One of the biggest projects on my personal list for Andromeda is insulating her interior hull spaces. The benefit of this effort is brought home to me each time we spend the weekend on Andromeda and realize that it takes running the diesel heater constantly to keep the boat warm and the interior free of condensation just from our living activities. And it hasn’t even been that cold outside yet. This will only get harder as the winter progresses. Without insulation on that hull, even with the good air circulation this boat has, I can look forward to mildewed cabinet interiors and clothing that smells like mold. I feel about mold and mildew the way Mike feels about fog: it is a malevolent force of nature that is out to get me. And I cannot let it win. Ever. My nose is a fine tuned instrument of mold detection. I can always smell a cat litter box, a wet diaper, and mildew. Gauntlets have been thrown down. Lines have been drawn in the sand. The game is on.
I would really like to find a paint product that insulates against condensation and is easy to apply. I live in a complete dream world, apparently. What I’ve found so far is Mascoat Marine Insulating Paint (or, more accurately, a ‘thermal insulation coating’). It looks like a first class product but it’s expensive and difficult to apply. It has to be sprayed on, and I have to sand the fiberglass first. Andromeda is a 47 foot boat with a ton of cabinet space. Oy vey, that’s a lot of sanding in weird positions, not to mention all the taping off and the fact that I would have to wait until summer for the temperature to be warm enough to apply this product.
I would love to find something easier in an insulating coating; something I could brush or roll on, for instance. Would rubberized roofing paint work? Would the insulating paint they sell for homes work? When I’ve researched this question on the sailing forums, I have generally found ideas about what I can glue on my hull like cork, or bubble wrap insulation, etc. I’d prefer not to go this route unless I have to. I’d like the insulation to extend pretty far below the water line, and anything that I glue onto the surface has to have excellent and complete contact with the hull or mold will grow behind it. In addition, there will always be some condensation as long as we’re in cold water, so I can’t use anything that will get soggy or hold water. Water must be able to get to the bilge. An insulation coating would be much easier in many ways. Please comment if you have suggestions.
Anyhow, so while Mike was wrangling with the engine room, I spent time poking around in Andromeda’s nether regions. She has quite a lot of storage space and many cabinets have false floors, opening to reveal yet more storage space that I can only hope I never need to use. All of these need to be empty in order for me to get at the hull, so I got to emptying and suddenly it felt like being on a treasure hunt. So much stuff! At the end of the day I decided there was too much stuff taking up space and I better bring all this loot home. What I found was yards and yards of Sunbrella canvas like this:
Apparently this is some kind of boat cover. It was much too big to spread out on our living room floor, so we’ll have to take it outside during the day and see how it works. I cannot imagine needing something like this in our climate, or using something like this while cruising, so it’s possible that what it represents is hundreds of dollars worth of Sunbrella canvas in excellent condition. Either way, score!
In one cabinet I found a long bag made of polar fleece, obviously protecting something fragile. Upon opening it, I found these:
What we have here are two panels that fit at the top of the companionway: one with a bug screen, and one made of plexiglass or something like that, creating a window to see out into the cockpit. These will be dead useful! Then there are tiny bug screens for the opening ports. These are in very poor condition, but the frames are still good so I’m putting their refurbishment on my project list. Why buy new ones when I’m fairly sure I can make these as new again? They are even labeled as to which port they are for. To the left are what appear to be bug screens for the opening hatches. To be sure, we’ve never needed anything like this in Washington, but I know we’ll want them other places.
In the drawers of the quarter berth cabin I found a pile of soft and stretchy terry cloth covers.
I think these are slipcovers for the Bottom Siders cockpit cushions to keep said cushions from sticking to skin in hot weather. A definite score! They are used and faded, and a couple of seams need to be mended, but I am totally prepared to repair and refurbish these suckers with a little thing I like to call ‘fabric dye’. I will have to count them to see if there are enough for all of the cushions. Another small project.
In the v-berth, I found this:
This is a full cockpit enclosure. Yay! It looks like it is quite well made and needs only to be cleaned and one zipper replaced. When the weather warms up, I’ll give it a good scrub outside and let it dry in the sun, then take it to a canvas worker and have that zipper replaced. I am so looking forward to having an enclosed cockpit in this area.
Cheap Tricks in Boat Decorating
And speaking of refurbishing, before we left the boat this weekend, I got a wild hair and took down the curtains in the quarter berth, aft head, and master cabin. These curtains are really well made and of high quality. The fabric, however, is faded badly from the sun and from just being pretty old. However, these things are expensive to buy, and I am not in the mood to make them. Whoever did these did a damn good job on them so I’m going to reuse them.
I brought them home and washed them with laundry detergent and bleach, then decided I would try my hand at dyeing them. I am planning to use a combination of blues and greens, perhaps some lavenders, in the interior of this boat and I had two packages of teal green dye in the cabinet. So why not? I had no idea the fiber content of this fabric, but it felt like it was a cotton/poly blend. I brought out my big canning pot, filled it with water, added a cup of salt, a dash of laundry detergent, the two packages of dye, and some eye of newt and set it on the stove to heat. The curtains were already wet and clean so I placed them in the dye bath and commenced to saying my incantations while I stirred. There is something about dying fabric that feels so much like magic!
After about 30 minutes in the hot water it looked like they were dark enough. I figured they would not be perfect, but that’s the beauty of hand dyeing fabric. All those little imperfections are fine and will totally go with my vision of casual comfort below deck. Turns out the color is great, and I saved the dye bath for the next batch. Total cost of this redo? Less than 5$. That’s my kind of remodeling. Et Voila!
I can’t wait to hang these back in the cabins and do the ones in the salon and v-berth areas.
If you have insulation on your fiberglass boat, speak up. Let me know what you use and what the pros and cons are of that substance. I’m hoping for a paint-on solution but my dreams may not fall on fertile soil.