Tuesday, January 22, 2013

There are no Shortcuts on a Boat

Scott removing the leaking track and 5200 with Debond 2000, in order to re-bed it properly with UV4000 so it does not leak.
"There are no shortcuts on a boat, only quick ways to more problems" I wrote to our friend Willie, who, after reading Friday's post emailed to express his serious concern with the stays'l track solution I outlined.

It wasn't our rigger's fault.  He's a really good guy who's been at this for a long time and he and Scott had formulated the plan for the deck together.  But at the end of the day, Scott and I were uncomfortable.  Something didn't sit right.  We knew what we were doing was not right.  It was a half-baked solution and felt rushed.  On Rasmus, we didn't cut any corners.  This time, however, we were up against the clock, under a tremendous amount of stress, and hastily decided to go with the fastest, easiest solution.  We were taking a short cut, and we all knew it.  

After our friend emailed me with his concerns, I hit the internet and did some research.   It confirmed our fears: that our piece-meal solution was a one way ticket to Leaksville, USA.  I showed Scott what I found and we decided together to press stop and rewind.  We needed to do this project ourselves, a better way, even if it meant more time.  We needed ensure we would sleep well at night and never worry about our stays'l track leaking and rotting out the newly replaced deck coring underneath it.

It's scary, really, how much trust we put in people because of their titles.   This obviously doesn't only apply to boating, but to "normal" life as well.  Auto mechanics, contractors, doctors...etc.  We assume they know what is best and trust them implicitly with our cars, our homes, our lives.  Scott and I are by no means "experts" on boat maintenance, but we know enough to be dangerous.  We know enough to know when we see something that doesn't seem quite right, we know to ask questions and do our homework.  Such was the case with the stays'l track fiasco.  We were simply not comfortable with the work and how it was being done. 

There is a TON of subjectivity when it comes to all things "boat".  Some people swear by teak oil, some by Cetol, others by nothing (me by Honey Teak!).  Some people love their CQR anchor and others would using nothing other than a Rocna.  Some love catamarans, others love monohulls.  Some believe that a full keel is the only way to go on a blue water boat, whereas others believe a faster, fin keel is best.  Heck, the term "blue water boat" is up for grabs as well.  The list goes on and on and on... It's kind of like parenting, actually.  There is no right and wrong, just what's right for you and your child.  Same goes for your boat, no matter what your method or opinion, you'll find some out there who support it and some who do not, usually vehemently.  We're not a wishy-washy group, us cruisers.

For us, our first red flag with the stays'l project was the fact that it was being "bedded" with 5200.  Now I know there are those of you out there who believe firmly in this stuff, but Scott and I do not.  I'm sure it has a place somewhere on a boat, but in our opinion* it is NOT a bedding compound for deck hardware.  It is an adhesive.  A super strong, super permanent adhesive.  There is a ton of research online to support the notion that it really has no place on the deck of a sailboat.  I'm not going to go into it because this is besides the point.  What IS the point is this:  When it comes to hiring out boat work do your homework.  Don't simply trust an "expert" and assume he or she is doing things the way it should be done.  Remember, they don't care about your boat nearly as much as you do.  You need to question what they are doing, why they are doing it and how.  You also need to trust your gut.  As the old adage goes: if you want something done right - you'd better do it yourself.  We've hired help for many projects on this boat simply because we are short on time and man power (with me being more or less out of commission with the baby and all) - but we're always working alongside them to learn and observe as we go.  There is no doubt we're making mistakes and there almost certainly will be unforeseen surprises, but we're trying to limit them as best we know how.  At the end of the day, we can only do our best, right?

If you do decide to take that short cut, be prepared to deal with a potentially much bigger problem on the flip side because "if you take a short cut, you get cut short".

*Again, I'd like to point everyone to our DISCLAIMER.


SammyPR said...

Is that Scotts leg in the pic? Looks uncomfortable...

Fair winds WT!

Anonymous said...

What did you use to bed your track?

Windtraveler said...

We used UV4000, and a LOT of it. Clean up was hard, but the track is not going to leak anytime soon. It is thru bolted as well, with a backing plate that is 3 sizes bigger than necessary. We also beveled the holes in the deck to insure better seating, there's an article about it here: http://www.pbase.com/mainecruising/rebedding_hardware

Neophyte Cruiser said...

Was that the 3M UV4000? I just replaced the black-water deck plate using the 3M 4000 to bed the plate. Clean-up with acetone was pretty straight forward. Anyone considering the 3M 5200 for a bedding compound may also want to consider investing in a sawzall if replacement is ever required. Azante is looking good and Isla is just getting cuter!

Anonymous said...

I used 4000 (polyether) for underwater lights, so far so good. Did you consider 101 (Polysulfide)?

Windtraveler said...

@Neophyte - thank you. Cannot WAIT to show you all pics of her from the Islands :)
@Anonymous - no, our friend that we are working with here who has worked on boats for years suggested we use UV4000, and we've found that it's great (esp. with the UV). But I am sure there are other compounds that would work as well, maybe even better. I really wanted to try the butyl tape route (see article linked to in my first comment) but having never used the stuff, we went with what we know. I did buy a roll of the tape though and we are keen to try it out!

Windtraveler said...

@Neo - when I said cleanup was "hard" - it wasn't really, we just made a mess because Scott went major OVERKILL on the UV4000. In his opinion, if it's not squeezing out of everywhere, you're not using enough. Like you said, acetone and denatured alcohol cleaned the excess right up. It looks beautiful! ;)

Anonymous said...

4000 UV is a nice choice, didn't mean to imply that it wasn't. Was just curious what else you considered...

I completely do agree that 5200 is the wrong choice for that application...

I do know that many many hull to deck joints are sealed with 5200. I would be curious to know how such joints are doing 20 years later. One problem that you probably discovered about 5200, inter alia, is that it continues to harden over its life reducing flexibility..

Mark said...

I feel your pain! We have done most of the projects on our boat at least twice. So don't feel bad, it is all part of the learning process. We talked with so called experts in the boat yard and their advice is not always the best. Everybody has an opinion.


S/V Octopussy said...


I have been following your blog for months now. I know exactly what you mean when you say, "If you want something done right..."
We are fixing up a Prout Snowgoose 37 right now. We are doing most of the work ourselves, because of that very reason!
[check out our progress at www.SVOctopussy.com]

Also, I just HAD to let you know. The Elodia Rigante Italian Immigrant Cookbook is AMAZING (saw it on your Amazon wish list). I received one as a gift about 10 yrs ago. Absolutely love it. Only word of warning: the recipe will say "feeds 6" -- feeds 6 what?!?! starving professional football players?! not to mention it would be only one course of many! We halve or even 1/3 recipes and still have leftovers!



Junaid said...

I used butyl tape to rebed my mainsheet traveler track, no problems at all and no leaks. Now I use it for all thru-bolted deck hardware. Its easy to use and cleanup is a snap. Just make sure to follow the procedure in the sailnet sticky by maine sailor.

Deb said...

Most of our blog so far is the story of re-doing what "experts" did, or "experts" missed. Sorry you're having the same pains.

S/V Kintala

Sharren Cox said...

I've always wanted to try sailing, I just don't have the courage yet to do it. I have some issues with water and I'm afraid of getting sea sick. When I think about, I'd rather drive our camper van for hours on a road trip, but at the same time I want to overcome my fear.

Janice Cannon said...

After a few months of sitting on the dock, our boat is finally ready to sail! My husband did a few repairs and made sure everything is okay and we're delighted to know it's good to go. We even bought a new sprayhood for it.

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