Side-deck Paneling

Projects & Maintenance

Still euphoric from the new headliner results, I immediately started making cardboard templates for the panels under the side-deck/ breezeway. The cardboard & Gorilla Tape method I’ve adopted for template-making has served me well, keeping dimensions and corners adjustable on the fly but robust enough to hold the shape. After making templates for the headliner in the same fashion, I anticipated asymmetry in all the curves and I knew better than to expect any straight lines. The difference in the port and starboard side were different enough to require variant shapes, because it would be too easy if they were mirror images of one another! All the templates were cut and double-checked in a 3 evenings after work. Ready to transfer to wood!

Cardboard and gorilla tape template for the pilot berth/Nav table sections

Cardboard and gorilla tape template for the pilot berth/Nav table sections

I opted to use some 1/4″ mahogany for the panels. With the templates traced out onto the wood I went to work cutting the giant puzzle pieces. I had all the shapes cut with a jigsaw in one evening! The following day I slathered on two coats of Epifanes clear varnish.

Mahogany panels cut and varnished with 2 coats of Epifanes clear varnish.

Mahogany panels cut and varnished with 2 coats of Epifanes clear varnish.

I was rewarded for my diligence in precise template making when it came time to put the panels in later that evening. There was only one small piece that need trimming, and that was easily remedied with a utility knife and straight edge. I screwed them in place temporarily until I could rip some 1″ African Mahogany battens.

The following day I went to Austin Hardwoods bright and early, and scored a nice piece of 5/4 African Mahogany and ripped 10 strips 1/4″ thick to serve as battens to secure the side deck panels in place and add some structural detail too. I got about halfway done with cutting the various lengths and the rough installation before I came to the conclusion that it would be better to wait until the final drip-rail moulding was installed – to alleviate any short cuts or misalignment.

V-berth and Head side deck panlels with battens.

V-berth and Head side deck panlels with battens.

So with that on hold, I switched gears and got to work on installing the salon cabinetry. The first step was installing the framework flush with the settee backrests. With those ostensibly level, I made a few templates for the angled pieces I needed to cut to marry the top of the cabinet frames to the bottom of the deck and paneling. Luckily, I had an ample piece of 1/2″ marine Mahogany ply waiting in the back of the truck for just such an occasion.

After a few coats of varnish on the angled pieces everything came together pretty quickly. With the side deck panels and cabinetry in it’s starting to look like a home again, and not and endless project. It’s hard not to notice that we’re nearing the end of the project, and the final stages of trimming it all together are what I’ve been looking forward to the most. I could very easily make the inside of this boat look like a gothic church if I’m not careful!

This is clearly a feline signal to stop work for the day.

This is clearly a feline signal to stop work for the day.

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Reinventing the Headliner: Done!

Projects & Maintenance

This past weekend marked the completion of the new headliner (cue trumpets), a much awaited milestone indeed! I could lie and say we did it all in a few weekends with minimal effort and planning, but nothing could be further from the truth. It was tricky and there were several setbacks along the way, but having a classy looking overhead that is both easily removable (for deck maintenance) and easy on the eyeballs is reward enough.

BeforeandAfter

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For those of you out there looking up at you’re dingy, old 70’s naugahyde/viynl headliner with contempt, glower no more. With a fair amount of patience and work, you to can have a new overhead without the need of huge outlays of cash. Just be prepared for the process to reveal additional projects long hidden by that groovy, fake leather…held in by hundreds of rusty staples…for decades. Your mettle will be tested my friends.

The fictitious

The fictitious “Nauga” was part of a 1960s ad campaign for Naugahyde.

First things first – the DEMOLITION! We had the great intention of carefully removing each headliner section to preserve for template making…a lovely thought, but we quickly learned it’s impossible. The headliner was affixed to the cabin top and sides with roughly 1,000,000 staples, most of which were rusty, brittle and stubborn. The staples numbered as many as stars in the Milky Way. Seriously! It took the better part of 2 days to remove them, our hands tender from prolonged plier gripping. We surmised that the original installer must have been paid per staple. Curse you Staple Man!

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In the wake of battle, we found mold in spots, mummified insects and several suspect areas where thru-bolted hardware had likely been leaking for decades. These problem areas needed to be addressed before going further but with the headliner out is was considerably less complicated to do so. Additionally, It was a good time to remove the handrails and secure them with proper SS washers and fasteners and the dorade boxes had to come of to access the brass thru-deck flanges underneath.

