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New Wintertime Projects

It is a busy time for most of us northern boaters. Prepping boats for winter storage, arranging haul out times, preparing storage frames and covers are all on our minds right now. Soon, though, the frantic pace will slow and we will be looking at things to keep or minds on boating during the coming cold months. How about a new round of wintertime projects?

I’ve got several for you, some projects and some organizing things. Work on these when you get tired of reading boating magazines and flipping through boating catalogs. The first is a simple project for keeping miscellaneous lines organized, the second is a cover for you mast hole and a third is a neat organizer for your epoxy supplies. Finally, a more complicated project, stitch and glue dorade boxes.

Line Basket

All too often we simply toss our line in a lazzarret and forget about them until we need them again. Then they come out, tangled and moldy from being put away wet. This simple project requires a plastic waste paper basket, some teak battens and stainless steel hardware. The battens are cut to length so they extend below the rim of the basket for fastening purposes and above the rim to hold the coiled lines. The battens are bolted to the basket with stainless steel bolts and nuts. You could also use nylon fasteners. Drill several drainage holes in the bottom of the basket and you are done. To use, coil the line and drop it over the batten. The line will drain and dry and remain neatly coiled for the next use.

Epoxy Organizer

Many of us use epoxy in our projects. Keeping track of the resin, hardener, additives, brushes and cleaning supplies can be a pain. For most of us low volume epoxy users, this organizer will work fine. It is simply a plastic tool tray, found at most home improvement store. They are cheap enough that you can throw them away and get a new one if the insides of the try get messy with epoxy drips.

Mast Hole Cover

This one may be a bit late if you have already stored your sailboat. But you can build it now and have it ready for next year,

Those of us sailors with a keel stepped mast often are required by the yard to pull the mast for winter storage. That leaves a mast sized hole in the cabin top. Most of us tape a piece of plastic or some other cover material over the hole and then tape it in place with liberal amounts of duct tape. Nothing is as frustrating as trying to remove that duct tape in the spring.

After doing this for a number of years, I made a mast hole cover that I can use year after year. I started out with a piece of StarBoard polymer lumber big enough to overlap the mast hole. I glued a piece of neoprene rubber to the underside to act as a sealing gasket. A hole in the center accepted a length of stainless steel threaded rod. I held the rod in place with a nut and washer on the underside and a washer and acorn nut on the topside. The acorn nut made a smooth top surface that wouldn’t snag your feet.

On the inside of the cabin, I placed a wooden batten long enough to overlap each side of the mast hole. A wing nut tightened the cover in place and sealed it tight for the winter. It is easily removed in the spring and stowed away for the coming end of season. Just remember where you stowed it.

Stitch and Glue Dorade Boxes

The last project is much more involved and should keep you occupied most of the off season. Off-the-shelf dorade boxes are available in a variety of materials and sizes. They are very expensive and may not fit complex area. I decided to make my own using the stitch and glue technique.

Stitch and Glue is a form of boatbuilding that features plywood panels cut to an exact shape. These panels have holes drilled along the edges and are “stitched” together with short lengths of wire or plastic zip ties. The joint is then filleted and covered with epoxy and fiberglass tape. The outside is faired and then covered with more epoxy and tape.

I started by developing a mockup of each dorade box. The aft boxes were pretty straight forward but the forward boxes were much more complex as they had to fit around the mast base. Heavy cardboard would work for the patterns, but I used 3/16” artists foam board. The pieces were held together with masking tape.

Once I had a mockup that I was happy with, I cut the mockup apart and used the pieces as a pattern. I traced them onto 1/8 birch plywood. Most art store or hobby shops carry this plywood. I beveled the edges of the plywood where they would meet another panel. I then taped the panels together with more masking tape. Wire or zip ties aren’t needed as the is no twisting of the panels or strain on the seams.

With the plywood panels assembled, I could then apply an epoxy filler fillet to the inside. This was followed by a layer of 2” wide fiberglass tape and epoxy. Once that cured, I removed the masking tape from the outside of the box and rounded over the corners. I then covered the outside of the box with a single layer of 6 oz. fiberglass cloth and epoxy. Then it was simply applying filler and sanding to a smooth finish, ready for a final coat of paint.

There is a center divider I made from StarBoard and mounting blocks on the ends, also made from StarBoard. On one end of the top I cut a hole and mounted a low profile Nicro clamshell vent. The other end of the box sat over the PVC pipe that lets air in below. Don’t forget to cut several drainage holes along the bottom edge to let water drain.

A somewhat complicated project but well worthwhile and much cheaper than commercially available dorade boxes.

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