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Getting underfoot (and under floor)

With the way I designed the under cockpit storage area for Flirt’s Water bladder I found that my work inadvertently opened up another small stowage area for items that could be handy to have in the cockpit. Between the bulkhead I added to seperate the lazerette and the bulkhead protecting the water tank area is a space the width of the cockpit and about 18 inches long. While not very deep, it is more than good enough to stow anything I need in a hurry.

 photo under cockpit storage 1_zpsed5wsi82.png

Once the sole of the cockpit is put back in, this area will be mostly sealed off except for a pair of deck plates. A quick turn of them and anything I have stowed inside will be more or less accessible (I may have to reach in and search for it though)

Flirt is slowly coming together, with winter bearing down (It is December 1st after all) I am in a small rush to get the cockpit sealed up before it gets too cold for the epoxy to properly harden.


You’re welcome! Seriously, I know I have been a bit negligent in posting up on Flirt’s ongoing refit, but I have some work to share now.

As you may have remembered a few months back, I mentioned replacing my Sprite’s badly designed 9 gallon tank wit a 24 gallon Plastimo water bladder. Flirt’s original tank was a small cylindrical tank that was buried in the lazerette. With no hatch or access to it, cleaning, refurbishing, or even just making sure the hoses had not rotted off of it was an impossible task.

So Flirt went from this:

 photo watertank_zpsdf533c18.jpg

To this:

 photo plastimo 26gal watertank_zpszl2n5wn3.jpg

To make this transition work, I found myself cutting the floor out of the cockpit and building up a “bed” for the tank (plus fixing the cockpit’s inherent flexing)

 photo cockpit no sole_zpsvhf4pvfw.png

Over the past few weeks, I have epoxied into place under seat supports, a support under the cockpit, and now a rear bulkhead between the lazerette and the rest of the cabin space.

 photo DSCN0074_zpsqx3jivb1.jpg

Soon, the cockpit will regain it’s floor again. First I need to cut the drains into the marine ply I have for it, then install a platform for the bladder to sit on so it does not drop into the keel, and then comes paint and some padding, I do no give it long now until Flirt is more sealed up for winter again.

All Ahead Slow!

That is the course I have been sailing now for a few weeks. The weather and work have been uncooperative to working on Flirt. It’s not the heat (I actually enjoy the hot weather) but the rain. I recently lost my phone on July 4th due to the torrential rains we had that night. It was zipped up tight in my jacket pocket and still managed to get shorted out and eventually bricked by the water… thankfully I save all those photos online and on other devices so I have plenty of backups.

Now it seems I timed everything just right. I managed to get the rest of the hull in the Starboard side quarter berth carboned up just as I ran out of both Carbonfibre and epoxy. You just cannot time things that well.

 photo quarter berth carboned_zpscw4eypls.png

Excuse the screws!

Cockpit work is coming along nicely, I managed to get a strip of ply bonded to the hull and covered in Carbon to act as a “foot” to the cockpit supports. I did not want to leave a hard spot on Flirt’s most fragile hull part, I sought to spread out the load over a 4 inch wide by 5 foot long strip would do wonders.

After that, I cut a piece of ply from a template to reconstruct the Starboard Side quarter-berth and act as the cockpit’s much needed support. Sadly none of my clamps could be turned around to press it against the cockpit, so I was forced to resort to drilling a couple dozen screws to pull it tight. The squeeze out of the epoxy was incredible to see as it was pulled tighter and tighter.

With that done, it was time to address one other short coming in Alberg’s design for the Sea Sprite 23.. Storage. After measuring out six and a half feet for the berth, I cut a hatch into the top of the cockpit bench. Yes, this only leaves me a 16 inch wide storage cubby, but that is Sixteen more inches of storage I did not have before. Perfect for Fenders, rope, a spare anchor, or anything else I might need in a hurry.

Now to bring it all together. I hope to get a bulkhead built between that storage locker and the rest of the cabin tomorrow. The Grampian 23 my parents had when I was child had a large locker in the cockpit that simply opened up into the hull. A good pooping and all that water would have flooded and sunk her. As my plans for Flirt include one cruise to the Bahamas, I am not about to take that chance.

