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Deck Work

This web  page covers all the deck preparation for painting and mounting all the hardware needed on the deck. For the most part the hardware is overbored for mounting and then a shallow hole is drilled to mark where I need to drill and tap after the decks are painted.

Building a Foredeck Dorade Box

Building Deck Drains

Installing a Weather Proof Chainpipe

Installing a Nicro Solar Vent in the Lazarette Hatch

Installing the Mooring Bit

Removing the Old Traveler Base

Installing the Stanchions

Installing the Genoa Track



Building a Foredeck Dorade Box

I need a dorade box to vent the anchor locker, so I built one today. I started by measuring how big I wanted it, based on a dorade guard I purchased from marinershardware.com (now bluewaterhardware.com) Then I rough cut the sides, top, front and back panels. I decided I wanted to build this dorade without screwing from the outside, necessitating wood bungs. I hate using bungs if I don't have to on exterior wood. The box is glued together and reinforced inside with 24 oz biax. I used 7/8" teak so it very heavily constructed. The top, front, and back panels are reinforced with scrap from the job. Here, the back is being glued in place and you can see the reinforcing. The rule I use when gluing teak is to always wipe the surfaces with acetone first; then paint each side with unthickened epoxy; and then apply too much thickened epoxy with very slight clamping.

You can see the fillets of thickened epoxy here as well as the two drain holes I bored.



Here is the front panel clamped in glue.


Here is the piece ready for the top. The top was about an 1/8" too short when I cut the bevel for the front, but with sanding and shaping it came out fine.

Here the top is set in glue. You can see how much splurges out, but the excess epoxy makes a useful fillet. You can also see the fiberglass reinforcing, and the baffle plate that keeps water out of the forward vent area. It all looks pretty ugly now but will clean up very nicely.

Another shot of the box.


I finished rough sanding and shaping it here. I used a small belt sander and a palm sander with 40 grit paper. I have just hosed off all the saw dust.

After the box dried, I sanded the exterior progressively with 100, 180, 220 and 320 grit sandpaper. I wiped off the surfaces carefully with acetone several times, and then painted on two coats of epoxy to seal the teak.

Here is the box after the second coat of epoxy. I will add one more coat and then wet sand the surfaces smooth with 320 grit wet or dry.

I wet sanded the box with 320 wet or dry sandpaper, being careful not to break through the epoxy layer, just even it out dead smooth. It is important to use a block to keep the cutting even. If you use your fingers on the sandpaper you will eventually cut waves into the surface. However, a trick I use is this: once the surface is cut down smooth, if there are still some small depressions, I even then out using as finger tip on the paper. The area is small enough that it doesn't show. There are probably better ways used by professionals, but my way works, it's faster and takes less coats of the finish to achieve a dead smooth surface.

Here is the box with the third coat of epoxy. I use a poly foam brush and it does a  nice job. There are still some very minor imperfections, but it's coming along.

Here you can get an idea of the the surface from the reflection. There are some brush marks on the back that will have to be sanded out.


Here is another view. The reflection of the newspaper text is pretty clear. So this is three full coats of epoxy. From now on I will add coats of System Three water based LPU clear gloss. I will probably spray this dorade.


Today I laid out everything on the foredeck for the dorade, the dorade guard and the mooring bit on the bow. I need to keep all of this gear as close to the bowsprit as possible, to leave as much room as possible for deck storage of a hard dingy. I am planning to build a dingy that is a bit over 7 feet long which will mount between the dorade box forward and the mast aft.

Here you see the adjustable dorade guard bases I will use. The guard, cowl and bases are from Mariners Hardware. They are all 316 stainless and beautifully made and polished.

In order to raise the mooring bit up more to the level of the bowsprit I fashioned a base from fiberglass sheets from McMaster Carr. I will add another 1/2' to the base, raising it to the level of the bowsprit.

Here is a side view of the box, cowl and guard. You can see how the adjust bases mount as well. The guard needs to be cut down in height by about 5 inches.



Another angle of the assembly. You can see the drain holes in the back of the dorade here.



Mariners Hardware will paint the inside of the cowl with LPU to match your hull color for only a few dollars. Very classy touch. Here, the guard has been trimmed. It looks to make an excellent handhold as well, for working on deck.

Now that the positions are marked, I begin over boring all the mounting holes. Here the holes are bored for the dorade guard bases.



Here the holes are bored to mount the dorade box from underneath. The darker shavings from the bottom center hole are from the mahogany backing board (instead of balsa) Bristol installed down the centerline of the deck.


