A big project finally crossed off the list – and on to the next one.

The weekend of September 12th was fairly low-key.  Jeff had pointed out that we needed to build in some occasional down time where we simply stayed home.  It’s easy for me to get hyper-focused and go-go-go, so I knew that he was right.  As a result, we decided that we would go to the boat on Saturday only.

Saturday the 12th found us at Shenny bright and early to help remove the sailing school boats for the season.  Many hands made light work, so next it was off to Defender and Home Depot for our weekly visits.  Once we were back, Jeff sanded the four fiberglass patches and filled and faired them.  All that was left to do was to put a few layers of epoxy resin on each patch and this big project would be finished!   We needed to wait for the filler to cure before adding the resin, so it wasn’t going to be officially finished until the following weekend, but it still felt good.

While Jeff was sanding, I was in the boat scrubbing the anchor locker and the quarter berth.  The fruits of my scrubbing labors had been immediately apparent that morning when we initially went down below.  It has been an extremely dry summer in Connecticut, but on Thursday the 10th it rained over 3″ in New London.  This was the first significant rainfall since we had purchased Pegu Club.  We knew that she was going to have areas that leak – several stanchions are wobbly, and rebedding is on the to-do list – so it wasn’t a surprise to find puddles on the shelves.  If those areas hadn’t already been scrubbed clean, wiping it up would have been pretty gross.  However, thanks to our efforts it was as simple as wiping up a spill on the counter at home. Yay!

As for the “odorometer” as I’m calling it, we discovered when we opened the boat that morning that the smell has been further reduced to a 1.5-2 on a scale of 1-10.  I don’t know if it was the odor bombs, the containers of vinegar and baking soda that we had left out, or the fact that we are continuing to scrub.  I don’t really care.  All I know is that we are now o.k. with sleeping on her again, and I wouldn’t be embarrassed to have anyone come down below.  We won’t be completely satisfied until the odorometer reads “0”, but we’re pretty darn happy with our progress.

Sunday the 13th was a day to chillax at home and listen to the Bills win their opening game on Sirius radio, but by Saturday the 19th it was time to get back to work.

The first order of business was to finish the fiberglass patches.  Fortunately all we had to do was put six coats of epoxy in each patch.  It wasn’t too long before we were high-fiving each other for a job well done.  Well, at least we think it was well done.  I guess we’ll find out when she splashes in the spring.  Chris the dock master told us that when each boat launches, they keep the slings around it for a few minutes so the owners can check everything and make sure there aren’t any unexpected problems – like water from Fishers Island Sound pouring into your boat!  But Jeff has tapped on and around each patch repeatedly and there isn’t any difference in the sound, and there aren’t any other signs of a failed patch, so we’re pretty sure we’re all set.  It was time to start the next project – rebedding!

Our ultimate goal is to rebed everything that is attached to the boat – stanchions, cleats, bow and stern pulpit, ports, chainplates, hopefully-not-but-bracing-ourselves-if-necessary hull-to-deck joint, etc.  By the time we’re finished we shouldn’t have any leaks.  Little Bristol was dry as a bone, so we know such a thing is actually possible for a boat.  Fortunately we had some experience with rebedding when we pulled the chainplates on Little Bristol, so after reviewing some bookmarked websites for a quick refresher, we were ready to get to work by starting on two (out of seven) stanchions.

Rebedding is not difficult – well, as long as you don’t discover a lot of wet core – but it is a bit time consuming to do it right.  We think if the stanchion that was in this spot could talk, it would have quite a story to tell:

Beneath the stanchion base.

We knew something was up with it because it had an extra stainless steel backing plate under the stanchion base.  When we pulled it off we could see why.  It appears that at some point the stanchion had been either partially or entirely ripped off, because there was a fairly large epoxy repair under it.  Maybe someone grabbed it to avoid falling overboard.

After removing the stanchion base and cleaning everything up with acetone, we used a countersink on the existing deck holes, enlarged the holes, and removed core with the Dremel.  Well, we were supposed to remove core.  All the Dremel did in this area was to drill out solid deck.  This was a good thing, because it meant we didn’t have any wet core to deal with.

We vacuumed the holes out, covered the area with Gorilla tape, and then filled the holes with thickened epoxy (after taping the underside so it wouldn’t all run out):


After the epoxy cured we redrilled the holes to their original smaller size and cut a thicker, larger backing plate to size:

The old, wimpy plate is on top, and the new, beefier plate is underneath.

We knew the original backing plates were pretty flimsy and we wanted to replace them.  Everything we are doing is with an eye towards crossing oceans, so our research indicated they should be at least 50% larger than the item they are backing.  We decided to use 1/4″ thick G-10 (fiberglass board) for the stanchion backing plates.  The G-10 is super strong, moisture resistant, and it was easy to cut with a circular saw.  We also sanded the edges so they wouldn’t be sharp.

Finally, we reinstalled the stanchion base using butyl tape as a sealant around the top of the bolts, underneath the bolt heads, and under the stanchion base itself:

The stanchion base is reinstalled, but we still need to clean up the excess butyl after we finish tightening everything.

We prefer butyl tape to a more typical sealant because usually rebedding with butyl means you only need to do it once.  Over time most sealants dry out, but not the butyl.  It should provide a watertight seal for as long as we own the boat (which will be a very long time).

By the end of the weekend we had rebedded two stanchions, and had three more with their holes potted with curing epoxy.  Initially we thought this project would take several weekends, but with another glorious forecast coming up we should be completely finished with all of the stanchions, and hopefully have the bow and stern pulpit holes potted by the end of this weekend.

It wasn’t all work, work, work last weekend.  A co-worker (and fellow Shenny member) stopped by with a friend of his for a tour of the boat, and our friends Vanessa and Kurt also drove down to see Pegu Club for the first time.  All of our visitors pronounced her odor-free which we were extremely happy about.  We still think she’s at about a 1 to 1.5 on the odorometer, but it’s likely that we are highly attuned to even the slightest whiff of her original scent.

Finally, we brought the Ugliest Dinghy in Fishers Island Sound home to sell it on Craigs List.  Jeff rowed the Watertender from the dinghy dock to the little “beach” (a term I use lightly) so that it would be easier to haul it out of the water.  This was my first time at the “beach”, and as I waited for Jeff I realized it was a hidden gem.  It sloped down with land rising on either side of me, so that I couldn’t see the beach house.  I couldn’t hear anyone driving or walking around.  My mind cleared as I listened to the small ripples of water as they washed up on the sand.  I saw little fish darting around in the shallow water.  I was surrounded by reeds which were above my head, making a gentle “whish” as the breeze blew them back and forth.  And I watched as my favorite person rowed the Ugliest Dinghy in Fishers Island Sound towards me.  It felt like an oasis in the middle of a busy day, and it was a reminder of why I love being there so much, even when we’re simply working on the boat.

Jeff's final row on the Ugliest Dinghy on Fishers Island Sound.
Jeff’s final row on the Ugliest Dinghy on Fishers Island Sound.

3 thoughts on “A big project finally crossed off the list – and on to the next one.

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