In the meantime, I scoured the web for inspiration and information for a handsome and practical headliner replacement. Of course in our case, it was really a headliner/cabin side/underdeck replacement – given the original headliner wrapped around the cabin sides and underneath the side deck. My eureka moment came when I happened upon John Stone’s Far Reach Blog. After reading over his wonderfully detailed process write up a few times my tenuous grasp on what needed to be done turned into an informed confidence and know-how. Without it, I think I’d still be doodling on graph paper and scratching my head.

cleatsUsing Mr. Stone’s ideas I went to installing overhead cleats to screw the new headliner panels into. I ripped 3/4″ marine ply into several 1.5″ strips and pre-coated them with Smith’s Penetrating epoxy. While those cured, I roughed up the FG where the cleats would be glued with 50 grit and cleaned with acetone. Some of the gel goat on the stringer tabs needed to be ground off before cleats could be glued but the disc grinder made quick, albeit messy work of it. To affix the cleats, I used some 1.5″ self-taping screws and liberal amounts of PL Premium. Once the PLP cured I removed the screws and filled the holes with epoxy.

After weighing the pros/cons of a few different materials we found a promising product over at CaliBamboo made of thin, finished sanded bamboo paneling on a mesh-backed 4′ x 8′ roll. After estimating the square footage needed I ordered 6 rolls and went to work making templates out of cardboard. When the bamboo arrived it was obvious that the mesh was not rigid enough to hold the form of the cabin top curvature – in other words, it sagged a bit during the rough install. The simple solution was to cut matching panels from luan and glue the bamboo panel atop those to add rigidity and hug the curvature of the cabin top. In the end, there were 14 panels making up the new headliner – coated with clear polyurethane.

(Unfortunately, CaliBamboo has since discontinued the 4′ X 8′ bamboo rolls I used. They do however now offer 1/4″ bamboo plywood with the same planked look and no need to double-up with luan backing.) 

overhead

Roughed in! Ready for varnish.

Holding it all up are 1″ red oak battens fixed through the panel edges and into the 3/4″ overhead cleats with #6 brass finish screws and #6 finish washers. I found the battens pre-made at our local Ganahl Lumber for a reasonable price, freeing me up from lots of work with the router. Most sections have 3 battens holding them up – forward, middle and aft. Not only do the battens hold the panels securely in place, but they hide any gaps and trim the overhead to the stringers. I tapered the end edges of the battens so they’ll fit snuggly in place once the top cabin side moulding is installed. Once they were all cut and sanded they got a few coats of Epifanes clear varnish. The original teak trim rings for the dome lights had to be shaved of a bit to accommodate the 3/4″ drop in headliner height.

With a 3/4″ gap between the overhead panels and the bare FG cabin top we considered installing some insulation in that space. So far however, that pocket of air has kept the cabin very comfortable in our So. Cal climate. It is nice to know it can be added easily if the need arises, as each section takes less than minute to unscrew and take down.

With the overhead complete I’m moving forward with installing wood panels under the side deck and getting started on the really fun part – ultimately trimming everything together to create a seamless work of wooden art!

Portholes & Cabin Sides

Projects & Maintenance

The OEM port lights that we inherited on s/v San Patricio were leaky, scratched and crazed. What’s more, they were fixed/non-opening ports that did little for ventilation when we craved it. Our decision to replace them coincided with removing the headliner – some of which had started to pull away from the ports from years of hidden leaks. So when the headliner came out, so did the ports. Good riddance!

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It was surprising to see how little effort was required to remove the port lights. They popped right out. The compression rings were thin plastic, hardly robust enough to effect a proper seal. At best, these things were made to be RV windows and never meant to be permanent in a marine application. The new ports would have to be far better.

NFM O512SS

We had heard great things about New Found Metals both on quality and value. With some discussion we decided to spend the extra money on their 5″ x 12″ Stainless Steel oval ports rather than the Tri-Matrix composite ports that retailed for less. The 4 new smaller ports arrived fast, along with all the stuff needed for installation.

DSCN2387For the larger fixed windows in the main cabin we followed the recommendation of other DE32 owners who had new port lights made by Bomon. Their man Alain was very helpful through the process of template-making and measuring cabin curvature. Of course, these being precise custom windows it came as little surprise that they would take 6 weeks to be delivered. I was not put off as I still had some work to do on the cabin sides before the new ports could be installed.

The one parameter I had to keep in mind was the final thickness of the cabin sides. The maximum allowance for cabin thickness for the NFM ports was 1.3125″ otherwise we would have to buy the painfully more expensive ports with extended 2″ spigots. With the cabin sides measuring .8125″ that meant I had 1/2″ or less to work with. After thinking over a few options, I settled on affixing some 1/2″ mahogany plywood to the cabin sides. The first step was creating some templates for each of the side panels – cardboard and gorilla tape did the trick.

The makings of the port cabin side template.

The makings of the port cabin side template.

