Sunday, April 25, 2010

So you want an enlargement of your anchor locker? The doctor will be with you shortly.

Like a lot of projects on a boat, it is not uncommon to run into the "Laws of  unforeseen circumstances". The owner wanted an anchor winch installed. The problem was that the locker, although wide, was only about 16" deep. This looked, at a first askance glance to be a straightforward project. If the anchor locker floor could be cut away, the locker would then extend down to the bottom of the hull. I called the builder, and asked if this was the case, and they said "yes, and no structural issues would arise, the locker liner is part of the deck structure". You can see in the picture below, the original locker had hangers for a Danforth anchor (not my favorite type), and the pipe structure is where the anchor shank went. You can see on the right aft side of the locker a wee drain hole.

So off we go. I pop off the Beckson plate, and I'm chagrined to find the space below is full of water. What the heck is this? The only thing I am sure of, is that this is not likely the fresh water storage tank for the boat. I call the builder again, and tell them my problem. No problem they say, someone just forgot to drill the weep hole. When you cut the floor out, just drill the weep hole at the bottom center near the keel, and the water will drain to the amidships bilge. Okay, I can do this, and I have the technology. I drop my cool little Rule pump into the hole, and pump out the water.

I tape off the cut out, and Josh (a most excellent glass guy) is in charge of getting the floor out, grinding the edges back, and gel coating the exposed hull. With an assortment of ugly "Freddy Krueger" style tools, the locker floor is removed exposing the vessel's entrails.

You can now see the locker minus the floor below. The edges were ground back, and the pipe structure has been removed,  The locker is now 36" deep at the aft end. But oops, see that grey blob hanging down on the right hand side? The good news is that we know there was enough hull bonding putty being used, the bad news was that it was very difficult to remove. Some improvised tools, a very sharp chisel, and several hours of hard work cleaned it off the hull.

Looks pretty good now in the picture below. Everything is now smooth and white. It's not quite factory, but making it look good was not that hard. You can now see the new weep hole drilled into the aft bulkhead. It's a nice hole if only it went somewhere. Seems the builder's provided advice, was not quite on the money. The place where they said to drill the hole, has a longitudinal stringer behind it. Wait, it gets better. When the hole was drilled, I had it done with a 1 1/8" bit. I had to do this because I needed to seal the exposed wood edges with epoxy. So when the bit hit the stringer, there was about 1/4" gap on each side of the stringer that was open to the next compartment. I stick my wire fish into one side, and swizzle it around, and I hear water splashing, and the same thing on the other side. Now, if we had some ham, we could have a ham sandwich, if we had some bread, or if we had a drain hole, the water could drain into the next compartment, if it had a drain hole.

The last twist to this story I haven't mentioned yet, is there was an anchor locker drain fitting going through the hull about 1"  below the weep hole that was drilled into the locker floor. The stub of the fitting protruded about 1/4" into the inside making it impossible to attached a hose to it. The Solution to the problem here is to just ignore it, drill a weep hole in the locker floor, and get the boat sold before anyone notices.

So lets review this. We had a weep hole in the anchor locker, that was draining water into a sort of  sealed compartment, a through hull fitting that was never connected, and couldn't be, water was where it shouldn't be in two compartments, and the builder really wasn't very knowledgeable about the product. The "Laws of  unforeseen circumstances" have raised their many ugly heads here.

Here is the finished locker, and it turned out very nice. It currently has 400' of rode in the locker, and it barely reaches the floor of the original locker. A piece of starboard was attached to the back of the locker to cover the area where the pipe thingy was, and because the original anchor locker never had a tie off point for the bitter end, I thought it was prudent to add one. What's next is to have a little chute made to direct the rode back about 8" into the deeper portion of the locker, and to pull the winch wire, another odious task on this boat. The wire length needed is almost twice the length of the boat, and needs to be a #2. This is another place where some design forethought would have helped everybody. I have now been waiting for over two weeks for words of advice from this builder on how to correct the trapped water problem. I am hoping they will rise to the occasion, and not be weep holes about this.