Oh my god there’s a hole in my deck! Plus a hidden announcement..

Yep that’s right!

I came down to the boat on Friday morning to tackle the crack and humps around the midship outer shroud that myself and Dave uncovered a couple of weeks ago.

Out came the oscillating multitool and a dust mask. I gingerly picked at the hole first off with a chisel and then cut a square out with the saw.

I freaked out at this point and ran off to the boat yard in search of a boat surveyor who I’d seen taking pictures of a rudder with a huge camera. He turned out to be a little old man in a fishing jacket so I decided to carry on walking. Spotting a Halmatic on the hard I got chatting to the new owner, checked out his midship supports (none) and told him my woes.

A short time later we were on my boat, hands in pocket staring down at the mess I’d started to uncover. We both agreed that in all likelihood a professional would just get down to cutting a damn great big hole around the raised impression of the alloy plate in the deck and get on with it. He shortly left and it was time to go big or go home.

I started cutting bigger and bigger squares out of the deck. Each time I pulled away some of the decking I could see and feel the thin layer of foam damp to the touch. I started to see the problem. The deck/fibreglass had parted from the alloy plate in the deck. The bumps and humps I concluded were the deck delaminating from the metal plate. I grew more confident and could pretty much see from the deck where the plate was, so I cut a square larger than the plate. I was then able to pop the plate straight out.

I cleaned up the area and made sure I had cut it back until I found good foam core.

After cleaning the area with acetone I coated the void and especially the edges with a coating of epoxy, so that the foam core could soak it in.

Next week I’ll bevel the edges with a mix of epoxy and a high density filler, before laying my layers of biaxial cloth and epoxy.

Here’s some boring pictures of my crusty old deck!

Trina came down over the weekend, and fitted a fresh water manual pump. Luckily my water tank had a T bar fitting on the top, so both my electric and manual water pipes come straight off this T bar fitting. The foot pumps may look crude at the moment, but they actually work really well! and provide hands free operation, which is a bonus at sea.

Hidden in this post is a bit of an announcement. We’ve decided to sail to the Caribbean next year. That’s the plan we’re working to anyhow. By next June/July I want Excalibur to be ocean ready and waiting in Falmouth, ready to cross over to Spain when a weather window presents itself.

Excalibur has already been to the Caribbean back in 2006 and down to Venezuela where she stayed for a year with a previous owner. I’ve found a few old forum posts here’s one (https://www.ssca.org/forum/viewtopic.php?f=4&t=4325), so she’s more than capable to undertake the journey.

Here’s an excerpt:

Crossed the Atlantic 2006 with twin heads on this rig and we flew. 17 days from Brava in Cape Verdes to Barbados. The rig was so simple: 130% furling genoa and say 85% old battered hank-on poled out and hanked to the removable stay described above. Wind up/squall –> furl in the main genoa until it’s all gone. The 85% hank on could deal with the squalls well. No sail changes till we were a few miles off barbados. No chaffe. Even put the mainsail cover on to protect the sail!

The job list isn’t actually that long, though its long enough. However my main philosophy on sailing is to keep things simple, and to have a fall back plan for the essentials. The essentials, we need to eat, drink, not sink, know where we are, keep the sails up and have steerage! As far as I’m concerned that’s it. The rest is a bonus 😉

It’ll just be the two of us doing Biscay, which will be more tiring but I want to see what it’s like. There’s plenty of couples who sail 2-up, and speaking to other sailing friends, everyone has their own ideas of shift patterns and we’ll discover what works for us in good time.

So that’s the rough plan we’re working to. I say rough, because plans can always change and we’ll want to enjoy the journey. So for now the spreadsheet of jobs has been created, and we’ll work towards ticking them all off by next June.

Author: Tim Butler

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