Our portlights didn’t actively leak (though they did show evidence of it), but the laminated glass was delaminating and the gaskets were dry, cracked and flaking. We took off the round portlight in the galley first, removed the old caulking, glue, and gasket material, polished the bronze, changed the glass, and put it all back together. We used butyl tape and window adhesive for sealing the glass in place; butyl tape and 4000 UV sealant for the exterior flange and just 4000 UV sealant for the rest of it. Then we installed new gasket material. Piece of cake, right? We estimate about 10 man-hours into this one portlight.
Getting all the oxidation, corrosion, and some sort of protective coating applied by a previous owner off the portlights was challenging. We found toilet bowl cleaner with 9% hydrochloric acid worked well in removing most of it (be sure to neutralize the acid with baking soda when finished). Then we used various grades of sandpaper and Flitz polish to make them shiny again. The old gasket material and glue we removed with a wire wheel.
Once we had a procedure that worked we removed all the oval portlights (8 total) and rehabbed them. We attempted to remove the two forward round portlights, but failed miserably. The exterior flange on the round portlights screws the rest of the portlight in place. We had to use a blow torch to remove the one aft round portlight and we were not going to repeat that procedure. Instead we removed the window parts, polished them, installed new glass, and put them back in. It was disappointing not to get all of them out, but life is full of disappointments and this is one I can live with.
We haven’t started dealing with the two overhead hatches, other than making a screen for the forward hatch to keep the bugs out and cutting 2 inch foam pieces for insulation. We’re not sure if they leak, but the glass is in bad shape. Ultimately we want to replace the lenses, rebed the hatches and possibly encase the frames in fiberglass. This project is on the back burner for now.
Hot and Cold
The Sacramento Delta is blessed with warm dry summers and cool mild winters. For the most part, the boat is comfortable without conditioning the air. Insulating the headliner has really helped too. But there were days in mid-July where it was unbearably hot down below. And now that it’s winter, it’s chilly and moist down below. We bought a cheap window AC unit for summertime and stick it in the aft overhead hatch. Rich fabricated a fancy cardboard duct so the air will flow all the way forward. It works great and we ran it only a few days. Then winter came and it got chilly and wet at night so we decided to try a radiant heater. The boat came with a small ceramic heater that doesn’t work very well. The radiant heater works great. We run it all night on low and leave one fan on in the main salon and one on near the V-berth. This circulates the heat throughout the boat. The major downside is the cost. The heater was inexpensive ($70) but running it not. We contemplated installing a diesel or propane heater. Both are very expensive (over $1,000) and require cutting a vent hole through the deck. Since we plan to cruise south we’re not sure we would use it once we’re away from the dock. We haven’t ruled out this option yet, but we’re going to try a dehumidifier first. We’re hopeful it will accomplish two things – drying out the boat and adding some heat to the air. We also bought some two inch dense upholstery foam and cut it to fit the two overhead hatches. It’s worked remarkably well in keeping the heat inside.