With all the templates made I had a better idea of how many 4′ x 8′ plywood panels we would need. Because the grain had to run horizontally to look right, there was a bit more waste than I would have preferred; ending up with 5 panels at $65/sheet. Once all the panels were cut I rough fitted each one in place before, coating the backs with epoxy. After the epoxy cured I roughed up the surface with 60 grit paper and cleaned with acetone. Then, with the faces covered with packing paper I glued them up with 5200 and an arsenal of clamps.

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After 48 hours for proper curing time I held my breath removed the clamps…only one panel popped off on the starboard side; the very same one I forgot to clean with acetone before applying the 5200. A quick job with the oscillating flexible scraper had it ready to go back up.

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Once all the panels were affixed in place I removed the protective paper and wiped them down with a tack cloth. For the next few days I applied Epifanes varnish to the panels – first coat thinned 50%, followed by 3 more coats thinned 25%. After the second coat the wood began to sing!

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In between varnish coats I focused some attention on back-filling the original portlight holes in preparation for the new (smaller) stainless steel ports. With the mahogany up on the inside I sandwiched some 1/2″ foam plugs in the holes with thickened epoxy. While feathering the edges with a grinder I found a large void in the forward port-side area. One more thing to fix…and better done now than later.

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With the holes all faired, sanded and primed I went to cut the new holes. I printed out some paper templates and checked the alignment, and also had a few passers-by confirm the placement. Then I used a 2″ hole saw to cut out the rounded spigots, followed by a plunge cutter for the straight cuts and a roto-zip tool for the smooth curves. Following the steps outlined in the NFM instruction I had the ports all installed the following day.

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It took a few extra weeks of fiberglass repair work to fill the old portlight holes. Sure, I could have ordered bigger square ports but it just didn’t look right to me when I compared some printed templates. The smaller elliptical ports just looked better to me and fit within the lines of the cabin top. I couldn’t be happier with how they turned out!

But with little time to celebrate it was onward to the next phase of the project – headliner replacement. More pics and project notes to come!……

Salty & Sweet: 100 Songs of Wind & Sea…that you won’t find on every other list out there.

Maritime Musings
As with anything in life, music makes a boat even more enjoyable. Be it at the dock or under sail, having a good mix of songs to spice up the scene is always a good thing. Of course, there is ONE exception as far as I’m concerned – and I know I’ll get some incendiary flack for this…
Sorry Buff-hards - No Jimmy on this list!

Sorry Buff-hards & Parotheads – No Jimmy on this list!

 Seriously people. Your Jimmy Buffett is killing me. I don’t hate the guy or his music per se. I’ve just heard too damn much of it. STOP! To quell the angry mob that will likely be waiting for me dockside to hang me high from my very own mast, I offer up the following list of songs for consideration. All give reference to the wind or sea in some way – in either a literal or figurative sense. If you don’t recognize a few or most of the artists on the list, maybe now is a good time to crawl out from underneath that Jimmy Buffett you’ve been trapped under and listen to some new stuff? Eh? I absolutely welcome any suggestions to add to the list…sans Mr. Buffet.

