Welcome to the Maunie of Ardwall blog

This is the blog of Maunie of Ardwall. After a six-year adventure sailing from Dartmouth to Australia, we are now back in Britain.

Tuesday, 23 July 2019

Applying the sticky stuff

There has been more hands-and-knees stuff over the past few days, cleaning the vestiges of old black sealant from the sides of the pilothouse and the bulwarks where the old teak met the fibreglass. The new deck is slightly thinner than the old teak and it'll meet the fibreglass with a clean 'wood' edge rather than a hide-the-evidence fill of black caulking (which would inevitably degrade over time) so it was vital to get it clean and polished.

It was an extremely tedious task, starting with a scraper blade, adding solvent to soften the sealant, before moving on to progressively finer grades of wet-and-dry abrasive paper (400, then 800 then 1200 grit), applied by hand and wet. Finally rubbing compound was used to remove the final scratches and return the shine to the fibreglass. Oh, and a few bits of damage had to be repaired with gelcoat (mixed with pigment to match the off-white colour). Two solid days was how long that paragraph took to do. Aaargh!

Anyway the good news is that Richard the deck specialist returned yesterday to complete the trimming process and then began to weld and glue the deck into place. He makes it look easy but it clearly isn't!

The two halves of the deck had to be joined at the central king plank on the foredeck. Gym weights hold one side in place and strips of polymer 'welding rod' are cut to size.

The polymer ready for welding

The hot-air welding tool - the polymer rod is fed down the nozzle which melts both it and the edges and base of the deck groove into a homogeneous weld. A sharp chisel cuts the black flush with the deck and then an abrasive scourer brightens the darkened 'teak' and restores the grain effect.

Applying the glue - which also delivers a further waterproof barrier to the fibreglass deck. The new deck is rolled back to allow half to be glued at a time then a high-tech rolling pin is applied with lots of manual pressure to remove any bubbles or high-spots. 
With all this care to make the deck fully watertight, we are determined to avoid drilling holes into it wherever possible. One of the biggest causes of deck leaks on yachts is where the stanchion bases are drilled through - the stanchions hold the safety guard wires around the deck and can be subjected to some big forces on their three, 6mm bolts. If the stanchions get pulled on (by someone hauling themselves up from a dinghy, for example) or stressed by hitting a dock wall, the sealant gets damaged and leaks begin and, of course, being at the low side of the sloping deck, they get subjected to a lot of seawater and rainwater.

So we thought about an alternative option to make brackets to bolt the stanchions to the bulwarks (the little upstand of fibreglass hull above the deck). Graham spent many happy hours measuring and making plywood templates.

Naturally the angle and height of the bulwark changes as you move aft, so four different designs were required to make the 7 stanchions on each side fit

One of the finished bases being checked for fit
This is certainly not a cheap solution and the drilling of holes for the fixing bolts is quite a challenge of geometry but it saves 28 holes in the deck each side. With other fittings re-positioned or removed (we've even shortened the yankee sheet car track to suit the extremes of adjustment that we use), we've removed a total of 96 holes from the deck - that's got to be good. There is no way we're going through the pain of finding wet balsa in the deck core ever again!

At last, we are able to leave Maunie for a couple of weeks. This morning she was moved into the Baltic Wharf Repairs workshop - her white hull will be lightly sanded down, the scars of her collision with a mooring buoy in Suva Harbour will be filled and she'll get a new gleaming coat of specialist Awlgrip paint (several actually). Then, after about 3 weeks (we hope), we'll move her back into 'our' shed to refit all the deck fittings and we'll apply four new coats of Coppercoat antifouling. So there's lots to do still but it's all positive now, adding things back rather than stripping things down.  

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