Steve, we have a problem.

Hatches are like sunroofs in cars. They let light in and open, you get lots of fresh air.  FNR has three hatches – one in the main salon, one in the head and one in the V-berth. When we were boat shopping, Steve spent quite a bit of time looking at the hatches, running his fingers around their frames and inspecting them for leaks. Sometimes, he’d say something about one needing to be rebedded or gaskets needing to be replaced. I was more focused on the boat’s beam and whether or not I smelled diesel.

None of FNR’s hatches leaked when we bought her. We did have a leaky portlight and Steve had to replace its gasket. He got a little aggravated getting the seal tight but it was not a boat project.

Boat projects are what we spend most of our time doing. We’ve learned that if we expect to complete a boat project in 2 days, then we need to plan on at least 4 and not be surprised when it turns into 6. “A” boat project often turns into multiple boat projects. I can’t tell you how many times we’ve said, “Might as well deal with this while we’re in this deep.” Boat projects are what keep you from getting other boat projects completed.

We had planned on renovating the galley this week but the hatch in our main salon started leaking and Steve was worried that moisture was penetrating the core of the deck. We had planned on rebedding all our hatches eventually. A leaky one just moved this project up on the list. So much for renovating the galley. We’re rebedding a hatch.

Reminder, we ARE retired. That means, it’s close to 10:00 by the time we drink coffee, piddle around on our computers, and take a walk. After taking an hour for lunch, we knock off for the day between 3:00 and 4:00. Yes, a 4 to 5 hour workday does limit what we accomplish in a day, but we have lots of days so we’ll get it done.

Day 1: I want to talk about getting new lenses in our hatches. Thirty years of dinging and crazing makes for unsightly lenses. Steve doesn’t want to tackle replacing the lens himself. We look into sending the hatch off to be re-lensed but an 8-week backlog means 8 weeks with a hole in our deck. Also, 8 weeks is getting awful close to our departure date and that makes us a little uncomfortable.

Maybe a whole new hatch then? No such luck. We can’t find an exact replacement for our existing hatch. We’ll have to get one a little bigger which means cutting a bigger hole in our deck.

Nope, they don't make this one anymore.
Nope, they don’t make this one anymore.

Cutting fiberglass is messy.  Fiberglass dust gets everywhere and you clean it up forever. Maybe our lenses aren’t so unsightly after all. And besides, both re-lensing and replacing a hatch are expensive and we’d rather spend that money on something else.

It takes us half a day to decide that we’re just going to rebed the hatch and by the time Steve gets the hatch out, it’s quitting time. We use trash bags – one on the deck and one on the headliner – to cover the hole.

Our garbage bag barrier still lets in light!
Our garbage bag barrier still lets in light!
Think we need a garbage bag on this side, too?
Think we need a garbage bag on this side, too?

Day 2: Steve is right. Water has penetrated one corner of the hatch. The wet balsa wood in the core of the deck needs to be scrapped out. Wet balsa wood is still surprisingly strong so that’s quite the chore. After that, Steve spends the rest of the day scrapping the sealant used to hold the rim of the hatch in place on the deck.

Day 3: After talking to the West Marine guy, Steve decides to use a router to remove about ¼” to ½” facing of balsa wood so he can apply a barrier of epoxy. That way, if water does get in, it should not erode the balsa wood.

~Yes, I am afflicted with Vertical Video Syndrome.  Sorry, son, it’s a hard habit to break.~

Epoxy is applied and left to dry overnight. It’s supposed to rain tonight so we use our companionway cover to reinforce our garbage bag barriers. I spend the rest of the day doing laundry, blogging, and cleaning up balsa wood chippings.

Somebody made a mess.
Somebody made a mess.

Day 4: Along about our second cup of coffee, I look up and notice that our inside garage bag is distended.  It’s full of water. Steve, we have a problem!  Thank goodness for Glad ForceFlex garbage bags!

I grab a bucket.  Steve grabs his marlin spike and punches a hole in the plastic. We set the bucket on a TV tray under the hole and watch it fill up with water.

Water, water everywhere.
Water, water NOT everywhere, thank goodness!

Disaster averted, I go to yoga class. By the time class is over, it has stopped raining and the sun is out. Steve re-applies epoxy to some areas that need it. End of day 4.

Day 5: Butyl tape applied. Holes drilled. Hatch back in. Hatch trim still needs some work but that can wait. Project complete and unless it leaks, it’s zen on a boat.


One thought on “Steve, we have a problem.”

  1. Marci when we refurbished our hatches we removed the acrylic and took it to a plastic store and they matched them in new, and thicker, acrylic. We sent the hatches out to be painted and then we rebed them ourselves with Dow Corning 795, a rebedding sealant we have yet to find any better than. We also bought new bulk rubber seal and cut it to fit. They have held up beautifully over four years and have not leaked.

    SV Kintala


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