Boat Journal

Chronicling a love affair with sailing

Month: November 2010

Awesome Fenders

My boat is in a marina with stationary docks. They don’t float, which makes tying up the boat an interesting proposition. One has to allow for the changing tides, which may vary 3′ – 5′ between low and high, depending on the season. Yes, I have a spring line. But that acts more of a way of making sure that my outboard doesn’t end up under the docks than it does prevent forward/backward motion of the boat.

The only times that this is really a pain is when trying to get on the boat during a really low tide, and trying to judge where to put the fenders so that, when the winds come up, the rubrails don’t get allow scratched up. The usual dock fenders, made with a 2 x 4 really don’t seem to do well. The ones you buy just aren’t long enough to allow for all the boat motion.

While meadering on the web one time, I came across this nifty idea for a dock fender that used two existing fenders and a piece of PVC pipe. I picked up the supplies, followed the directions and voila! I don’t have to worry about the boat getting scratched up!

They’re really easy to put together. Get a 5′ section of 3″ pvc pipe. Drill a couple of holes. Put the line through and attach to the fenders.

Dock Fenders
Update: The docks caught the line and tore off the bumper. So I made a new one, using a 3″ pipe, and I asked the marina to replace the 2×4 on the piling that had caught my line. They did and so far, so good!

Soft Spot – Part I

It was going to be a quick repair – honest! OK. Not really. I knew it wouldn’t be.

So, I went to pump the septic out of my boat. We pulled up to the pump-out station and I tried to get the cap off. I couldn’t. Erik tried. He couldn’t. I asked Doug, the marina owner and not a small man. He couldn’t budge it either. The deck hardware was going to need to be replaced.

That was towards the middle of the summer. I avoided the problem all summer long. Towards fall, I talked with Doug and ordered replacement deck hardware.

Skip back a few years, to when I bought the boat.

One of the items on my boat survey was the soft spot on my deck. It’s very obvious, you can press up from below without a problem; you can see the spring in the deck when you step on it.

My boat was built before the days of refuse tanks. In those days, the toilet waste went directly into the water. Gross, huh?

Well, at some point, someone added a tank and the deck hardware for pumping out the tank.

Those who have read my blog awhile know that when I put the speakers in, I sealed the inside of the hole with epoxy to guard against water damage to the core. The folks that put the hole in for the pump out were not as careful. Or maybe they actually believed that the deck hardware would seal against moisture. Well, it didn’t work. The moisture got in and I have about a 3′ long soft spot in the deck.

So, now that I have to replace the deck hardware, it’s also time I need to take care of the soft spot in the deck.

I took out my handy dandy Complete Illustrated Sailboat Maintenance by Don Casey. He suggests:

  1. Tap the surface with the handle of screwdriver to determine the extent of the delamination
  2. Drill 3/8″ holes just inside the delamination pattern
  3. Blow through a vinyl hose placed in the lowest hole on the deck and see if air comes out of each of the other holes. If not, drill another hole closer in the center of the pattern.
  4. Make no hole more than 5″ from another
  5. Put epoxy into the holes using a syringe
  6. Put something heavy on the deck to press against the new core
  7. Repair the holes

I talked with Doug and he suggested just getting the kind of syringe you find a dentist’s office, with some vinyl tubing and just force the epoxy into the cavity through the hole already in the deck for the deck hardware. But, as I said, the soft spot was about 3′ long, so I didn’t think that would work.

Hole in the Deck

I’m doing things just a little bit different here. I really don’t want to put that many holes in my deck, if I can avoid it.

I started by removing the deck hardware last week, then putting the heater on in the head, in an attempt to dry up some of the moisture. It did dry up the stuff next to the hole. But, as I said, the dampness went in quite a ways.

This week, I started by drilling holes from the bottom, to see if I could determine the extent of the damange that way, before drilling on the deck. I started about a foot from the pump-out hole and worked my way aft. In the end, I found that the damage went as far as the aft spreader. That made sense. Along with the poorly done hole in the deck, some owner had put some sort of epoxy around the base of two of the spreaders. Little did they know, or take the time to take care of, the real reason there was moisture in the core.
Holes from the bottom
I determined where the damage stopped by seeing if the core material I was pulling out was damp or not.

Once I determined the extent, I went topside and started drilling holes about 8″ apart around the edges. I filled the bottom holes with paper towels and took a syringe and started filling it with acetone and squirting it into the holes. This was also suggested by Don Casey’s book as a way to dry out the core.

Tomorrow or the next day, I’ll repair the holes inside the boat and cover the outside ones with tape. I have a piece of plastic covering the large hole to prevent rain from getting in. Next week, I’ll put the epoxy into the upper holes.

Holes from the top