Tag Archives: repair

Sealing the forward window

Tammy Norie’s forward window had a slow leak from when I first sailed her in 2014. It wasn’t very significant, but in the winter of 2017 it managed to rot a couple of books, even though they were in plastic bags. I did two things:

  • Moved the books into waterproof bags
  • Dismantled and re-sealed the window

I’ve been somewhat afraid of dismantling Tammy Norie’s windows in case I couldn’t get them back together without unobtainable parts. As it happens I did have to make modifications. This post should help others with similar windows.

Firstly, I chose a dry day with many more dry days forecast. Then I cautiously loosened the screws around the window frame. At this point, I had no idea what kind of screws they were or what they were screwed in to.


About half the screws didn’t really seem to be attached, and were probably held in by old sealant and dirt as much as anything. Worse, they were self-tapping screws, not bolts. What were they supposed to bite against?


Once they were undone I carefully pried the window away from the cabin top using a scraper, breaking what remained of the outer seal.




With the window removed I could see the old sealant tape, which was in quite poor condition.


Grains of old salt or possibly aluminium compounds had built up behind the window seal.


The dried-up sealant was easy and satisfying to remove with a scraper.


The rubber seal around the window glass (actually a sheet of curved acrylic) was also easy to remove.  It was in good condition, in spite of its age, and only needed a bit of a clean with washing-up liquid.


The next task was to figure out how to get the glass out of the window frame so that I could renew its seal. I could see that the window frame was in two halves, but didn’t know how it was joined together. At the ends of the window were some very coroded screws, which refused to turn without severe damage.



In the end, I was only able to get one of these screws out without destroying it.


Pulling apart the halves of the window frame revealed a metal block that holds the halves together, serving as a nut for the corroded screws. If absolutely necessary, the screws could be drilled out and this block replaced.


Now the frame was being held together by another strip of sealant around the window glass. I was able to separate the glass from the frame using a soft plastic scraper.


Then at last I was able to get the glass out of the frame.  In this picture you can see the old sealant tape on the inner side of the frame where the glass was attached.


After cleaning out this dried-up sealant, I inserted two replacement beads of butyl tape in its place — one on each side of the glass.



Then I was able to squeeze the window glass back into the frame. There’s plenty of time to do this, since butyl tape does not set. Any excess is easy to gather up for re-use.


Now, on to the mystery of the self-tapping screws that were failing to hold the window to the boat. Fortunately, they weren’t screwed in to the fibreglass. Less fortunately, they were screwed into a thin layer of aluminium on the inner window frame! Very poor engineering. What’s more, the areas around the screw holes on the inner window frame were severely coroded. No wonder half of the screws weren’t doing anything.


Still, I didn’t really want to modify the frames, so I attempted to repair the screw holes with Milliput epoxy putty. This was a bit of an experiment, since I hadn’t used Milliput before.


When the putty had cured, I attempted to mount the frame, first laying a bead of butyl tape around the hole. I gradually tightened up the screws, giving the butyl tape a chance to spread.


But the screws soon started rotating without biting properly. The putty wasn’t strong enough for this job. Back off with the window and on to plan B. Fortunately, butyl tape is forgiving, and you can gather it up and re-use it.


Plan B was to replace the awful self-tapping screws with 4mm machine screws, passing right through the inner frame to proper nuts. This unfortunately meant drilling holes right through, and that nuts would be visible inside, but it allowed the frame to be tightened properly. It also means the window is properly attached to the boat!


(I later bought stainless-steel dome nuts so that the ends of all these screws are covered up. This looks very nice, and also reduces the chance of any injury. I must take a picture of this and insert it here.)

An important detail that I learned by trial-and-error. Do not turn the machine screws in order to tighten them. This tends to make the screws pull away from the butyl sealant, making them leak. Instead, add an extra blob of butyl tape to both side of each hole, then slowly push the screws through. Then tighten up the nut. After this, none of the screws leaked.


Here’s how the window looked after tightening up the screws, but before I’d cleaned up the excess butyl. A little more squeezed out over the next few months, but was easy to tidy up using a plastic scraper.


