Sailing season is over, so now it’s on to the winter improvements! The last major modification I can think of is to remove the hatch on the front of the sternsheets and replace it with a big rectangular one on the top. I’ve had trouble with water seeping through the seal when the boat gets a few inches of water inside which is why I bought an auto bilge pump for my most recent trip to Ocracoke. A larger hatch will also make the space a lot easier to access for storage.
I jigsawed a hole for a 14.75″ x 10.6″ Seaflo access hatch and stripped back the paint. I had to cut through the central stiffener and unfortunately the 1/4″ plywood is a little too flexible for my liking. It might be ok once the hatch is bolted in place, but I’m going to add a .75″ x 1.5″ stiffener on either side of the hole.
You know that box of wood scraps we all have that are probably really not worth saving? I found my 6.5″ diameter discs from when I cut the holes for the original inspection hatches! I beveled the edges a bit as a “weld prep” and epoxied it in place with thickened epoxy. Packing tape kept everything flush. I also epoxied the two new stiffeners along either side of the hole.
While I was epoxying I added some drain holes to the motor well. I used a large Forstner bit and intersected the floor of the well a bit. Then I filled the holes with thickened epoxy and drilled again with a smaller bit. The holes came out right at floor level, so they should drain nicely.
I tested the glue bond on the piece I cut out for the access hatch and was very pleased to find it took about 5 decent whacks with a 3 pound mini maul before breaking off. This was purely a mechanical bond since both pieces were encapsulated with 3 coats of neat epoxy before later being joined with thickened epoxy. A chemical bond is stronger but it really makes no difference since the plywood failed along the entire joint.