Good morning Caribbean!

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In contrast to the arriving cold front in Marineland, FL, I awoke almost too warm for clothes. There was a nice cool breeze drifting through the boat as my eyes opened. “Where am I?” I wondered. The sun was coming up sending streams of light through the marine haze. Or was the haze in my mind? It does not matter for now I am back in the Caribbean, with the boat gently swaying from a like swell reaching into the marina.

Isletta as seen from a hill top in Fajardo, PR

Isla Isletta as seen from a hill top in Fajardo, PR

 

Yes! I must grab my camera and take a walk, breathe in the Caribbean air, enjoy the pastel blue waters, colors of the countryside and experience the friendly nature of the people.

 

 

 

I am here. Life is so good.

I am here. Life is so good.

 

Now this is a nice spot to stop and enjoy the day. See you here.

Posted in Ports of Call, Random Bits of Living, Travel Log | Leave a comment

What a beautiful day!

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I awoke to a chill from the North early this morning. The temperatures dropped about 30 degrees F from last night. It was dark and cold on the boat and I could not sleep. I fixed a hot cup of tea, dressed warm and took a walk to the beach. I captured this beautiful sunrise photo just for you! Good morning! It is indeed a beautiful day. Somewhere out there is my soul… I belong to the ocean.

Beautiful Sunrise at Marineland, FL

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Relocating the Battery Switches to an accessible area

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Battery Switch and circuit breakers were located behind and under galley sink.

Battery Switch and circuit breakers were located behind and under galley sink.

Sometimes battery switches are not located in a very accessible spot. I prefer to have the battery switch easily accessible but not in the way where a foot could accidentally hit it. Take a look at this installation, where the battery switch was located behind the galley sink drain in a very difficult location to access. Also there were some circuit breakers and a reset button. Look very closely at the photo. Who would install something like this?

Marking cabinet for recessed Battery Switches

Marking cabinet for recessed Battery Switches

 

My solution was to relocate the main and engine battery switches to a recessed panel near the companionway entry. The companionway ladder blocks this so an errant foot cannot trip the switches, yet it can be easily seen or reached by hand.

 

 

Cabinet opening for recessed Battery Switches

Cabinet opening for recessed Battery Switches

Battery Switch panel depth spacer

Battery Switch panel depth spacer

Notice the new recessed switch panel also holds resettable circuit breakers for the anchor windlass and AC inverter as well as a battery system monitor.

Installed Battery Switch Panel with Circuit Breakers for windlass and inverter and system monitor

Installed Battery Switch Panel with Circuit Breakers for windlass and inverter and system monitor

This new design brings all the high current items to one central area, easy to manage and very short cable runs. Simple and done. Nice!

 

 

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What’s a boat without a little dinghy?

When cruising, every sailboat needs its own sports car, a little dinghy. I wanted to purchase a 9′ Montgomery sailing dinghy, but could not find one on the used market. So why not build my own? Ok, I had a friend whom also needed a dinghy, so the dinghy project percolated up the extensive to-do list. Last fall I re-drafted plans for a 9′ lapstrake dinghy that could row, sail or power with a small outboard motor and we began construction of a building form. It took a couple months to construct the building form, a male plug.

The small, 6.5' dinghy uses lapstrake sides made from a portion of the form.

The small, 6.5′ dinghy uses lapstrake sides made from a portion of the form.

As we were only going to build a couple dinghies, the process of making a female mold from the male plug was eliminated and we just laid up a 9′ dinghy on top of the form, constructing the dinghy from the inside, out. My friend did not have room to carry a 9′ dinghy on his davits, so we planned to make sections on the form to cut and contort into a 6.5′ dinghy. Notice the seat bases are filled with 3lb density marine flotation foam. The seat is a “U” shape allowing for good position to row or sail. A dagger board will extend through bottom of boat. The centerboard trunk has not been fabricated yet but will bond to the hull in the approximate location of the blue masking tape in bottom center of boat.

Bottom pieces being removed from the mirror.

Bottom pieces being removed from the mirror.

The bottom pieces were laid up a a glass mirror in two sections, then bonded together to form a 5 degree deadrise. This process allows us to make a finished outer surface very quickly with only the joints requiring gel-coat touch up.

 

Originally, the narrow lapstrake bottom was too unstable, so we cut out the bottom and redesigned a flatter, wider bottom with a lower center of gravity.

I am sorry to say that many of the pictures of the process were lost when my hard drive died last fall.

Ready for sea trial, the 6'8" LOA dinghy looks great.