Now, did you spot the “deliberate” mistake? At this point, my windows were still leaking slightly. I was rather frustrated. But by careful observation I was able to work out what I’d done wrong. I didn’t put extra butyl behind the joins in the outer window frame. This mean there was a path for the water from outside to get around the window glass. Here’s a close-up of one of the joins.


Fortunately, I was able to fix this without dismantling anything. I simply pressed a generous amount of butyl tape slowly through the crack with my fingers.

I tested the window simply by pouring and throwing buckets of water around. But it had a much more thorough test through the winter of 2018/2019. I’m pleased to report that there is no evidence of any leaks.

I’m pleased with this work for three reasons:

  1. I stopped the leak.
  2. I now know how the windows are constructed and can service the others.
  3. The window is now firmly attached to the boat!

That last one is reason enough to service all the windows, so that’s going on the to-do list.

(You can also browse the photos in this album on Flickr.)



Filed under Repairs and Modifications, windows

Little jobs roundup, 2017-09

Here’s a roundup of small jobs done on Tammy Norie in late August and early September.

When comparing Tammy Norie and Emmelène, I suggested we drop Tammy’s mast and lift the mast stub. When we went to remove the retaining bolt, it snapped!



I cut a new bolt from stainless steel studding.


I suspect the wear on the bolt was the main cause of the clonking sound that’s been gradually building up when Tammy is in rough water. This also gave us a good chance to look at the rather inadequate mast foot bracket.


This is due for an upgrade later when I improve the mast step.

My engine starter cord snapped at an inconvenient moment on the way in to Portsmouth Harbor. I’d only just replaced it. This time I noticed that the cord was slightly melted. Moral: don’t use melty synthetic string for your engine starter. Use cord specifically designed for the job.

Replaced the incandescent bulb in my trusty utility lamp with a domestic halogen-replacement LED that I just happened to have knocking around. Half the power and a great deal brighter — possibly too bright.


Replaced the coaxial connectors on my log and depth instrument. They were being to corrode and the log was unreliable. I had to dismantle the instrument and desolder the old connectors from the circuit board. I bought a pack of 10 replacement connectors from eBay so that should keep me going. NASA Marine were very helpful.

I am finding my new Iroda SolderPro 70 butane soldering iron very useful.

While I was doing that I fixed another problem with the instrument: it’s too bright at night. I couldn’t find a way to do this electronically, but I discovered that the backlight and the display are physically separate. I cut a piece of paper to slip between them and the display is much less dazzling.


The charts in my Solent chart pack were getting dog-eared, so I’ve edged them all with Scotch Magic tape, which is nearly invisible and takes pencil marks.


The bow light hack finally failed after two years. The LED replacement bulb fell apart somewhere inside so that the terminals no longer connect. This is probably because it was not designed to be shaken about on the bow of a small boat. I ordered a couple of made-for-purpose replacements, one of which is now in the bow. The other is a spare for either bow or stern.

My mast lift is now a spare halyard. The mast lift is a loop holds the forward part of the sail bundle when the sail is reefed or lowered. Practical Junk Rig (fig. 3.49) has it as a single line from the mast head.


Practical Junk Rig figure 3.49

I’ve repurposed the enormously long “burgee halyard” that came with Tammy as a spare halyard in it’s place. I’ve felt the need ever since my halyard came off in the Waddenzee. Thanks to Chris Edwards for this idea. (The arrangement below is temporary until I make a new soft shackle.)


I may re-rig it a shown in Practical Junk Rig figure 3.50b, using the spare halyard on one side, allowing me to reef upwards!


Practical Junk Rig figure 3.50b

I found and installed a pair of calibrated quick links for the series drogue. It’s surprisingly hard to find shackles that are rated for load, but these beauties are good for at least 12500N each, more than the weight of the boat, and more than the greatest expected load on the drogue. (The drogue still doesn’t exist, in case you’re looking for it.)

I whipped some rope ends!


I rewired my switch panel using some new terminal blocks and rules: each piece of equipment goes to its own terminal, then switches are wired to terminals using colour-coded jumpers. Much neater, and a model for how I’ll do things when I remake the panel.


