Sunday, March 30, 2014


By January 1 this year, Marin County had received only 24% of its average rainfall for that date in the current rainy season. This dry pattern prompted me to start the cabin window project that was scheduled for the summer. A few days after removing the windows, the rain started and it's been off and on ever since, with dry periods too short to do the back-to-back layup required to glass in the openings. California residents should appreciate that Kuewa and I have now gotten us to 52% of normal rainfall accumulation for this date.

While this rain has been collecting, I've completed the taxes, built an outboard motor stand, and have been cleaning and servicing the motor. I squeezed some lube into all the zerk fittings I could find and replaced the gear oil in the lower unit before yesterday's rain drove me inside. Reportedly, it's been at least 5 years since the motor has run and I'm looking forward to seeing if it will start.

The latter half of the coming week looks drier so hopefully the marathon epoxying will begin.

Friday, March 21, 2014

First Journal Entry


It's the first day of Spring, appropriate for the first journal entry of Kuewa's rebirth, of sorts. There are either 346 or 711 days until departure to the Marquesas, depending on how well the projects go this year. Currently, the two big cabin windows are out of the boat and headed for the dumpster. I say headed for because I'd rather not take the plunge and eliminate them completely until I'm sure the plan will come together.

Windows before removal.
The plan is to fiberglass in the openings entirely and then cut out new pukas and install 4 new robust Newfound Metals stainless steel opening ports. These are the gold standard in ports these days and I thought they might be overkill for Kuewa. But as is often the case, when I see how much labor and cost for other materials go into this type of project, and after researching available alternatives, I end up going with the gold standard. The difference in cost shrinks to insignificant when the waves are pounding aboard.

1" rabbet to overlap fiberglass layers.
The most important engineering question for this project is how to make a strong joint between the old fiberglass cabin side and the new lay-up. The cabin side is just 3/8" of fiberglass and 1/8" of (not so) decorative plywood on the interior. I routered out a 1" wide rabbet around the opening, about deep enough for 5 layers of X-mat. There should be 9 layers or so of X-mat filling in the rest of the opening. I use epoxy resin.

For additional strength, I may also add small carbon fiber dowels, or "pins", around the joint, epoxied in place.

Repairing delaminated interior wood with fiberglass.
Advice I received from four good sailing/engineer friends varied from "a butt joint of fiberglass to fiberglass with no overlap or pins will be plenty strong enough" to "the pins will be stronger than the 1 inch overlap" to "I don't think the pins are a good idea at all" to "a scarf joint is the strongest and is the correct way to go, and don't use pins."

For various reasons I won't go into now, I'm going with the rabbet joint, 9 layers up to rabbet level, then 5 more layers up to gelcoat level, maybe pins, maybe not. We'll see how things turn out.

Also today I received via UPS an outboard motor that left Helena, Montana on Wednesday. I found it on eBay. It's a 1985 Evinrude 15 hp 2-stroke. Only 4-stroke outboards are sold new in California and old 2-strokes are very hard to find. I want 2-stroke only because of the higher power-to-weight ratio, since I'll be hoisting it on and off the dinghy alone a lot of the time. Even in Montana, these motors are very pricy for their age. Outboards this old seem to be available only in fresh-water areas, although perhaps a good newer one could be found in Hawaii or Chuuk. This one looks in good shape, except the shaft seals appear to be leaking oil. I could see this in the photos posted on eBay (the seller was honest enough to show this), and I seem to have gotten a $150-$200 discount because of it. I was out-bid on eBay four times before this one.

Next task: laying glass.

P.S.  The other tabs above give complete information on Kuewa's history, hull and sail plans and specs, and incomplete information about the crew, etc. This info will be expanded in the future.