Ready for sea trial, the 6’8″ LOA dinghy looks great.

 

The small dinghy project is now complete and a wonderful success. The narrow, deep bottom was cut out and a new wider 5 degree deadrise bottom was glassed into its place. The seat was lowered about 2 inches as well, lowering the center of gravity. Static stability tests at the dock demonstrated increasing positive righting moment to the point of heel that would allow water to enter over the gunwale. 3 lb density flotation foam fills the side seats and make the boat unsinkable.

Paula took her for a good row. Delighted with its ease of handling.

Paula took her for a good row. Delighted with its ease of handling.

 

 

Friends were eager to take to the oars and give her a spin. The dinghy is a delight to row and maintains a straight course when rowing.

 

Jan enjoyed rowing too and wore an ear to ear grin when he returned to the dock.

Jan rows back from a brief sea trial, wearing a grin from ear to ear.

Jan rows back from a brief sea trial, wearing a grin from ear to ear.

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Sugar scoop cabinets bonded in place

The swim step portion of the sugar scoop was completed early Spring 2016 and filled with 16 lb density marine foam. The cabinets were constructed using flat panels temporarily

Rough cabinet formed as 3 flat panels

Rough cabinet formed as 3 flat panels

glued together with sharp corners.

 

Duck tape hold panels until epoxy hardens

Duck tape hold panels until epoxy hardens

1/4 round cylinders make by laminating glass over 2" dia PVC tubing

1/4 round cylinders make by laminating glass over 2″ dia PVC tubing

Sharp corner trimmed from cabinets.

Sharp corner trimmed from cabinets.

Cabinet ready for white gel-coat application

Cabinet ready for white gel-coat application

Cabinets with white gel-coat on corners.

Cabinets with white gel-coat on corners.

Completed cabinets ready to bond into sugar scoop.

Completed cabinets ready to bond into sugar scoop.

Additional glass layers added to upper portion of sugar scoop using VE resin.

Additional glass layers added to upper portion of sugar scoop using VE resin.

ScoopLam-2

Cutting out opening hatch portion of cabinet.

Cutting out opening hatch portion of cabinet.

Trial fit of cabinet.

Trial fit of cabinet.

Operation of opening hatch.

Operation of opening hatch.

Construction of water trap.

Construction of water trap.

Hatch water trap.

Hatch water trap.

Completed water traps in cabinet hatches.

Completed water traps in cabinet hatches.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Two layers of 9 oz cloth were laminated over waxed 2″ dia PVC tube to make the rounded corner forms. A 2″ spherical form was use to make the corner where the tube forms intersected. These were bonded to inside of cabinet sides.

 

 

 

The sharp corners were then cut away, leaving the 2″ radius edges

 

 

 

 

 

A trail fit to make sure everything fits.

 

 

 

 

 

White gel-coat is applied to rounded surfaces.

 

 

 

 

Completed cabinets ready for hatches to be cut.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Additional layers are glassed into place on the upper sugar scoop sides using Vinyl-ester resin, 1808 and 1708 biaxial cloth layers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The cabinet hatches are cut from the completed cabinets. Hardware hinges and locking latches were ordered.

 

 

 

 

Trial fit before bonding into place.

 

 

 

 

 

Detail showing how the cabinet hatches swing open.

 

 

 

 

 

Self draining water traps are made for cabinets and…

 

 

 

 

 

hatch lids.

 

 

 

 

 

Ready for final trim and bonding into place.

 

 

Sugar Scoop Cabinet Bonded into place

Sugar Scoop Cabinet Bonded into place

Sugar Scoop Cabinet ready for final gel-coat touch up.

Sugar Scoop Cabinet ready for final gel-coat touch up.

 

Detail showing built-in rain drain gutters.

 

 

 

 

 

Completed. Ready for touch up.

 

 

 

 

A bonding flange is made on each side at top of sugar scoop.

A bonding flange is made on each side at top of sugar scoop.

 

 

To complete the sugar scoop, a flange was made using a panel template with a hole cut out to allow placement of fiberglass into recess to make an area for bonding the last panels in place. To do this, a piece of clear Plexiglas scrap was cut to size of panel with center cut out and thoroughly waxed for removal. Tape (removed for this picture) was used to hold the Plexiglas in place while the resin cured.

 

 

 

Final panel on port side is bonded into place.

Final panel on port side is bonded into place.

 

Then the last finished panels were bonded into place. Here the edges are prepared for gel coat touch up.

 

Final panel on starboard side is bonded into place.