Beautiful, bone dry, 40-year old balsa core. Very gratifying.


This is the underside of the finished dorade. eveything is painted out in two coats of epoxy colored with white pigment.


It seemed a good weekend to attach the dorade to the foredeck.  To begin, I used the tip of my belt sander to cut thru the gelcoat and get down to clean glass. I am going to glue the dorade permanently to the foredeck; I have no reason to ever remove it and in its vulnerable position I want it secured there as strongly as possible.

Next I cleaned the exposed glass and the adjoining edge of the teak with acetone and let it dry. I painted both surfaces with unthickened epoxy and waited about 15 minutes while I mixed up a very thick mixture of epoxy with 405 fillet adhesive.

I ladled the mixture thickly along the marked surface of the deck and the bottom edge of the dorade. Then I pressed the dorade down into the mix and let it spluge out the sides all around (being careful to leave the drain holes free at the back).

I cleaned up the excess epoxy with a mixing blade and put a couple of lead pigs on top to hold it in position. After a few days when the epoxy is fully cured I drill thru the pilot holes from underneath and screw in 4 1/4" self tapping machine screws just for kicks. I don't think this dorade will be going anywhere.

The final step in securing the weatherdeck dorade is to assemble the mounting sockets for the dorade guard. The Mariners Hardware sockets articulate on a rounded top so that it can assume any angle of the deck. You drill a hole thru the top of the deck plate and bolt the plate to the socket.

Here I have mounted assembled the sockets, mounted them to the deck and epoxied the guard tubes into the sockets.

Building Deck Drains

B29s as well as other older Bristols drain water off the decks thru inadequate scuppers cut in the toerails. The areas of the scuppers weaken the toerails which tend to split at those locations, the runoff from rain and pollution streaks the topsides and there always seems to be a bit of standing water at the aft most scupper (at least on my boat). So as a part of this refit I am going to add proper deck drains. The drain will be flush with the deck between the winch island and the bulwark, and drain down to a thruhull above the waterline. I will use PVC piping for the majority of the drain hose, permanently mounted to the inside of the hull and exiting thru a PVC elbow epoxied in place. The PVC will be wrapped in fiberglass cloth, and the whole thing will be tabbed heavily to the hull.

This is one of two deck drain fittings I bought from Spartan Marine. It is cast, polished bronze and costs around 70 dollars each. It takes a 1-inch drain hose and the diameter of the flange is 2 inches. The flange, as you can sort of see, is smooth and tapered.


I'm not sure how I would cut a bevel in the deck to match the tapered drain flange, so the next best thing I can figure out is to use descending sizes of forstner bits. Here you can see the steps of the descending sizes. Here, I have wetted out the edge of the opening, preparing to make an epoxy mold of the taper.

Here you can see the hole in relation to the winch island and the bulwark. The hole is positioned where the aft-most toerail scupper was.

Here is the assembled PVC drain pipe. PVC is easy to bend with some heat and I bent the tube to the shape of the inside of the hull. After I glued the fittings in place with thickened epoxy, I wrapped two layers of fiberglass tape around it and left it to dry.

Here is the hole (Gulp! I hate drilling holes like this!). The position of this hole is about 3 inches up from the waterline and directly below the deck drain.

To make the epoxy mold of the taper I wrapped the drain fitting in kitchen wrap.


Here you see the fitting in thickened epoxy. When it hardens I will tap the fitting out with a hammer.


Here is the tapered hole.



And, here is the PVC elbow set in thickened epoxy from inside. I will sand the fitting flush to the outside and fill the edges around it,


Here's the elbow cut off flush, filled and sanded, ready for paint.


You can see the spacer I made from some sheets of fiberglass. It gives a smooth bearing surface for the nut.




I sealed the drain flange with some of this stuff from Home Depot. It works fine, is plenty cheap and allows removal of the fitting.


This shot shows the reinforcement inside the hull. It ain't pretty but with three layers of 24 oz biax it's plenty strong.




Installing a Weather Proof Chainpipe

I followed this procedure for both the chainpipe and for the foredeck dorade vent pipe. I want to be able to seal the boat from extremes of water and seas and God forbid if I am capsized. So I am using a standard schedule 40 PVC 4" pipe screw plug as a means of sealing holes in the foredeck. The two dorades for the cabin top will be sealed inside with brass 3" deckplates.

I cut the hole for the anchor deckpipe the size of the 4" PVC screw plug as you can see in the photo. The inside diameter of the fitting is the same as the ABI bronze anchor chain deck pipe.

