Saturday, December 29, 2012

Into the 21st Century...

While we sit here idly in St Martin, mulling over where to spend New Year's Eve.... here is another installment about some of the work/changes we've done to Saralane. 

Transom and Bridgedeck

I’ve represented Outbound Yachts for more than 10 years and have come to appreciate the features of the Outbound 46. That design has some features that just plain make sense and we wanted to incorporate them on “Saralane”.  One feature is a “walk through transom” from the cockpit. Back in the 70’s no one would consider a walk through cockpit, but times have changed. We had side gates in the lifelines to board from the dock, but for swimming, there was a fold down swim ladder on the transom, and one had to climb over the stern rail too – very awkward. Also, the side gates were used for getting in and out of the dinghy and the result was that the gate stanchions took big loads when climbing aboard. In fact the deck structure around those stanchions was cracked and soft. Easy access via the transom was the solution. Another change we wanted to make was to eliminate the bridgedeck and create a three step companionway – to make passage in and out of the cabin easier and improve the “flow” between the cockpit and below deck. Our new/old C&C 40 had both a full transom and a bridgedeck with a 5 step companionway. What to do???  SAWZALL!

Sawzall is our friend
Going for it!

No Turning Back


Garden Ornament?
Cutting was easy, but structurally re-building the transom to take rigging loads presented a challenge. While making one of my numerous trips to the dumpster, I saw that someone had tossed the better part of a roll of stitched E-Glass fiberglass cloth with chopped mat backing (expensive and perfect for the structural repair we were about to make) and many useable scraps of biaxial fiberglass for the job too. The bridgedeck would require structural consideration as well, and both would need a lot of fairing and smoothing to look right.  

Just a five minute job!
After measuring twice (or thrice) I marked out the cut line, put a sharp blade in the Sawzall and cut out the transom without looking back – yikes! 

Originally there was a single centerline backstay which now fell exactly in the void I created with my cutting. I planned to put a bridle on the lower portion of the backstay, so now I had to reinforce two areas on either side of my cutout to bolt SS chainplates and attach the backstay bridle. I designed these areas to be below the level of my lowest cut so the tensioned backstay would not “collapse” the transom where I’d cut it out. Reinforcing pads of ¾” marine ply were epoxied in place on the inside and then glassed over with multiple layers of the structural fiberglass. 

New split backstay arrangement and extended swim ladder
Chainplate detail
While I had access to the inside of the hull aft, I glassed in a new 2” engine exhaust tube through the transom, and port and starboard drain manifolds (above the waterline and thus eliminated two more big through hull fittings) to handle cockpit drains, scupper drains, and bilge pump drains. I also installed a small independent drain for the propane lockers. While easily accessed, I plumbed all of the drains and put in a new engine exhaust hose with an elevated emergency shutoff.  

The voids created by the transom removal were patched with flexible plywood (epoxy coated) (1/8”) on the sides and the floor was ½” plywood. I matched the existing molded radius with PVC tubing. All seams were taped with fiberglass and then all surfaces were built up with numerous layers of fiberglass cloth and epoxy. Finally there were many applications of epoxy putty which were sanded, and the process repeated over and over until the surface was paintable. After painting, I made a 10” cutout port and starboard and installed removable screw-in inspection ports to service the bits of plumbing (and hose clamps) inside.

The finished product - pretty pleased with myself!

Old helm seat/transom

Final transom with original helm seat down (note the improved background colors)
The bridgedeck (the step over when going below) rebuild was a similar proccess, but I used thicker plywood on the sides and bottom, since there were no curves to deal with. Again I used PVC pipe to match the existing radius. There was a ridiculous amount of filling and sanding, but in the end it’s a pretty good job. I hired Jesse, a carpentress friend, to trim out the new enlarged companionway in teak. An added bonus to the new arrangement was hinged access to the engine space and a hinged inspection step – a design idea “borrowed” from a Nordic 44.  New Plexiglas hatch boards were templated and cut. I had to relocate our hydraulic panel as it was installed on the bridge deck cut out – so I moved it and the associated plumbing aft near the wheel.

A Big Step Over
Original Deck molding
Old Companionway from inside - many steps
Framed in new area
Rough Cutout
Sand and fill, sand and fill, repeat...

Easy Access!
New Companionway from inside - 3 steps!
Most satisfying of all is that after nearly three years of constant use - and some serious sailing - there are no stress cracks and nothing has moved!

Start to finish
Another great Outbound idea is a stern rail that wraps around the stern and extends forward past the cockpit – this gives a solid handhold when entering/exiting the cockpit. Our old rail wouldn’t work with the new transom anyway, so I bent a template (starboard side) from inexpensive electrical conduit (Home Depot) and wooden dowels (really) and took it to a stainless welder we know, along with the necessary 1” SS tubing needed for the job. I just happened to have enough ½” SS tubing for the lower rail from another project. I asked him to match the template in SS and also make a mirror image rail for the port side. We were afloat by the time he was done, but everything was close enough that we installed both sides from the dinghy!  

Old Stern Rail without stern gate
New rail extending forward past cockpit - much safer!

New Stern rail with aft gate opening - again much improved background scenery

While we had his attention, I had him extend our hinged swim ladder a step, which he did with leftover tubing.  Last season we added treads to make it a bit easier on the feet.
These two big fiberglass jobs have made the biggest “livability” difference on board “Saralane”. No more “up and over” to get below, and climbing back aboard from a swim or the dinghy is now easy.

Happy New Year Everyone!!!


Cindy Barnard said...

You are a very brave man.

clay said...

Very impressive upgrade and moderization.

Miles said...

Another great post Skip (don't worry, yours are still the best Maddie) and this one reminds me of what I do as a designer. I often take an existing property and look at it from a strictly practical standpoint. Do you have to go up a couple steps only to go back down a couple steps further down the path? Stuff like that. It's very satisfying to simplify a design and make it more fuctional. Nice work.

Kim said...

Congratulations, Skip! I am amazed that you do all that! Beautiful work!

Happy New Year to you and my sweet Maddie!


danbarnardjr said...

I guess that more than 40 years of sailing experience would make you knowledgeable about what works and what doesn't. I note that you're not too proud to acknowledge some of the great Outbound innovations. I'd say you and what you have done with Saralane are both pretty impressive.