Much of the forward progress this past year has taken place inside the boat. Since the last update videos I have cleaned out the interior, and painted the entire cabin and locker spaces. I have done work on countertops, and have even installed some wood trim just to give myself some inspiration to see how it will be. Some of the woodwork installation was also functional and necessary before splash, such as the companionway stairs and compression posts. I have also nearly completed the primary electrical systems both DC/battery power and AC/shore power. That has been a fun project and will probably involve a few blog posts.
One of the biggest milestones for the interior was getting the companionway stairs rebuilt and back in place. For a few years I have been climbing into the boat without any stairs, a risky thing and a long drop. The companionway stairs are a great example of how one simple project turns into many, mostly due to the order of operations things must get done.
In order to have the stairs in place, I needed to remake and install the stairwell walls, of which the originals had rotten badly. Before I did that, I needed to install the floor base in the galley/companionway area (old one also rotted). Before that, I needed to finish all the work on the fuel tank I intended to do. The fuel tank itself was a major ordeal, taking a few months to get it right. So just to get the stairs back in, I had many semi-big projects to deal with before I even could get to the final result.
The fuel tank was an interesting and prolonged project in itself. I knew I needed to clean the interior of the tank because even after getting the fuel polished during the sail around the state, I continued to clog fuel filters each time the boat went offshore and shook up whatever was on the bottom of the tank. My goal was to open it up by creating access holes, and clean the thing as best as I could. In order to do that I needed to cut a big hole in the fiberglass floor to access the top of the tank
The tank was also quite full of old diesel, of which I had a friend with a fuel tank in his trunk pump all of the fuel out. I got rid of a problem, he got many gallons of free diesel. After that I researched the design of this fuel tank and understood that a large baffle went down the middle of the tank, meaning I needed two access holes to be able to clean the whole thing. I cut two big square holes, and found an absolute mess within the tank. A good 1/4 inch of black gunk on nearly every surface. I spent a lot of time cleaning it out with a pressure washer and by hand, and with many baffles all around the tank this was more complicated than it sounds. Pumping out the water and gunk that settled on the bottom with each cleaning was not easy, but I eventually got it mostly spotless and dry.
Once the tank was clean, I made clear lids for the access holes with Buna-N (fuel safe) rubber gaskets. The lids are secured by many #10 machine screws that I drilled/tapped holes for. This was not an easy task as I had never drilled/tapped before, but it all worked out with a lot of learning and effort.
Once the fuel tank was finished, I was able to make and install the floorboard that would cover it. The old floors were 3/4″ plywood with teak & holly veneer. Those are expensive, and obviously prone to rot if not taken care of. I have been doing a lot of research for other options for floors, and have narrowed it down to using a fake wood vinyl (expensive) or cheap interlocking rubber floor tiles. Regardless, the galley floor area needed a hard cover for the fuel tank, and for the companionway stairwell walls to be mounted on. So I used the old floor as a template and cut out some new plywood (always sealed with epoxy, primed and painted for rot protection) and installed it with a board that can be removed to reveal the tank access.
With the floor board installed, I then proceeded to make and install the companionway stairwell walls:
With those finally in, I could then have my stairs back in place. However, much like everything else the stairs needed a lot of work themselves. I stripped them down from their old stain, repaired many broken spots with epoxy, varnished, etc. I did a poor job documenting the full rebuild of the stairs, but I do have a few pics after they got sanded down and repaired:
After the stairs were fully rebuilt, they were finally back on the boat and I could get into/out of it without serious risk of injury! I also wanted to make some modifications to how the stairs are used to access the engine room. The old way was a piano hinge at the top of the stairs that would raise and expose the engine room. However, this didn’t make much sense to me as it completely blocked all access to the hatch without removing the stairs all-together. After seeing a few other Downeasters that made this modification, I went with heavy-duty side hinges to allow quick engine room access, and retain hatch access. Recently I have been doing a lot of work in the engine room (some pictured) and this easier access has been fantastic.
You will see in the pictures that I have also installed some sound-proofing in the engine room. I went with the soundproofing materials from sailorssolutions.com, which had very good reviews and the product was less expensive than the typical stuff from most other vendors.
In these pictures you will also see that I have given the cheap, dense foam floor tiles a try here in the galley. I found a wood-pattern version that I really like, however it is not as cheap as the solid colors. It was easy to cut and install, though I did a poor job of matching the floor shape, and I intend to make it correct whenever I finalize the floor decision. This was more of an experiment, and so far I am in favor of it. However, the floor seems to be developing some sort of bubbles at the top as it has been exposed to the brutal Florida summer heat. I’ll have to see what I can do about that.