Final panel on starboard side is bonded into place.

 

 

Only gel coat touch-up on edges and installation of hinge and latch hardware remain for project completion. Project length… 1 year, 4 months.

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Fabricating the Swim Step

Pieces of the swim step ready for trimming and joining.

Pieces of the swim step ready for trimming and joining.

In the post “More Sugar Scoop Parts” we saw how to make prefinished gel-coat parts using a window glass surface. With the parts made, the pieces can be joined to make the swim step. The step was made in two pieces as the glass surface was not large enough to make in one piece. The two pieces are sanded for bonding, laid upside down on the glass surface and then layers of glass cloth are applied with vinyl-ester resin as before.

The Step pieces are sanded for bonding, placed on the glass surface and laminated together.

The Step pieces are sanded for bonding, placed on the glass surface and laminated together.

 

When cured, the fabricated swim step is released from the glass surface and cleaned up. The piece must be trimmed to fit the transom of the boat. The gel-coat is about 20 to 30 mils thick, with layers of surface veil, 6 oz cloth and 4 layers of 1708 fiberglass stitched mat. The result is about 6 mm (1/4″) thick and very stiff. Notice the recess for the telescopic swim ladder is molded in using the mold piece mentioned in a previous post.

The completed swim step is trimmed to fit the transom.

The completed swim step is trimmed to fit the transom.

Here we can see how the swim step fits snugly into the sugar scoop cavity. The ladder recess is molded into the swim step. The water line is about 10-11 inches below the surface of the step. When completed, cabinets will reside on either side serving as a step up to a center step mounted on the transom above the boat name. The dead space under the step will be water tight with a small inspection plate added later to ensure the dead space remains dry. Condensation would be the most likely source of moisture accumulation in this area. The cabinets will have opening tops and small drains built in. One side will be fitted with a fresh water shower later.

Custom formed tabs will be bonded to the hull so the swim step can be bonded to the hull by laying it on top of the completed tab.

Custom formed tabs will be bonded to the hull so the swim step can be bonded to the hull by laying it on top of the completed tab.

Custom tabs are made using the swim step as a mold. The tabs will be bonded to the hull and scoop, providing a bonding surface for the swim step. This must be done as there is no other way to complete the tabbing and bonding from within the dead space. Here we see the tabs are fabricated and checked for fit. The next step was to build up the layers of 1708 fibreglass cloth on the inside of the sugar scoop. Six new layers were applied, bringing the total to 9 layers. When the last layer is applied to the bottom, after the step is bonded and the drain hole filled, there will be a total of 10 layers of 1708 with a thickness of 12 mm or about 1/2″.

Top tabs are bonded to the hull to tie in the sugar scoop top.

Top tabs are bonded to the hull to tie in the sugar scoop top.

The tops of the sugar scoop sides are pulled into final shape to continue the contour of the hull using pre-made top pieces bonded to the hull. Once cured, the side is taped to the top piece following the hull contour and glassed in place from underneath. Peel ply was used on the tab surface to facilitate a good bonding surface for the additional side lamination to be done after the step is bonded in place.

Cardboard mock-up of scoop cabinets

Cardboard mock-up of scoop cabinets

This cardboard mock up shows roughly what the new sugar scoop and swim step will look like when completed. The edges will be slightly rounded and the cabinets will open for storage with drains should they ship water.

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Radar Mounting Bracket Fabrication

Radar Antenna

Radar Antenna

The radar antenna needs a mast mount to secure it into position so a carbon fibre bracket is custom made.

Applying White Gelcoat

Applying White Gelcoat

The steps are simple.

1. Mask the area on waxed glass.

2. Paint white gelcoat onto masked area.

3. Cut fibreglass pieces.

4. Apply surface veil over gelcoat using white pigmented UV resistant epoxy.

5. Apply carbon fibre layers with un-pigmented epoxy.

6. Apply additional layers as needed reversing the above steps for the other surface.

White Gelcoat Complete

White Gelcoat Complete

Cutting Surface Veil

Cutting Surface Veil

Fibreglass Layers Cut and Ready for Lamination

Fibreglass Layers Cut and Ready for Lamination

Applying white pigmented UV resistant epoxy and surface veil.

Applying white pigmented UV resistant epoxy and surface veil.

Adding Carbon Layers

Adding Carbon Layers

Adding 1708 Fibreglass Layers.

Adding 1708 Fibreglass Layers.

Fully laminated parts

Fully laminated parts

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More Sugar Scoop Parts

In the last post for the Sugar Scoop construction, we saw how the parts are outlined with masking tape on a waxed mirror or window glass.

