Discoverer Update – October 29, 2012

Another great week of fiberglassing for the Discover has come to a close and we are pleased to report that we are in the home stretch. Charlie got down to the finishing touches by finishing off the corners of the aft deck opening and securing the permanent cover to the floor. We use a flexible fiberglass woven tape for the edges of the openings and standard 4 oz. mat to encapsulate the deck covers.

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Charlie will remove these screws once the fiberglass sets up and then fill the holes with epoxy. The screws are in place to ensure that the whole deck is under pressure so no air bubbles get trapped within.

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Here is a finished corner after a full day of setting:

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This cover is now a permanent part of the floor, but beneath the surface it holds a powerful secret; Charlie finished glassing in the fighting chair support arch and this trick installation will mate the chair directly to the stringers for maximum fish-fighting strength.

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The next step is to prepare the removable floor sections. The fuel tank covers have already been encapsulated with fiberglass mat:

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Lastly, check out the underside of the in-floor fishbox lid. Once fiberglassed this section will help with the rigidity of the hull and the boat as a whole. This piece should be pretty cool when it is completed.

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We just returned from an excellent weekend at the Ft Lauderdale Boat Show and are primed to get back to work on The Discoverer Project.

October 19, 2012 – Wanderer Refit Update

Craig and Captain Jack have completed their first day of finalizing the Wanderer repairs. Here are the highlights:

First up was to fix the constellation of screw holes in the transom where the trim tabs have broken off multiple times (Thanks snorkelers!) and water had begun to intrude. Here’s what we were looking at back in September:

The water dripping down the rail tells the tale. We overdrilled these rotted holes until we found good wood and then left these holes under heat lamps for the last month. Confident in their dryness, the boys filled all the holes with fresh fiberglass.

We removed the trim tab piston (see the three hole pattern at the top of the photo) and snatched the pump out too…Captain William doesn’t even use trim tabs! He is able to trim the Wanderer with the motor tilt alone, so this will clean up the transom a bit.

We had a small intrusion spot on the port gunnel, so Jack and Craig cut out and replace a large precautionary section. Jack has gotten a crash course in this kind of work recently on The Discoverer Project.

A fresh layer of glass and it should be ready to go.

Lastly we have installed some of First Mate Alex’s master carpentry into the Wanderer. Here’s the bathroom door:

The fighting chair is an amazing redesign. Behold:

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Here’s the big surprise. Polynesian Teak covering boards for the cockpit:

Once the glue dries and we get the batteries off, this is gonna be a beauty.

Discoverer Update – October 18, 2012

It’s been another crazy week on The Discoverer Project as we have moved ahead with sub-floor fabrication in the cockpit. Craig and Jack made a heck of a mess grinding and cutting out the fuel tanks (see last post) so the first step was to clean up the evergrowing mess of fiberglass dust and wood shavings.

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Charlie has already cut replacement rails for the holes in the floor and now begins the process of glassing them into place. The red clay-like material in the foreground is actually millions of microballoons that (when mixed with hot fiberglass resin) turn into a putty that can fill gaps much better than fiberglass alone.

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Charlie laid his first round of fiberglass tape around the two large central openings, then cut six pieces of marine plywood that will be encapsulated in glass and eventually become the new floor for the Discoverer

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That night disaster struck as a fog bank rolled through Jacksonville and wrecked havoc on the fiberglass resin setting up. When Charlie showed up to check his test section of fiberglass the whole piece detached.

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There is no avoiding moisture-related setbacks when you are working on a boat outside in Florida. Fortunately we are getting to the time of year when the temperature and the humidity are on the decline and hopefully we can get through all of the fiberglass and paint work before the summer starts again in February.

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On his second attempt Charlie achieved adhesion and could move on with enclosing the forward deck holes. Since the forthcoming fuel tanks are significantly smaller than the old ones we will fill this dead space with marine foam; you can never have too much foam in a hull.

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The next trick up Charlie’s sleeve is to build a fiberglass arch intended to tie the fighting chair directly into the stringers. On the Wanderer we struggled with the best way to secure the fighting chair; not only must it withstand the abuse of reeling in 600+lbs. Marlins, any fighting chair gets grabbed alot by anglers and crew seeking balance. Sometimes the weight of three people are yanking on this thing so through-bolting it to the fiberglass floor is just not strong enough for us.

On that boat the solution was to screw a 3/4 stainless steel plate into the stringers horizontally. It did the trick strength-wise but weighs alot and is not very elegant. Charlie has proposed a dynamite solution with which we are quite happy.

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This arch will receive another coat of glass that will fully secure it to the stringers, and once it does we will have a perfect spot to secure the fighting chair on the Discoverer. Speaking of fighting chairs, check out the rebirthed Wanderer chair:

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First Mate Alex really outdid himself on this project. I can’t wait to see this baby in action come November 1!

Next up for Charlie is finishing the covering decks for the fuel tanks and running final surface coats of fiberglass to the cockpit floor and the front nose deck.

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Meanwhile we are waiting for our fuel tanks to arrive and getting our ducks in a row for the upcoming month of hanging the transom deck and painting the boat. Stay tuned for more fun as it happens!

October 7, 2012

Cara Macksoud and her group came to Nosara for some green season relaxation, and fortunately the weather cooperated on October 7 for a little offshore billfish hunt. They put a nice 5lbs. Red Grouper on ice first thing in the morning, then headed offshore in search of Sailfish.

