Wednesday, March 24, 2010

bug screens, epoxy, and sandpaper

When we bought Madrigal, the previous owner had just replaced all of the portlights with nice new opening ports. All of them came with bug screens that you can insert when the port is open. That's a nice perk, but the companionway and the two cabintop hatches are all wide open to bugs. Luckily, bugs aren't a problem in downtown Boston. We've never needed a single screen. Although, as you may already know, we are planning to move the boat to Weymouth this summer. We'll be a good ways up a river with brackish water and quite possibly many more bugs than we are used to. With that in mind, Jenny has set to work making bug screens.

We've asked around on different methods for how to do this, and it seems that the best method is to use flexible screen and sew a border around it with weights. Then you just open the hatch and throw the weighted screen over it. Neat. Simple. Effective. We like it.

It was nice and warm out under the shrink wrap over the weekend, so Jenny was able to work outside and hang out with Willie and me.

Here she is looking very pretty.

And then there is the project I've been working on for weeks. Our decks are in rough, very rough, cosmetic shape. They are solid, with no core rot, but the gel coat is scratched and worn away. Somebody had put a primer coat on it years ago but never painted it. The nonskid squares are all worn down and ugly. There seems to be spraypaint(!) around the mast boot. The list goes on. Well, since we intend to epoxypaint it soon, I want to take care of all the blemishes first.

Here are a couple pictures of an old chainplate hole. I'm not sure what that chainplate was ever used for, but it is certainly not necessary anymore and they were beginning to leak (there is one on both sides of the boat). So I ground the holes out, filled them with some hardwood and then fiberglassed the remaining gap until it was flush with the deck.

here's a close up of one.

Then, the biggest part of the project is the cockpit. All the seams were starting to get stress cracks and a couple were even beginning to leak. I ground them all out a few inches and have been in the process of fiberglass reinforcing all the seams. You can also see in the top right corner of the picture below where there were some gauges in the wall (what is the boat term for that part of the bulkhead next to the companionway?). I took those 3 old wind and speed gauges out and had to grind huge holes so that new fiberglass has something to hold on to. (Thanks to Dave from the Fitzcarraldo for the fiberglassing lessons)
Anyhow, I have most everything glassed now. It just needs to be sanded down smooth. Faired in with fairing putty, and then I can start to paint. It is supposed to be nice this weekend. If all goes well I can get the first coat of paint on.


  1. wow, sounds like you guys have your hands full too! I love the bug screen solution, will have to try something like that too. Although I could just see our unsuspecting cat Billy getting thoroughly wrapped up in it as he lunges for the companionway. Ahh boat life, gotta love it.

  2. Screens are a big plus, especially as you move further south. I really could have used them last year in NC, but I was spoiled and just put the air conditioner on. :)
    Quick comment on the last picture. Not sure if I am seeing your cockpit scuppers near the companion way step, but I think thats what they are. On my Cal, they are stupid TINY and I feel would be very ineffective if a wave came over the quarter from a following sea. If that's what I am seeing, you might want to consider installing larger ones while you are doing all of the fiberglass work in that area anyway. That is on my list. Anyway, just think, soon you will be sailing.

  3. Hmm... thats a good thought on the cockpit drains. Dang, I don't want more work! I want it to be finished! They really are pretty weak drains. Our system is strange though. The cockpit is divided into a 'captain' helm station with its own footwell and the general crew area with its own footwell. The drains you are seeing are in the 'crew' area. There are 2 more in the 'captain' station's footwell. Trouble is they all T together under the cockpit and run out the same thru-hulls (1.5 inch). I think if I make those drain holes bigger they might allow too much water instead of the captains footwell draining... I'm not sure. It's a weird system. I'll look into it though and certainly give it some thought. Thanks for the idea.

  4. Screens are great, nice job! You must be getting close to removing the shrinkwrap as well, right? Spring made it's way up that way yet? What's on the inside of that old chainplate hole btw? Cool pics :)


  5. Inside the chainplate on starboard is the bulkhead inside of my closet. No big deal. Inside the one to port is the bulkhead between the head and the main salon. It just leaves 3 small holes which can be filled with plugs. Again, no big deal.

    And yeah, almost time to take the shrink off, but I have to finish the deck paint first. Boston has some DIRTY air and the boat gets covered with black dust in a hurry. I'd rather finish this off under wraps....