Boat Deck

 

Light Boards, Stern Light, Davit Mount Problems, Stack Issues, Mast Step Replacement,  Skylight Refinishing, Spar Painting, Folding Spreader, Mast Raising Rigging

 

Light Boards

 

The original light boards needed some work.  That is one of the items we could work on over the winter while away from the boat so they made the trip home to get refinished.

 

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In the end the teak was too far gone to clean up well, and they would always be a maintenance headache so we decided to make new ones out of Starboard.  They didn’t need to be as long as the original as the vessel name is not displayed on them.  The running lights also got replaced, not because they didn’t work but because they were pretty mangled from people attempting to pry them open from the top rather than pushing the tab at the bottom that releases the lens from the body.  The teak version had almost no space between the wood and the bottom of the fixture, so unless you knew the “trick” you might also be tempted to simply pry the light open.  We made sure to leave ample space for this operation on the new ones.

 

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Stern Light/Flag Base

 

The original teak stern light bracket was quite deteriorated so it was replaced with Starboard.

 

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A moisture meter indicated there were issues at stern light/flag staff mounting location.  We drilled pilot holes to sample the core in the area and managed to drill right through the imbedded wiring for the stern light.

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Opening up the boat deck in this area revealed this:

 

 

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The rot followed the wiring that fed the stern light.  We cleaned it out then re-cored the area before gluing the deck back on.

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Davit Mount Issues

 

Davit styles were evidently not standardized on the Pilgrim, so it appears that no provision was made to make the attachment points solid when laying up the boat deck.  In other words, there is balsa core at these locations.  Modern building practices dictate drilling the hole oversize, filling with an epoxy slurry and then re-drilling the hole for the mounts thereby protecting the cored area from water penetration when (not if) the area around the fastener starts to leak.

 

Brown stains around the underside of fasteners are a dead giveaway that the core is starting to have issues.  We pulled the davit, drilled out the holes a bit oversize and then removed any core that was showing signs of moisture issues.  A moisture meter indicated that problem did not go too far so major surgery would not be required.

 

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The holes have been left “open”, in other words taped over on the top and left open on the underside so as let the cored out holes dry.  This stayed this way for over a year as it took that long to get around to re-doing the boat deck.

 

 

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Just before painting we filled and faired the holes for the davits with a mixture of glass cloth and epoxy.

 

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Somebody did a real nice job in “fixing” the prior dinghy cradle mount fastening points.  Yes Virginia, UV light will turn raw epoxy yellow over time.  It would have been nice if they had finished the job a bit more as the epoxy sunk into the holes before it cured.  We have filled these and sanded them smooth.  It’s really not an issue as we will be re-painting the boat deck in the near future.

 

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We attempted to find a suitable paint to re-do the entire boat deck as well as the walking decks.  The closest we could find was a new sand-beige colored nonskid paint made by Interlux. After fairing the holes I hit it with one coat of paint and immediately saw that it wasn’t even close to the “right” color so this project stalled until we sorted the issue out.

 

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We finally bit the bullet and decided on an epoxy primer over coated with PPG Concept (automotive) paint.  We could have that tinted to whatever color we liked.  It is amazing how faded and bleached out the original gel coat has become over the years.  The new paint will pretty much match the original color, yet still go well with the faded areas so we won’t have to repaint the entire boat (yet). Details of that are covered in another section.

 

Stack Base Issues

 

After we removed the shrink wrap in the early spring we had a pretty good breeze; enough of a breeze that it blew over the fake smoke stack.  It turns out that the stack was only attached to the boat deck by two small brackets that were screwed into the boat deck.  Examination of the area indicated areas of rotten core as the region was peppered with screw holes from attempts to re-fasten a shelf for the stack over the years.  The numbers on the deck indicate the moisture content in that general area.

 

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The good news was the core wasn’t really rotten (yet), but areas still needed to be replaced.

 

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In the end we took out a pretty good chunk before re-coring and re-attaching the deck.  All these areas are essentially non-structural which makes the repair easier.

 

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Now it was time to strip the boat deck of all hardware and fittings to allow us to do a proper sanding and paint job.

 

The picture below shows that the flybridge already had been removed (see the section on the Flybridge).  The mast needed to come off for much needed renovation work as its finish was leaving something to be desired after 23 years of exposure.  Besides, it was going to be in the way while we were working.

 

Let’s see, power cables for Radar, anchor light, spreader lights, steaming light and the hailer horn.  We might as well add a tv antenna and its wiring to the mast as long as we have it off the boat.

 

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If you have a Raymarine radar dome, it is possible to pull the wires out of the dome and through any holes in your spar that are marginally bigger than the diameter of the cable is you take off the flat connector that plugs into the radar dome.  Use an awl and press the tiny silver square.  This will allow you to slide the wire out of the slot.

 

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The mast step needed to come off to properly paint it as well as the deck in the vicinity. 

