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Old 20-03-2019, 09:48   #1
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Bought a boat and I'm getting in deep!

Brand new to this forum and I'm so pumped to have access to all of the incredible folks with a wealth of information. I bought my first sailboat last September, a 1979 37' Cooper Seabird. Yes, I know a 37' boat is ambitious and perhaps crazy as a first sailboat, but there's a story in there for another time.

I started diving head-first into general maintenance, which included taking classes at the local "Cruisers College" here in Anacortes, WA because god knows I can't afford to hire people to fix things unless there is ZERO alternative option. I've always loved projects, thankfully, and I purchased the biggest project I've ever had. I have a million questions and my brain feels numb every evening after trying to soak up as much information possible from books, friends on the dock, and just sitting in the engine room tracing hoses and wires and blankly staring at things.

Onto the current task at hand: V-berth demo/refit/remodel. I'm a carpenter by trade, so a project like this seemed fun. When I bought the boat, the v-berth was set up with two bunks which I just didn't like much. I understand it's more practical for folks to sleep separately on long passages but for now I'm looking for comfort. I spend a lot of time cruising and gunkholing in the San Juans, and when I have guests it would be nice to offer them a bed that they can sleep in together.

Now that I've gutted it completely, I'm realizing that my carpentry skills aren't the only thing necessary here.

Does anyone have advice for how to prep the inside hull? I was thinking of using a grinder with a sanding attachment to remove the old adhesive from the fiberglass, and just making sure it is nice and clean for wall covering. Are there a lot of good options for wall covering? Thin layer of insulation behind?

The anchor chain locker was in bad shape- rotting plywood that had been fiberglassed into place and then painted, which is now chipping terribly and causing quite the mess. I went ahead and tore all of that out too. Any good recommendations for durable paint or products to coat the inside of the chain locker?

I plan to frame the one-level bed much higher than where the existing bottom bunk rested in order to open up more storage possibilities, but still leave room to sit up in bed. I'd also like to mount shelves. The previous owner had just drilled screws directly into the hull, which doesn't seem right? I had the idea of using epoxy to adhere running boards to the hull used for framing, which could be drilled into instead of the hull, but not sure if that's the best way to go?

I'll post some pics of where I'm at! Such an incredible community, both online and in real life... I don't think I'll ever be able to go back to the "real world."

I appreciate any advice or words of encouragement.

Thanks all,

Evan

"Sea Bird"
37' 1979 Cooper Seabird
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Old 20-03-2019, 09:58   #2
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Re: Bought a boat and I'm getting in deep!

Iím also a carpenter by trade but also happens I did fibreglass decks for many years while building houses so that worked out in my favour. Create backers On the hull by grinding, clean and glass in any wood/material you need. The one thing that will drive you nuts coming from land based carpentry is that there is nothing square, plumb, straight or otherwise on a boat. Use epoxy (west systems worth the pumps are easy to use with little waste. Best to use the 207 special gardener if itís your first time working with resins as you donít have to worry about blush. Buy a couple of Nigel Caulders books cause youíll find when you start you v berth carpentry project a week later youíll be rewiring the panel and you wonít remember how or why you had to do that in order to complete the V.
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Old 20-03-2019, 10:03   #3
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Re: Bought a boat and I'm getting in deep!

Big task. I would use an 8" grinder and 40 grit pad to clean up for reglassing on cleats and plywood. You can use a small 4" grinder though. Use visqueen to seal off the forward compartment, that glass dust gets everywhere and will be coming out of crevices for years if you dont. Are you building a new berth platform then?
Interior hull coverings run the gamut from simple to complex. You can buy "rat fur" which is the synthetic carpet like stuff used on small powerboats, and just contact cement that on....or you can get fancy and attach/glass vertical strips of ply and use whats called "ceiling strips" . I have done both. Some vinyls coverings have foad backing but eventually that backing fails from heat/UV and crumbles. But here in the PNW maybe less of a problem. One advantage of that material is the foam backing hides blemishes in the hull, like your adhesive that is still on there. I wouldn't worry too much about getting all that off.
Have you used the boat much? I wold strongly advise you do before tearing too much up. You may find that there are other maintenance items that are even more important!
Good luck, I'm in Mt Vernon and if you wish, we could meet some time at the boat to give a look and comment on what you have going on. Just throwing that out there.

