I wrote earlier about how I managed to break Tammy Norie’s nose by sweating on a line between it and the mast head. We’re not only repairing the damage but making the whole fitting much stronger.
Here’s a picture of the damage, with me pushing upwards on the anchor fitting.
It took us a little while to understand what was wrong. The deck isn’t secured to the hull at the stem head except by a thin line of sealant. The deck joint has fixings behind the rubbing strake (which you can see at the bottom right) and seems pretty secure in general, but there’s nothing holding the deck down at the nose except general stiffness of the fibreglass.
At this point we could have squirted a load of epoxy into the gap, squashed down the deck, re-sealed the joint, and hoped for the best. But my principle for Tammy Norie is to fix any damage stronger than before. So I planned to replace the machine screws that hold down the anchor fitting with longer ones that go right through into the anchor locker, and through a reinforcing backing plate.
The original machine screws only go through the deck. Here’s a picture of the inside of the anchor locker looking forward. You might just be able to make out some bumps in the fibreglass at the top.
After bolting down the anchor fitting, Newbridge made a reinforced fibreglass bubble for the anchor locker, glassing over the nuts! This makes the anchor fitting very hard to remove, as the nuts just rotate and you can’t get a spanner onto them without grinding through the anchor locker. This part of the locker is very small and hard to reach. It’s a terrible bit of unmaintainable design.
Dad and I discussed what to do. Even if we drilled out the stainless-steel machine screws (an awful job) the nuts would still be floating around. Since the damage had partially cracked the deck along a line behind the anchor fitting, I thought perhaps we should just cut right through it, remove the section of deck, then attempt to make the whole thing good after bolting it down. That would have been another big job and difficult to get right.
A week or so later I realised that when I’d ripped up the fitting I saw it rise to an angle of about 40 degrees. Given that the alternative was making a cut, I should just try prying it open to see if I could reach the nuts. There wasn’t much to lose. So I rigged up a rope from the fitting and pulled it tight.
Open wide, Tammy Norie!
What lovely shiny teeth you have!
The “tongue” you can see is the top of the anchor locker bubble.
We were able to get a spanner onto the nuts and undo the machine screws, removing the fitting. To get the last couple of screws out I used a wedge to keep her mouth open.
With this done we were able to drill the holes through to the anchor locker. I started making a template for a backing plate from cardboard. Dad took over most of the work from here as I was busy making the new mast hinge.
Here’s the finished template and the aluminium plate he cut.
I had a lot of fun drilling the perforations. These are intended to capture resin and fibreglass to increase the strength of the bond between the plate and the hull. At this point I tried to bend the plate in the right place, but it was incredibly hard to get a good fold because of the awkward shape. Dad made a jig from some hardwood, annealed the plate, and did some hammering. The result: one rare specimen of the anchor backing plate moth!
You have to imagine this turned upside-down and inside the anchor locker, pressed to the ceiling. The machine screws come down through the anchor fitting, the deck, and the ceiling, then through the plate and onto their nuts. We haven’t decided whether it’s worth keeping the hardwood block as well. It’s already a tight fit and it took quite a lot of work to get the plate into position.
Edit: Here’s a photo taken later of the moth in position.
So far that’s as far as we’ve got. The fitting is bolted down and already more secure than before. We could, at this stage, re-seal the deck joint, seal the machine screws, and call the job done. But that’s not good enough. At the next opportunity we will add a layer of fibreglass over the plate, and especially over the perforated “wings” so that the anchor fitting is connected firmly to the hull as well as the deck. It should then be able to take a reasonable amount of upward load, allowing us to experiment with headsails without worry.
I’ll post pictures when the job is done.
For comparison, here’s a modification made by Declan McKinney for Galway Girl. He didn’t suffer damage like I did, but writes:
I must say I was nervous about the deck lifting just from the boat bouncing on its mooring, hence the upgrade.
Declan has gone for an external reinforcement with his anchor fitting on top. You can find more details, including a CAD drawing, at the Corribee & Coromandel Discussion Group on Yahoo.