Improving the Cockpit
I decided that two hatches are really needed on Sally B: one to make work on the propeller stuffing box and the aft end of the engine easier, and a second so that I can adjust the rudder post stuffing box easily and quickly. I am hoping I can gain a bit of storage space with the second access hatch as well. First I measured approximately where the fuel tank is under the sole and positioned the hatches around the tank as best I could. Then I marked the locations on the sole and the approximate location of the tank as well.
The Bomar hatches are very well built, aluminum painted in white Awlgrip, but when installed will stand 1/4" proud of the cockpit sole. I don't want this potential toe stubber than might cause me to trip some dark and stormy night, so I will lay down a 1/4" sheet of fiberglass (from McMaster Carr) to bring everything flush. The fiberglass sheet will be taken to 1/2" of the edges of the sole to create a water drain channel. The rudder post top bearing is also about 1/4" proud of the sole so it will be nicely flush as well. I had it nickel plated years ago and it has taken on a nice almost dull black appearance, but for this refit I may remove it and send it out to be chromed.
After sanding the cockpit sole smooth, I marked the forward hatch opening and began the cuts. To keep the inside cutout piece from dropping down and binding the saw blade I temporarily attached a couple of cross braces that would hold the cutout piece in place.
Here is the opening. You can see the forward side of the fuel tank, a PVC cross conduit I installed in 1995 to carry the battery cables (I will remove it since I an locating the batteries elsewhere in the boat). A surprise finding when I studied the fuel tank closely: It has a clean out port just aft of the aft edge of the cutout! Of course it is no good to anyone who hasn't cut a giant hole in their cockpit sole--I sometimes wonder about the old Bristol yard and some of the dumb things they did. Later I smoothed the edges and beveled the top edge a little to match the inside flange bevel on the hatch frame. I gouged out the balsa core all the way around the opening and pumped in West Six10 to seal the core.
Note, that on my boat, the core was in almost perfect condition--no signs of rot or delamination. Here is a photo of the thickness of the cockpit sole: Finally I built two temporary covers for the two access hatch holes, and called it a day.
Later, when the epoxy had hardened, I overbored the mounting holes, and finally drilled and tapped the 14 holes.
Here is the frame temporarily mounted (note that I used nylon washers under the screw heads to prevent scoring the Awlgrip.And to the right is the hatch installed. The hatch has one weakness that anyone using this hatch should be aware of. There are two pins in the forward edge of the hatch (the opposite side from the latch side) that fit into holes in the frame. The pins are stainless steel (it would have been better if Bomar had used aluminum pins). To prevent corrosion between the two types of metal, be sure to coat the pins and the holes liberally with Lanocote or a similar product. I also plan to coat the neoprene gasket with silicone grease. Once I determined that everything fit properly, I removed the hatch and slipped it into an old pillowcase for protection.
Next, I addressed the aft access hatch. I repeated all the steps above to cut the opening, over bore the mounting holes, and drill and tap the holes. I fashioned a temporary plywood cover for the opening and stored away the hatch until I finish painting the boat. Finally, I cut an opening above the fuel tank cleanout port for a deck plate, so that between the open deck plate and the forward access hatch I could remove the cleanout and clean the tank when necessary. The steps are the same as above. I had on hand a 5" bronze deck plate that I have decided to use for this.
Today I began cutting and fitting sheets of 1/4" fiberglass to raise the surface of the cockpit sole even with the tops of the access hatches, the bronze deck plate and the fuel fills.
Next to be addressed are the two fuel fills. The first is located directly above the original fuel tank. A source of constant puzzlement to me for a number of years was finding traces of fuel in the engine compartment after sailing. I would double check all the fuel line connects, retighten all the fittings and clean up the fuel, only to find the same condition again after the next sail. Eventually, quite by accident I discovered that the issue was a loose hose clamp on the fuel fill. It is almost impossible to reach (and see) and had never been tightened at the factory. when the boat was sailed hard and heeled on a port tack, fuel would slosh up and out the loose connect and drip into the engine compartment. The original fuel fill was an old bronze thing and I will replace with a stainless steel fuel fill. In order to fit, you need a Sea Dog fuel fill that has a collar to accept a tail piece. You will have to use a Marelon tailpiece, and trim off the threaded side and the hose barb side to make it fit. There is not much room. In fact as the photo shows, only 1 inch from the underside of the sole to the top of the fill pipe. I will replace the short piece of fill hose later.