Expect more small jobs next month.

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Filed under electrics, engine, instruments, lights, mast, Repairs and Modifications, rigging

Storable colour-matched gelcoat

I accumulate a few scratches and chips in Tammy Norie’s gelcoat each year and would like to be able to prepare small amounts of colour-matched resin. I have RAL numbers for the three colours, but have only been able to find pre-mixed resin with a short shelf-life. Ideally I’d like some sort of storable pigment that I can mix with clear resin in small batches to do repairs over years.

Does such a thing exist? Where from?

I don’t mind if the pigment is not totally consistent in colour after storage. What I don’t want is to have to buy and dispose of large amounts of excess resin.

The curious can see my colour-matching efforts.



(Also posted to the YBW forums.)

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Filed under hull, Repairs and Modifications

Twin engine Tammy

It often seems to me that the function of an engine is to stop the boat dead, and do its best to prevent sailing activity. Maybe outboards sulk when installed on a Coromandel because they’re needed so little.

This is the story of what’s happened to the 1983 Honda BF100 that I obtained with Tammy Norie, and how I learned a lot about the insides of engines. You might want to skip it if you don’t want to learn too. Or you can skip to the later parts which involve ropes and the amazing icicle hitch! Believe it or not, this is nowhere near the full story.

First of all, Tammy Norie was neglected for the winter because of my health. That meant I never winterized her engine properly, and it has been in and out of the water in Fareham Creek twice a day for many months. Of course, when I went to start it, it wouldn’t run. Unlike the BF5, however, the carburettor was not clogged with fuel residue, and we were able to get it running quite quickly by dismantling and re-assembling the carburettor.

It was then that Dad noticed a bunch of corrosion-like material around the top of the cylinder head.


What’s more, we could see water seeping out of this area when the engine was running. The head gasket was leaking, and something nasty was coming out with the water. Uh oh.

This meant removing the head. On a 34-year-old engine that had not been dismantled for at least 30 years. The other sailors at the club were pessimistic.

We took the engine home and set it up using the trailer as a stand. Thus began a lot of work.


Fortunately, I’d already bought an on-line copy of the engine’s service manual, and that gave quite a bit of information about dismantling it.

Here’s a record of the positions of the flywheel and timing wheel. The “T” lines up with one side of the middle pillar, while the dot on the wheel lines up with the other.


Off with the timing wheel.


Then I was able to remove the rocker box cover. These bolts came undone reasonably easily, though not completely smoothly. Inside you can see the rockers on the cam shaft, and the tops of the engine valves. Everything is nicely coated in engine oil.


Then it was time to undo the six head bolts. You can see one of them at the top-right of the rocker box in the picture above. The other five are recessed some way back. This was tricky. Four of the bolts made a nice click and came free. Two of them resisted. I wiggled them. We applied penetrating oil and cold shock. Then I wiggled them a bit more. And a bit more. And then they both sheared off.

Here’s what’s left of the middle-left bolt. The top-right bolt sheared some way down and so was less visible.


Even with the bolts broken, the engine head showed no sign of coming loose, even after some sharp taps with a mallet.

We rigged up some plates using the rocker box bolt holes and some studding to try to press down on the remains of the broken bolts and on the threads of the head bolt holes. By progressively tightening these against each other and tapping the head with a mallet, we hoped it would come loose.


Well, the plates buckled.


And then finally, the head came loose. I was very pleased for a few seconds until I realized just how it had happened. Can you see?


That’s a crack in the engine block. The middle left bolt hadn’t moved. Instead, the block cracked and the bolt took part of it away.

At this point I thought the engine was dead. A cracked block is pretty terminal. But I wasn’t prepared to give up completely, and in any case I wanted to find out what was wrong under that head!

Our next move was to drill out the bolts. We should have done this first, instead of trying to press them out, but we hoped we could avoid damage. Drilling out bolts is tricky and you usually end up with a larger hole than you want. Here’s a picture part-way through drilling out the top-right bolt, with some wooden wedges trying to persuade the head to come loose.


