Weeks of Leaks – Part 1

Old sailboats have leaks.  New sailboats can have leaks too…maybe not the first few months, but eventually leaks will develop even on a brand new boat.

Bottom line…if you got a boat, you got a leak.  The best thing a boat owner can do is reduce the amount of leaks they have.

Our 35 year old boat, Trini has her share.  We knew this when we purchased her.  What we didn’t know is how much work it would take to repair a specific leak we found a few weeks ago. So I will begin with our first naive attempt to repair the leak we found.

The V-berth was damp after it rained.  Upon inspection we found the source of the water in our chain locker located forward of the V-berth.

The leak was coming from several bolts out of the top deck.

roof of chain locker
Roof of chain locker



These bolts secure the bow pulpit, cleats, windlass, padeye, and anchor pad. Over time the bedding compound (it’s like a silicone), wear outs and allows water to seep in.


Bow pad & cleat
Photo of one out of four pulpit pads and one of two cleats
Padeye and windlass
Photo of the padeye (left) and windlass (right)


To get better access to the bolts, Captain Kelly took out all the chain and cleaned out the chain locker.

He needed someone in the locker to hold the bolt nut while he was on the deck taking off the bolt.

To entice me (his adorable boat wife) to help he placed a couple of old blankets into the locker so I would be more comfortable stuffed in the small space.


Chain Locker
Boat Wife happy to be only 5’4″
Captain on deck taking off the bolts to the pulpit pads


On deck there were four pads to take off and clean up.  He scraped off the old bedding compound and dirt.  Then applied new bedding compound.


neighbor 2
Prepping the deck while a pelican watched


A neighbor came by to watch his progress.



This leak repair was quick.  All the bolts came out easily and we were able to get the job done in one afternoon.

A few days later, a day of heavy rain revealed we had correctly sealed the leaks.  Unfortunately, water was still coming into the V-berth.  We found the second source of water.  It was coming from the cap rail.

cap rail
Teak over cap rail


The cap rail is located under a piece of teak wood that lines the whole boat.  There’s 90 feet of teak we need to take up in order to access the cap rail.


cap rail
Under the teak

What is a cap rail?  The cap rail secures the boat’s hull to its deck.  Our cap rail has both rivets and bolts securing it.

I will have more details of our leak repairs in our next post, Weeks of Leaks, Part 2.

Until then may you have Fair Winds!


cap rail
A small section of the teak & cap rail



Black Tape & Wire Nuts. Oh My!

Black tape and wire nuts on a boat, according to the ABYC (American Boating & Yacht Counsel – boating safety experts), is not an acceptable electrical connection.The tape and nuts are suitable for house wiring.  But not a boat, it’s not marine grade.

Unfortunately, our boat is riddled with these types of electrical connections.

Wiring like this throughout the boat
Wiring like this throughout the boat

So the Captain, pulls out his trusty electrical tool box and a quick stop to a marine supply store for the solution.

electrical tool box
Ring terminals, connectors and other goodies for electrical work

He then takes off the wire nuts and black tape, connects the wires to ring terminals and then connects the ring terminals to the terminal block, which he mounted.

Terminal Blocks - Neat and Tidy!
Terminal Block

This fix meets the ABYC requirements and is neat and tidy.

Now the Captain just needs to go throughout the boat and fix all the bad black tape and wire nut connections.

As Boat Wife, I will be supporting him from the galley drinking a hot cup of coffee.

Fair Winds!

Port to Port


Our 42′ Whitby, Trini has a few cracked, old ports that leak.  One port is over the captain’s side of our berth (bed).

When it rains he wakes up to drops of water landing on his forehead.  This causes a chain reaction, starting with his cussing, then his shuffling out of bed to look for a bowl and a dry place to sleep.  This commotion wakes his beautiful boat wife who was peacefully sleeping on the dry side of the berth.

The leak had to be fixed!

Old, Leaky Port
Cracked knobs prevent the port from forming a tight seal

The remedy!  We had two options.  Replace the gasket or replace the port.  Since the port over the Captain’s head had cracked knobs and a cracked window, a new gasket would be useless.  So we replaced the port.

This is how we did it.

Take out old port
Taking out the port – A two person job

First we took off the bolts.  Pretty easy but a 2 person job.

