul out for the winter.

This also may be the year that I open up the side decks and recore as necessary, which, of course, will occasion the beginning of repainting the deck. Repainting the deck will be a multi-year project, as I’ll just do sections at a time. I don’t want to have the boat out of commission for an entire season. So we’ll see how far I get next year. I still have a few projects I didn’t get to from last spring!

Yesterday I addressed a problem with one of the teak pieces that hold the drop boards in place.  It serves double duty as a sliding hatch stop – a function in which it serves poorly.

Split from the top.  Also couldn't remove the piece intact and torn a section out of the back.

Split from the top (rounded area). Also couldn’t remove the piece intact and torn a section out of the back.

If the sliding motion to close the hatch isn’t gentle enough, the upright is in danger of trying to stop the momentum of this very heavy hatch.  It is liable to split or break if hit too hard.  I’ll have to think of a method for a hatch slider stop, probably mounted inside and forward at the edge of the opening.  Anyway, the occasion for removal of the old retainer is to replace due to damage.  The piece was susceptible to damage anyway, as there is a fairly pronounced knothole in the top of it.  The split starts at the top, and passes directly through the knot hole.  Upon removing the piece, I also found rot in the knot hole – I guess this is a good place to trap moisture.  The piece was held in place with eight screws and 3M5200.  Eight screws seems like over-kill to me, but add 5200 to the installation and it’s more like welding, then bolting two pieces of steel together.  Perhaps the construction crew was nervous about the hatch-stop function, and 5200ed it in place for good measure. . .  Nah – they just had a tube of 5200 on hand and stuck the piece on with it, then screwed it down.

I began by removing the bungs and unscrewing the fasteners.  Then the hard part: slowly leveraging the teak board away from the gelcoat surface it is bonded to.  I used DeBond solvent to release the 5200.  It is effective, but patience is required.  With a series of chisels, a screw driver and putty knife, I gradually lifted the edge and squirted DeBond in the opening, gradually achieving full release of the adhesive.  And although it wasn’t possible to reuse the old piece and glue it back together, I still preserved the shape of the piece to use as a pattern for the new.

I have some left-over 2″ x .5″ teak decking that is the perfect thickness.  I just needed to edge-glue two pieces together to get stock that was wide enough.  I wet out the edges with straight resin, then applied epoxy thickened with 407 bonding/fairing compound.  The thickened epoxy fills any gaps and makes a stronger bond.  Thickening it with fairing compound makes it easier to sand smooth.

I marked the new piece and cut to shape.  Then sanded smooth with two successively finer grades of paper, relieving the edges of sharp corners.  I finally hand-sanded the rounded over portions to remove unfair machine sanding marks.

Old and new

Old and new

I drilled the fastener holes, then drilled the 3/8s bung holes through roughly half the depth of the piece with my drill press.  Except for the first hole drilled. . .  I wasn’t paying attention to holding the work securely, and let it ride up the drill bit!  Sigh. . .  So I mounted the 1/2″ drill bit and drilled it out, then chucked the 1/2″ plug cutter and cut a couple of plugs from scrap teak, then patched the big stupid hole. I left the fastener out of that hole.  I think the plug is securely glued in place, but I don’t want to disturb it again, and the piece doesn’t really need 8 fasteners.  So firmly holding down the piece, I drilled the rest of the bung holes with no further drama.

I dry fit the piece to ensure screw hole alignment, then took it off to apply sealant (Boatlife polysulfied).  I had meant to tape the outline before I caulked. . . well, this is my life.  Curiously, I taped afterward, and it worked out okay.  It doesn’t seem to matter much, because I make a mess with this stuff regardless of tape or gloves (always a challenge to remember gloves).  Good thing there is mineral spirits.  I cleaned up the mess, and it looked like this before bungs:

Mounted with screws exposed

Mounted with screws exposed

I had cut some plugs.  After anointing them with varnish to glue them in the hole, I tapped them home. Hmm. . .  some of the holes seems too shallow.  I torqued down a few of the more shallow screws and tried again.  I may need to used honest-to-goodness glue with these, as they still seemed set in a bit shallow.  We’ll see if they trim out okay.  If not, I’ll use a waterproof wood glue.  You hate to use a permanent bond, because they may have to come out again some day.  Epoxy will tear out the sides of the bung hole upon removal of the bung.

Plugs cut from scrap.

Plugs cut from scrap.

Bunged.

Bunged.

Finally, I cleaned up and cast off the dock lines, motoring out into the creek and into the bay.  The weather was miserable and humid, damp, overcast and sub-60 degrees, but I had to use the boat for something besides projects, after sitting at the pier for a month.

Oh yeah - we can use it as a boat too!

Oh yeah – we can use it as a boat too!

I removed several plastic winch handle pockets because they were in the way, and I hate the way they look anyway.  Now I have screw holes to fill.  You can tell from my duck-tape-sealant on the depth panel, that I have to reseal that too.  These kind of things always keep boat owners busy.

 

I had a lot of time for this project today, and finished the construction phase.  Actually, with some time spent over the last several days, I managed to design and install the turn buttons, and locate and install the ladder hardware.  Here is a photo – which doesn’t really do justice to the amount of time that went into the these two little accomplishments:

You will have to click to enlarge in order to see the turn buttons on the corners and the hooks mounted just under that counter top.

You will have to click and enlarge in order to see the turn buttons on the corners and the hooks mounted just under the counter top.

I ended up using some hook-and-eye hardware that my boat neighbor gave me as it was more heavy-duty and of “marine” grade.  I mostly used it because of the heavier gauge material of its construction. The turn buttons were made of some teak decking scrap left over from another project.  It took a bit of fiddling to get the spacers right between the facing surround and the turn buttons.  Without the spacers, the buttons wouldn’t ride up onto the compartment cover.

Hook attached to a pad-eye.

Hook attached to a pad-eye.

Spacer between facing surround and turn button.

Spacer between facing surround and turn button.

The next step was to install the eyes to secure the ladder, but first I had to fix the holes through which the clevis pins were passed in the old system.  Here are a few photos of the holes being bunged and hardware installed.

There were four bung like this because the plugs weren't long enough to fill the two holes front-to-back.

There were four bungs like this because the plugs weren’t long enough to fill the two holes front-to-back.

The bung is trim and sanded flush, and the eye installed on the ladder.

The bung is trimmed and sanded flush, and the eye installed on the ladder.

With the holes bunged and the hardware located on the ladder, it was time to refinish it.  I sanded it all smooth and removed all the old varnish.  I also trimmed the top of the ladder uprights even with the counter top.  Having them extend above the level of the counter looked like a trip hazard to me.

Ladder trimmed and sanded smooth.

Ladder trimmed and sanded smooth.

I trimmed about four inches off the top of each upright.

I trimmed about four inches off the top of each upright.

I also repaired the top step that was mounted on the counter top.  The wood split out when I removed the old bungs.  I repaired it with epoxy, bunged the old mounting holes, and sanded it smooth.

Bunged.

Bunged.

Repaired and bunged.

Repaired and bunged.

Clean and ready for varnish.  Sorry about the shadows.

Clean and ready for varnish (sorry about the shadows).

Compartment cover and ladder in place - before trimming the ladder tops.

Compartment cover and ladder in place.  This is before trimming the ladder tops.

I spent the rest of the afternoon sanding and varnishing with a sealer coat.  I also sanded and sealed the teak trim around the counter top.  It was in terrible shape and has bothered me for years.  This is finally the right time to clean it up.

Tomorrow I will begin building up the varnish layers and begin the finish work on the cockpit sole and permanently mounting the rudder bracket.

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