When we took our very first ride on Kenutu, before she was surveyed or anything, we asked about the windows. Were they deliberately cloudy or were they just that badly crazed? The answer was the latter. It was so bad you literally could not make out a thing outside the window. It was great for privacy but bad for function and the overall look of the boat. The plastic frames were chipping this awful tan paint and the windows looked perpetually filthy.
We joined the FOGgers Group, a little online community of people who own Islander Freeports, and discovered other owners who'd upgraded their windows through Mark Plastics. Mark Plastics had the templates for the frames and windows already molded and sold a new set for about $5,000. Their windows would be exactly the same (but new) plastic products that came with the boat originally, and since they were plastic, they'd be a little more flexible to install. For the two years we've been with Kenutu, we'd planned on Mark Plastics when we could finally afford new windows.
Then, after the installed portholes made the windows look even more terrible, the Captain found a place called Bomon, a marine window company in Canada. Their price for tempered glass windows with aluminum frames was around $5,000. Since glass doesn't craze nearly as easily as plastic and the price was the same, we decided to go with Bomon. Sure, we read all the DANGER A WAVE WILL BREAK THOSE WINDOWS but we decided that if a wave that powerful hit our boat, we'd probably be in some life-threatening situation and already at the point of just wanting to survive so who cares about a broken window.
Before Bomon could make the windows, we had to send them templates. To do that, we had to take off the old windows, clean off all the silicone goo crammed in around their frames, and devise a way to make a template. We decided to start with a small window leading to the cockpit, which would give us a taste of what the removal, templating, and install was like. And it'd also let us check out the product before we dropped $5,000 on it.
Mack made the template using some brown wrapping paper, we mailed that to Canada, they sent a computer generated one back to us, we mounted it over the empty window frame to see if it was accurate, then we gave Bomon the green light to make the window.
The new window arrived and it was beautiful. Awesome quality, crystal clear glass, with a nice bronze tint. To install it, we had to use the router and Dremel to carve out the frame until we got a nice fit. Then we put some weather stripping along the outside frame, put it in place, and screwed the backing plate in place. It went off without any issues except we used too long of a screw in one spot and got a little bump in the aluminum. If you see it, keep it to yourself.
The difference was night and day. The salon literally went from being dark to being super bright. We only had one window upgraded, and it was already changing life on board. Before we could pop out of bed half naked and have no fear that someone would see us. Now we have no doubt they can.
Now that we knew that the Bomon windows were awesome, we had to make templates for the other 9. We decided to use poster board instead of brown paper since it was a bit sturdier (and only 25 cents at the Dollar Tree). Some windows were bigger than the poster board so we extended it with some painters tape.
About half of the windows broke when we were getting them out because they were so dry rotted. Once we got them out, we used a knife to cut out all the extra silicone that was used as a sealant until we were essentially down to the hull. I taped the pasteboard into place and held support on the outside while Mack traced the window from the inside. We numbered them as went along so we could remember which window went where. Complete and repeat nine times.
After we got the templates made, we put a piece of painters tape over the cracks on the old windows and put them back in place. Then we went directly to the UPS store to ship the templates to Bomon. It would take at least 8 weeks to get the new windows made and we didn't want to leave the cracked windows in there any longer than necessary. Thank god we live in drought-stricken Southern California.
Last week the windows showed up. The guy who delivered them also delivered a weight bench to us last year, and Mack told him we were going to get swoll. The delivery guy asked if we were still using them, and I was like, yeah, of course... when we feel fat.
I unpacked the box in the driveway and lugged each window into the house. Unable to contain my excitement, I unwrapped one of the two we'd had made to slide open and had a little party celebrating its perfect beauty. Now when cooking in the galley, we could slide open the window over the stove and let the heat out! Or we could get a cross breeze through the boat when the wind was coming over the beam!
That party didn't last long because then we had to install the windows. And that meant routing out and Dremeling all the frames to fit. And that meant fiberglass and saw dust. SO MUCH DUST.
I used the plastic the windows were wrapped in for shipping to make dust covers/drop cloths. We routed and Dremeled and vacuumed and got so itchy and swept and got more itchy and took hose showers and Mack ended up with the reddest eye I've ever seen. In the medieval times they wore hair shirts. In modern times, we get coated in fiberglass particles. It took about 4 days of torture, I mean work, to get all the windows in.
It took some trial and error to find the best tools to do the job. The router bit we'd used for the portholes ended up being too short for the windows. We had to hold the router at weird angles since the wood on the exterior of the boat wouldn't let us move the router along the surface of the boat, and the best bit for that ended up being a 1" deep three-flute flush trip bit. To get in the upper corners we had to use the Dremel, and after breaking grinding stones and coming pretty close to starting a fire, we found that the high speed cutting/engraving bit worked best.
Two of the windows pretty much required a reshaping, and there was no way to get the most extreme angle in without creating a pretty big margin along the window. It was definitely too big to trust to just weather stripping, so we pulled out the leftover butyl tape we had from the port light installations and crammed that into the nooks and crannies. As we went on, whenever a gap left us feeling a little uneasy, we just crammed butyl in there.
We also found that the project required wrap around goggles and a proper respirator mask.
It took about 4 days of torture, I mean work, to get all the windows in. Aside from the fiberglass-induced rage, it wasn't that bad of a project. Tedious and redundant, but not particularly hard in the muscle-type way. One thing we had to be conscientious of was the distance from the "eyebrow" outside, but we made it a point to do as much of the trimming from the bottom to ensure the tops of the windows would be in pretty consistent alignment. The final test was blasting each window with a hose to see if we had any leaks. WE PASSED!
I'm not positive, but I believe we are now qualified to be professional grade window installers.
Two people dumb enough to think anything is possible and smart enough to bumble their way into discoveries.