V-Berth Insulation, Part 5, Epoxied Frames

This is a large scale project. We may be in the boatyard for up to a year. We have worked on Dawn Treader for long periods before, but this time our projects seem bigger and more numerous.

Dawn Treader has been in the boatyard for 13 weeks. We have worked solidly for 9 of those weeks. The time has passed steadily. The days have stretched, allowing for long hot days of work. If our year long refit plan becomes a reality, than we should be 25% of the way through our projects. Have we completed 25% of our to do list? Hardly. But, we are optimistic that we can increase our pace.

Last week, we made our first lasting addition. We used epoxy to coat the frames for the overhead in the V-Berth, and then used thickened epoxy to attach the wood pieces to Dawn Treader. The framework is strongly fixed in place. We cannot move the frames, even if we push and pull with all of our force. With the framework overhead, Dawn Treader feels like a tank, an armored or reinforced vehicle ready for combat. 

The framework is strong, but it is also as light as we could manage. Where there are larger panels, there are smaller cleats or foam hiding underneath. Light furring strips act as spacers for stronger heavier douglas fir. The plywood is either 3/16 inch thick teak or lightweight 1/2 inch okoume.

With the frames in place, we have sufficient room to add an inch of insulation overhead. Although we are not finished working on the frames, they want a bit of epoxy, some sanding, and a coat of paint, they are ready to act as supports. We will cut and dry fit a new overhead liner, 1/4 inch okoume plywood panels, to the frames in our next steps. 

Project Notes

We removed all the frames and coated them with epoxy. We made a mistake when mixing one of the pots of epoxy. We mixed Part A with Part A instead of A with B. The sticky pieces coated with this pot of epoxy had to be scraped and sanded, and then coated again. We continue to make mistakes. It is hot, our heads are muddled, and we still feel rusty when it comes to boat work.

We added thickened epoxy to each piece and glued them to the overhead. Screws and clamps held each piece in place until the epoxy set. Layers were laminated together and we were almost done. But, the awkward curved space on the upper cabin sides called for a more times consuming, unique approach. This is the only place where plywood will be fixed over a small volume of space, a space that we will not be able to access and insulate later. To insulate this gap, we used XPS foam and spray foam. We then epoxied 3/16 inch plywood atop the cleat that bordered the foam at its lower limit. 

Unfortunately, the polyurethane spray foam grew and pushed the tops of the plywood pieces out of place. Having never used the foam before, we thought it would expand and flow out of the gaps at the top of the plywood. Instead it expanded more uniformly, and its growth displaced the plywood. Brian made the quick decision to take the panels down before the epoxy set. The next day, he trimmed the foam, we sanded down the epoxy, and then we successfully installed this third layer, the second time around. 

We added frames to the tricky area, the overhead around the hatch, last. We used douglas fir around the hatch and installed easy to shape furring strips for six other frames: three to port, three to starboard. All of these pieces were installed to create an even support system for the new headliner panels. The frames were made into variable shapes to absorb the irregular surface of the overhead, so that the plywood can be placed overtop in a single plane. 

We also added wood around the port lights, to completely border them with wood. Brian then cut the blocks to shape using a jigsaw. Next, we will sand and epoxy the port light frames. We will do some finish work on all the frames: epoxy filler, sanding, and painting. But for now, we are going to move on to the next step in the project.

Sailing Patagonia: Tierra del Fuego Archipelago

This short video is set to music by Lemont, “Take This Hand” from Songs of Our Friends EP. The images are from our year in Tierra del Fuego and the Beagle Channel.

V-Berth Insulation, Part 2, Headliner Removal and Surface Prep

Brian finished the headliner removal this week. First, we unfastened a couple of stanchions, handrail bolts, and trim that were in the way. Next, Brian used a chisel, a multi-max, and some muscle to pull out the remaining sections of the headliner. Some pieces were tabbed to bulkheads with narrow fiberglass tape. These were more difficult to remove, but he got the job done quickly.  

The next step was surface preparation. The resin used to adhere the headliner was applied in large blobs. These blobs are now brittle and sharp around the edges. They stand out in green because the weave of the headliner remained attached to them. Removing the headliner unearthed a variable surface; resin in peaks and valleys, bare spots where the deck core almost peeks through. 

Leveling this surface completely is difficult and unnecessary. But Brian has used the variable speed angle grinder to smooth over the area. We are left with a more undulating and friendly surface to work with. In the coming weeks, we will attach a support framework or webbing to this imperfect, but improved surface. The webbing will support the deck from below. It will also create a network or grid of material that stands out from the overhead. Insulation will go in between the grid, and cover panels will mount to the grid.

