It’s nasty work, sanding, grinding and chopping unnecessary stuff off of a 40 year old polyester resin fiberglass boat. It stinks, and it’s bad for my health, even covered head to foot in protection. I really had to up my game in terms of good sanders and dust collection for this job. Yuck. No more old fiberglass boat projects for me.
I decided to take a break from this unpleasant path. It was starting to feel like all I was doing was destroying a boat. I needed to see some visual progress, to build something fun.
So I decided to rebuild the v-berth area. If you have been following along, you may recall that I had to tear out the sealed bow area, to remove the old fuel tank within. And a little further back in the boat are two boxes/seats that used to have some live fish wells inside, with thru-hull drains. After finishing up the plan for my new cabin, I decided that the position of the original v-berth and those fish well boxes could remain. I would bridge between them, leaving open storage areas between.
First I had to clean up where the gas tank had been sitting. The fiberglass was not very saturated with resin in that area, and there was fuel residue. So after a bunch more cleaning and sanding I filled in the fiberglass weave with thickened epoxy.
I also added in a new hardwood block for the bow tow ring, just above the v-berth. And you can see on the floor in front of the v-berth I have glued back in the 6″ plug I had removed to inspect and remove water from the foam core floor. It is now dry below.
Next I decided to reuse the original fiberglass bulkhead, and epoxied it back in place, after fairing it up a bit. Then I installed five tie down points made out of dyneema line inside the bow area. They would be for lashing down heavy items like anchors in that compartment for rough passages. And then some structural supports were put in place for the new marine plywood top, and for the waterproof hatch. Finally I painted inside with grey Interlux Bilgekote enamel.
What a pain those boxes were. The sides had curves, and the tops were saggy. So I had to spend a bit of time adding new wood tops, to make it all level and fair. And I could not stand the unfaired fiberglass panels, so added a bit of fill with thickened epoxy.
That done, I added supports between the old live wells and the v-berth area. Then some hot glue and lightweight scraps of wood were used to make quick templates for the plywood tops.
Then the plywood tops were epoxied on, and filleted to the hull sides. The exposed edges were rounded over with a router. And then a layer of 4oz fiberglass was applied, for abrasion resistance, and to tie it in more structurally to the hull sides.
With this work the boat will have three big waterproof compartments for gear storage, which will also serve as reserve buoyancy in the boat for the worst case scenario of flooding. And the area between is open faced, for the storage of a toilet, spare anchors, and other gear. There are dyneema tie points in that area as well, to secure the gear for rough weather.
I am very pleased with how the new sleeping platform for two people has turned out, with all the storage below. And it will all weigh a lot less than what was removed.
The rear Alaskan bulkhead of the cabin comes next. Oh, and if I can make myself do it, more destruction is required, laying on my back and removing some areas of gelcoat on the underside of the hull, to get it ready for the new chine wings.
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