Finally, the bolt was cleared and the head came away. Now we could see what was going on inside the engine.


The first thing to note is the clean grey metal at the top edge. That’s the part of the block that cracked and came away with the head. It’s still attached to the middle-left broken head bolt.

You can also see that the upper cylinder exhaust valve is very different in appearance from the others. It was not coated with carbon. It was also not closing properly, and rotated in its seat. It’s likely the upper cylinder was not firing properly at all. This problem may have been caused by the next thing.


All that off-white junk around the cylinders is some kind of deposit from the water. It’s not meant to be there. Those are meant to be empty channels for cooling water to flow around the cylinders. The top cylinder isn’t getting any cooling. In fact, as I found out much later (after a lot of unclogging) this meant water was not circulating around the cylinders at all. It’s liklely that the only reason I hadn’t damaged the engine by overheating is that I never ran it for more than a few minutes at a time.

The material looked very old. I’m pretty sure it could not have accumulated in the engine while it was upright, since all the water flows down away from that spot. I suspect it is the result of the engine being stored with water in it, and then possibly a build-up over time.

And this is the cause of the water leak around the head. Water was trying to get past this clog, and had forced its way through the old gasket. The “corrosion” on the engine wasn’t from the aluminum (which is fine) but was more of this gunk from the water.

Here’s the corresponding part of the engine block. Again, those channels around the cylinders are supposed to be clear.


We took the head to the drill press and drilled out the middle-left head bolt, separating the broken piece of the engine block.


Having cleaned off the block, I noticed a second crack, tucked underneath the flywheel.



So now that flywheel has to come off. Yet again we are confronted with something that hasn’t moved for 30 years. The flywheel bolt required a huge amount of strength and a very long wrench to loosen, and then of course the flywheel itself refused to come off.  Luckily Dad had a large bolt puller, and with a lot of tightening and persuasion with a mallet, the flywheel came loose.



At this point I spent a lot of time cleaning the white deposits out of the water channels using a mixture of pointy metal tools and stiff brushes. We did try dissolving the stuff using descaling acid, but it had no effect. Whatever it is, it’s very tenacious.

The water channels inside the head are quite convoluted, and it took some time before I understood how they connected up. I even sucked some cotton thread through the various tunnels with a vaccuum cleaner to try to figure it out.  After a while I deduced that there must be a water exit hidden somewhere in the head, and decided to take off the manifold.


I found more water channels, fortunately clear of debris, and the key to the mystery: the clogged up thermostatic valve.

The way things work is this: the impeller pushes water through the engine. When it reaches the engine it has two ways to go: it can bypass more-or-less straight into the exhaust, or it can flow around the cylinders, past the thermostat, and into the exhaust. But when the engine is cold, the thermostat is closed. As the engine heats up (to about 80C) the thermostat opens and allows cooling water to flow around the cylinders. In this way the engine temperature is regulated.

Unless the thermostat is clogged.

I cleaned and tested the thermostat with hot water from the kettle. It was fine.


Then we tested the water flow through the engine by squirting it into the inlet using the garden hose.


All good. Now, what about those cracks?

After a bit of searching, I found out about aluminium brazing, and even found a brazing rod supplier near a friend’s house. I also bought a butane torch and attached it to my boat’s butane supply.


As a trial, I had a go at brazing a small piece of the head that I’d broken off with the mallet while trying to get it off. Here you can see it held by the mole grips.


This took a long time. I think it took over 45 minutes to get the head hot enough to melt the rod. I suspect my torch isn’t very good, but also the aluminium head was conducting the heat away quite efficiently. I needed to get the metal up to about 300C, and that proved very difficult.  It worked eventually.  Here’s a picture of the repair after some clean-up.


At this point I realized that I probably wasn’t going to be able to braze the cracks in the block. I wouldn’t be able to get the repair areas hot enough with  my torch. Even if I could, the heat would be damaging other parts of the engine. I’d have to completely disassemble everything before I started.  The amount of effort was starting to go from merely excessive to ridiculous.

