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Boat Projects
Paint, Varnish & Canvas
Sunshine
~ Sunshine ~
The Hatches
Are You Going to Rebuild Those?
Just about the time the last coat of varnish is being laid on a piece of brightwork, I begin to eye the next wooden apparatus gnawing on my need to refinish. Don was happily removing the masking tape on our screens, indicating their completion - when I began to remove the butterfly hatches, indicating their start.

Along came Captain Harry – a knowledgeable sailor and well respected dock mate of ours. "Are you going to rebuild those?" Previously unaware of my intentions to begin yet another project, Don's first reply was "NO!" Mine was "…well…they do leak."

Original of the Buttefly Hatch
~ Original of the Butterfly Hatch ~

Our glass was completely fogged, screws on the hinges were broken off, and the number of towels brought out during every heavy rain confirmed the futility of the piles of silicone sitting in every seam. With some nudging and a 'you can do it' attitude, Harry convinced us to take on the much feared, highly dreaded task of doing a comprehensive restoration of our hatches.

Within minutes and with absolutely no nudging, we had every man on the dock with every conceivable tool helping us tear both our butterfly hatches and forward hatch apart. "Where are all of you when we're out here varnishing?" I exclaimed. They all agreed it was far more fun taking someone else's gear apart then it was putting it back together.

Forward Hatch
~ Forward Hatch ~

We marked each piece well, to be sure we would be able to fit the puzzles together again, and then sought out a place to order custom cut Polycarbonate panes. Our wait for the new windows wasn't long, but we were very dismayed to see that the fabricator – in an attempt to meet our required thickness, had taken ¼" Plexiglas and glued ¼" strips along the edges. Now in the off chance that we should roll – the only thing between us and the deep blue would be this paper thin plastic. We took our patterns to another shop.

Factoring in the need for ordering, and re-ordering the panes, the gasket, the caulk and the bungs, and considering each hatch was caulked, and received 3 coats of oil and 12 coats of varnish, and bearing in mind the amount of screws that need to be dug out and reset – I don't think 3 months was too long to complete this project. The plastic over the holes and an un-seasonal drought helped keep us relatively dry in the mean time. But the end result is an unobstructed view to the skies – and Don no longer having to work huddled in the one dry corner of the salon during a rainy day.

Spit & Shine
I also turned my attention to the eight, bronze hatches that ran along the sides of the cabin top. Though they weren't leaking, they were tarnished to such an extent that our hands came away black when ever we touched them. And Don kept mumbling about all the polishing that went on during his Navy aircraft carrier days.

I tried so many products to bring back the shine. I scrubbed my little heart out with Never-Dull® – going though pad after finger blackening pad. Then I scoured those darkened digits to the nub with Bar Keepers Friend® leaving dusty, dark blobs everywhere! Oh, they all worked to a degree – but I had nooks and crannies on vertical surfaces, which made the job that much more difficult, and it was taking me days just to get one hatch done.

So I decided to look into the 'good old ways' and discovered vinegar and salt! It was a cheap solution that worked like a charm. I soaked cotton pads in the vinegar, then held them in place with plastic wrap and tape. The next morning, a little salt scrub brought on the luster and in a few hours, I had all eight hatches looking shiny and new. We'd also found a whole roll of gasket onboard that was obviously meant for these ports. No more black hands!

Forward Hatch
~ Dull Hatch ~
Forward Hatch
~ Shiny Hatch ~