It’s the dead of winter again, and with all my rigging projects wrapped up till spring comissioning time, I have a few brief weeks to work on projects of my own. I’ve chosen two principal tasks for this winter, both more ambitious than I can possibly manage, but both so pressing I couldn’t select one over the other.
The first one is Ganymede’s cockpit. After Cockpit, Mark I, didn’t work out so well, I had re-done it during a haulout in Colombia, which improved it immesely. But, things being what they were, I hadn’t managed to do a fabulous job of it. After wasting a couple of weeks nearly dying of Dengue fever, it turned into a rush job at the end, and the only wood I could source was very green—dripping-wet green—and in the following years of cruising it has shrunk, separated, and begun to rot.
Doing it properly is a big undertaking though. Instead of relying on wood, I’m making the coaming tops out of fiberglass, which will not only be stronger but take up less space. Of course, fiberglassing anything means a lot of grinding, and as long as I have the cockpit in pieces and am grinding, it only makes sense to fair the cockpit sole better—something I had no time or ability to do when shaking with tropical fever. Right now it’s all hills and valleys and rough spots that trap grime and grow black stuff.
Of course, since after I glass a new cockpit in I’ll have to paint, it seems only right to paint the whole deck and cabin, which are also showing the ravages of hard cruising. Which means a lot of fittings have to come off, and may as well be updated or refurbished while they’re off…oh boy, it never ends.
So, with another winter shrink-wrap canopy over Ganymede, I took a grinder and a stack of 24-grit discs and went to town on the cockpit. It took two sessions to reduce the gelcoat to a surface that can be adhered to, mostly because I like to see bare glass before putting anything over it. Then I began to go after the decks with a sander and 40-grit, since they only need to take primer, not be glassed onto. Nevertheless, it’s a big project, and I can only sand for so long before needing to do something else, especially in the bone-chilling cold of a canopy in wintertime.
The second project is the dinghy. For five years the dinghy I built as a tender saw almost daily use, was dragged up onto hundreds of beaches, got smashed into by a heavy launch, was repaired, had her gunnels replaced, got painted, went through several skeg guards, got new seats, got dismasted—in short, our little dinghy Woggs took everything thrown at her and endured as the perfect cruising tender. She’s a strong thing, but being made of fiberglass roving and vinylester resin, she’s pretty heavy. And lately, the foam core under her sole has had water intrusion, soaked it up, and she now weighs more than ever. Now the weight was always a complaint of Danielle’s, especially when she had to hoist the dinghy aboard by the peak halyard. She’s complained of it even more bitterly since having knee surgery last year, and carrying the dinghy down the beach takes a bit longer than it used to.
The solution of course is a lighter dinghy. Making Woggs lighter is impossible; ditto buying a different dinghy—there is no other 9-foot dinghy out there as stable, rowable, and able to carry loads like Woggs can. Only thing to do is pull a mold off the original Woggs, and make an entirely new one.
I am fortunate in having a friend with a little extra shop space, and even more fortunate in that he’s got a whole pile fiberglass supplies left over from a project we were both working on last winter—supplies that are cluttering up his scene and will eventually expire and become useless. So, we’ve worked out a deal where I’ll dispose of his surplus before it goes bad, which will carve him out some room, and in exchange for that and some help dismantling obsolete molds and tooling, which will redound to even more room available, I’ll use a bit of that room to do my two projects. I’ll try to keep the blog updated and post lots of pictures as work progresses, regretting only that those of my readers uninterested in boatbuilding and in action-packed photos of curing fiberglass will find the reading bleak. I only hope, dear reader, that we can both make it to spring and to more interesting times.