Then we had to pry off the port from the hull of the boat.  This wasn’t so easy since the port was adhered with 5200, a very aggressive adhesive.  (Luckily the other ports we’ve taken out had caulk instead of adhesive.)

old port gone
Clean the area around the port

The new port had an outer ring.  We had a choice of adhering it to the hull with caulk or drill the ring so we could bolt and caulk it to the hull.  We chose to bolt and caulk.

The Captain lined up holes and marked them before drilling.

Drilling the holes
Drilling the holes

Now the port is ready for caulk.

Port opening and outer ring ready for caulk


The caulk we used and our tools
The caulk we used and our tools

A good covering of caulk for the interior ring.

Make sure to put enough on – You don’t want water leaking through
Applying caulk from the exterior to fill in gaps before apply the ring

Caulk was also apply from the exterior to fill in any gaps.  Then the ring full of caulk was set in place and the thru-bolts.

Wa La!  The new port is installed.

New Port
New Port

After a few rain showers, we’re happy to report there is no more leaks over the captain’s head.

A little tip:  This installation process took longer than we thought it would.  After taking off the old port, we discovered the Beckson ports we purchased were wrong and new ports would take over a week to arrive.   We had a hole in the boat.

A cruising buddy of our, Bryan from Salty Dog gave us a good tip.  When he replaced his ports, he bought a roll of plastic rug covering (Its the stuff used to protect carpets from staining in high traffic areas when showing a house for sale).  It’s an awesome product and has adhesive on one side that will temporarily adhere to the boat and is watertight.  This did the trick.  There were several days of rain and this tip saved us from many wet nights.


Sewing – Needle Pulling Thread

There are few things I do well.  Sewing is not one of them.  So when a sewing project comes up, I do my best to help Captain Kelly.  He knows more about sewing since his mother sewed and showed him a few things.

I was tired of living with paper shades for over a month and felt it was time to make our own curtains.  The Captain had another plan.  Since this sewing project entailed mostly straight lines, he put me in charge of making the curtains.

I reluctantly took on the challenge and at the same time wanted to get it done as quickly as possible.  So I started sewing at the speed of mach 10.  My lines took on the shape of fish hooks.

A few reminders on how to sew straight lines from the Captain and I was back on task.


Paper Curtain
Paper Shades

I slowed down a bit to make straight lines.

**Safety Point** Slowing the speed of the needle also help keep my fingers from getting too close and caught up in the needle.  😉

Sailrite Sewing Machine, Don’t Leave the Dock Without It
My Masterpiece

This quick project took three days and 26 panels.  Now I have curtains.  Not the fanciest port curtains, but I like them.

Signing off,

The Domestic Sewing Goddess

aka  Boat Wife

Thankful for Refrigeration

This Thanksgiving I am thankful for my new refrigerator.  Our 34 year old cold plate system had died.  So for over a month I’ve been storing our food in the icebox located in our cockpit, replenishing the ice every other day.

It would be neat if a small refrigerator like one you would find in a dorm could replace the old system but a boat refer is not the same as one in a house.  The system we purchased works off of 12 volts so when we are off the grid it won’t take a lot of energy to run.  Also a sailboat refer doesn’t have a door but more like a hatch on a counter top. One reason for the hatch is the food won’t spill out when the boat is heeled over.

Trini, our 42′ foot Whitby Ketch, had a box for a freezer and refer.  Pictured below, I am in the refer part and next to me is the old freezer.  It’s a vast space that I decided would be better used as dry storage and the freezer, a bit smaller, would work well as the refer.

I can fit in the old refer!

The refer installation took over 7 days.

First we gutted out the old cold plates and compressor.  Dirty, heavy work.

Kelly in engine room over the compressor. Took two of us to pull it out.
Cold plates in the old freezer box- one on each side
Another picture of the cold plates

Then Kelly took out the rusty automatic shutters.  This device allowed cold air to flow from the freezer compartment to the refer.


Pulling out the parts and installing the new ones was not an easy task.

Hard to reach the bottom of the refer


Then we lined the old freezer with 1/2 inch foam and allowed to dry for a day.



Next we lined the wall with recycled plastic panels.  We sized the panels and adhered with adhesive and caulked the seams.  After a day of drying we added the condenser.

???????????????????????????????The compressor installation was next.  In the engine room, Kelly was able to hand the new smaller compressor himself.  We hooked up the copper refrigeration lines, ran the power lines and installed the thermostat.

???????????????????????????????The hatch on the old freezer needed some new seals.  The old gray seals had rusty nails securing it.


We also taped off the opening so we could paint it off white in order to get rid of the rusty stains.