 

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The most direct way was to remove it seemed to be the trusty sawsall

 

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It turns out that the heads for the six 1/4x20 bolts were hiding under the block of wood that the smoke detector is mounted to in the salon.  Since it was so well bedded it probably was easier to cut it off.

 

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After painting the step and deck, the mast step was mounted on a tapered Starboard block to ease future maintenance.

 

 

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Skylight Refinishing

 

Next on the boat deck is the butterfly hatch (skylight).  The bright work is in fairly decent condition as the hatch normally wears an acrylic cover.  We noticed water stains on the interior woodwork and also a deteriorating finish on the underside of the hatch itself.  The ports were leaking.  To keep matters from getting any worse we covered the hatch in plastic and then put the acrylic cover on top of that, hiding the issue until we could get around to it.  That time is now, while the boat is under shrink wrap for the winter.  Again, the picture below doesn’t exactly show the true condition of the hatch.

 

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After removing the hatch and the trim covering the ports, we found why the hatch was leaking so bad.  The Plexiglas was bedded in Dolphinite and it must have been original as the Plexiglas pretty much fell out of the recesses.  We need to clean up the trim as the joints were quite open.  Since the trim won’t go on exactly in the same location, all 78 screw holes need to be re-drilled and plugged.  The hatches will need to be wooded down as they are done in Cetol and we will be using varnish.

 

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While we would have liked to pull the frame off the boat, (only four screws attach it), it is too well bedded to the boat deck and to the interior framework to disturb it.  It will have to be re-finished in place.

 

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It doesn’t look like the interior portion of the framework has seen any varnish since 1988.  The leak hasn’t helped matters any.

 

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The center support is attached with two screws on each end allowing you to remove the entire hatch as shown to facilitate the removal of the engine, should that ever be necessary.  After some stripping and some varnish……

 

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New ports

 

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We wanted to put in our new Plexiglas ports in consistent sized openings so we used a CNC router to cut an exact template that could be used to re-router the recess.

 

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We now had exact sized regions for each port.

 

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There was an endless number of trim pieces that needed stripped and at least six coats of varnish.

 

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Newly stripped and varnished hatches (with replaced Plexiglas).

 

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I normally don’t keep track of the time I spend working on things, but this job was the exception.  Total time to remove, disassemble, strip, varnish, reassemble (with new Plexiglas ports) and re-install was 40 man hours.

 

Spar Refurbishment

 

Since we have the mast off the boat because we are repainting the boat deck, it only makes sense (or not) to strip and repaint it.  Numerous (old) holes need to be filled at the same time so we took pictures of all the mounting locations to help us remember what was good and what wasn’t.

 

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Internet research indicated that the way to strip paint from aluminum was to purchase some Aircraft (brand) stripper, paint it on, let it work and use a pressure washer to remove the stripper.

It wasn’t that easy.  The paint basically laughed at the stripper.  Really laying it on thick and doubling the soak time essentially had no effect.  In the end, the only effective way to remove the paint was the old fashioned way; wet/dry sandpaper and elbow grease.

 

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The spars were sprayed with an epoxy primer and then given a coat of PPG Concept.

 

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A new combination deck/steaming light (we ditched the head lights hanging under the spreaders) and tv antenna was installed along with the existing radar mount and radar reflector.  An interesting side note:  The radar reflector is the large Tri-Lens Reflector.  When we took it off the mast we noticed there was water in it.  I talked to Rozendal Associates (the manufacturer) about the issue and asked if I could drill a hole in it for a drain.  They suggested I return the part so they could test it and make sure the performance was not compromised.  I did that and a few weeks later a brand new one ($900 if purchased from West Marine) arrived on my doorstep.  Talk about customer service.

 

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Folding Spreader

 

Our plan is to transit the Erie Canal twice a year as we journey north and then south on a yearly basis. With the mast down, the starboard spreader impedes access to the boat deck.  The simple solution is to hinge the spreader rather than have to take it off its mount.  That is what you see in this picture.

 

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A piece of sail twine is used to tie the latch in the closed position just in case it ever works its way open and we get into an anti-gravity situation.

 

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Mast Raising

 

To raise and lower the mast we have a block and tackle arrangement that works well.  It both steadies the spar and keeps things under control while the spar pivots about the mast step.  There are eye bolts attached to the pilot house both port and starboard.  Lines dead end on these eye bolts and are run through two blocks set high on the spar.  These lines attach to a four part block and tackle that is itself attached to a single line which goes over a temporary strut and eventually is tied off on the anchor windlass on the bow.

 

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The blocks themselves are on a carbiner which attach to an eye on the spar.

 

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The temporary strut has a “foot” on it and is clamped to the inside of the pilot house seat.  The purpose of the strut is to give the hoisting line some angle as the spar gets close to horizontal otherwise the tension (and force required for the tackle) would be extreme.  Two of us can raise the spar quite easily.  It takes longer to set up this rigging than to operate it. 

 

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