01 March 2020: back to work after a well deserved break

After almost 7 weeks of uninterrupted work I was lucky to have my girlfriend AC come and pay me a visit. The get together was a well needed and wonderful human experience, it was also a mental plug out for me from boating and boatworks!

We spent two short days together here in Pankgor, time for her to settle a bit from the jetlag. Day one was dedicated to some short distance trips and a bit of shopping in the local mall. Of course, it was also about trying one of these local “restoran” type biryani where they serve you the spicy food :-)! Funny, just by driving around with her, I discovered some hidden beauties in the direct vicinity of the marina, also visited a Chinese temple! Being busy on my boat, I never thought about looking further than the boundaries of the marina!

After that, we took a low cost flight to… Bali! Why that destination? Well, it was a suggestion from my friend Jiri you saw in the last post. He actually lives there for over 10 years now. Bali is kind of the walhalla of yoga, vegetarian and vegan food, but to me it is essentially a pearl of the most beautiful natural sites in the world. Last but not least, Julia Roberts made the place famous in the movie “Eat Pray Love”, Bali was the third stop from her journey where she found … “Love”!!! As far as we are concerned, we took love with us already in our luggage and made it even greater over there :-)!

Two little side stories to her visit here. Part of her luggage were some “things” I had prepared for her in a cardboard box. You can guess it, more tools ;-). Yes indeed, also some consumables and spare parts that can’t be found over here.

The second little side story was about myself. We stayed the complete period in hotel rooms here, in Kuala Lumpur and an apartment in Bali. This was the first time since early January I faced a full sized mirror! Looking at my silhouette, I notice some significant weight loss… The nearest and best weight scale I could find gave me some worrying indications… 76 kg, though I left in January weighting 86 kg! Putting aside the tolerance of the scale I guess I must have lost between 6 and 8 kg during these 2 short months. Why and how? No clue, it could be from all that sweat, the work itself, the lesser appetite, the lack of alcohol, who knows? On the other hand, I don’t work out or swim anymore since I’m here and the work I do is not that physical most of the time to be honest. Bottom line, something to catch up once back in Belgium, starting with a juicy steak with fries and a greasy load of home made mayonnaise :-).

So back to boat refit now! Last time I elaborated on the rotten core around the chain plate area on the starboard hull. This is an important part of the structure that needs to be fixed, so I worked on that. The choice of what kind of core to use was a first dilemma. It has to be something that can resist compression because of the bolts holding the chain plate and the back plate together. Originally, the designer had opted to use plywood. My fear was the possibility to witness a degradation 2.0 of that same core in case I would stay with the plywood solution. On the other hand, hard to find some decent alternative. So instead of discriminating the plywood option, I considered the possible origins of the water intrusion that completely destroyed the core. First there is the rub rail I took away, this thing must have leaked for over 10 years for sure. In my solution the rub rail is gone and replaced by full inclosing laminate over the hull and deck. Source N°1 eliminated dear Watson. The other source is the water intrusion around the bolts holding the chain plate on the hull surface. The builders of the boat had just drilled holes in the fiberglass and core without filling the area around the bolts, i.e. the core exposed to incoming moisture. Best thing for me to do is to drill a hole much larger compared to the bolts, fill it with thickened polyester resin and then re-drill 11 mm holes for the 10 mm bolts while sealing the area with a decent amount of sikaflex. This way, the core is no longer exposed to water intrusion. Conclusion: let’s stick to plywood for that portion of the core in the hull.

I did this work the day AC would arrive late in the evening, thinking it would be nice to close the first chapter of my stay here on a job well done. I had time available, the complete afternoon actually. The first layer was no problem to apply on the surface, I prepared enough resin and catalyzed it at only 1% in order to have enough work time (remember it is very hot here?). When getting ready for the second layer, the weather was getting bad, wind was picking up and thick clouds forming in the sky. Not seeing any rain I decided to press anyhow. No worries as long as the rain is not pouring, right? Yes Mr MacGyver, but what about the wind? Well, I experienced the joy of attempting to hold an big sheet of fiberglass in place, operate a paint roller for the resin while keeping a resin container in hand… with just two arms and hands! The wind gusts always blew away my fiberglass sheet and as it was getting filled with resin, it became heavier and heavier. As a result, it contracted in width and extended in height, darn! Not something you want to happen in an area that needs maximum bonding to the original skin of the hull. Every layer of fiberglass is cut at a slightly smaller size so the total piece of new laminate fills in the volume of the scarfed opening in the original fiberglass. But here it got out of hand.

How to laminate in a scarfed opening. Source: West Systems Epoxyworks.

So I decided to stop here and not cause any more damage! Nothing else to do but to lay down a final surface of gelcoat with wax so the polyester resin can cure (polyester resin exposed to air will always remain sticky, it needs to be sealed from air to cure completely and become very hard).

After the short holiday, I started with some small works before attempting to recover my failed attempt of the chain plate area repair. It started with a usual session at the laundry place, followed by a massive groceries buy! And also some DYI things I needed to continue with my works! An iron with and iron board, longtime needed! A set of circuit breakers to add some safety in the electricity distribution onboard. A 12V LED light I could use in the boat, costs less than 2€ a piece, made in China yes, but just like the ones we buy in Europe! And some magic potion to close the day and prepare for a good night of sleep :-).

First job to do was to convert all my electrical tools with a European plug connector and connect the circuit breakers to power the portable air conditionner and the line dedicated for tools separately, both triggered at 10 Amps, so I’m sure not to melt down any cables no more! These circuit breakers cost 14 MYR, this equals about 3.00€ a piece! Hope they work correctly!

OK, now back to the repair of the hull around the chain plate area. The screwup of a week ago had to be fixed. Only one way to do so, grab the orbital sander and spend some precious time taking the faulty layer away… I then added two intermediate layers of simple kriss-kross 200 gr sheets (woven roving to be correct) and let these extend even beyond the limits of the scarf. Then recaptured the remaining 3 layers of 450 gr bi-axial sheets and threw a last layer of 200 gr over the set just to be sure I would match the required thickness..

OK, the case of the chain plate is clear. But why do so many other repairs elsewhere? The answer is simple: delamination. Delamination is a phenomenon where the layers of fiberglass start separating from one another and no longer remain glued to the core. There are two consequences to that, first of all a global strength reduction of the foam cored fiberglass, in addition the risk of having moisture accumulate in the void and start spreading like cancer. The only way to repair that is to open the contaminated area until the layers are again sticking on one another and replace the fiberglass with new one.

Illustration of the problem areas in the junction of the hull with the deck

Example of a delaminated portion on the aft part of the hull.

Another example of small size delamination on the deckplate.

Next is the question, what do you need to do all these operations. What kind of tools and what kind of products to work with polyester and fiberglass? Here comes the answer.

So what is the next step once all the fairing is completed? I already gave a hint several posts ago when preparing the templates for the curves around the deck plate. The idea is to laminate both parts together, knowing this is already the case on the inside but was not on the outside. Instead of keeping the actual lines, I will add a layer of foam in order to create a natural curve between the hull and the upper deck plate, like shown on this illustration.