So, why are we still here?
Like people refusing to admit they’re over 32, I’m in complete denial right now: we’ve been hauled-out now for 6 months. No more than that. It’s been a few months now that it’s been 6 months we’re here. And I keep thinking we should be back in the water by now, not spending my days sanding under the sun in 95F+ heat, sweating faster than I can drink water.
But for some reasons, we’re still here. A friend asked me the other day why was that. What takes so long? I couldn’t come up with a good answer until yesterday, where it feels like the whole day is the perfect answer. Here’s a VERY quick glimpse of a day that feels pretty typical…
Yesterday’s goal was to prep the mast to be stepped back on the boat. Simple enough, connect back the new standing rigging (the wires holding up the mast) and tidy up the lines so nothing get caught by the crane or stay stuck up high for no good reason. The first fitting that needs to screw into the furler didn’t want to. It started to screw fine, but binded quickly. Head scratching, testing with different nuts, inspection of all the threads one by one under a 20x magnifying loupe, etc etc. 1 hour later, I finally discover with a machinist square that the brand new, 300$ high-quality fitting is actually ever so slightly bent. Being in Mexico, we’ll need to figure out a way to send it back in the states to the rigger, who will send it back to the company for inspection so they can hopefully send us a new one free of charge. Just like that, putting back the mast on the boat took a massive step back and we’ve pushed back the crane for 5 weeks. That’s realistically the time we’ll need to get that new fitting back in Mexico… So just like that, we’re adding another months of delay.
Let’s not waste time and pivot on another project.. Let’s pick something we can do quick; we could need a small victory to make us feel better. Our lazarette. A lazarette is a storage space below the deck, usually in the after end of the boat. We have 2 lazarettes where we store everything from propane thanks, engine oil and spare anchor to snorkling gears, beach games, fishing gear and so on. It’s really our garage where everything that can be smelly, dirty or sandy is stored. The seals on them has never been good, allowing water to enter the lazarette. So half of the things we store in there rusted away (paint containers and such) and the plywood floor started to rot as well. On top of that, 2 hinges out of 4 broke. It’s been on my todo-list forever, and I never got to it because we always have more important things to do. But today is the day. Every other projects involves sanding. And I’m sick of it. So let’s install 2 new hinges! How hard can it be?
HOW TO INSTALL A HINGE
- 10h00 – Trying to unscrew the hinge but it doesn’t seem to work. I guess I need to see what I’m doing. Which involve boat yoga by fitting myself inside the lazarette. So I need to empty it… Out comes everything and our deck looks like a garage sale.
- 10h30 – The broken hinge is holding with 3 bolts. One of them isn’t stainless. It’s corroded in place something fierce. 10 minutes of my best efforts with pliers leads me to nowhere, except that now the bolt is also stripped. Time for the Dremel with a cutting wheel!
- 11h00 – Hinges are out. When they installed it, they just drilled through the deck. Exposing the plywood between the layers of fibreglass. With time, water got there. And now the plywood is wet. I need to start digging all the rotten plywood trapped between the fibreglass.
- 12h20 – I’ve managed to remove all the wet or compromised plywood. I just need to fill everything back with epoxy thickened with tiny bit of chop strand fibreglass for better rigidity. So; drill bigger holes everywhere, tape the holes from below and use a syringe filled with epoxy to plug back the holes.
- 12h45 – While the epoxy cures, let’s look at how the bolts on the cover were installed.. They were thru-bolted as well.. And the nuts were actually protruding where the gasket sits. That would explain why we get some water in the lazarette. And that high spot creates the stress needed to break the hinge. Everything starts to make sense. The cover isn’t thick enough to counter-sink the nut. The only way that I can think to not have a nut there is to actually tap threads into the cover and skip the nut.
- 13h00 – Threads are all tapped. But the gasket is just falling out. The adhesive holding it in place is too old. Time to remove everything and clean the cover with acetone to remove 36 years of dirt and gunk. Than let’s sand everything to give the new gasket adhesive something to grip to. Did I say I wasn’t supposed to sand today? All tiny curves in a narrow channel for the gasket.
- 14h45 – We’re almost there. 90 minuets of hand sanding later, we could reinstall the gaskets. Except, after looking at them for the first time in the day light, they aren’t in great shape. They’re cracked. And I don’t have any good adhesive to put them back in place. The only thing on hand is RTV – liquid gasket. It should conform to the shape of the deck in case the cover and the deck aren’t a perfect match. But RTV sticks to everything. So time to clean out of the deck where the lazarette sits. Than tape everything in case the RTV ooze out and goes everywhere. Let’s put some plastic tape on top to make sure the RTV doesn’t stick. And just to make sure, let’s wax the tape with a release wax. I really want to be able to reopen that lazarette!
- 15h20 – Ooops! We almost forgot to re-install the hinges before putting the RTV. Good thing it took so much time, the epoxy is now cured and we can go ahead. We just need some (stainless steel !!!) bolts. It’s outside, so 316 stainless steel.
- 15h45 – Well, well, well. Even though I carry over 40lbs of nuts, bolts and screw, I cannot find the good bolts. I have something that will do, just too long.
- 16h10 – I’ve finished cutting the bolts. Time to finally reinstall those hinges. I know I bought them a while ago. Where are they?
- 16h30 – Found them. Had to turn the kids bedroom upside down to find them. But nothing can stop us now! We have bolts and hinges!
- 17h00 – Done. What? 30 minutes to screw 6 bolts? Of course. Because one needs to be inside the lazarette while the other one needs to be outside holding the screw driver. Which means that the kids want to be outside and help. Which means that the “you’ll give me those nuts when I ask you ok?” task involving a 4 years old ends in losing 4 of the 6 nuts in the bilge. And 2 of the washers. Do we have more of those washers? No? Maybe another boat? let’s go ask…
- 17h20 – Finally putting that RTV. I’m almost there. Just 3 inches to go. No more RTV. We have 98% of the gasket done. But I’m missing 3 inches of RTV.
- 18h00 – The ferrateria doesn’t have RTV. We need to order some from the states and get it shipped here. So much for trying to use what we have instead of buying something.
- 18h40 – I’ve picked up all the tools outside. Put back everything in the lazarette. Such a tetris game to fit everything we carry in there. The lazarette is will take even more water than before since we don’t have a full gasket anymore. Good thing it never rains here.
- 18h50 – RTV is ordered. Should be here in 2 to 3 weeks…
So that’s pretty much it. Installing a hinge is a day worth of work and 3 weeks worth of waiting. Good thing it was a quick and easy project to do! Tomorrow, I’m starting to build a new rudder for Pablo. Let’s see how this goes… 😀