Creeping Towards Victory

While Melissa was evacuating from her old office and attending the sailing conference, I spent another weekend in Astoria inching ever closer to that happy day when Andromeda is back in the water. We make progress, but slowly.

Since the weather was pretty mild on Saturday, I got to work right away sealing the cockpit sole and screwing it back down. The sole has been sitting loose since John, the previous owner removed the old engine sometime in September. That means that water has had an easy time flowing into the engine room and we had to keep the steering pedestal and other steering hardware down below. Now that the new engine is in, I really wanted to start buttoning up the cockpit. We have enough trouble keeping the boat dry without having the engine room practically open to a rainy Astoria Winter.

My Bear Trap.  This allowed me to apply the butyl tape and then lower the floor down with a minimum of lateral movement.

Melissa bought some grey Butyl Tape from This Guy after reading about its superior quality from Tate and Dani of Sundowner Sails Again. This was my first experience using this tape and I am so far very impressed with its ease of use and tenacity. I did have a bit of a learning curve when it came to applying it though.

Lesson one with butyl tape. Do Not Remove the paper backing until the tape is applied to at least one surface. This stuff is tacky!

I applied slightly overlapping runs of the tape to the cleaned and freshly wiped lip of the the sole.

Two runs of tape, slightly overlapping

For reference, check out our earlier post on getting the cockpit sole cleaned.

Once I had run the tape around the perimeter and gently lowered the sole back down, it was time to screw down the sole and seal the 32 holes that had been originally used. That’s a lot of 1/4 inch screw holes. Assuming 100 Kips of tension as the low end of the range for a quarter inch 304 or 316 stainless screw, clearly we are more concerned with the amount of attachment area between the screw and the fiberglass sole. I opted to screw down on both sides of each corner and once on each side, which comes to twelve attachment points for the sole. The remaining twenty unused holes were filled with epoxy.

Corners and sides are screwed and filled with Life Caulk. The unused holes are filled with epoxy.

I hope I don’t regret using the Life Caulk for the screws. After using the butyl tape, I think it may make a superior seal. It is certainly easier to work with.

We will refinish the sole at a later time. This may be an opportunity to use the Kiwi Grip paint. We will need something that provides a good grip but that won’t trap a lot of dirt. Suggestions anyone?

With the sole finally secured, I was really excited to put the steering pedestal and wheel back in the cockpit. I have knocked the pedestal over three times and am amazed that I haven’t broken the thing as we work around it down below. I had to repaint some of the brackets holding the steering pump and hooking up the rudder hydraulics is still a little ways off, but man it feels good to have an actual wheel back in the cockpit.

Sole and Steering pedestal re-installed

Sole and Steering pedestal re-installed

Since this post is running a bit long, I’ll save the engine alignment for Friday. But I do want to leave you with a final photo of one of Melissa’s projects. We brought home hundreds of pounds of hardware which Melissa meticulously went through and organized. We still have some weird stuff that I need to look at, but the screws, bulbs, O-rings, and a thousand other bits and pieces are now on Andromeda and labeled! Anyone who has ever just thrown up their hands and gone to the Chandlery for yet another bit of stainless steel will appreciate how great it is to have the ability to lay your hand on just the right sized screw for a particular application.

The metal bar with a dog leg is for the engine control cable. Finding the correct screw for the job was easy.

We have several containers like this which are divided by type, (Machine, Wood, Brass etc) The organization is still a work in progress but so far, I have saved hours looking for parts or going to the store to buy something we already have but can’t find. Thanks Baby!


15 thoughts on “Creeping Towards Victory

  1. Butyl tape is seriously amazing stuff! I am persnickety about paint matching so I would use Kiwi Grip if I was going to be using it for my decks. I like stuff to match. I am just like that.
    I can’t believe how much progress you are making!

  2. I got butyl from the same place. I got two rolls but hardly used one so far. It works great due to compression. One thing I found out after re-installing handrails on my boat, is that when the weather warms up, it expands some more and oozes out so don’t be surprised if you see some around the edges later this spring/summer.

    Looks like everything is coming together pretty good.

    • The labels are great. The real key to this organization scheme is figuring out how granular you want to get. If you want to create a compartment for every size, length and material, you need a second boat to tow behind the main boat so you can carry all of your containers. Melissa cracked that problem by buying a 1000 small ziplock bags to provide the additional ability to sort the gazillion minor variations in thread or diameter within one larger compartment.