First the Plywood (not sure what is up with my camera, the lens must have been dirty):

 photo cockpit support_zpsj71ah3qk.png

Screwed into place and epoxied over to protect the ply from the damp weather:

 photo plywood cockpit side_zps4qjlbnlp.png

And the storage locker.. first the cuts:

 photo cockpit storage_zpsmjsyavtx.png

And open:

 photo Cockpit storage open_zpsayl8kuky.png

I’ve got no rhythm

And Flirt has no sole, in the cockpit, that is. After sanding down the Port side quarterberth, and seeing no rain in the forecast for the next week, I took a little extra time to attack the next phase of my Sprite’s cockpit rejuvenation.

I started with that great boat killer, the angle grinder. With a fresh blade in it, I cut along all four sides 2 inches from the edge of the sole. I needed to use my reciprocating saw after that to chew through some of the wood supports I tried to epoxy in (epoxy is very hard to cut through) and dropped the whole thing into open hull.

Still with some time to kill, I brought out my sander and made very quick work of the texture paint that the factory put everywhere inside the hull and brought everything to a nice smooth finish (as smooth as 40 grit can do) in anticipation of the next step..

This was how the cockpit sole looked before I started the major surgery. It’s dirty from a couple of years worth of just collecting leaves, berries, and all the dust that has flown out the cabin companionway.

 photo cockpit sole looking forwards_zpszpuawtjo.png

The two small, ineffectual drains will be replaced too.

And this is how it looks now.. a big gaping hole into the bowels of Flirt. As the Weekender and the Daysailor use the same hull, but a different cockpit (daysailor is non-draining) I wonder how much deeper the cockpit of the daysailor is.

 photo cockpit no sole_zpsvhf4pvfw.png

And no story is complete without the remains.

 photo cockpit sole3_zpshbjlkzel.png

Next comes my epoxying in some supports for the side of the cockpit, and then “floors” to support the waterbladder that is going into this spot before I seal her all back up, nice and water tight.

A Pain in the neck

Last week when I finished grinding out all the old paint and texture from the Starboard Side quarterberth I was sore, mostly from the contortions I had to get into to get my almost 6 foot frame into that coffin sized berth.

Today I got half of the Port Side done. Being right handed, working on the other side was easier, I could lay on my left and grind away with my right. It is all reversed now. In order to get any kind of decent grip and control on my sander, I have to keep my right arm free also, which means I am not resting my head against the side of the boat. Right now my neck is sore and I am only halfway done getting paint and texture off that quarterberth.

She is getting there, slowly, but surely. We are finally getting decent warm weather and a lack of rain (knock on wood) so I am able to get more done. Once I get both berths smooth, I can start reinforcing the cockpit in anticipation of removing it’s sole.

Amazing what the flash I can capture.

 photo flurry of dust_zpsqqrmt7mu.png

This is what I had to start with.. some sort of white house paint over the original builder’s texture coat. Stuff is like grinding gelcoat, it does not want to budge and eats through 80 grid sanding discs in no time flat.

 photo SB cabin paint_zpsvp9cmvn6.png

And the same spot 2 hours later:

 photo SB cabin no paint_zpskrcm5tb6.png

Just remember boys and girls. In Flirt’s “lifetime” we outlawed lead in paint. At one time there was no better way to get white paint than to use lead. If you are going to sand and grind away at anything that might be old enough to contain lead, use the proper respirator to filter it out. Paper masks do not cut it.

Rain, Rain, go away…

Ok.. so it actually did for a couple of days, but my crop of mold is still coming in quite well. Going to be a bumper crop this year.

So between the ever so frequent raindrops, I did manage to get some work done to Flirt, not as much as I would like, but the day when I stop destruction and start construction is within sight.

My biggest thing is getting the ever wiggly cockpit shored up. I had thought to epoxy some wood to the underside of it, but it was proving near impossible to do a good job of it, so the sole of the cockpit is going to come out, which is actually a big help for what I have planned.

