Over the last month I have meticulously tracked down the last two little leaks in the boat. One was up in the V-berth and required me sticking my head into a locker about the size of my head to finally see where it was coming from and the other was a complete mystery. I knew where the water was escaping – the midships starboard side lockers but I could not figure out where that pesky water was getting in!
I mapped out a 6 ft by 10 ft section of the boat from the mast hole down to the rail and 5 feet in either direction port and aft. I then got on my hands and knees and inspected everything inch by inch. I was really starting to think I was going a bit crazy until I came across our old Beckson Port lights. Maybe, just maybe, the water was getting past the outer ring. And, maybe no one ever properly sealed the two layers of fiberglass that make up the headliner pan and the cabin trunk. Maybe this left a little gap where water could freely flow down the headliner and right into the locker. Who knows. There was only one way to find out, so I decided to remove the port and have a look.
The view from our old Beckson Ports is just killer don’t you think?
The plan was to keep all these ports installed until after we are done painting but water intrusion is not acceptable so this one had to come off. Check out the third image below, you can see the dark gap in between the layers of fiberglass – this is where the water was getting in.
After removing the through-bolts and getting the pieces apart I cleaned up all the sealant:
I then cleaned up the inside of the sandwich a bit with a bunch of painters multitools. After all the gunk was cleaned up I separated the two pieces with some chisel wedges.
With the wedges in place I mixed up a batch of very thick epoxy with 404 and 406 to create a sturdy adhesive bond between the layers of fiberglass. This is advantageous for several reasons. First – No more leaks! Second, this will strengthen the area against the compression loads of the portlight and will create a more rigid bond between the layers of fiberglass eliminating movement that can cause more leaks over time. In the pictures you can see where I’ve started repairing some hair line cracks in the headliner – these cracks were caused by the compression of the porlight and then movement of the headliner pan. Filling the void with thick, strong, adhesive epoxy will eliminate this problem as well.
Below, we have the finished product, all cleaned up and solid as a rock. Afterwards I just installed the same old Beckson port with a ton of hardware store silicone as a temporary port until after we are done painting and install the new ports.
Here is an example of what we are thinking about going with for the new ports. Recently I’ve been wondering if we should go with all metal though. Please feel free to chime in if you have an opinion on which might be better. These are from New Found Metals and are called Tri-Matrix Ports. I installed this on in our head to see how we liked it.