Next, I gouged out the core from the fuel fill opening. I found some dry rot that extended about an inch into the core, which I carefully cleaned out, and filled the void with thickened epoxy. Then I turned my attention to the second fuel fill. I added a second 25 gallon Nauta bladder diesel tank to the boat in 1995. The tank is suspended under the engine and has worked perfectly. The best advantage to the bladder tank is that it requires no vent so there is much less air in the tank and condensation is not the critical issue it is with a normally vented tank. After removing the fill hose and sealing the end with tape, I removed the fuel fill and found no sign of water. I gouged out the coring around the edge of the hole and filled it with thickened epoxy. When it hardens, I will overbore the mounting holes, drill and tap them for new fasteners. Here the attachment holes are being overbored to mount one of the fuel fills to the new sole.
The last time I had it off was in 1995. It was more silver then but being plated in nickel it has tarnished the same way nickel tarnishes I suppose.
How to keep the rudder from lifting up off the lower pintel--for instance if you go onto a reef (or if, God forbid, the boat does a 360)? I built and installed a stop under the top bearing to prevent the rudder from lifting.
While the cockpit sole has no issues with delamination or core rot, it does flex a slight bit when I step down hard from the cockpit seat. I decided now is a good time to address the issue by building and installing a brace under the sole to stiffen it up. I took some scrap teak and laminated a 2" x 2-1/2 inch floor. consisting of three pieces glued together in a "T" arrangement. I cut the floor the wide of the cockpit (it butts against the vertical sides of the engine box under the sole). I used Locktite PL Premium polyurethane construction adhesive to glue it in place (which is as tenacious as 5200). Once the adhesive set up, I overbored 1" holes thru the coring above the brace, a total of six holes, where I would mount 1/4" carriage bolts to thru-bolt the sole to the brace.
The brace has completely eliminated the slight flex in the cockpit sole.
The seats drain via the drain channels in the cockpit seat lockers now, but so as not to overwhelm the channels and to get the last bit of water off the seats, I will install two drains at the forward, outboard corners of the seats that will keep the seats clear of water and add two more (a total of 6 drains now) for the cockpit).
Once I cut the opening for the aft access hatch, I got the the most lovely view of the rudder stuffing box. The last time I saw this baby it was in 1995, when I was stuffed upside down in the lazarette, and by the light of a droplight, changed out the stuffing box hose (which was shot) all the hose clamps, and repacked the collar. Here is a photo: As you can see it looks brand new and recently rebuilt, the hose is stiff but slightly pliable, the hose clamps look fine. I will check the packing but everything else about this task is done.
The good news about the B29 is the enormous cockpit. You can throw a big party there, and can seat everyone very comfortably while sailing. The bad news about the B29 is the enormous cockpit. The cockpit is simply too wide for sailing unless you are an NBA center. I have always installed some sort of foot brace on the cockpit sole to brace my feet against when I am sailing on the high side.
The Bristol yard used stainless steel piano hinge on the lid of the port cockpit seat locker. The problem with the piano hinge is that it is screwed into the thin back edge of the lid and the edge of the cockpit seat with a lot of tiny #6 screws. The result after lots of stress and 40 or so years are cracks and thin breaks in the glass and gelcoat. A better, cleaner method would be surface mounted hinges, which would be considerably stronger than the dinky piano hinge, so for the existing port locker lid and for the yet to be built starboard locker lid I will remount both with surface mounted hinges.
First I removed the lid and went about repairing the cracked gelcoat in the edge of the cockpit seat and filled in the multitude of holes in the outboard edge of the lid. I opened up each of the cracks in the gelcoat and then filled the holes and cracks with unthickened epoxy. I also filled the holes in the lid by turning it on its edge and letting epoxy soak into all the holes and indentations. Once the epoxy had cured I sanded everything smooth and flush.