  1. Lost at Sea (Demo Version) – Guster
  2. The Golden Rose – Tom Petty
  3. I’ll Sail My Ship Alone – Hank Williams
  4. Neptune’s Net – M. Ward
  5. Down By The Seaside – Led Zeppelin
  6. Waltz With Me – Bob Roberts
  7. Helmsman  – Ambulance LTD
  8. (Sittin’ On) The Dock Of The Bay  – Otis Redding
  9. The Ark – Dr. Dog
  10. La Mar (The Ocean) – The Beautiful Girls
  11. Wild Wind – Black Mountain
  12. Go To Sea No More – The Dubliners
  13. Blowin’ in the Wind – Bob Dylan
  14. High Tiding – Nick Waterhouse
  15. Louie Louie – The Flamin’ Groovies
  16. Way Of The Ocean – Three Mile Pilot
  17. Ride Captain Ride – Blues Image
  18. Sailing to Nowhere – Broken Bells
  19. Catch the Wind – Donovan
  20. Tales Of Brave Ulysses – Cream
  21. Sea Shanty – The Pogues
  22. Pacific Theme – Broken Social Scene
  23. Will There Be Enough Water – The Dead Weather
  24. Canoe And You – Ray Barbee & The Mattson 2
  25. Sea of Love – Tom Waits
  26. Sea Song – Doves
  27. Tidal Wave – Dick Dale
  28. This Ship Was Built To Last – The Duke Spirit
  29. When The Ship Comes In – The Chieftains
  30. The Captain – Guster
  31. Yourself Unto the Sea – Patch and The Giant
  32. Smooth Sailing – Leon Bridges
  33. Ocean of Noise – Arcade Fire
  34. Big Boat – M. Ward
  35. Into the Mystic – Van Morrison
  36. Tahitian Moon – Porno for Pyros
  37. The Irish Navy – The Dubliners
  38. Seasick On Land – Rogue Wave
  39. Honey Bee – Muddy Waters
  40. Stormy Weather Boys – Bob Roberts
  41. Float On – Modest Mouse
  42. La Mer – Charles Trenet
  43. The Beach – Dr. Dog
  44. On A Ship To Bangladesh – Three Mile Pilot
  45. Brandy (You’re a Fine Girl) – Looking Glass
  46. Maiden Voyage – Ray Barbee & The Mattson 2
  47. Ease Your Feet In The Sea – Belle & Sebastian
  48. Sail Away – David Gray
  49. Pacific Ocean Blues – Dennis Wilson
  50. Spanish Armada – Ratatat
  51. Sand And Foam – Donovan
  52. Drifting Too Far from the Shore – J.Garcia/D. Grisman (Pizza Tapes)
  53. Descent Into The Maelstrom – Radio Birdman
  54. Don’t Rock the Boat – Eddie Floyd
  55. Net Hauling Song – The Dubliners
  56. Never Been A Captain – The Barr Brothers
  57. Pirate Love – Johnny Thunders & the Heartbreakers
  58. Seasick – Jessie Baylin
  59. Stingray – Link Wray
  60. Windy Old Weather – Bob Roberts
  61. Let the Waters Rise – Justin Townes Earle
  62. A Sailboat In The Moonlight – Billie Holiday & Lester Young
  63. Cortez The Killer – Neil Young
  64. If I Had A Boat – Lyle Lovett
  65. The Irish Rover – The Dubliners/The Pogues
  66. At The Beach – The Avett Brothers
  67. The Breeze – Dr. Dog
  68. All For Me Grog –  The Dubliners
  69. Boatman Dance – Elizabeth Cotten
  70. Chanty – Son Volt
  71. Dead In The Water – Supersuckers
  72. Crystal Blue Persuasion – Tommy James & the Shondells
  73. Driftwood – Travis
  74. The Bonny Ship the Diamond – Ian Giles
  75. Of the Sea – A.A. Bondy
  76. Smooth Sailing – Queens of the Stone Age
  77. Moani Ke’ala – Gabby Pahinui & Ry Cooder
  78. Wave – Joe Henry
  79. I’m Sailin’ – Mazzy Star
  80. Shiver Me Timbers – Tom Waits
  81. The Iliad – Tapes n’ Tapes
  82. Four Strong Winds – Neil Young
  83. Salty Dog Blues – Mississippi John Hurt
  84. Sea of Heartbreak – Johnny Cash
  85. Big Boat – Devil In A Woodpile
  86. Sinner in the Sea – Calexico
  87. Sail On – The Commodores
  88. Ship of Fools – Grateful Dead
  89. Night Boat to Cairo – Madness
  90. The Ocean – Ambulance LTD
  91. Sailor Song – Felice Brothers
  92. Backwater Blues – Big Bill Broonzy
  93. The Wind That Blew My Heart Away – Fruit Bats
  94. Sunny Afternoon – The Kinks
  95. Mean Monsoon – Dan Auerbach
  96. Blue Bayou – Roy Orbison
  97. Rise to the Sun – Alabama Shakes
  98. The Breeze Always Blows – Dead Meadow
  99. Wave – Antonio Carlos Jobim
  100. Everybody’s Talkin’ – Harry Nilsson

This Old Dinghy

Projects & Maintenance

A few weeks back I found an old cathedral hull dinghy on Craigslist. Ya gotta love Craigslist! It had the look of a Livington…but actual pedigree was unknown. The price was right and the dimensions gave me hope it would fit on deck. After talking with the seller, I learned the dinghy was being stored just a few minutes from work. I took my lunch break to perform a quick inspection. After minimal haggling I gave the man his money and strapped the thing atop my camper shell. I returned from lunch victorious, with an old dinghy and a bag of chips. Score!

Sure, it needed some work. It was better than the last one I brought home. Mainly, a solid cap rail/rub rail and a new coat of paint would make it a proper tender for the San Patricio. Thankfully I didn’t see any holes or leaks to cause concern. It was solid. I took the next few weeks to bring the dinghy back to life; during several early mornings, lunch breaks and weekends. With some left over paint, I painted the dinghy hull to match San Patricio’s top stripe – #38 Irish Green. Check out the montage:

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We named our spiffy, new tender “Pedrito” in honor of my uncle Peter who passed away 2 years ago. It’s a tribute to the amphibious, fun-loving guy he was in life. I know he’ll be with us for all the laughs we’re going to have motoring around to little coves, snorkeling and hunting lobster in the dinghy that is his namesake.

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