After the first significant rain storm of the season last week and a good deal of water leaking into the lockers and what not, we’ve identified several spots on the boat that need some serious attention before the next big downpour. Specifically, the forward hatch over the v-berth, the fuel, water, and holding tank deck plates, and the starboard side port light frames.
With a few days of sunny skies and warm afternoons in the forecast it was time to dig in. We already knew that two out of the three deck fill ports leaked, so we had been keeping little plastic tubs in the lockers to catch the drips. Probably not the best long-term solution as we head into winter. When we were running the air conditioner this summer I noticed that the condensate water dripping off the unit was running over the cabin top and down the sides to the deck. From there it would travel to the nearest joint in the teak planks, run between the teak and the fiberglass, and into the hole below the deck fill which was bedded to the teak decking. Did I mention how much is dislike teak decks on a 37 year old sailboat? This fix meant removing the surrounding teak, and most likely some core repair in the fiberglass/balsa sandwich deck construction.
Once again my trusty Multimaster made quick work of the cutting, and prying up the teak wasn’t all that difficult. Good to know when we get around to removing the rest of the decking, hopefully early next summer. I’ve posted before about using a grinding bit in my Dremel tool to remove the offending end-grained core material and then filling with thickened epoxy so I won’t bore you with all the details. I used the gray butyl tape we ordered online to seal the flange of the deck fills, and it does a pretty good job of bonding metal to fiberglass in most cases (more on that in a bit). Two days, and three deck fills later, that side of the boat is dry (we ran a hose over it just to be sure). I also scraped and re-caulked the four chain plate flanges with 3M 4000, and did the same around the samson posts at the bowsprit and the forward hatch over the v-berth between the teak frame and fiberglass roof.
Now about that butyl tape….. As Jeni and I are hosing down the new deck repairs to verify my craftsmanship, we also decided to wash off all the dirt, bird poop, and spiders that have been accumulating on our boat since we bought it. That’s when we discovered that the port lights I reinstalled a couple weeks ago (using that butyl tape on the exterior flange) weren’t exactly water tight. Apparently butyl tape doesn’t possess the best gap-filling properties unless you lay on more than one layer. Also, it seems to work best if you install it on a warm day, on the sunny side of the boat. Rather than pull off all four exterior flanges, I opted to push the butyl deeper into the gaps and fill around them with good ‘ol 4000. I haven’t water tested them yet, so wish me luck.