The lid was cut about 1/4 inch short to accommodate the fold of the piano hinge, so the next step was to add 1/4 inch back to the outboard edge of the lid. I used some fiberglass from McMaster Carr for this, gluing it in thickened epoxy. Again, after curing and sanding and shaping, the back additional material made a much smaller gap (which will eventually be sealed from water with a gasket). Later I added two layers of 6 oz cloth to the underside of the outboard edge to strengthen the addition of the red fiberglass.
Once the lid was finished, I removed the wiring from the locker, removed the hoses, and prepared to paint it out. Before painting, I decided to build a temporary floor for the locker to help organize the junk that fills up all cockpit lockers. The floor would have two hatches. It would be recessed back from the forward bulkhead a few inches to accommodate the hoses that attach to the bulkhead with siphon brakes, and have a fiddle at the front end to prevent small items resting on the floor from dropping into the lower part of the locker. Finally the entire floor would be removable with a few screws so that should I really need better access to the bottom of the locker it would easy enough to remove the floor. Here is the floor in position but not yet painted out or screwed down.
Bristol covers the drain channels for the port cockpit locker and then drills holes in those two covers--which contribute to them becoming blocked with dirt and limits the amount of water that can be handled. So I used my Fein Multimaster to open up some of the holes Leaving enough material for strength).
Next, I need to build a new locker in the starboard seat, over what used to be the starboard quarterberth. I measured where I feel that it needs to be--slightly aft of the port locker to afford more cupboard space in what will be come the galley, and a lid not as long as the port side. Then I hot glued battens to guide the jig saw to make good clean cuts. First I cut the two short sides, then glued batten lengthwise to support the lid for the other two cuts. Here is the opening. Next is to clean up the underside of the lid and even the thickness so it will compress weather stripping evenly. I build a form around the two sides and the hinge side out of 3.4 inch stock that seemed to match the thickness of the lid in most areas. I will use the Festool Rotex to even out the lid down to the thickness of the surrounding form
The inboard side of the locker is only 1/4" fiberglass and pretty flimsy so to create an even foundation for the drain channels and to stiffen up the side I will glue two layers of 1/4" plywood to the inside. Using 1/4" material will let it easily take the slight curve of the cockpit seat without deforming it--which would affect the fit of the locker lid when closed. Before adding the plywood, I need to create a stop for the lid along the inboard edge which will help brace up the inboard wall of the cockpit seat/locker; give me a formed bearing surface for the lid to rest on when it's closed, and seal the locker.
The tricky part is duplicating the curve of the inner side of the seat--the inboard side of the seat is flimsy enough that if I'm not careful the batten could reshape the slight curve and the lid would no longer fit. First I considered scribing and cutting the curve on my band saw, but I decided instead to use a 1"x1" teak batten, cut the length of the seat and glued in place. I found by experimenting that the curve of the inner lip of the lid was the same as a 3/8" round over router bit, so I applied a round over to the inner corner, and glued it in place with Six10 epoxy. By bracing the batten at each end to the shape of the inboard side of the seat locker, the batten took the exact same curve as the inboard edge of the lid.
The next step is building up the inside of the inboard locker wall with two sheets of 1/4" plywood. I cut the layer to size and painted the glue-to side and the edges with unthickened epoxy. Then I used a tube of Six10 to apply a thick bead of the epoxy everywhere, especially around the edges of the port hole I will fill. Then, using a brace at each end and some wedges, I installed the plywood and wedged it in place. Tomorrow when theSix10 is fully cured, I'll remove the braces and wedges and glue up a second 1/4" sheet.
Today I determined where to position the bulkhead separating the new starboard locker from the interior of the boat. The bulkhead will be about 12 inches recessed into the locker to give me some deep cabinets for the galley. Once the position was established, I made a square cut across the quarter berth, from the inside wall of the locker to the edge of the hull - as close as I could get with the jig saw. When I get a new blade for the Fein Multimaster, I will finish the cut and remove the tabbing for the berth against the hull. Then I cut out the remainder of the quarter berth inside the cabin. After installing a new blade in the Fein, it made fast work of the tabbing against the hull and the remaining pieces of plywood.
