The Winter Trawler Blues

Just what do you do when the snow accumulation has reached a record 80 inches in the Chesapeake region and you can't even get to the road to the marina, let alone on board the boat? Not much, but there are a few things than can be done away from the boat. Before all of the snow started we brought some of the drawers home that were really bad so we could refinish them. We had also started to renovate the renovated shower in the forward head. But the three page todo list before the boat is to go back in the water has not seen one item checked off. And based on the forecasts for the future, we will need to prioritize to get the items that MUST be done prior to launch. Obviously several things will have to wait until haul out next year, and lots of items will get done after the boat goes back in the water. Typically we try and do all of the tasks that would be really inconvenient while we are aboard, after the boat is hauled out for the winter and we are living ashore. With this historic weather we probably will not accomplish much this time.

The interior of the boat is in need of a lot of refinishing and the drawer faces in the main salon look pretty shabby. Once removed from the boat we use a chemical stripper to remove 99% of the old finish. Then they get a thorough sanding until the rest of the 1% is removed. Finally, they get 3 coats of our favorite finish, in this case a good quality floor finish in a gloss. We use the floor finish because it is much harder and durable than standard varnish and these drawers and doors get more punishment than the other surfaces. The cabinet and other surfaces will get a standard interior varnish and we like the satin, hand rubbed affect for these areas. A lot of this will have to be done after we move back on board, but that is nothing new.

The  forward head had been pretty much converted to a shower, Although we did leave the head in place. But it was a temporary conversion and we knew that at some point we would do a more thorough and complete renovation. Before all of the snow started we were able to remove some of the old wall covering, which is a very poor imitation of Formica, and was splitting and coming loose. Using a heat gun and a sturdy, wide putty knife it came off very easily. Our plan is to recover the wall with a FRP type paneling that will be completely waterproof and easy to keep clean. If this can't be completed before launch, it won't be a problem since we will simply use the marina shower facilities. The plan also includes new tracks for the shower curtains mounted on the overhead, instead of the rod type we used previously. New towel racks and soap dishes will also be installed.

While we are out of the water there are a few underwater fittings that need attention. There is a thru-hull in the aft head that is not used and sitting right next to the head discharge. This was the original head intake, so the discharge was sitting next to the intake by about three inches, not a well engineered system, even though the overboard discharge is almost never used. So this is being removed and that hole is being fiberglassed over. The existing hole will have eight layers of 40 oz. biaxial fiberglass, starting with one piece slightly larger than the hole and each progressive piece about one inch larger. The interior hole is filled in with a thickened epoxy and the interior surface also gets a layer of fiberglass cloth. This makes a very strong repair and after many years of filling thru-hulls, we have never had one of these repairs fail. The forward head intake is one of the original 30 year old thru-hulls, and although they all work, we are slowly replacing them all. In addition, there is a depth sounder transducer which no longer works and is not connected to anything that has been removed and will also get fiberglassed in making for two less holes in the bottom of the boat.

The only other must do prior to launch is to repack the rudder stuffing box. For this I am replacing the old packing with the Gore brand packing material. This is probably overkill for the rudder, but it won't have to be redone for another 30 years. Once all of the fiberglassing work is completed the boat will get a fresh coat of bottom paint. After this winter we are really looking forward to Spring and getting back on board.

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