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Project Log:  Saturday, April 3, 2010
Home Page > The Project > Project Logs > 4/3/10

To prepare the boat for the upcoming repairs in the stern quarters, I wanted to thoroughly clean the entire boat--and shop--to rid all the surfaces of residual fiberglass dust.  In the shop and near the boat were a number of odd pieces and parts from the demolition, which I'd set aside in order to remove a piece of bronze hardware that I wanted to save, or some such.  I'd also saved portions of the original cockpit lockers and their gutters for use as a guideline when the time came to reconstruct the cockpit.

During a few free moments during an otherwise very busy past several weeks, I'd managed to rid the shop of these pieces, removing the hardware I wanted, storing the cockpit pieces outside in my "saved junk" pile, and bringing other things up to the shop attic for storage.  This helped my attitude, if not being of any particular assistance to the progress of the project as a whole.

This was all leading up to a requirement to rinse the boat down, inside and out.  I'd done this once before, much earlier in the process, but had since done a lot more grinding and demolition inside the hull, and although I'd swept and vacuumed, only a rinse-down would really clean the boat adequately at this point.

Before I could do that, however, I wanted to address the bilge area.  The Seabreeze, a centerboard boat, features a smallish well in the ballast cavity, which allows access to the centerboard's pivot pin.   This well was a horror of rough fiberglass, raw, exposed lead ballast at the ends of the large internal pigs, and unsealed openings through which water and debris could flow--sort of.  These photos show the condition of the centerboard pin well.  The exposed ends of the ballast pigs, and the voids surrounding them, are clearly visible.


During earlier steps, and when the boat first came into the shop, there'd been a rather constant battle with water seeping from (at the earliest stages) hidden sections of the boat forward of the centerboard pin well.  There was a partial passage for the water along the outside of the forward section of ballast pig, which slowly allowed water to drain from cavities forward of the end of the ballast, up beneath where the head and forward cabin had been.   These weren't well-designed limber passages; rather, the water just found its way through sloppy voids in and around the edges of the lead, where it really shouldn't have been.

After all the interior removal, including the final removal of the cabin sole, I'd finally exposed all the areas in question, and during these months the interior of the boat had completely dried.  Going forward, I wanted to prevent water from getting in these areas--including water from a simple washdown, which would then take weeks to trickle out and dry.

This photo shows the forward end of the ballast pig, roughly beneath where the longitudinal centerline bulkhead that had defined the head compartment was in the original interior. 

Therefore, in order to clean the boat I first had to do whatever I wanted to do to better these areas--a milestone of sorts, since I'd be adding the first new material of the project.  I believe that a good boat starts with a clean bilge, one that can be easily maintained.  Therefore, I'd have to start by cleaning up and smoothing the contours of these areas, lest they become once more the dank, debris-filled holes that they'd been.  Sealing off the unwanted water passages was also of key requirement to me.

After thoroughly vacuuming and solvent-washing the areas, I created cardboard templates of the ends that I wanted to seal--three pieces in all (two for the centerboard pin well, one for the forward end of the ballast).  I transferred the templated shapes to leftover pieces of 1/4" and 1/2" prefabricated fiberglass that I had on hand and, after a test fit, modified the panels as needed to fit appropriately. 

I secured the panels in position with hot-melt glue, since the nature of the spaces involved meant that the panels couldn't be a perfect fit, and I didn't want them to wobble around while I applied epoxy adhesive and fillets.  Then, using several batches of thickened epoxy, I bonded the panels in place around their edges with broad fillets, smoothing the contours and filling low spots nearby as needed.

The fill became a bit heavier than I'd intended in a few areas, causing excess heat from the epoxy's curing process--the lighter-colored areas seen in these photos.  Normally, I'd take all steps to prevent this, but the heat didn't hurt anything here, and these panels and fillets weren't structural--simply a cleanup and waterproofing measure that wasn't strictly necessary or critical.  It didn't really matter if these fillets were weaker than needed--which they would indeed be, as overheated epoxy loses many of its core characteristics.  In this case, the fillets were mainly to hold the panels in place for the moment, and to provide surfaces on which to apply tabbing later, since the surrounding edges of the original hull and adjacent laminates were, to put it mildly, rough.

I'd later be bonding the panels in place over the fillets with fiberglass tabbing.  I'd hoped to install that now, in one fell swoop with the fillets, but with the lateness of the hour (I'd uncharacteristically started this small project late in the afternoon) and the excess heat in the fillets, I chose to postpone the tabbing till later.


I used some of the leftover epoxy mixture to smooth out the areas inside the centerboard pin well,  particularly along the forward edge and bottom of the space.  I hoped that these efforts, when all was said and done, would enable me to keep these areas smooth and easy to clean.


In any event, I'd accomplished what I'd hoped to:  seal off the raw ends of the ballast cavities so that I could rinse the boat out the next day, thereby enabling me to move forward with the other repair work required.

Total Time Today:  2.25 hours

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