Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Separation Anxiety

It is ironic that on a wooden sloop, my major repair issue is fiberglass.  But Poseidon (and whatever other sea gods there may be) work in mysterious ways to be sure. Desiree was built with MDO plywood decks and (I now know) her cabin top was sheathed in 3 layers of 1/8" Lauan plywood - presumably to promote bilateral flexibility. The Dictator  model of the Friendship sloop has a pronounced lateral curve to the cabin top as well as a longitudinal arc forward. While this provides 6'2" headroom down below, it offers some challenges to the builder. Thus, it appears the builder used something thin and flexible, built it up in layers and then screwed it down with a vengeance. 

Delaminated winch pad
At any rate the whole furshlugginer mess was covered in fiberglass and awl grip. The job was well done and it is probably the thing that saved this boat from compost during her days in the wilderness. However, as these things go, there was some delamination to small areas in the cockpit, winch pads, cabin sides, stem and some significant delamination and underlying rot on the cabin top.

"When you don't know what your doing, go slow" is my mantra, here. As a amateur, I started by slowly peeling back those sections that were clearly bad, just to get a sense of the thing. In so doing, I learned more about how the cabin top was built. Clearly, information I'm going to need later.

Originally, it was my intent to replace only those sections that needed it.  However,  as I got into the work, it became clear that there was more rot and dampness than met the eye or my survey. To any experienced wooden boatsman, this is not a novel conclusion, I know, but I'm going slowly.  It seems clear, for example, that once water seeps into plywood, the plys act as capillaries and the water "runs" along and under the plys and gets into places not immediately noticable. 

Starboard cabin top forward
Companionway hatch, Port side
In the photograph to the left, you can see the leak started at the corner of the skylight combing and fanned out toward the edge of the house top. Similarly, in the photo on the right, you can see where water collected on the companionway slide, it leaked and spread out.

Close up of Port side companionway

Causing the rot shown.

So, where we stand today is that I have decided to replace the entire cabin top. That way, we start new with good wood all around. The cabin top is not that big and, aside from a chimney, is free from obstructions. Moreover, the pronounced arc of the cabin top will make bending a large piece of plywood easier than a smaller scarf.

Getting back to basics 
3 plys of 1/8' Lauan & fiberglass

This may take awhile, but I'm going slow, remember?

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