Short fiddles along the edge of the seats also help keep me planted on the seat when the boat is heeling as well as keep my feet from slipping off the seat when I am stepping back into the cockpit from the high side. They also keep little things from sliding off the seat. Since the seat height is short, the fiddles don't become an annoyance against the back of the legs while sitting. The fiddles are made from the scrap after cutting the coamings and covering boards: they rise above the level of the seats 1-1/4 inch. First, I machined fiddles for the two seat locker lids.
As part of the new instrumentation in the cockpit, I built a wood frame to received a plexi cover and protect the Yanmar engine gauge panel from water. The frame is built from some poplar and is simple enough, and as you can see in this shot I cut an 1/8" groove in the inside edge to hold the plexi. I mounted the frame to the aft cabin bulkhead, glued with West Six10 and screwed, and later filled the holes and formed a fillet around the frame with epoxy thickened with 410. A few days later when the epoxy had fully cured, I sanded everything smooth, as well as filling the holes left by the old instruments. Note that the bottom hole filled was for the 120V power inlet for shore power. I have decided with this refit to not use a shore-power battery charger or have 120 volts on the boat at all. The batteries will be maintained with solar; and I will feel better not having the boat connected electrically to any marina.
Just a personal thing, but I really dislike mahogany. It is a very soft wood, likes to split, has a dull, uninteresting grain, turns black at the first hint of moisture. I have never been a fan of the mahogany coamings on the Bristol: they attach with screws so they look very temporary, they leak at the outboard side where they abut the side decks and they simply don't look integrated with the boat. So I will build new teak coamings, permanently glued to the boat and cover the tops of the winch islands and top edges of the coamings with teak covering boards.
The first step in constructing the coamings and their covering boards is to edge join some teak planks together. I began by matching the grain of the different planks together as much as possible. The planks are 7 inches wide and I need at least 11 inches for the maximum height of the coaming boards. I found reasonable grain matches between the four boards' two sides and noted the relations with some tape across the boards.
To join the boards I laid out the port coaming first, and drew the outline of the old coaming board onto the two boards, using the outline as a reference to see where the joint occurred and where to apply Domino tenons. Then I used my Festool Domino cutter to drill the mortises, being careful not to drill a mortise too close to the slopping top edge where the coaming would be cut.
To join the edges I followed the same procedure I always follow when gluing teak: I carefully and repeatedly cleaned the two surfaces with acetone and a white rag until the rag came away clean and no longer stained tan from the teak oil. I then painted both surfaces with unthickened epoxy and let it soak in for a while. Finally, I ran a bead of Six10 along both edges and into each mortise and thoroughly around all the edges of the tenons; inserted the tenons, pressed the two planks together, and carefully clamped them. The brilliance of the Festool tenons is that they act as extremely accurate reference points and the two planks were an exact fit.
Once the Six10 hardened, I took the board inside and did the same joining to the starboard coaming. Six10 seems to take a full 24 hours or more at room temps to thoroughly harden and a full cure will take a week, so I will cut the planks to the shape of the coamings, but will wait a week until I start to bend and dry fit them into the curved sides of the cockpit.
While the coamings are curing I took a look at how I will build and install the covering boards. The covering boards cover the top edges of the coamings, the tops of the winch islands and provide a caprail around the cockpit wide enough to sit on
The next step in the new coamings is to measure and cut the aft coaming that mounts athwartships at the aft end of the cockpit. It is a bit tricky to measure as the sides of the coamings are slanted outboard, and curve in slightly at the aft end. I thought it best to start with a template which I made from some scrap poplar. I used a sliding bevel to take off each of the four angles--two to each side--and cut template on my table saw.
Then, I used the template to set up my chop saw with the same angles, locked it down and cut the aft coaming plank about a 1/4" fat. I then test fit the plank, trimmed about a half blade width off, test fit again, trimmed again, etc, until the plank was a tap-in fit.
