|Di working wonders with the multi-tool|
|In the Aussie sunshine 3 years ago|
Our biggest concern is that when the teak was laid, back in 1997, it was held in place with pins drilled into the fibreglass at roughly 6" intervals until the glue had set. The pins were then removed and the system left several hundred 4mm holes in the fibreglass, relying on the caulking to keep them covered. A fairly poor system but perhaps better than the alternative of using permanent wood-screws.
|Finding the holes during re-caulking - we made sure we injected sealant into each one|
This process had a further use - by applying considerable pressure in the drill to countersink the hard fibreglass, we could confirm that the sandwich deck was in good order. The tell-tale sign of a damaged balsa core is that the top layer flexes under pressure. All good, we thought, congratulating ourselves on our effective deck maintenance. Until, that is, we reached the port side deck above our cabin. Did that area flex a bit just then? No, surely not! But yes, it definitely did. Bugger!
We drilled a couple of 25mm test holes and, rather than finding dry white balsa, we found black mush and a very unpleasant smell of rot. Bugger. Nothing for it but to cut open a section of the top fibreglass..
The sight and smell made us feel very sick. Nothing for it but to cut a bigger section in the hope of finding balsa that didn't ooze foul liquid when pressed. Alas, the next section was even worse:
The four holes are for the main shroud chain plate - a high-stress part of the hull, so it was definitely a worry to find this here. Nothing for it but to cut more deck open.
And now we had a real worry. The builders had sensibly used a pad of high-strength marine plywood, rather than balsa, around the chain plate but had obviously got their measurements badly wrong! The plywood was about 15cm too far forward, so two of the bolts went through strong ply and two went through soft balsa - all to a stainless steel bracket bolted to the hull. As a result, we are guessing, there'd be some differential compression and movement of the deck, enough to allow a slow but significant leak to invade the core.
In all we cut away about a 1.2m of deck until we found sound, dry balsa core and we also chiselled away two pads of wet plywood. It wasn't our happiest moment but it had to be done.
|Di's hair-dryer used to ensure that we got everything dry|
|Back to clean, dry balsa|
Talking of hugely competent people, we managed to get help with the removal of our anchor windlass which, despite the treatment of penetrating oil and a large hammer, refused to come apart. Steve, who runs New Wave Marine (engine specialists) here, is hugely overworked but Graham managed to get him to accept the challenge and the two of them worked through lots of options and eventually used a 10-tonne hydraulic hub-puller to persuade the gearbox to part company with the shaft to which it has been attached for 21 years. Steve went beyond the call of duty on this, climbing into Maunie's cramped anchor locker but, after about an hour, the gearbox was finally off and we could remove the shaft from the deck to allow the last few shards of teak to be chiselled away. Phew!