We've been focused on Kenutu's inside beauty for a couple of years. In that time, her outside beauty has been pretty neglected. Sure, she got a new bimini and dodger, and a new sail and sail pack, but those are just accessories. Her facade has been patiently awaiting some attention, and finally, we are giving it to her. The girl is getting new windows and ports.
First up is the ports, mostly because the templating-mailing back and forth to Canada-building process that comes with getting the windows started in May and is still ongoing. The ports, from finding to getting, took a couple weeks. Mack found an interesting fellow in Port Angeles making beautiful and affordable bronze portlights, and a phone call later the wheels were set in motion. We had six bronze portlights with drains being made for about $250 each.
The most beautiful ports ever made showed up and we were so excited we barely waited 24 hours before starting to install them. We went with bronze because Kenutu seems more classic than modern, and stainless just didn't feel like it'd do her justice. Plus, I love the look of patina on old boats and I'm stoked to watch the color evolve over time.
New Found Metals sent us all the gear we needed for the install -- teak spacers for the inside, a template for drilling the holes, the faceplate for the outside, the port window, bronze screws, butyl tape galore, weather stripping, and a little wrench for adjusting the seal tightness of the window locks. We watched the installation video a couple times, which basically made us professional portlight installers.
I got to work on the demolition, and in the process discovered just how much our portlights had turned into pieces of shit. They were so dry they practically crumbled.at every contact. You couldn't even see thru the window anymore. Just like a boat project... put something new on and everything old looks worse.
The other bit of prep work we had to do was varnishing the teak spacers. We didn't really factor this into our plan because we were too excited. I ended up making a varnishing station in the cockpit using one of the boxes that the ports came in and hoped they'd dry fast!
Once we got the junky old ports removed, Mack lined up the template from the outside, making sure it was level with the woodwork running above it. We clamped it, measured it, and then, most importantly, gave it a good, long eyeballing.
The scariest part of the whole install was drilling into the boat and cutting the drain holes at the bottom of the template. Putting holes in your boat just goes against every ounce of sailor sense you have, but we powered thru. With a drill and a router.
So this router. We didn't have a router, nor did we have any experience with a router. We ran to Home Depot, grabbed a Rigid mini-router for about $100, and placed a lot of faith in that video we'd watched.
For most of the ports we were able to rout (is that even a verb?) from the outside of the boat. Thank god we bought the mini router since there's no way a full size version would have worked in the little space we had. We couldn't use the router with the template clamped on, so we scored the template drain area with a special sharp drill bit Mack had and routed out the drain area bit by bit. We quickly learned that the router jumped when it hit a staple holding down the headliner inside the boat, but Mack got his knife and some needle nose pliers and addressed that hazard. We assume the teak spacer will secure that headliner better than those rusty staples were. Our routing technique wasn't pretty, but it worked.
After routing, it was time for clean up. We vacuumed up as much fiberglass as we could, then vacuumed some more, then wiped everything down with a damp paper towel. At one point we were even vacuuming Mack's arms to get the dust out of his arm hair. Luckily we'd had the sense to wear masks so our lungs won't suffer permanent damage. I get itchy just thinking about it.
Can we talk about the dust for another second? I mean, most of the time spent on this project was devoted to cleaning up dust! The fiberglass dust and sawdust was incredible. I held a handheld vacuum up as Mack drilled and routed to try to collect some of the dust, and that kinda worked. Then I held up some poster board we had on the boat to at least direct the flow of dust. I also tried holding a box over the opening on the inside, but I think all that did was direct the dust into Mack's face. I closed off as many doors as I could to contain the dust. For the bathroom ports, I actually taped down a plastic drop cloth to keep the dust from clogging up the drains and eventually the sump pump. The plastic halfway worked in the bathroom, but it really worked in the sleeping berth. Sure, it looked like I had a kill room set up, but it was really just good old dust control!
Before we could put the port light in place, we cleaned the exterior of the frame with acetone and put some silicone in the old portlight screw holes. We also put some butyl tape between the port light and the teak spacer, as per the video instructions. We put the portlight in place and shoved the drill bit thru all the holes to make sure it was aligned, as per the video instructions. Then we clamped it and watched the butyl ooze out the other side. Every few minutes we'd come back and squeeze the clamps again.
My job was to fill the gaps in the butyl on the outside so that when we attached the faceplate, we'd have a reallllllllly watertight seal. Mack's job was to put more butyl and weather stripping on the faceplate. Below is a a photo of that along with my feelings about butyl tape. Not only did everything get butyled and then get butyled again, but after the faceplate got clamped and bolted to the portlight, the butyl that got squeezed out got pulled off. It's a miracle there are fingerprints on those fingers after all the butyl rolling they did.
We did the installation in three phases over three days. It took a total of about 12 hours, including all the clean up time (but not including the extra butyl removing, which we're still sort of doing). Seeing the difference between the new ports and the old is incredible. Just LOOK.
We may be biased but Kenutu looks so good we'd probably catcall her. Imagine how gorgeous she's gonna be when that bronze starts to age!
Two people dumb enough to think anything is possible and smart enough to bumble their way into discoveries.