Some parts outlined in masking tape on waxed glass.

Some parts outlined in masking tape on waxed glass.

 

 

This process ensures a smooth defect free outside surface as the outside is laid against the waxed glass and the layers of fibreglass are laminated on top in a outside to inside approach. Another method is to make just sheets of white gelcoat fibreglass panels then cut out the parts, but this wastes material. Outlining the part with masking tape allows one to easily apply the gelcoat and fibreglass only where it is needed. In either case the final parts need be trimmed to size, but less waste is generated by masking a part outline. The orange part is the mold for creating the boarding ladder recess in the transom step.

White Gelcoat applied to exterior areas of swim step.

White Gelcoat applied to exterior areas of swim step.

 

 

White gelcoat is painted onto the exterior surface areas only. The transom step is made in a two pieces and joined together (the sheet of glass was not large enough to laminate in one piece). The seam will be at the center of the step where there is an internal support.

Detail of ladder recess mold.

Detail of ladder recess mold.

 

 

Remember, this view is upside down from inside the swim step. The orange mold will be released, revealing the finished white recess where the swim ladder will be mounted. The ladder telescopes and folds into the recess area. You will get a better idea how this works when you see the finished sugar scoop.

White gelcoat outlines ready for fibreglass layup.

White gelcoat outlines ready for fibreglass layup.

 

 

Four pieces are laid out on this sheet of glass. The two outlines, half white, half clear, will be joined to make the horizontal swim step surface. The clear areas will be inside the cabinets and are not finished white until all the glass lamination is complete inside the cabinets. For now, the areas to receive further lamination or tabbing are left without white gelcoat for a better fabrication bond. When the gelcoat is cured, fibreglass layers can be applied.

Finished lamination ready for cutting

Finished lamination ready for cutting

 

 

A pair of small panels with a single 1708 lamination, along with 6 oz cloth and surface veil is removed from the mirror surface and ready to be trimmed to final size. The thin panels will be easier to bend for assembly. The parts will be tabbed together from the inside and then more fibreglass layers applied from the inside of the cabinets.

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Sugar Scoop Construction Continued

Cardboard mock-up of scoop cabinets

Cardboard mock-up of scoop cabinets

Winter is over and work has begun again, for the third season. The new exhaust extension tube was bonded into place. It allows the engine exhaust to pass through the original transom through the area under the swim step and exit through the bottom of the sugar scoop above the water line. The exhaust hose is some 20 feet long and forms a loop high above the deck in the engine room before exiting to the rear of the boat. Bonding it in place had to be done prior to making the swim step and scoop storage cabinets. The cabinets will be water tight and do not empty to the bilge. The cabinet bottom is flush with the swim step between the cabinets. The area under the swim step is dead space, but a deck plate will be installed for periodic inspection. The cardboard mock up will be used to trace patterns on pre-made sheet glass then bonded together to make the cabinet. The corners will be somewhat rounded when complete. A center “U” shaped step, centered above the boat name will complete the step from the sugar scoop to the aft deck.

Layout of the Sugar Scoop Parts

Layout of the Sugar Scoop Parts

Sugar Scoop Parts Marked on Panel

Sugar Scoop Parts Marked on Panel

Cutting Sugar Scoop Parts

Cutting Sugar Scoop Parts

Some of the Sugar Scoop Cabinet Parts

Some of the Sugar Scoop Cabinet Parts

Oscars OP-600 Mold Release Wax

Oscars OP-600 Mold Release Wax

More Parts Outlined on Waxed Window Glass

More Parts Outlined on Waxed Window Glass

The card board mock up is taken apart and laid onto a preformed white gelcoat fibreglass panel. The part outlines are traced onto the masking tape prior to cutting. The masking tape reduces the chipping at the edges when cutting. Most of the corners will be trimmed and rounded over in the final steps, so chips are not detrimental here.

 

 

Next the parts are cut and will be sanded to final shape as necessary.

 

 

 

 

 

Here we can see some of the parts that make the sugar scoop cabinets. The remaining parts are made by taping and marking the outlines upon waxed window glass. Oscars OP-600 is the best wax I have found for this purpose. Three to five coats of wax are applied.