In the meantime, another problem had emerged. I took the gearbox off the engine to gain access to the water inlet, and also to check the impeller. But I couldn’t get to the impeller, because the engine shaft was stuck fast on to the gearbox pinion shaft. There’s a simple square joint between them, but it wouldn’t budge.

I tried oil and hammers. I tried fire and ice.


Next, I tied icicle hitches around the shafts and applied a lot of force using a 2 tonnes hydraulic crane.



Nope. The main thing I learned from this is that icicle hitches are awesome. One of those hitches is tied to a highly polished smooth stainless-steel shaft!

Eventually I moved to applying force using just the 8 tonne hydraulic ram. The icicle hitch on the smooth end couldn’t quite cope with this, so a shackle was used around a narrowing in the shaft.


I’m not sure how much force I applied, but the 8 tonne ram was working hard. Still nothing.

The good thing about this is that it tested the black rope. This is rope that I bought to build my Jordan Series Drogue. I’m now very confident it’ll cope with Tammy Norie’s expected maximum 1 tonne load.

There were also some other attempts involving hanging the shaft from a chain, applying tension, and heating it. I suspect the only way to get enough concentrated heat would be using an induction coil.

Unforuntately, with this shaft fused together it’s impossible to change the impeller. An impeller failure at sea means an overheating engine. And so the engine was looking less and less viable.

Back to the cracked block. I decided I’d see if it could be repaired using an epoxy compound. Remember, the cracked aluminium parts are in the water jacket, not in the combustion cylinders, so they’re not under explosive engine pressure, so it’s plausible that an epoxy might work. After a bit of research I decided to try Plastic Padding Super Steel Epoxy Weld.

I bought flat steel section to ensure that my work ended up flat, and bolted the broken-off piece of engine block to it.


I attached this assembly to the engine, using the epoxy weld to seal the crack and re-attach the broken-off piece. The masking tape was to prevent the plate becoming bonded to the engine block.


I re-assembled the head, re-seated the valves, and made everything clean and beautiful. Then I put in a new gasket and bolted the engine back together.


In this picture you can see a modification to the middle-left head bolt. I drilled right through the block and added a nut at the back. This is because I did not feel I could rely on the epoxy weld under tension. The new arrangement compresses the broken-off piece to the block instead.


And finally, I tested it using butane as fuel.


It started easily, and ran beautifully.

And leaked water.

Unfortunately, the epoxy failed to seal the water channels. Although my work had cleared the water blockages, fixed the exhaust valve, improved compression, and made everything smooth, we still had a leaky engine with an unmaintainable impeller.

At this point I decided I’d had enough. Up to this point I was learning a lot about engines. I’d never dismantled and reassembled a cylinder head before, and it was all worth doing just for that. But now I was faced with doing it all again, with uncertain results.

Fortunately, on that day, another Honda BF100 appeared on eBay. The same engine. The one I’d just learned inside-out. What’s more, I had nearly a whole engine’s-worth of spares. It was ideal. So I bid, won, rented a car, and drove 450 miles to collect it.


That’s the engine that’s now in Tammy Norie.

As you can imagine, I was able to give it a very thorough service. And I made sure the head bolts turn!

Postscript: I think my problems with engines come partly from a design problem with the Coromandel. Having an outboard in a well is quite neat, but there’s no easy way to lift the engine out of the water when it’s not in use. A look around will quickly show you that everyone lifts their outboards. The gearbox and lower parts of the engine aren’t meant to spend their lives immersed in salt water. My problems with the shaft are the result. I have yet to come up with a neat solution.


Filed under engine, Repairs and Modifications

Little jobs roundup, 2017-08

I usually make posts about big things I’ve done, and not many about the hundreds of little jobs I do on Tammy Norie. I thought I’d start a series of occasional posts noting these, and if anyone wants more details they can ask in the comments.

The 30-year-old mushroom vent over the heads compartment cracked. The plastic looked like old ceramic. Replaced, although I don’t much like the quality of the new one. I’ll keep a look out for a stronger replacement.



I bought a CTek battery charger before going to the Netherlands in 2015. When I got there, it didn’t work! What’s more, when I tried to return it to the shop, they’d closed down, and their parent company had gone bankrupt. CTek eventually agreed to send me a new one directly, but it has been in its box for two years, untested. In a rare stay at a marina, I decided to test and install it.


