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Phase Two: Construction

January 20, 2003 Well, we've passed the psychological milestone between demolition & construction! We're now putting things back in! It really makes a huge difference in our outlook. Last week things were seeming kind of bleak... every time we thought were about to be able to start putting the boat back together, something would set us back. After cleaning the bilge out, we decided it would be a good idea to replace all the washers and nuts on the keel bolts, and cap them in resin. (Note: we rethought that and are NOT capping the keel bolts with resin...) That was a whole 'nother project that we had not anticipated, and it put off the start of 'construction' by another week.

In any case, we've finally begun putting her back together: hooray! Over the weekend Neil installed the new PVC pipe wire chase to route the DC cables starboard to port. Today after work he cut out the new plywood for the cabin sides and tomorrow he'll order the Formica to laminate onto them. I've placed orders for thousands of dollars worth of electrical supplies and later this week I will hopefully begin to install the new system. Eric, a cyberfriend from the Tartan owners email group, sent us a roll of copper foil and next week I'll install the SSB counterpoise. West Marine was having a sale so we bought our new VHF radio. Rule Industries returned our compass, all polished up and repaired and looking almost brand new. It's getting much easier to actually imagine installing these things on a clean, livable boat. We're beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

January 24, 2003 I finally have the electrical diagrams almost finished. Click for a look at  the schematics as they look at this point.

February 10, 2003 Things are getting exciting now! Shiny, new things are being installed. The engine room is almost done, re-insulated with top-quality, lead-and-foam insulation that makes the engine room look like a disco. Neil's made sturdy, epoxied shelves and mounting plates for the pumps, new charger, etc. We've also laid out the new copper foil for the SSB RF ground against the bare hull under the starboard settee and in the nav area. That entailed quite a bit of research.... there's no one "right way" to install the counterpoise. Some people use the lead keel as the main ground, others tie in every piece of underwater metal they can find...still others prefer to keep the RF ground separate from the DC ground and lighting ground systems. That's my preference. Even if you install capacitators in the foil, there's bound to be some stray current leakage somewhere that will eventually cause problems. We're lucky in that we've exposed fairly large areas of hull below the waterline where we can lay the foil. Most experts agree that with the new radios and tuners, the 100 square feet of ground that was previously recommended is overkill. We'll probably have about 70 square feet, and it'll be entirely separate from the other ground systems. If we decide it's not enough at some later point, it'll be easy to tie a keel bolt in as well.

On Saturday we had a thrilling day: we mocked up the nav station out of cardboard. this was a big step: the building is about to commence. Very exciting!

February 17, 2003 Neil is installing the new interior cabin sides tonight! Here is a picture of the repair to the bulkhead at the nav station that he made. It was rotted in a small area from the leaky refrigerator. He cut away all the bad wood and sistered in an epoxy-coated new piece. You can also see our copper SSB ground during installation. The electrical cables are about half run. Yesterday I ran the circuits for the port side of the boat through the new conduit Neil installed. Very slick. Today I met with our sailmaker and discussed the dodger design. I have list upon list upon list for all these projects and it STILL makes my head spin! More soon!

March 9, 2003 Well, we've been frantically trying to get as much done as possible before this weekend. That's because the boat is being moved outside in a day or so. Portland Yacht Services hosts the Maine Boatbuilders Show every March, so all of the boats stored inside get shrink wrapped and moved outside for a couple of weeks. That's a bummer for us, since we can't really work on her interior during that time. Neil plans to work on a few things like: clean up and start repairing the ports and hatches, start building some of the components for the nav station, and finish sanding the bottom. However, on our "master plan" we were supposed to be completely done with the big carpentry items by now, and, obviously, we are no where near that goal. Sigh.

However, we ARE making progress. Neil did a beautiful job replacing the rotten wood hatch backings inside the cabin. You can see that cabin top is solid around the hatches (thank you, Mariner Yachts!) and then flares out, thicker, with core where there are no penetrations. The lighter, yellower area just under the fiberglass is the new wood backing Neil epoxied in for the hatch to secure to. There's also some 1/4 inch plywood epoxied around that, not shown in this picture, for the headliner to attach to. It was also rotted and has been replaced. They are so solid and totally epoxy coated so they won't rot again! We've also finished replacing the cabin side liners, and they look great. We felt that the original all-teak cabin was a little dark, so we took a tip from Hinckley and other yacht builders and used white Formica rather than teak around the ports. We'd seen this done on another Mariner 39, and it really does brighten up the cabin! There's so much teak and fine joiner work already that it still looks very rich and "yachtie". As noted earlier, we removed the very rotted teak-faced plywood liners all the way down to the fiberglass cabin sides. This was more difficult than you'd imagine, since the pieces were put in place before the bulkheads were installed, so they were trapped behind the bulkheads. We had to cut them out in pieces, which meant no nice pattern pieces to use later when cutting the new ones. In areas like the V-berth and heads, Neil laminated the plywood to the new white Formica faces before installing them. On the long saloon pieces, the plywood was epoxied in first, then the Formica second. He used West System epoxy throughout for strength and water-impermeability. Here are some pictures showing the process: grind fiberglass cabin sides, clean thoroughly with denatured alcohol; dry fit plywood to make sure it fits, drilling holes for electrical cords and marking port location for bracing; spread epoxy on cabin sides with notched trowel; epoxy wood in place; tension and brace; let dry; repeat with Formica if not already laminated together; when dry use router to cut out ports and trim bottom edge. Before we install the ports, we'll make sure the edges of the plywood are well-sealed with epoxy. By the way, Neil came up with a great system of using strapping outside the cabin and inside, screwed through the port openings, to tension the pieces to the curve of the cabin while drying. He also screwed strapping pieces along the bottom edge (into the wooden cleats behind that the trim secures to.) You can see it in this picture, it worked really well!

March 26, 2003 It's been hard getting things done while the boat's been outside. She was way back in the yard, wedged into a snowbank, and it was treacherous getting aboard through the shrink-wrap door. Nonetheless, Neil manages to do quite a bit! The navigation station is starting to take shape. It was undoubtedly the most complicated carpentry project we faced, with it's many odd angles, and Neil was hesitant to start it. But once he did, it came together quickly. It looks BEAUTIFUL! Neil devised a system to scribe the hull to make the pieces fit perfectly. He made mock-ups of plywood to make sure everything was right, and then cut the pieces out of12mm teak-faced plywood. For trim we're using purchased AFI teak molding. We designed the nav area to make optimum use of every inch of space and to house all of our electrical and electronic equipment. There's a storage space under the nav seat, and a cubby next to it, against the hull. Neil even lined the cubby with teak! Here is a picture of the "work in progress". The fiddles haven't yet been added to the nav seat, and obviously the electrical panel isn't yet installed, nor is the trim. The radio shelf will get a teak face with the radios set into it. Below it will be a bookshelf. There'll be a cabinet under the desk housing the refrigerator compressor as well as charts, etc.

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