I wetted out the edge of the hole with unthickened epoxy. If you want you could gouge out the balsa core and seal the edges with epoxy. I don't see the need since I over bored where the holes will be and filled them solid, and the PVC fitting inserted from below in thickened epoxy will nicely seal the edges.

Here, I have buttered up the fitting with very thick epoxy. I will insert it in this orientation from under the deck. The hole is just tight enough to hold it in place until everything kicks.

It is in place and nice fillet made on the underneath side.


And, as you can see, I am filling from the top with a runny mix of epoxy. When it all hardens, I will sand the top flush with the deck. To seal the hole, just drop the chain to a hook I will install, and screw in a PVC cap from underneath.

Here is the sanded flush version.


And, here is the bronze anchor chain hawse pipe in place. As you may notice, an added benefit of using the PVC is it not only seals protects the vertical edge of the deck, but prevents the chain from chafing the deck edge.

Installing a Nicro Solar Vent

I am installing two solar vents on the Bristol, one in the lazarette hatch and one in the head in front of the port dorade box. The two solar vents are Nicro 2000 Day/Night vents. They each move around 700 cubic feet of air each hour. Both vents will exhaust air from the boat. The lazarette vent is vital to move air that has entered at the anchor locker, and assisted by two additional fans, thru the boat under the cabin sole, thru the engine compartment and out the lazarette, which also houses the refrigerator compressor. Since I am planning some extended offshore passages, I am building a system to seal both vents from seawater--part of my policy during this refit that that every opening in the boat needs to be completely sealable. Both Nicro vents install thru a 4" deck plates. They snap in and look to be pretty stout once they are mounted. The vents can be easily removed for bad weather by simply snapping them out and sealing the deck plate with its snap-in cover. That is fine for any sort of sailing I am planning around here--and will do fine when preparing the boat for an approaching hurricane, but a plastic snap-in covered deck plate is not stout enough for offshore, especially at the stern of the boat.  So, I am installing a 4" schedule 40 PVC screw plug, similarly to what I used to seal the foredeck dorade and the foredeck chainpipe (explained above) on the underside of the lazarette hatch.

First, i need to cut the hole in my lazarette hatch. I built this hatch out of mahogany about 20 years ago, sealing it inside and out with epoxy and covering the outside with several layers of fiberglass cloth and epoxy.

To cut the hole for the Nicro deck plate, I am using a slightly modified drill. The drill tends to buck and jamb when cutting with larger hole saws, especially thru fiberglass, so for more control I added a longer arm to the handgrip. I cut the hole easily and cleanly by cutting thru both sides. The deck plate has a slight bevel to the inside top flange, so I beveled the top edge of the hole slightly with a drum sander. The deck plate fit nicely with with no binding. Here is the vent test fitted.

Here is the inside of vent.


Then, I began the procedure to mount the PVC cap to the inside of the hatch. The plug socket will be epoxied to the inside of the hatch.


To center the socket, I wrapped the hole saw I used in kitchen wrap. I painted the adjoining surfaces with unthickened epoxy and let it sit a while. Then I mixed a very stiff batch of epoxy thickened with 404 high density filler. I set the socket down into a bead of the thick epoxy and formed a fillet around the perimeter. Then I gently removed the plastic wrapped hole saw and let the thing harden. When the epoxy was at the soft set stage, I laid around the fillet two layers of 9oz tape.





 Installing the Mooring Bit

Earlier I had built a 1-1/2" base for the mooring bit, to bring it fair to the bowsprit. This I epoxied to the deck. The mounting holes were over bored and filled with epoxy and threaded for 5/16" hex head bolts. Now I want to mount the bit permanently to the base. I will glue it to the fiberglass base with epoxy as well as attach it mechanically with the bolts. The steps to bond steel to fiberglass is explained in the West Systems bible. Here are the steps:

First clean the base you are bonding with acetone. Then apply unthickened epoxy and sand it into the metal. Here I am using some emery cloth to work the epoxy into the base. Then I sanded the fiberglass base which I had previously molded the top to fit the underside of the bit. And, I applied unthickened epoxy to it as well.

I mixed up the rest of the epoxy with West 404 high density adhesive to a slightly runny mix and applied it thoroughly to the base--I want it to squeeze out. Finally, I ran the bolts in, tightened it down and carefully cleaned up the excess that squeezed out. Once it is fully cured, I will add fender washers and nuts to the bolts under the deck.


