Sailboat Projects Can Drag on Forever

 

Back in January, I had discovered some wet and rotten wood in the deck under the hawse pipes and had cleaned it out in preparation for repairing it with epoxy.

That was January.  A full 4 months ago.  
I was waiting for the wood to dry out so that I could make repairs.  With uncharacteristically chilly, wet, and damp nights the wood just sucked the moisture out of the air and remained damp for some period of time.  So, Gorilla tape sat covering the holes for months.

It finally warmed up and the air dried out which allowed the wood core to dry.  I’ve used quite a bit of West Systems epoxy and as soon as I think I’ve got it figured out, it decides to show me that I don’t.  And most of the time I seem to make a mess with the stuff.  It’s kind of like anti-seize in that regard:  it gets everywhere!

I took some pictures of the process.  I sure wish I had them to post.  I thought I had imported them into Aperture, so I erased the camera memory card.  Obviously, I hadn’t, because they aren’t in the library.  So, I’ll attempt to explain.

I used some of the aluminum HVAC tape to tape off and seal the hawse pipe holes along the inside edge. More on that later.  I then drilled out all the screw holes on the deck larger than necessary, but not too large, to allow for a syringe to fit inside them.  I used some of the colloidal filler (powdered air is what I call this stuff) to somewhat thicken the epoxy and impart some strength to it.  I then sucked this mixture into the syringe and squirted it into the holes until all the holes were basically filled which meant that all the open space below them had been filled as well.  As there was quite a bit of epoxy that had to be used to fill in the whole rotted area, I did it in stages.  I’ve learned that if you pile up a nice thick layer of epoxy (more than about 1/4″ inch) that covers more than a square inch, the heat that gets generated is enough to destroy the epoxy itself and sometimes anything it’s in contact with.  It can get that hot.  So, it was fill, wait for cure, fill, wait for cure, fill, wait for cure.

In my initial taping, I had left open an area in the hawse pipe toward the bow of the boat.  I had done this intentionally as an “inspection port” of sorts and had expected that the epoxy would not migrate that far forward during the early stages of filling as the bow slopes UP.  AND I was thickening it.  YES, this was a stupid, stupid idea.

I had completed two of the fill, wait cycles.  Everything was going great.  “I’ve got this stuff down now,” I said to myself.  I started the third.  I made the epoxy mixture a little thinner this time and began filling.  “Hhhmmm…sure is taking quite a bit to fill up this area…”  I looked down inside where I had intentionally left tape off.  “CRAP!!!”  Epoxy was pouring down into the chain locker getting all over the chain (not really an issue) AND the 3/4″ nylon rode (A HUGE ISSUE!!)

I leaped into action and ran inside the boat.  I jumped into the v-berth, shimmied up to the chain locker, threw open the doors, crawled inside to locate the end of the chain, tied a small piece of line to it, fed the line through the larger hawse pipe, then ran back outside.  I pulled the entire 400′ of anchor rode out onto the dock.  I grabbed some acetone and a few rags.  I went down the length of it looking for epoxy and then used the acetone to soak and wipe as much of the epoxy as possible.  I’ve found that if you mix enough acetone in with the West Systems epoxy that the epoxy cure process basically fails and it will remain in a gel-like state.  I hoped that acetone did not affect nylon line.  In the end, I got most of it cleaned off.  I did miss a couple of spots.   I pray it doesn’t become an issue where the epoxy causes chafe on the nylon part of the rode.

I finished taping off the hawse pipes and filling with epoxy.  I let it all cure, then drilled the pilot holes for the screws.  I applied butyl tape to the hawse pipes and then attached everything.  Of course, one of the screw heads snapped off.  I had to drill it all out, refill with epoxy, and then wait for it to cure.

Amazingly, I got ALL of this done in a single day.

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