Sunday, 3 June 2012

Boat dismantling

Lot of work to do, so it's reassuring to have a neighbour in the boat yard with a big catamaran and even more work to do:

This is a 39' Catana, with the gel coat stripped away and the hull drying out before re-coating with gel coat. It will be drying for several months in the shed before it's ready for the new gel coat.

Fortunately, my hulls are fine. Only the decks have leaked, but the damage is quite a bit less extensive than I'd expected. Still, there there are holes in the gel coat on the coachroof that can only be dealt with properly under cover, and I have a piece of plywood to replace on one of the bows - the plywood is meant to provide the strength for a big cleat which will take a lot of strain anchoring, mooring or riding to a sea anchor, so that needs to be reliable. I'll replace that next week.

An extra job I hadn't anticipated is the removal and re-installation of all the windows. I did this recently, but on close inspection, it was clear that a couple of the windows were no longer bonded well to the coachroof - so they all had to come off as losing a window at sea could be catastrophic. I'd followed the instructions here for fitting windows without using bolts, but the paint I used on the windows failed. I'll try again, but without priming paint on the windows this time, having the Sikaflex directly in contact with the coachroof. The 3M double-sided tape was disappointing too - it was ridiculously easy to remove from the windows. It was supposed to provide much of the bonding strength. I'll use bits of it again, but only enough to hold the windows in place while the Sikaflex cures. I'll protect the Sikaflex from UV with some paint on the outside of the windows, round the edge.

Oh well, with windows out I can use grinding and sanding machinery more easily.

Since replacing the toilet, holding tank, valves and through-hull fittings with a simple composting toilet, I've got the bug for removing anything more complex or less reliable than it needs to be.

This corroded lock for the stern locker won't be replaced. All locks corrode, unless you pay a lot of money for them. And a fancy lock might suggest something worth stealing behind them. I'll fill the holes, and attach a rope to the inside of the locker lid which extends through the bulkhead into a cupboard in the bedroom. To lock the lockers, just pull the rope tight and press it into a jam cleat. Nothing can go wrong with that! And would-be thieves won't know where to start to open the locker.

Here's a water filler top that won't be replaced either. The new pipework I installed on the boat doesn't fit this, so I left it disconnected while I tried to think of a neat way to make the connection. But the rubber seal on this fitting needs replacing too, which is a hassle to find or to make. Without a decent seal, drinking water can easily be contaminated with sea water. And the screws into the deck leak water into the deck. Solution? Get rid of it! The pipe that leads to the water tank leads to the stern locker. This fitting is in the deck of the stern locker. If I just get rid of it, and leave the pipe loose in the locker, I'll have no screw holes in the deck to leak, no seals to maintain, and no chance of sea-water getting in. Filling the tank means just lifting the end of the filler pipe out of the locker and putting the hose in. Which is no more inconvenient than getting the winch handle to unlock this fitting. Of course I'll have to tie the end of the pipe up under the deck to prevent my water syphoning out, and stick a cork in it for good measure.

A weak point of the Autohelm steering system is the plug/socket arrangement to connect the actuator to the power supply and data feed. When I bought my Autohelm, I didn't wait for this fitting to leak and corrode - I chopped it off immediately and replaced it with some highly recommended gear!

But you can see it is beginning to corrode, and I had to fiddle about with it to get it to work on my trip up the river. So this has to go too. This is also screwed into the deck above a stern locker. That stern locker has a ventilation pipe close to this fitting - I'll use a plug and socket system that isn't screwed into the deck. I can pass the lead with the socket on through the pipe when I want to connect up the Autohelm. The connection can be shoved back down the pipe where it will mostly be protected from water. And when not in use, the lead can be left in the ventilated locker, where it is very dry due to the continuous ventilation I've built in.

Let's see how much further I can minimise boat maintenance during this refurbishment!

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