I like V berths but be careful about making it too high, one complaint people have is getting into them. Also, the storage under a V berth is one of the least handy places to use anyway. Most people store stuff they seldom need to get at there.
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Old 20-03-2019, 10:05   #4
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Re: Bought a boat and I'm getting in deep!

Tips: for tabbing plywood etc in you can buy rolls of Fiberglass Ďtapeí rather than cutting strips. Wet area first place glass, finish wetting into place. Grinders a good idea but throws dust (attachments available for this) Insualtion is a great idea for location, ensure itís well bonded to the hull with little to no air spaces or youíll get condensation and mold behind it. Alkyd paints are generally used on boats but as youíve noticed they do chip. Honestly with todayís latex paints are probably better suited for your chain locker, they adhere well, low voc and very flexible even after drying. Other option would be to use a bilge paint.
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Old 20-03-2019, 10:19   #5
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Re: Bought a boat and I'm getting in deep!

Probably just me, but I'm having a heck of a time getting pictures to upload correctly. Here are a few of the process. More to come!
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Old 20-03-2019, 10:41   #6
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Re: Bought a boat and I'm getting in deep!

Wow, you guys are great. I really appreciate the advice!! I have a tendency to dive into big projects like this and have an incredible ability to convince myself into thinking it'll be quick and easy. It never is. Fortunately in this case, the v-berth was practically never used for anything but random storage- my guitar, Spinaker, and my boat cat's litterbox. It's been bugging me for 6 months, so I figured I'd go ahead and tackle it now, even if it takes a bit to complete. I'd really like to do it right.

Most of my focus has been on the engine until now, a sturdy old Perkins 4108 with 3,010 hours. I'm extremely lucky with the fact that I've got a good friend who enjoys working on all of this stuff with me. There's so much involved in boat ownership that I've just started to realize and I know I'd be pretty overwhelmed and lost without an extra set of hands and ideas. The engine is purring after our recent tune-up and it feels so great to start to gain knowledge and confidence in the systems.

I've had the boat out as much as possible, averaging 3 or 4 times a week. I'm doing my best to find the fine line between enjoyment and work, fearing that if I start to get too deep into projects like this I'll be stuck at the dock endlessly working instead of using the boat for what I got it for- being on the water!

Can't thank you enough for the tips. I'm sure I'll have 100 more questions throughout.
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Old 20-03-2019, 10:44   #7
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Re: Bought a boat and I'm getting in deep!

If you're in Mt Vernon and have free time, let's get together! I'd love to meet at the boat and would welcome any input you may have! I'm always down to go sailing, too!

Feel free to text me anytime. Thanks again for the advice!
Evan
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Old 20-03-2019, 10:51   #8
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Re: Bought a boat and I'm getting in deep!

Your skills are well beyond mine so this may be superfluous, but for years (decades) I've often refereed to "From a Bare Hull" by Ferenc Mete as a good source for what you are doing... it is as inexpensive at $5 or so used, but once upon a time, the bible of the backyard boat finisher...
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Old 20-03-2019, 11:45   #9
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Re: Bought a boat and I'm getting in deep!

Regarding wall covering. You may find grinding all the old adhesive a daunting task. For the most part it will get hot, soft and turn to gum clogging even the most course grit pads. I would make a detailed plan and add furring strips or little "stringers" vertical along the hull then secure thin quality paneling to those strips. That way you would only need to grind or clean enough of the hull to epoxy the strips. That would also facilitate attaching shelves, cabinets or other woodwork. If you clean the entire inner hull then glue some covering such as vinyl you will have issues later attaching anything and it's possible moisture will cause the covering to fail and then you will have a real mess to deal with. I'm sure you have planned everything out but I found it helpful to go on boats similar in size and photo document as much of the interior as you can. Also find photos online and try to emulate what you like. There is already some great advice posted here. I rebuilt a 44 footer from a bare glass interior and the result was great! But you need a solid foundation to secure everything.
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Old 20-03-2019, 11:58   #10
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Re: Bought a boat and I'm getting in deep!

