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Fiberglass. EVERYWHERE…

After Lorilee’s relocation and my badass trip to the Caribbean, I knew it was time to get down to business.  The project list on Lorilee is still quite long, but the two items at the very top of that list were to replace the boomkin and glass the hull-to-deck joint.  This post is a bit on the technical side, so forgive the longwinded boat jargon.


Bonding the new spacers to the boomkin beams

Awhile back, I fashioned a pair of teak beams to replace the boomkin.  They were made of of 2 1/4″ thick x 4″ wide solid teak, which replaced the worn, weathered, and semi-rotten Douglas fir from the original build.  On the trip up from Rockport, the old boomkin made me quite nervous offshore, and I knew then it should be my first priority.  I wanted to rebuild everything with as much rot-resistance and strength as possible, so I knocked up a set of new spacer blocks and bonded them to the beams with a product called “cascophen“.  Cascophen is a two-part epoxy used for a waterproof (and bulletproof) bond between woods.  This stuff is obscenely strong.  After that was cured, I drilled all of the installation holes.  This is in itself is a bit of a process – the wholes are overdrilled by 1/8”, then those holes are filled with epoxy.  After the epoxy has cured, the correct size is drilled through.  This process creates a watertight “plug” around the through-bolt, preventing water intrusion and rot.  And to seal the through-bolts, I of course used butyl tape.


Cross section of the hull-to-deck joint

Whilst the boomkin was off, I opted to begin the arduous, months-long project of sealing up the hull-to-deck joint.  So in the original Westsail build, the hull was laid up in one mold, and the deck in another. The deck’s half (or bulwark) would rest on the hull’s half, creating an overlapping joint.  The joint was caulked with polysulfide, and the teak caprails were screwed on top.  Over the years, however, the old polysulfide has hardened and deteriorated, allowing the joint to leak.  And boy, leak it did.  Enough so that the rainwater virtually destroyed the port and starboard setee cabinetry.  So as one can imagine, this is a very common project for most Westsail owners.  It just has to be done at some point in the boat’s life.

So the process here started with removing the old, brittle caprails, and very carefully I might add.  I did it in small sections for a couple of reasons.  Firstly, I wanted to make sure that when I glassed the joint and reinstalled the caprail, that it would properly mate to the adjoining sections.  Secondly, since I can only do work on the weekends, I didn’t want to leave the boat in a state that would leak even more than necessary.  With the caprails off, the old caulk, dirt, and other grime is scraped and cleaned out of the joint.  Then I slathered the joint with unthickened epoxy to seep into all the cracks and pores and to provide a substrate for the next two steps.  After the unthickened epoxy setup a few minutes, I mixed up some thickened epoxy with colloidal silica to about the consistency of peanut butter.  The gap between the two molds was then filled and faired using a plastic spreader.  The thickened epoxy kicks over very fast in the midsummer sun, so I had to work quickly.  With the gap filled and faired, I painted on another thin coat of unthickened epoxy, and laid over it a 4″ wide strip of 17oz biaxial fiberglass fabric and then saturated the fabric with more epoxy.   This was my first time working with fiberglass, and while it was a complete mess, it was fairly straightforward.  After everything was cured, I’d trim the excess tape and bullnose the edges with 40 grit sandpaper.

Here’s the sequence of events:


So it begins


Cleaned out and painted with unthickened epoxy


Filled with thickened epoxy


Fiberglass tape laid down


Trimmed before sanding edges


Caprails refinished and reinstalled

To do the entire boat took me just about every weekend from the beginning of July to the second weekend of September.  Fiberglass dust EVERYWHERE. Hahaha.  It was very much worth the work though. Lorilee’s cabin is sitting water tight now.  And by refinishing the caprails, she looks AMAZING.  I won’t bore you with the details of refinishing the teak, but it involved some sanding, sanding some more, and sanding a bit more, then several coats of varnish.  I’ve mentioned it before, but I’ve been using Le Tonkinois varnish and have been very pleased with it so far.

New boomkin and stern pulpit

New boomkin and stern pulpit

One last thing.  I had been wracking my brain for months trying to figure what I wanted to do with sheeting the main.  I was considering going to go back to the eight-block arrangement that I originally had, but with the new boomkin I wanted to simplify things.  So after recieving a little bonus from work, I opted to order Bud Taplin’s stern pulpit with single-point mainsheet hoop.  This assembly knocks out several birds with one stone – it encloses the stern of the boat, providing a safer cockpit, gives me some hardware to mount a few solar panels, and it takes care of the mainsheet.


Next on the to-do list is to tackle some issues I’ve been having with the ol’ Universal engine.  FUN!

– Ryan img_5886


Published in Ryan Bradfield
Updated: October 11, 2016 — 13:39


  1. You have come such a long way from the Ryan I met in Nyack, so proud of you! I have to D the caprail on Eleanor and I’m dreading it :(

    1. Thanks Alex! I often think back to that trip with great fondness. Drinking hot tea, listening to Jordi Savall, freezing our asses off. Hell, I didn’t even know what all the “ropes” were called back then!

      The caprail job was a lot of work, but if I took a week or two off of work it wouldn’t have been so bad. And you have an extra set of hands to help :)

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