Picture of our work space.


We had to resize our plexiglass shelves and install them.

Plexiglass Shelves
Plexiglass Shelves

Below is the refer with two levels of shelves. We turned it on and it worked.  I can even make ice!


I went shopping and filled it up.  Since there are two levels, I have to pull some items off the top shelf to access the bottom shelf.  A bit of a hassle, but this is boat refrigeration.

??????????????????????????????? This new refer cost around $1500 and doesn’t even have a stainless steel facade.  But I am a happy boat wife who is also thankful for a husband that can install refrigeration.

Happy Thanksgiving!


Bad Berth

Berths on boats aren’t the most comfortable to sleep on. When you wake up with a a hangover and you didn’t drink the night before, that is one indication you didn’t get a good night’s sleep.

We got a bad bad bed.  One reason the berth isn’t comfortable is that there isn’t a mattress with springs, just a hard foam cushion.

To make our berth more like a bed than a rack, we fashioned two more layers on top of the cushion.  The top layers came from our old Dux bed which consisted of springs and latex foam.

If we could just through our top-pad over our berth, that would have been the end of this post but berths on boats don’t follow traditional shapes of a bed.

springs 2This is what we did…

The springs were laid out on the berth.  The berth follows the curve on the aft bulkhead.  We marked the springs where to cut in order to make the curved shape in our berth.

SpringsThen Kelly pulled out each set of springs and cut where needed.

shape of bedWe laid the springs over the white latex to mark the curve in it as well.  Then cut away the excess and sewed the material.

dressed bedNow we have a comfortable bed.  However the disadvantage is it’s a bit tall.  Since I’m a bit short (5’4″) and the mattress is hip level,  I have to have a running start to jump into the sack.  .

Black Paint

When we pulled Trini, (42′ Whitby Ketch) out last April we painted the brown boot-stripe black but didn’t have time to paint the black stripe near the cap rail.  This wasn’t an issue since we knew we could paint it at the dock.

So last week it was time to paint away the dark brown stripe, a stylish color when Trini was built in 1980, to match the black boot stripe.


After tying Trini closer to the dock, painting the stripe was simple.

  • Lightly sand the brown stripe
  • Clean the stripe
  • Tape off
  • Paint on the black and before it dries follow behind with a dry brush to even out the coat of paint.  (Usually best with two people) See photos below.

Due to the weather (there was a rain day) it was a two day process to complete both sides.  Now that we have black stripes future projects will be to make black canvas sail covers, dodger and bimini.

But the next project on the list that is coming up soon is installing refrigeration on the boat.  It’s odd since we are experiencing freezing temps this November and I could just leave the food out in the cockpit to keep it cold.

Until then,

Boat Wife Signing Off!

Sanding brown stripe
Cleaning brown stripe
Tape & Paint
Follow with a dry brush to even out the coat
Finished product

Rudder Repair & Extension for the Whitby

Repairing the rudder on our 1980 42′ Whitby

After pulling Trini out of the water to paint the hull, Kelly noticed it would easily move from side to side.  A disturbing discovery.

The boat was raised higher so we could take off the rudder. We found the pin from the bottom of the rudder was worn to a nub and no longer fit in the shoe.  Also the rudder’s shaft was loose.  We’ve read from other Whitby owners this is a common problem with the rudder and that the rudder is too small for the boat making it harder to turn.

 Since repair was needed at the same time we decided to have it lengthened.  Fortunately we were at a boat yard that could do the work while we finished inspecting our through-hulls, paint, replace our motor shaft and the other odd items we planned to complete.

 Rudder Extention

Rudder in Need of Repair
Rudder in Need of Repair



Sanded down to the gel coat

Added a filler piece to extend it
Added a filler piece to extend it


New Fiber Glass
New Fiber Glass
Adding Resin
Adding Resin


Once the Rudder was ready, it had to go back on the boat.

Rudder goes back on
Rudder goes back on


A new PIN was fabricated into the rudder so it would fit snug into the shoe.



Lining the shoe and bracket to the shaft takes time.


Added 5200 to secure the shoe
Added 5200 to secure the shoe
Install shoe
Install shoe


Install clamp
Install clamp


Once the rudder was secured, a grey coat of barrier compound and then bottom paint was applied.



Trini’s new look – An extended rudder and clean bottom

New Rudder

The Result of all this hard work is better turning radius and a rudder that will stay on.


BOAT_360x600px (2)





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