Try Coosa board for areas like repairs in that chain locker. It's made from fiberglass and will never rot. Fisheries Supply stocks some. Also reglassing with Kevlar in there will make it really durable and the chain won't beat it up so much. I'm down in Gig Harbor btw.
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Old 20-03-2019, 12:15   #11
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Re: Bought a boat and I'm getting in deep!

Hi for the chain locker I would use a single part epoxy paint like Petite Easy Pox. Easy to apply and very durable, one coat usually covers. It is resistant to water as well.
For cleaning off the inside of the hull to apply your wood strips a random orbital with 40 or 80 grit and a shop vac attached will create the least dust. Sometimes you have to use a 4.5 inch mini grinder with the flexible sanding discs but there is a lot of clean up.

I liked the look of the berths in the forward space and would have left them, but looks like I am a bit late.


Good Luck
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Old 21-03-2019, 08:41   #12
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Re: Bought a boat and I'm getting in deep!

This is all such great stuff and I'm going to tackle this project with a lot more confidence today, so thanks to all of you.

I have another menacing issue, and I'm not sure if I should start a new thread?

When I ripped apart the anchor locker a few evenings ago I decided it was a good stopping point for the day, so I put my tools away. I went sailing the day after with some friends, aware of the hole at the bow for the anchor chain to drain, thinking there was small-to-no chance that any water would come in through the 1/2" hole above the water line with nowhere to go but inside the boat, so I left it unplugged out of nothing but laziness. A few hours into a really great sail, I went into the cabin and discovered water sloshing around EVERYWHERE.

I see now what a ridiculous mistake I made that required such a simple solution (plugging the hole). There are a couple access ports to the bilge- one in the v-berth and one in the galley, so I squeegeed all of the water into those, wiped everything with towels, plugged the drain hole in the bow with earplugs, and called it good until I made it back to the marina.

My issue is this:

The water in the bilge never made its way to the stern, where the main and only bilge pump is located. Several inches of seawater just sloshing around in there with nowhere to go. I reached my hands in as far as I could in every direction and discovered nothing. I ended up using a shop vac to remove all of the water- about 12 trips back and forth from the v-berth access. A friend suggested that I now rinse that all with fresh water. Worth the trouble?

It's always been bone dry in the "forward bilge," which I check frequently. Is this a matter of installing another bilge pump, somehow incorporating my saltwater wash down pump to remove water, or cutting holes in the floor to see what the bilge layout looks like? I want to be prepared if anything like this happens again.

Thanks so much in advance. Pictures soon.

Evan
Cooper Seabird 37'
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Old 21-03-2019, 12:32   #13
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Re: Bought a boat and I'm getting in deep!

Used closed cell insulation, and make sure it is generously glued to the hull. This eliminated any air spaces, which could fill with condensation and then mildew, and you really don't want to let that get started. Sealing things off from the getgo is the best way to ensure that.

If you can use Coosa or other synthetics (McMaster and Grainger both sell g10(?) solid fiberglass boards) instead of using wood, you're well ahead of the game. Bilge paint is fairly durable, two-part epoxies will be more expensive but in the anchor chain area, they'll also be more durable. You could add filler, to bulk that up, or lay in an extra layer of fiberglass if you wanted, so any wear was just against a sacrificial surface.

The conventional logic with V berths was that you had two berths, but you could always pop a filler panel into the top of the "V", converting it into one large berth. If the cushions fit well, that's really quite practical.
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Old 21-03-2019, 14:36   #14
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Re: Bought a boat and I'm getting in deep!

Always fun and educational reading these threads.


I really thought you would have, I believe they are called 'limber holes' or such running down the center line at the lowest part of the hull to permit water to drain.


Someone will correct my terminology.


In any event perhaps with all the demo and dust you have successfully dammed up the holes that provide flow to the bilge?


Just a thought.
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Old 21-03-2019, 14:38   #15
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Re: Bought a boat and I'm getting in deep!

General comment: No need to add “and getting in deep” “Bought a boat” pretty much covers that! Lol! You’ll find your skills will exponentially increase as you progress. Don’t sweat the big stuff - remember there’s very little you can do to her that can’t be fixed (read: redone) with time and some more epoxy!
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