This skyrocketing monster hit the baits just after noon and was released after a short but vigorous 20 minute fight.

We should have more pics of this release really soon. Keep an eye right here for more ‘off-season’ action from Captain David and the unstoppable Explorer.

Discoverer Update – October 6, 2012

It’s been a dirty week of work on The Discoverer Project as we moved below decks into 20+ years of diesel-flavored sludge and muck. Charlie has taken the next step in fabricating the floor by installing these 1″x2″ runners along the edges of the fuel tank compartments and the center compartments.

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These will be encapsulated in fiberglass to ensure that they are watertight and Charlie has an idea that is common among expensive custom boats: in every spot that will receive a screw, we will drill out about a 1 inch hole and fill the hole with epoxy resin. This way the wood never gets penetrated by a screw.

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It’s a little tricky to line everything up, so stay tuned as we progress on this element.

In the last post we removed the deck plates over the fuel tanks, and to our surprise these tanks are much larger than we anticipated. The tanks run flush to the transom and extend all the way forward, almost to the seat pedestals. We estimate that each tank holds 120 gallons of fuel.

Jack began the delicate work of cutting an access panel into the top of the tanks to allow for our friends at Independent Waste Oil get their sucker hose into the tanks.

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Remember on every aspect of the fuel tank work everything must be done twice.

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Handy trick: Raise up the front of the boat as much as safely possible while draining the tanks; this ensures that a maximum amount of sludge and fuel make it out of the boat.

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The Discoverer will feature aluminum tanks similar to those on the Wanderer. Aluminum tanks are far more lighter and durable than their fiberglass counterparts, plus by having them fabricated to fit we free ourselves from the existing dimensions of the holes in the floor. We are very pleased with the tanks built for us by Atlantic Coastal Welding in Jacksonville on the Wanderer, so we plan on using their services again.

However before we start designing the new tanks, the old ones gotta go!

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This is tricky because of the limitations of the situation. First off, you can’t use a sawzall or any other ‘deep-cut’ tools because of the tight clearance between the bottom of the tanks and the outer hull; one slip and we are patching a gash in the side of the boat.

Also, you can’t generate too much heat because of the low flashpoint of the leftover diesel fuel mix, so forget about torches, jigsaws or body saws.

The only tool for this job is a low-RPM cutoff grinder borrowed from Jack’s automotive toolkit. Jack kept the RPM’s low and made long scoring cuts rather than digging in and dragging.

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This is an arduous and nasty process, but Captain Jack ain’t scared of a little grinding dust. In the above picture he has already cut away the 3/4″ lid of the tank and proceeded to cut out the horizontal baffles. Here is a close-up of the baffles:

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Jack and Craig then cut horizontal grooves into the bottom of the tank (carefully!) so the tank could be removed in sections. The tank is way too big to come out in one piece…quite frankly I think they built this boat around the tanks!

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Even with the sectioned removal approach, we battled a layer of foam insulation that held the tanks in place. No exotic way to knock this out; just the old fashioned prybar and balls.

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With the tanks gone, Charlie can begin fabricating the new covering boards for the forthcoming aluminum fuel tanks. Meanwhile we will begin cleaning our sanding dust and wiping the hull with acetone. It won’t be long until we are prepping for paint and then it is off to get the transom installed. Stay tuned as we continue work on The Discoverer Project.

Discoverer update – September 29, 2012

Well the team is back together as Matty, Craig Jr., and Craig Sr. put the finishing touches on the refit of the Wanderer and made it back to Florida last weekend. We finally got our hands dirty on the Discoverer again after a barnstorming trip to Tampa for the Florida Sportsman Expo the day after we got back from Nosara.

So through the hazy fog produced by jet lag, culture re-acclimation, and soothing wives/girlfriends angry with us for always being gone, let’s take a look at the current state of the Discoverer:

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You can see that the DA sanding of the hull is moving along nicely, and we almost have all of the shiny spots roughed up. One more day of sanding and she will be nearly ready for paint.

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Charlie Keen has worked his magic on all of the holes in the rear transom as well as the pickups under the boat; last post we mistakenly reported that the boat was being lifted on pipe jackstands when in fact those stands were holding in the fiberglass plugs.

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Notice anything missing in that last picture? If you said “half of the floor that covers the fuel tanks” then you are correct.

We weren’t sure the size or conditions of the fuel tanks until Craig and Jack started cutting, and what we found is shocking. This pair of 120 gallon tanks are the largest I’ve ever seen in a T-Craft and getting them out will be a challenge.

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Notice that in the rear these tanks butt up to the transom, and up front they are covered by the side benches. These benches are fiberglassed directly to the hull so their ain’t no removing them except via the sawzall. On the Wanderer the 100 gallon tanks lifted right out through properly cut access panels; on the Discoverer we will have to get more creative.

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Our working plan is to drain the tanks then cut them into small enough pieces to remove.

 Afternoon Update:

Just ran outside and shot some up-to-the-second pics. Here is the aforementioned jackstand that is holding in the bottom fiberglass plugs:

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Here we see the starboard side bench cut out to allow for removal of the tank. This cut killed our cut-off grinder, so it’s off to the hardware store to buy another…bummer.

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