Removing the Old Traveler Base

Since I have moved the traveler to the cabin top, I decided to cut off flush the base for the old traveler. It is just aft of the cockpit, forward of the lazarette hatch. The base serves no purpose now and makes it apparent that the traveler has been moved. So I will cut it off flush with the deck using the Fein Multimaster. Here is the beginning of the cut. The Fein took about an hour to cut thru the base. You can see what a clean thin kerf the saw makes.


 Here is a cross section of the base. As you can see in the blurry photo (sorry) the base is merely resin that was poured solid. Not very strong nor stable which is why I would see hairline cracks radiating out from the bolt holes.


Finally, after about an hour's work the base was cut away, leaving about a 1/8" lip to sand flush. I over drilled the bolt holes, taped them from below and filled the holes with epoxy slightly thickened with 404 high density filler. Then I painted the cut area with the same mix. When it hardens I will sand everything flush with my Festool rotary sander, lay on some fiberglass cloth and epoxy that in place.


Installing the Stanchions

I am installing 3 stanchions on each side of the boat forward of the gates, instead of Bristol's usual two stanchions. The locations are spread 4' between each, measured from the forward gate. The stanchions are from Garhauer, welded with a similar rectangular base to the original bases. For each base I locate the holes with a centering bit, overbore the holes, fit 1/4" fiberglass backing plates, fill the holes and drill and tap.

Today I sanded the filled holes down level with the deck--about 10 minutes with the Festool--to discover that the original stanchion bases on the gates were no longer flat. I guess 40 years of pulling on the gates while boarding had misshapen the edges and now they sort of wobble on the deck. So I ordered 4 of these Suncor bases . They are cast 316 stainless and will work fine. About 30.00 from Defender. My drilling and tapping will have to wait on receiving the new bases since they are a slightly different size than the original Bristol bases.



Today I positioned the new stanchion bases where I want the gate to be, and drilled potted and tapped the mounting holes. To ensure a permanent and strong attachment, I potted the gate stanchions into the bases in thickened epoxy.

I mounted the each base after taping over the bottom opening. I used one pump epoxy thickened slightly with 404 high density adhesive and poured it into the base. Then I slipped he gate stanchion down all the way, mounted the brace to the deck and horsed down on the two set screws in the base. The amount of epoxy exactly filled the base to the top without running over as you can see in the photo.

Once the epoxy had thoroughly cured, I added a thickened epoxy base to the gate brace foot, which was slightly bent from 40 years of wear. I wrapped the foot in Saran Wrap tightly to protect it from the adhesive and remounted the gate. Then I simply cleaned up the excess with my stirring stick. I did the same to one of the uprights for the pushpit on the port side which was a bit short. I am positive I will have to do some built up bases on the starboard side of the pushpit as well.



Finally, I positioned and mounted the three port-side Garhauer stanchions and then removed them for storage.

Installing the Genoa Track

The genoa track is a puzzlement: It needs to be longer than the original 4 ft. stainless track, and since I am not mounting it on the caprail it will be positioned inboard but as tight to the toerail as I can get it. I will also build a stubbed toe preventer, a  toe guard on the inside edge of the track that will keep me from catching my toes and shoes on the track. The track I am using is aluminum 1" T-track from Garhauer, 5 ft long.  From past experience I know that for the size genny I have, the genoa car is normally positioned between the two sides of the lifeline gate so I kept the track as tight to the gate bases as possible. The toe guard is just far enough inboard of the track to allow free movement of the car without an chafe. Finally, the only real tricky part in determining where to mount the track is to ensure that the mounting holes are drilled on either side of the aft port settee bulkhead.

Once I double-checked the final position, I drilled the potting holes for the track and the mounting holes for the toe guard. The holes are all filled as usual with epoxy mixed with 404 high density filler and once completely cured re-drilled, and tapped. Finally I glued down the toe guard, which I had cut from some clear poplar and shaped on the table saw. Later, I added two coats of epoxy to the toe guard.

After the potted holes fully cured, I re-drilled them and tapped them for 1/4 x20 machine screws and mounted the track. I then cut a backing plate from 3/8" fiberglass stock (from McMaster Carr) and glued it to the underside of the deck using the track to locate the holes for drilling. The backing plate was glued in place and the port track complete. I repeated the process on the starboard side deck.. I am using Lok-Tite exterior construction adhesive to attach the backing plates. It grabs and holds instantly, it is tenacious stuff and significantly cheaper than using 3M 5200. It cleans up with water. The holes in the backing plate are drilled using a 5/16" bit so the hole size doesn't interfere with the threaded track bolt.






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