Once finished with the aft coaming, with all the pieces in place, I determined where I wanted to locate attachment screws and marked the coamings. I then removed the boards and set up my portable drill press with a 1/2" forstner bit to cut the bung holes. After all the holes were bored, I chucked up a #14 wood bit with a flat head screw counter sink and drilled thru the bore holes, cutting the countersinks for the screw heads. A final sanding and the coamings are reading to be screwed and glued in position.
Hardware in the cockpit includes:
One of the impressive features of the Bristol 29 is the winch islands in the cockpit. Some boats have shockingly puny winch islands that are molded separately from the deck structure and later screwed down. Other boats have no winch islands at all, relying instead on metal shelves that bolt both to the deck and through the coaming. Neither of these types of winch mounts are very strong in my opinion, since I believe you should be able to lift the boat using the islands. On the B29, the islands are a molded part of the deck and cockpit structure. The vertical sides are at least 3/8" solid glass, the tops of the islands consist of a sandwich of 3/8" to 1/2" glass, 1" of solid mahogany and a bottom layer of 1/4" glass. To this I have added my 7/8" thick covering boards, making the mounting surface for the Bristol very thick indeed!
To attach the primary and secondary winches I will overbore the mounting holes, through the top covering board, the fiberglass winch island and the mahogany backing block inside the winch island. Then, I will drill and tap holes for the fasteners. But, first I must cut an access hole in each of my lovely coamings to get nuts on the fasteners and tighten the nuts. Into the two holes I will install 4" stainless deck plates.
The next step is to overbore all the winch mounting holes. There is no reason to repeat this process, I have detailed it in other areas of this website. The holes were overbored, then drilled with an extra long tap bit and tapped with an extra long tap.
A tip about the proper orientation for mounting a winch. If the winch uses a pinion gear as mine do, the pinion should be in direct alignment with the line coming to the winch, in this case the jib sheets. Aligning the pinion this way minimizes the load on the gear housing, since the loads on the pinion from the sheet are opposite to the load on the pinion from driving the winch, like the photo on the right. If the winch were aligned so the pinion was 180 degrees opposite, the loads would be doubled on the gear housing, which could cause damage or even failure of the winch. You can read more about winch alignment here.
I have pondered the location of a propane locker for some time now: the lazarette seems a logical place but building an air-tight locker inside the lazarette seems awkward to use and that location would limit storage. I also considered simply adding a tank onto the pushpit, but since I will be using a propane stove and a propane fireplace, I will need more capacity than one tank can provide, and having a tank on the stern deck is a little too trailerish for me. So I will build a locker under the aft area of the starboard cockpit seat, aft of the bulkhead that encloses the quarter berth. I'm not sure how big to build it, but these are the steps I will need to complete:
like to have the capacity for two 20# tanks, but their diameter is such that
I can't find an appropriate size hatch--so I settled on a Beckson 15" x 15"
hatch that gives an inside opening size of 11-1/2 inches--enough to fit 10#
or 11# tanks into.
First I laid out the hole for the hatch in the cockpit seat. The hatch needs to be inboard of the coaming enough to open at least 90 degrees and still fit the seat. The Beckson hatch just barely fits. A word about Beckson. I looked at a number of plastic hatches and the Becksons were the only ones I found to be sturdy enough to handle foot traffic and not flex. It is well made--in Italy no less (a pleasure to find something not made in China!) and reasonably priced. After drawing out the cut lines, I used a 2" hole saw to cut the curved corners of the hole. The hole saw isn't mandatory but makes nicer curves. I discovered at this point that the cockpit seats are cored--very nice work on Bristol's part! Then I cut two opposing sides with my jigsaw and temporarily attached a support batten to keep hold up the area of the seat I was removing.