These past few days have been spent sanding and grinding in the Starboard side quarter-berth area. If you have ever been aboard a Sea Sprite 23, you will know that this qualifies as a “coffin berth” at the best of times. Squeezing my 180 pound, 6 foot self into the space with a respirator on and power tools would make a yogi proud. So today, the Starboard Berth is clean, smooth, and has a strip of plywood being epoxied into it.

The SS23 has rather thin glassfibre, while most of the time it is quite unnoticeable, under the cockpit the hull is quite “flat” aside from the keel itself, this lends itself to flexing. I could see it flex even under the pressure of my sander. In order to rebuild the cockpit, I am affixing plywood to the sides of the footwell down to the hull itself before opening up the sole. I had a fear that this plywood bulkhead would make too hard a spot on the hull and create a failure point, so I epoxied in a 3 inch wide “foot” for it to sit on. Soon, I will have the bulkhead in place and I can start on the other side.

quarter berth all nice and shiny.

 photo under the cockpit_zpsqa7fjluw.png

And with a strip of plywood being epoxied into place.

 photo epoxying plywood supports under cockpit_zpsp6wsgdwk.png

The other reason for all this: Sea Sprite 23s all sit stern high. They were designed with an inboard in mind, but very few ever got one, sadly those that didn’t get one, never got ballasted properly for it’s loss, so they sit on their lines wrong. Flirt was one of these boats.

To help her sit on her lines, give me more provisioning for longer cruises, and replace a very questionable water tank, this is going under the cockpit, a 26.5 gallon Plastimo flexible water tank. With the cockpit sole cut out, I can reinforce this area properly for it’s weight and build an epoxied box to keep it safe.

 photo plastimo 26gal watertank_zpszl2n5wn3.jpg

And just for fun, I opened up the lazerette hatch and placed a box fan over it to suck the dust out as I sanded and ground down the ‘glass. I am certain that my neighbors are going to wonder about all the white “pollen” on their cars later.

 photo fibreglass haze_zps1fndpfut.png


After last weeks near disaster (I over-dramatize) I finally got the seat drain molded in and the under seat supports for the cockpit epoxied into place. I will eventually sheath them in carbonfibre, but for now, a good covering of epoxy keeps them safe.

It is amazing how strong and stiff that part of the cockpit already feels. Where once you could feel the entire structure move beneath your weight and hear it rub on the rudder’s shaft, now it moves just that little bit less.. and I am not even partway done in adding support to this critical area.

While most people like to look at a boat’s cabin (and Flirt’s will be nice) you really spend most of your time “out on deck” and in a smallish pocket-cruiser like Flirt, that means the cockpit. Getting this area flex free will do wonders for getting friends and family aboard for short and long cruises and might even convince them to do it again.

So, under the Starboard seat, I epoxied up a sheet of 9mm marine grade plywood, cut to fit and trimmed to allow the drain to sit neatly in the groove between it and the under bridge support.

 photo underside of the seat_zps8dknllbo.jpg

I then covered the slit I created a week ago with masking take and liberally filled it with thickened epoxy.

 photo underside of the seat drain_zpsfi4yrhpk.jpg

Then I took my 2.5cm dowel that was already wrapped in waxpaper and pressed it into the thickened epoxy to create the drain that will slope downwards towards the cockpit’s footwell. Hopefully the water will follow and go right out the scuppers and back into the ocean.

 photo molding the drain_zpsjqczku7j.jpg

And for a teaser for the next posting to this blog.. I finally found a piece of wood that was in Flirt that was not rotted or moldy.. the support that was molded into the floor of the cockpit.. though I do have to say, I do not think the workers at Sailstar had access to a table saw.. look at the wavey edges on that thing!

 photo old undercockpit wood2_zpsefkqrhkv.png

yes, my shed’s door has rot.. I have plans to do up the shed nice and pretty this summer too

Hindsight, but not too late!

I started today off to fix an issue Flirt has had as long as I have owned her. I am unsure if it is an issue all Sprites have, just the early sprites like Flirt have, or if it is a peculiar problem only Flirt possesses.