Here it is installed below the main electrical panel in what would be the engine compartment on a bigger boat. Below it you can see the gas alarm (below head level when sleeping) and a big circuit breaker. The solar panel regulator promises to prevent overloads, and the every switch on the panel has a circuit breaker too, so I’m pretty well protected from shorts. I have a better main breaker for the panel when I re-make it.


At the back of the compartment you can see water-tight plastic boxes with spares and parts inside. I label them using tape and a big marker pen, so that I can pull out the right box from deep in the compartment.

I shortened the plastic tube I put around my yard parrel to prevent chafe. I can now peak up a few more degrees.


I finally stuck down my second solar panel. It’s been attached with duct tape for the past year. In spite of that, it’s never tried to escape overboard. I only really need a second panel because I installed a fancy main radio with GPS and AIS alarms, so I that I could sleep more soundly on offshore passages. I don’t use this radio much inshore.


I fixed yet another leak. This one was through the bolts fixing the pushpit rail foot. This was a good test for butyl tape, which I’m favouring over Sikaflex these days. It’s as easy to handle as Blu-tack and seems very effective.


Tammy Norie’s bilge is too small to fit a proper electric bilge pump. I bought a very cheap submersible Chinese pump from eBay, connected it to some narrow hose, and ran that alongside the main hose, then through an existing hole and into the engine well.



This pump is not going to save any lives. It takes a few minutes to empty even Tammy’s tiny bilge, but it’s nice to be able to press a button. And the installation interferes with nothing else.

My old tiller pilot got wet inside, corroded, and stopped working. I sold the remains at a boat jumble. My uncle then gave me an old one he had in the attic. The same model. Great, except that it didn’t come with the mounting bar. Dad suggested the thread on the mounting socket might be a pipe thread. He was right! It’s a 20mm thread as used on 15mm copper pipe fittings. A quick visit to a hardware shop and I have a new mount.


The mast hinge sleeve has a habit of walking around the mast until it jams up. At one stage, I had to use a mallet to free it up so that I could lower the mast. So I’ve drilled and tapped a screw hole to keep it in place.


This revealed a probem further up the sleeve. There were some quite deep gouges in the aluminium near the boom.


The culprit? Countersunk screw heads sticking up from the strip of material on the boom designed to prevent chafing the mast! Fail.


I’ve tightened up these screws on all the strips, and increased the depth of the recess in some cases. It might be better to use some other kind of fixing. If you look carefully at this picture you can see that the screws at the end have been pulled inwards, as if the mast strip has shrunk, or the boom has grown.


The rivets holding the handle to my Captain Currey rigging knife came apart, and the handle fell off. So I replaced them with nice machine screws in new recesses, oiled the handle, and sharpened the blade on my stone too.


Lastly, I’ve been gradually working my way around the woodwork, rubbing off the old brown paint and some of the UV damage, then treating the wood with oil. You can see the contrast here. Imagine when it’s all done!


I’ve done the same to the tiller, but unfortunately I discovered that under the paint the tiller is not a very beautiful piece of wood. So that will be getting some new paint, and perhaps I’ll get hold of a bit of hardwood and whittle a new tiller on passage.

That’s all for now. I hope you enjoyed seeing the small ways in which Tammy is improving.

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Filed under Repairs and Modifications

A nasty hack on the shin

In the summer of 2015, while departing for the Netherlands, I hit the concrete footing outside Fort Blockhouse in the entrance to Portsmouth Harbour. There’s no excuse for it — I was cutting a corner inside the channel marker, confusing it with the next one out.

This Google Maps image shows the footing quite clearly, but not the channel marker. In reality, this concrete is hidden under water, but you can see how nasty it is.

Here’s a photo I took much later at a very low tide.


It was a big knock for Tammy, but I didn’t get to see the damage until I hauled her out in early 2016.


Oh dear. That’s the forward edge of the starbard keel, about half-way down.


And that’s a bit further up on the inside.