 

Then the outlines marked with masking tape. Note the black 2″ tape in the middle of the two larger panels and the orange ladder recess mold. These two larger panel will be joined to make the swim step platform. I used 3 layers of black Duck tape over 3M blue tape. Duck tape is very difficult to remove from the glass is applied directly. The thickness will allow me to tab the cabinet sides to the platform and later fillet into the gelcoat. White gelcoat will only be applied to the square area of these panels and the two smaller panels. The rest of the panel will be inside the lockers which can be painted white after final assembly.

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Bottom Re-lamination

I was not able to begin the re-lamination of the boat bottom before winter 2013-14 set in. It was an especially cold and long winter in Maryland and conditions were not good to start the resin work until June. However it was not until July that I had all the preliminary preparations to the bottom complete, like reinforcement for the rudder skeg, sugar scoop bottom design, extensive sanding of the hull bottom to smooth some of the rough cut places, and keel repairs. Once all that was done, it was time to enlist friends and begin the job. I am so thankful for the help of my good friends whom worked so hard with me to perform an excellent quality job.

Applying fibreglass cloth to boat bottom

Applying fibreglass cloth to boat bottom

Having done this myself now, I do not recommend others attempt to do the same. The work was extremely strenuous and demanding. The learning curve is steep and had I not had extensive experience with composites, I would not have attempted the re-lamination myself. After the resin is catalysed, one only has 10 to 15 minutes to work with it. The possibility that the resin kicks too soon, or the lamination falls on your head is too great to ignore. Then once started, you must continue until finished. This is a job best left to the professionals. So what is so hard about it? Let’s find out.

Chemist preparing resin and adding catalyst

Chemist preparing resin and adding catalyst

Although you see only 3 people in these photos, we were a crew of 4. The 4th person is behind the lens in the photos, but was a crucial member of the team having their own assigned tasks. Each member has certain responsibilities and must work well as a team. I was very fortunate in picking a team that worked well and very hard together. One person was responsible for proportioning and catalysing the vinyl-ester resin. He kept track of the quantity used in each step of the process and computed how much resin and catalyst to use for each size of cloth laid on the hull. I am happy to report that he never made a mistake during the process.

Rolling resin onto hull

Rolling resin onto hull

Saturating fibreglass with vinyl-ester resin

Saturating fibreglass with vinyl-ester resin

Rolling saturated fibreglass

Rolling saturated fibreglass

Applying fibreglass to hull

Applying fibreglass to hull

Each day, we started with pre-cut pieces so the size was well known in advance. Another person applied resin to the hull, then the work table. Two rolled the cloth onto the wet resin table and spread fresh resin over the cloth to saturate it. Two people rolled the wet cloth onto a pole. Two carried the gooey cloth roll to the boat. One directed the positioning of the cloth to begin application and trimmed the top edge with a razor knife as the other two rolled the cloth down the hull, spreading the cloth and removing wrinkles. The forth person then set to work with the bubble roller to remove air bubbles while another rolled fresh resin to overcoat. One person was busily cleaning while the last was double checking for resin thin areas, trimming, etc. It sounds like we had a crew of 20, but the 4 of us were really busy and worked together as a finely tuned machine. While all this is going on, the resin is dripping from the boat, making the work area very sticky and gooey. I did manage to get resin in my hair 3 times over the 12 days it took to complete the re-lamination. We did not laminate every day, as some days rain delayed our plans. Other days required a lot of sanding and there was not enough elbow grease available to do more on some days. Like I said, the job was very strenuous and difficult. The pictures do not begin to detail the difficulty encountered. In the difficult times, no hands were available for picture taking.

Two staggered layers of 1708 fibreglass cloth were applied to the entire hull in this manner. When the second layer was set but not fully cured, a thin layer of putty was applied.

Making vinyl-ester putty

Making vinyl-ester putty

The putty is a mixture of vinyl-ester resin, special treated fumed silica (Cabosil) and microspheres. The Cabosil is treated with a water repelling chemical and adds to the water barrier quality of the putty. The microspheres help to make the putty sandable and give a good bonding surface for the final barrier coat and bottom paint. Each day after applying a second layer, putty was made and applied.  The exposed first layers were sanded prior to beginning the second layer the next day. This is to ensure a good bond between the layers.

Completed bottom with first putty coat

Completed bottom with first putty coat

When the entire boat is coated with putty, the job of lamination is complete and the fairing of the hull begins. In all, we applied 40 pieces of cloth. We used about 85 linear yards of 50″ wide 1708 cloth, 37 gallons of Derakane 8084 vinyl-ester resin, 5 pounds each of Cabosil and microspheres, and countless supplies.

Posted in Fleet of Boats, Hull Maintenance, Maintenance Tips, Second Star | 2 Comments