      The other important part of the process is keeping it organized. A constant struggle.

  3. Awesome! I’m sure it will seal pretty good. Make sure to tighten down the screws more if you can when it warms up as the buytl will soften and the “gasket” effect will lessen if you the leave the screws as it. Another pointer I have is to make little holes around where the screws are going to go when you are screwing something down. Sometimes the Buytl is so tenacious, especially when it’s cold that it will be worked out of place by screws or bolts. We always just make little holes.

    So have you water tested it yet?

    Also…Kiwi Grip traps dirt VERY easy. If you do go with that I would make sure you apply with “little grip”, when it’s cold and possibly just with a foam roller and not the texture roller. Looking great!

    • I plan on tightening down the screws this weekend as the LifeCaulk has had a chance to cure and it can now be pressurized to form a good seal.

      I did not make little holes before inserting the screws. I hope I don’t regret that. However, the LifeCaulk would have been forced down into that space so it should create a good seal.

      Thanks for the info on the KiwiGrip. As you know, a grippy deck is a bit of a double edged sword. Great grip means it hangs on to dirt really well too. Since this is a high traffic area, dirt can and does get tracked into the interior of the boat quite easily. Right now we are on the hard and the whole boat is a a bit of a mess. A situation with which you can sympathize, I am sure.

      • If you water test the hatch and there is no leaking then you are probably fine. One good thing about buytl is when you get it right, you are pretty much good. It doesn’t degrade or change over time, except get a little softer in the heat.

        On the hatch floor. We are dealing with a similar delimma on our cockpit floor

        The real pain with painting over epoxy is that you have to use an epoxy primer for anything to stick, which is expensive, 2 part and kind of a pain as you have to mix half of the 2 parts first for the first coat and the second half for the 2nd coat. And you’ll have WAY more primer than you’ll be able to use unless you coordinate it with other painting jobs.

        We have given thought to just putting some kind of non-skid rug down and covering the whole area up. Or perhaps just painting it with a 2 part paint (as the area will see alot of traffic) and using sand or similar non-skid in the final two coats. a sandy texture would be easier to clean for sure.

        Or even something like this with an adhesive back that is cut to size. This option could be cut around your pesdestal and be the same cost and WAYYY easier to do than paint, as well as needing little maintenance. Just food for thought.

        • I don’t know what is on the cockpit sole now. It looks like badly applied paint of of some sort. It is nasty and traps dirt really well. On our Catlina 27 and the Cal 34 we mixed a little non skid that I bought at Lowes into paint and epoxy and it provided a good, non skid tread. With the Cal, I mixed it into epoxy and applied it to the steps into the cabin and it was a good compromise between grippyness and tidyness. That might be a good compromise. The Treadmaster is nice as well. I haven’t applied that to any our boats but I like the look and it would cover all of the holes I have sealed up.

  4. You may want to think more on the number of screws you went with holding down the deck. True you have eliminated a lot of holes (possible water leaks) but the screws are not only holding the sole down. There is a very long lever attached to the sole, your pedestal. If someone were to fall and catch them selves against the wheel or pedestal with most of their weight say 150lbs worked through the lever arm how much force will each screw have to withstand? Will it? Will the sole be distorted even if the screws hold? Cause a leak? I haven’t done the math or anything, but I would assume that the OEM did and that is why there were so many screws.

    Looks much improved having a pedestal, a great feeling of accomplishment. Congrats on the milestone.

    • That is an interesting problem and one best calculated by real engineers. But from my armchair, a 200 pound mass (me) at 48 inches per second (a generous half the width of the cockpit) would apply just under 25 foot pounds of force to the steering pedestal. At approximately 48 inches of height, the 25 foot pounds applied to the lever would generate approximately 100 foot pounds of torque to the sole and its fixtures. While that is well under the limits of the stainless hardware used to secure the sole to the boat, the real weak point is the screw to sole surface area. I would need to look at how to calculate the contact surface of a flat head screw to really get at the solution. Also, the butyl tape contributes a not insignificant resistance to the tension applied. That stuff is really strong.

      I wonder why Melissa’s posts are more popular than mine?

  5. Pingback: Creeping Towards Victory: Part Two | Little Cunning Plan

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