The refit is moving along now. We have taken steps to make things easier: our tools are ready to go, our workspace is clear, and we have what we need to move forward with our immediate jobs. It took a day to clean and organize our tools. Our Grandpa tools needed some tender loving care. All the tools are fairly young, but due to conditions in some of the storage lockers aboard, they have aged rapidly. The rented apartment has come in handy. We have pushed in as much as we can reasonably fit. Sails are stacked on bins. Buckets are stacked on boxes. Now that everything is off the boat, we have trouble remembering how all this stuff fit aboard little Dawn Treader. Added to the pile are some materials we had sent to Lukeville, AZ. With these, we now have all the items we need for our epoxy and fiberglass kit. We also made a trip to the big box hardware stores in the United States, and spent a few hours navigating the aisles.  

There are still big things missing from our supplies. We wish it were easier to find insulation and plywood, and we’ll need these and other things sooner rather than later. But, for now, at least we can keep going…

V-Berth Insulation, Part 1, Dismantle and Refit Plan

We spent the first few weeks of this refit period adjusting to life on land. We made trips away from the boat to see family. We gathered tools. We moved ourselves and everything off the boat. In week five, we took real action at Dawn Treader, and the boat was changed in a day.

Dawn Treader in the Boatyard

The V-Berth was dismantled. The side panels, insulation, port lights, and headliner were removed. The headliner was cut out with a multi-max. Roughly 70 percent of the liner now sits against the fence behind the boat. We were pleased that so much was removed so quickly. The liner was largely unattached to the deck above. We will remove the remaining sections of liner when we remove the thru-bolted handrails and stanchions on deck.

We found thin stripes of mold on the insulation when we removed the sealing strips of plywood on the sides of the V-Berth. We found mold behind the insulation when we removed the plastic panels and insulation above the shelves. We found mold on the backside of the headliner, around the border, the outside inch, when we cut out the liner in sections. Wherever air was able to flow a little bit, there was a little bit of mold. 

All of what we’re removing on the sides of the V-Berth, the insulation, panels, and sealing strips, we installed in 2015. This installation proved inadequate during three years sailing in colder climates. We made mistakes. We did not go far enough. We did not reimagine the V-Berth well for cold climates. As a result, we used this valuable living space for storage instead of sleeping. The mold in difficult to clean spaces was an issue, another was condensation. The original, uninsulated headliner created a large surface for condensation. Occasionally, we had rain inside. Big fat drops formed on the coachroof. We also had condensation problems on the overhead hatch, the hardware that held the side panels up, and on the metal port light frames.

Many sailors fight condensation and mold. We hope our time in the desert, drying out and refitting Dawn Treader, will better prepare us for these struggles. We have learned many lessons in the past few years, and now we are re ready to try again. Our efforts will be more complex and lengthy this time. Our plans include adding an insulation supporting framework under the deck, and more of everything: insulation, heat, ventilation, air circulation, and access (we plan to widen the opening to the V-Berth). We plan to install different port lights. We will also replace the V-Berth platform again. The plywood delaminated in the rainforest. Our primary goal is to make the V-Berth inhabitable in all climates. Let’s see how it goes…

Video: Sailing the Falkland Islands. Music “Songs of Our Friends” by Lemont.

We sailed to the Falkland Islands in December of 2019 from Uruguay. We were impressed with the people, wildlife, and the weather. Thanks to Lemont for loaning us their song (lemontmusic.com).

Video: Cubic Mini Cub Wood Stove

We are loving springtime in Uruguay, and we’ve made the time to reflect back on winter in Uruguay with our new Cubic Mini Cub wood stove. We hope you enjoy the video!

Thank you Chuck for bringing us the wood stove, and for all the tips on birding!

Integral Water Tank: Summary and Repair

We repaired our integral water tank a few months ago, here in Uruguay. This video is a recap of the build project from two years ago, and details of the recent repair. Overall, the integral water tank has been a vast improvement. It is easy to clean and fill. We are happy to make use of the space below our cabin sole that was filled with foam. The 65 gallon water tank makes long term cruising much easier.

 

Video: Refinishing the Bowsprit

We move about the world at an irregular pace.  Occasionally we sail fast and appear to be on track to girdle the entire globe in a year.  Other times we seem stagnant, as if we have arrived to our destination and our journey is over.  Of course neither is true for long.  No matter how fast we sail, we will slow down sooner than later.  Dawn Treader, Debbie, and I can only pretend so long before we reveal our true slow natures.  But when we seem most stuck, we are actually purposefully moving to rest ourselves, prepare our boat, and wait for a season to arrive.  Continue reading Video: Refinishing the Bowsprit

Video: Brazil to Uruguay

Brazil is ENORMOUS!  2000 miles and 7 months later and we have still only seen a minuscule fraction of this fascinating, beautiful, energetic country.  In the maps of our minds, we have now illuminated the coast of Brazil from Salvador to Rio Grande do Sul. Continue reading Video: Brazil to Uruguay