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Thursday, February 19, 2009

Projects In Paradise

Daytona Beach has been a real treat, so far. The Halifax Harbor Marina is still gorgeous, the people here are still friendly and the weather has been extremely cooperative, which has allowed us to walk or bicycle around town and take in the sights. The beach is only a mile and a half away and there are parks everywhere, so we’ve gotten lots of exercise and had a lot of fun in the process.

On those few occasions when the weather has been somewhat less accommodating, we’ve devoted that time to doing “projects.” You know, those little jobs and improvement ideas we’ve come up with while underway, but never quite gotten around to doing. So, when the weather turned rainy for a few days, followed by a period of cold (60-°F) and wind, we decided to see how many of these improvements we could knock out. Besides, someone conveniently placed a fully stocked West Marine store within 100 yards of our slip, so there was no excuse not to work on the boat.

When Hunter Marine built our boat, they provided us with lots of interior storage compartments. Inside of these, one can store filters, parts, hardware, cleaning supplies and anything else necessary to maintain a boat in tiptop condition. Some had built in doors or lids that opened easily, still others came with screw fastened panels that requires one to remove a wood screw, or two, before the contents could be accessed. Needless to say, after a couple of years of screwing and unscrewing the fasteners, the screw-holes became worn and nearly stripped. It was either start that messy process of gluing toothpick pieces into the worn holes or coming up with a more permanent fix of the problem.

The solution to fixing the worn holes was a machined brass insert. This clever device, available at any hardware store or building supply, has an external screw thread that screws into where the worn hole was and an internal thread that will accommodate a machine screw, once the insert is in place.
Simple enlarge the worn hole to the proper size for the insert, paint the hole with wood glue and screw the insert into place. Then, substitute a machine screw for the old wood screw and you have a metal-to-metal fastener that will outlast the life of the boat.

Next on our list was to add clean-outs to the cockpit’s scupper cover. The scupper cover is a fiberglass plate that covers the drains where rain and waves that enter the cockpit, drain out through 2” pipes (scuppers) that exit through the hull of the boat. Occasionally, dirt and foreign objects(dog hair)fall through the drain slots and become trapped in the scuppers. To clean them, one has to remove five sealed screws, pull up the plate, store the plate out of the way, clean the scuppers, reinstall the plate and reseal and reinstall the screws. Clean-outs would make this job much, much easier. The ports, however, are fairly pricey ($13.00 to as much as $30.00 each) and, at that price, the cost and hassle of installation outweighed the convenience factor of having the clean-outs. On one of our cycling trips, however, we stopped at a local marine store, called Surplus Unlimited. There, we unexpectedly found matching, 4.5” I.D., O-ring sealed, hard nylon, access ports for only $4.00 each. How could we say no to a deal such as this?

We carefully measured the cover plate and scribed circles where the ports were to be installed. Then, we set the plate back into position and placed the ports on the circles to see how they’d look when installed. A slight position adjustment later, we bored a hole in each scribed circle and cut each hole to finish size with a saber saw. Some sanding, some alignment, some #4200 sealant and a dozen screw holes later, found the ports permanently mounted in position. Total time required from tear-up to clean-up, three hours and we shouldn’t ever have to remove the plate again.

So, with those projects complete, Schooner has informed us that it's time to go for a walk. We'll go out for an hour, tour the park and get some much-needed exercise. Then, will settle in for the evening and plan some more projects to occupy the next inclement day.

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