So Many Boat Projects

We’re mostly posting about local adventures these days, but we are still doing some boat projects. The bigger ones may get their own posts, but there are more smaller ones, so this post is just a catch-all for little stories. For context, Jazz made a physical TODO list, which is currently occupying the side of our fridge. As projects get done, they move to the front of the fridge. And since this is a “complete list”, new cards come to take their places. Such is boat ownership.

Small example: Jazz had made window coverings before we left Florida. But their edges weren’t holding solidly, so she edged them in ribbon. When the hot glue we tried the first time didn’t work, we broke out the sailrite. Here’s the finished product. Vinyl on one side to match the interior, reflective insulation on the other to keep the day star at bay. Surprisingly effective.

Another small one: our compass has been losing oil, and I figured I’d take it out and try to patch it up. Turns out, the leak is actually quite large. There’s a flexible membrane behind the dome, which allows for expansion and contraction of the liquid (mineral spirits, essentially) as the temperature changes. That membrane had been punctured, and so the fluid level was a little below that tear, and getting lower as the boat splashed around. Two problems: Suunto discontinued this whole product line in 2010, so the last replacements were sold several years ago. And the membrane is press-fit between two pieces of plastic, really, really tightly. Here I am, trying to wedge enough stuff in between to pry the pieces apart and assess the damage.

Even using heat and a bunch of knives, I was not successful. The strap wrench proved similarly incapable. Not that it would have mattered without the replacement part. Fortunately, I was able to order a replacement dome assembly, so at least I don’t have to fit a whole new mounting bracket. It’s always nice when a job doesn’t involve fiberglass.

The next one, however, does. We added an exterior antenna for our Iridium Go, which is our offshore communication and weather delivery device. Running cable through the boat is starting to feel easy, and we snaked it through the engine and battery compartments, under the companionway step, and up through the back of the navigation station to the Go’s new permanent home. At the transom, we had to add a cable clam to pass the cable through the deck. This all went well, except that when sealing off the drilled holes through the cored fiberglass, I neglected to check the temperature outside, and mixed up a batch of fast-curing epoxy in the Luperon afternoon heat. The West System 105+205 combo was fine in Florida winter, but in a Dominican summer, it went … a bit more exothermic than I was expecting.

This foamy mess was also very hot, and melted the ends of the plastic stir stick and syringe I’d left sitting in it – that’s the black gunk in the right picture. Live and learn, and then get out the 207 (which we fortunately have on hand for some cosmetic projects.) The final assembly, at least, turned out just fine. This antenna just needs a clear view of the sky, rather than height, so it’s mounted as far back as we can manage to stay clear of the bimini and sails. Note the temporary absence of a scuba tank and throwable float.