Basically, even when sitting on an “even keel” Flirt always had water that refused to run off of her cockpit seating. There is something in the general shape, that even with molded in drainage, that kept the water right against cabin edge. While I am sure this led to many a wet bottom over the years, I know it led to the rotten combings that surround the cockpit.

So after cutting a deeper slot for drainage, I proceeded to use a dowel wrapped in wax paper to build up a form to rebuild it deeper and with more slope.

 photo cut for drain 2_zpsvcelid2f.png

 photo Drain from beneath_zpsqbxayzdy.png

While I was waiting for the epoxy to dry, I found myself busy cutting and shaping the next piece of plywood to fit underneath the bridgedeck.. it was only in doing so that I came to the moment when realization hit and I had a thought how I could do the drains better, easier, and faster. Hence Hindsight!

It did not take long to rip out the drain I had built.. it was not quite hard and gloved hands made quick work of the epoxy and glassfibre matting. Next came the plywood for the bridgedeck. As you can see, it is cut to fit around the drains.. once I get the ply beneath the seats, I can more easily shape the drain and fit it to better fit the boat.

Until then, enjoy the epoxy!

 photo Bridgedeck plywood epoxy_zpsrs8ovney.png

 photo bridgedeck plywood clamped_zpss2qqxetd.png

 photo bridgedeck plywood_zps6miootkl.png

Cabin Fever

I have to admit this has been a positively miserable spring. Unlike many years past that as soon as Easter came, it was hot and sunny, this one has been cold, dark, and dreary. As snoopy would attempt to write “it was a dark and stormy night”


Couple that with odd work hours and the typical spring colds that kept me indoors on the few rare days I had off when it was nice out.. and work on Flirt settled in to a slow crawl.. but there was progress, I was just not wanting to post as it was so slow.


It started with reinforcing the cabin top. As the cabin top is more or less one molded piece with the deck, I would have to start there. A trip to the local lumber yard netted me a nice piece of finished marine grade 3/8s plywood (about 9mm for those reading who are not stuck in the US system of measurement) that I gently cut and fit to exactly match the side decks. I set them up to run from the underdeck support for the mast back to the cockpit, giving me  a good long uninterrupted run of strong wood. It was then just a matter of mixing a lot of epoxy up to the consistency of peanut butter and laying it on thick before screwing and clamping it into place for a few days to dry and harden completely.


 photo Plywood on Deck 2_zpsdrv4vbe1.png

 photo Plywood on Deck_zpsz4i20apx.png

 photo Plywood under deck SB_zpsppzjcrnq.png

 photo Epoxying the plywood SB Deck_zps4ebvpfck.png

A week or so later, I was able to get out there to sand everything smooth and flush before laying in more thickened epoxy to allow a fairly fine finish between the old glassfibre and the new epoxied into place wood.

 photo Epoxying the plywood SB cabin_zpsthaulet6.png

 photo SB cabin side close up 2_zpsfvtlx3qh.png

Now a thing to remember with epoxy and unfinished wood, the grain on the wood is very dry and “thirsty” it will suck the epoxy right up and leave you with a less than perfect place to adhere any glassfibre or in my case, Carbonfibre. Be certain to properly coat the wood and let it draw the epoxy in before adding another coat so as to properly stick your choice of reinforcement to the wood.

On that note.. the expensive black fabric I love so much.. carbonfibre.

 photo SB cabin CF_zpsufyqr7ex.png

 photo SB cabin CF close up_zps9lbna014.png

 photo SB cabin CF Close up 2_zpsinq3kaje.png

And just because all boats need their pretties.. I picked this up for a comparative song on ebay. I have been waiting for a while for one to show up that was cheap and in good condition. Most are either twice the price or look like the sharks have been gnawing on them.. in many cases both apply- expensive and in bad shape. I give you a 12″ (32cm) Herreshoff Bronze hollow cleat. It’s going on the foredeck to replace the silly little 6 inch (16cm) long one that was there.

 photo bronze cleat_zpsv60p66ps.jpg