Sunday, March 6, 2011

Anatomy of a " 1 hour job."

Back when I first saw our boat I noted that the gasket of the refrigerator was old, coming off in places, poorly repaired in other places, and quite unsanitary almost everywhere.  Now refrigerators of sailboats are not like those elsewhere.  They open from the top and you have to reach down into them from above.  Some have one door, and others have two.  These doors (or hatches) are thick because of their insulation, and heavy.  Their inner lid has a inset lip with a rubber gasket that is compressed by the weight of the lid itself.  On our boat there are two side-by-side hatches/lids.  The whole fridge space is maybe 2.5 x 3 feet, and a little less than 3 feet deep.  There's also a little freezer in that space.

Now comes the "1 hour job."  As those following the odyssey of our "refit" have no doubt gathered we've been frustrated at the slow pace of getting some things done down here in Mexico, but we have never lacked for things that needed to get done while we waited.  Last week Carrie decided to give the inside of the "refer" unit a thorough cleaning as she had noticed some mildew/mold on the interior wall in a few places.  So we let the food dwindle, and didn't replace it, and finally the few items left we put in the refrigerator of a fellow boater.  Time to go to work.  We turned the unit off, and began the defrosting.  

Carrie spent much of the afternoon nearly upside-down inside the fridge scrubbing the far corners, and generally bleaching the heck out of everything.  Our came the racks and containers too.  Everything got clean.  Except the doors.
"We can't put this back together without dealing with the doors," she stated around 2 p.m.  
"O.K.  How about we scrub them up and we'll clean the gaskets up and call it good for now?"  Was my lame response.  Neither one of us was thrilled at the prospect of dealing - really dealing - with the nasty gaskets.  So Carrie set out cleaning the doors with bleach-water and Q-Tips.  It soon became evident that we HAD to deal with the gaskets.  

The marine plywood under them was exposed, unpainted, and rotten.  Mildew had gotten into wood and under the rubber.   In places the former owners of the vessel had simply nailed the gasket back on when the adhesive holding the rubber in place failed.  The next conference between us was what to do next.  
"I think we should pull off the old gaskets and clean under where they were.  We also need to clean all the rotten wood out of there.  Then we can clean it with bleach, sand it, and seal it with Marine Tex ( a nifty marine epoxy that dries in hours and goes on really easy (It's also waterproof and white).  Fortunately back in the States I had purchased a number of possible gasket materials, but it was actually one already on the boat we decided to use.

So the next day we cleaned the old gaskets off and cleaned the rotten wood and eliminated the mildew.  In the afternoon I mixed up a big batch of Marine-Tex.  Using a putty knife I rebuilt the missing material so the new gaskets could have a smooth and sanitary surface to hold onto.  We let the hatches dry overnight on the bow of the boat.  The next morning I sanded the Marine-Tex and got out my handy tube of marine silicone and glued the new rubber gaskets in place, and the hatches/doors went back onto the bow to dry for another day.  On the morning of day three (3) of the project I put the doors in place, walked over to our master electrical panel and flipped the breaker marked "refrigeration" to the on position.  Done.  A one hour job took us three - count em - three days.  But the job is done, and done better than the previous owners have been able to do anytime in the last ten or twenty years.

So many of the tasks we've undertaken these last few weeks have been badly needed, but not real fun.  However, our list of major tasks is shrinking, and some of the worst are behind us.  Many folks refitting their sailboats for a blue water passage have taken a year or more to do what we've accomplished in weeks.  So high fives all around.

Our friend Steve took this picture of Madrona when he went up his mast to check a light.  Our Butterfly Hatch is off in the photo and is sitting near the bow.  Thanks Steve.

A partial list of other "1 hour jobs" undertaken recently.

• Rebuild companionway hatch boards.
• Install hasp lock on said hatch boards.
• New hinge on "head" door.
• Design and commission new sail bag for Genakker (to be clipped near the bow).
• Rebuild both dorade vents.
• Rebuild main cabin's "Butterfly Hatch."
• Shadow our diesel mechanic as rebuilt raw-water pump and other minor engine work done.
• Begun provisioning for sea.
• Design a "Name" for vinyl letters and find a manufacturer in La Paz.

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