I ground away the damaged fibreglass. The hole went right through the skin, revealing a black wet fibrous substance behind. I’m still not exactly sure what it is, but I suspect it is some kind of resin encapsulating the keel ballast.


The material stayed wet, so I decided to investigate by digging a small hole into it.


The hole wept a black fluid, which kept flowing for two days, gradually slowing down. Once it stopped flowing, I stuffed tissue paper into the hole to encourage the moisture to wick out of the material, and eventually it dried up.


What was left was slightly fibrous and crystalline.


I decided not to worry about it any further at the moment. The next time Tammy is ashore for the winter, I may drill holes into the bottoms of the keels to drain them and then re-seal them in the spring, possibly with some kind of shoes attached. The undersides of the keels are looking worn, as you can see in this picture taken while she was on a crane later that year.


Here are both the holes, cleaned up and dry. Some of the fibreglass along the forward seam was looking a bit dodgy, so I decide to patch that as well while I was working. You can see where I’ve cut a groove between the holes.


With that done, I started to lay up glass to repair the hull. As I’ve seen recommended in several videos, I laid down a large patch first, then added smaller patches until I’d built up a repair.



I then ground away the excess to restore the keel shape.



With hindsight I could’ve added another layer of glass.

Finally, I applied clear gelcoat, then sanded the result smooth. I somehow forgot to take a picture of the smooth result!



You might wonder why I chose to use clear gelcoat. Well, these repairs are below the waterline, and will be covered by antifouling, and I didn’t see any cosmetic reason to hide them. I’d rather be able to see clearly where my repairs are and perhaps see into the top layers of layup for problems. I also have no motivation to hide my mistakes and repairs, as you can tell by this blog!

This year I dried out Tammy at Portchester Sailing Club, to inspect and clean her bottom, and that gave me a chance to look at my repairs.



There’s no sign of any problems, and I’m happy that Tammy is seaworthy. I plan to make a more thorough investigation of both keels when she comes out this winter. In particular, I think I’ll make some small inspection holes from inside the boat and send in my dad’s endoscope to see what’s there. I’ve read articles from Corribee owners saying there are quite large voids above the ballast, and even one suggesting they might be a good place for water tanks.

If you have any suggestions for improvement, or ideas about what’s inside my keels, I would be very interested to hear.


Filed under hull, Repairs and Modifications

Rotten to the core



Some time ago I read an excellent article by David Pascoe called “Attaching Hardware to your Boat”. I highly recommend it, and all his other maintenance articles too.

To summarize: bolts and screws through your deck core will eventually make it rot away.

Now I have proof!

I’ve been sitting aboard Tammy Norie in the rain for several days recently. That gives me a good chance to look around for leaks. I noticed some drips in the heads compartment, and traced them to a nut on the ceiling. It was a bolt from the boom gallows attachment.


I remembered David Pascoe’s article, and decided it was time to grit my teeth and investigate the deck core. So on the next dry day I dismantled the boom gallows and used my 20mm hole saw to cut out the inner fibreglass layer and core (but of course not the deck).



What came out was not pretty. Instead of crisp balsa, I got brown mush.


You can see here how the balsa wood has lost its integrity.


And here are the damp sweepings from drilling out the other three holes.


Looking in to the cut out I could see the dark brown discoloured wood. I can only hope that now that it’s exposed to the air it will get a chance to dry out. It won’t regain structure, but at least I will have stopped the rot.


Out of the four bolt holes, only one looked good. You can see the contrast in the colour and texture. Note that only one of the bolts showed any evidence of leaking. That means two of them were secretly leaking into the core.


I re-fitted the gallows using new bolts backed with washers through just the deck layer, all sealed with butyl tape.  These stayed dry on the next rainy day.  Even if they do leak a little, the water should drip off the bolt and not touch the wood.

David Pascoe recommends sealing the exposed wood. I will do this once it has had a chance to dry out.

So take heed! If you have bolts through your deck core, get them out before it’s too late. Don’t delay!

I’m now looking at all the other fixings with suspicion, and will be working my way around them all.


Filed under Repairs and Modifications