The finished hole was very close to fitting the hatch opening. Below the seat in this area is where I had installed the compressor for the refrigerator. That support structure--sturdy but not very attractive needed to be removed. You can see the refrigerant lines as well as the seacock for one of the aft cockpit drains. I will build the propane box around the seacock so I can remove it if I ever need to. You can also see some spray insulation foam I applied years ago. All that needs to be removed as well as a bit of the remains of the ceiling liner. I used my Fein Multimaster to make very clean and accurate cuts to get all that crap out of the area. Outboard of the compressor support is the fuel water separator for the fuel tank vent line. I will relocate this to somewhere else in the lazarette. I will need to shift the exhaust hose and its outlet and the fuel vent from the starboard side of the transom to the port side, since ABYC regs require at least 20 inches between the propane locker drain and any other opening to the boat's interior.
After cleaning up the interior area, I did the normal steps to prepare the hatch opening: cleaning out the balsa core from the hole I cut, painting the balsa with epoxy, and then filling the space with thickened epoxy.
The next step in the locker is to template the aft bulkhead to enclose the space. Many thanks to my brother John at this point for not letting me build the size that I wanted but a more conservative space to hold to horizontal 10# bottles. I cut a template out of cardboard and then cut the bulkhead out of some very nice hardwood 1/2" plywood I found in the garage from a disassembled bunk bed I made for the kids 20 years ago. The bulkhead fit flush to a 1/2" plywood face I had glued to the lazarette side of the aft cockpit bulkhead years ago, and enclosed the space.
In order to get a close measurement of the floor of the locker, I used some temporary battens as braces for the bulkhead which kept the bulkhead square to the locker space (within a quarter of an inch) and allowed me to mount a small block with hot glue as a more permanent brace. Once the space was defined and the bulkhead screwed in place I had the final measurements for the bottom of the lock, which I cut from the same 1/2" stock. With the floor in place I could them accurately scribe a line under the edges of the temporary braces to define the permanent cleat that would support the floor on the bulkhead side. I painted both sides of the bulkhead and floor with unthickened epoxy to seal the plywood from water, and while the epoxy was drying I painted out the bottom area of the hull under the floor. By the way, I use modified epoxy garage floor paint for as the general paint for the interior of the hull and lockers. It hold tenaciously to otherwise grimy surfaces, and costs considerably less than Bilgekote. Finally I sealed the old remaining foam from the quarter berth bulkhead and any openings I found with thickened epoxy, and glued and screwed the cleats in place with Six10 epoxy. I will add fiberglass tape to all the corners and joints of the locker and the fairing gives me a good surface to work from.
Before final assembly and gluing I needed to determine the best location for the drain and install the drain thru hull in the side of the locker. Using a level I determined that the floor of the cockpit was upstream of where the thru-hull will be in the transom, and locating the drain at the outboard corner of the locker keeps the drain line against the hull/bottom all the way back to the transom (and the most out of the way of damage by gear in the lazarette). So I marked the bulkhead and drilled a 3/4" hole for the 1/2" Marelon thru-hull. Then I cut off the flange of the thru hull on my band saw and mounted it flush to the inside in epoxy thickened with 404 high density adhesive filler.
Today I finished up the propane locker. I tabbed all the interior seams and tabbed the bulkhead to the hull, and cut the hole in the transom for the drain thru hull. All I have left to do is at some point paint it out inside and fill it with water to test for leaks. Finally, I made a temporary top for the locker until I paint the boat and install the Beckson hatch.
While I was busy working on the cockpit lockers I added chocks to hold two of my primary bowers, a 22# Bruce in the starboard locker and a 25# Harborfast plow in the port locker. The chocks for the two anchors will allow me to securely store them when I am sailing on a passage or when the boat is in long term storage. Once again, the chocks must meet my turn the boat upside down and shake test; I certainly don't want either of these anchors breaking loose inside the cockpit lockers.
TIP: How to Lube Marelon
Forespar, the maker and distributor of Marelon seacocks is rather vague about the steps to lube them. I have had these seacocks in my boat for the past 15 years and here are the steps to correctly lube them.
Before I start, let me state that Marelon seacocks are not plastic, nor are they delicate, nor do they break, nor any of the other misinformed rumors that abound on sailing forums. They are extremely tough as are all Marelon fittings but like any seacock must be exercised and lubed occasionally.
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