Sunday, July 20, 2014

The Cockpit Project -- Replacing the Teak Decking

Finisterra arrived at her new home on June 26th and we took a few days to unload cruising gear and get moved back into the house. Then I got right to work on the biggest project on my work list, replacing the teak in and around the cockpit and transom.

The teak doesn't look too bad in the photos but it is pretty well worn down between the caulking lines and occasionally offers up a splinter. There are also rows of bronze staple ends that are beginning to emerge from the teak in several areas. 
The dots in the foreground are staple ends sticking up through the wood. 

I think the way Beneteau makes the teak panels is to lay the teak planks on a table with the caulking grooves on the bottom, then staple them together to make panels. After the planks are stapled together into panels, they flip them over and fill in the grooves with silicone caulking. This makes the finished panels flexible enough to conform to the curvature in the seats. Then they fit the panels into recesses in the deck, bedding them in what looks like black 3M 4000 Polyether adhesive.

It was fairly easy to pry the teak off the deck, but much more labor intensive to remove the black adhesive. I finally resorted to a set of sharp chisels to scrape the black gummy adhesive off the fiberglass. The bead around the perimeter is similar to Dow 795 silicone and was fairly easy to remove with a razor knife and a chisel.

In this photo the teak has been removed, but you can see a few spots where some of it stuck to the adhesive. Notice the parts where there are vertical lines. Beneteau applied the adhesive with a serrated trowel and then bedded the teak in the stuff. You can see where the teak was actually in contact with it and where it wasn't. You can also see the bead of silicone around the perimeter.

To get the teak off, I first cut the silicone around the perimeter with the razor, then using the hammer, carefully drove a chisel in between the edges of the teak and the fiberglass.  Once it was started, I could drive the screwdriver further under the teak and pry up large chunks or complete planks of it.

Here you can see where I have removed the adhesive from part of the portside cockpit seat. 

To remove the adhesive, I used a razor knife to scribe sectional lines into it, then worked a sharp chisel between the adhesive and the fiberglass. I was able to remove most of it this way. Then I used the chisel to scrape off as much of the remaining adhesive as possible. Later I will sand the rest of it off.

It took several long days to get all the adhesive off the deck. It was fairly dull work but there is a lot going on in the industrial part of the harbor and I often paused to watch as ships came in to unload their cargoes from all over the world, then reload and head out to sea again. There was also no shortage of interested passersby, many of whom stopped to check my progress and offer advice, so the days passed quickly and before long the job was done.

I decided to replace the teak with PlasDECK synthetic teak instead of real teak for several reasons, not the least of which was the cost. The price Beneteau quoted for replacement teak panels was a little north of $3,000, while the synthetic material runs about $1,000. But price is only part of the reason for choosing PlasDECK. It's made of recycled plastic and I like the idea of putting less plastic in landfills. It is easier to keep clean and is quite durable. Of course no knowledgeable person is going to mistake synthetic for real teak, but I'm okay with that. You can learn more about this material by visiting

The next step was to make templates for the replacement panels. I used 6 mil poly sheeting as pattern material, and glued it in place with a light spray of aerosol contact cement. Then I inscribed the outline of the perimeter of each piece along with all the other information the manufacturer needs to fabricate the replacement panels. I'll send them off tomorrow morning and in about three weeks the panels will be delivered.

The pattern material is temporarily glued in place, then marked with all the necessary information.

It's important that the "caulking lines" of the new panels line up properly so the patterns were carefully marked to show where they should be.

While I'm waiting for the finished panels I'll have lots of time to finish removing the black adhesive from the seats and maybe even spend a couple of days at the Island.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Salona 41 Review

I first noticed the Salona 41 a couple of years ago when we were still searching for a new boat. Salona Yachts is located in Split, Croatia. As the American sailboat industry has declined in recent years, eastern European countries have developed a strong presence in the sailing industry and Salona Yachts is a good example of why this has occurred. They build solid, well engineered boats that look good and offer excellent performance. The Salona 41 was designed by J&J Design, which is part of the Seaway group of companies. Over the last twenty years J&J has created an enviable portfolio of designs, including most of the Salona boats.
Sensible keel and large rudder on the 41.
In studying the sailplan and photos, I was impressed by the conservative approach to the hullform. We don' t have the lines plan for this hull but based on the photos and drawings, it appears that the longitudinal centers of flotation and gravity are somewhere near the aft end of the hull/keel joint, roughly at the deepest part of the hull in the drawing above. This indicates that the bow sections are finer than a typical cruising yacht but not extreme, and the stern is pulled in a bit compared to many new designs in which the beam at the stern is nearly as wide as the beam amidships. This boat will have good manners even when pressed hard. With a displacement of 16,424 pounds on a 37.56' waterline, the displacement length (D/L) ratio is 138, which might be a bit light for an all-out cruiser of this length but is about right for a racer/cruiser. I like the big, aft-swept keel. It isn't as hydrodynamically efficient as a vertical fin and bulb but it will shed kelp and is, in my opinion, the best solution for a performance cruising yacht. Salona offers four different keels of 5.74', 6.56', 7.38' and 8.79' draft on the 41. For cruising in most parts of the world I'd choose the 6.56' version. But for racing on the west coast, the deep keel would be my choice.

In cruising mode, the 41 shows off her  clean lines.

I like the rig on this boat. The chainplates are located a foot or so inboard from the sheer, making it possible to run overlapping jibs but I'm not sure they are far enough inboard to allow the tight sheeting angles needed for racing. For cruising, the large rig, with a sail area/displacement ratio (SA/D) of 22.2 means you can leave the genoa home and cruise with nothing bigger than about a 105% jib and a cruising kite. The mainsail is set up with an Admirals Cup style mainsheet that is led aft on the boom and down to a traveler located on the cockpit sole. This is an efficient arrangement but most cruising sailors accustomed to the traveler on the cabin top or even on an arch will find that it takes some getting used to. Notice the stackpack mainsail. Salona has wisely chosen not to install a roller furling mainsail on the 41.

Sleek deck lines, twin wheels and no chines. Notice the short bowsprit on this boat. You'll want one if you plan to do any cruising on your S41. It will keep the anchor chain from rubbing the gelcoat off the bow.

I like the wide open cockpit with the traveler recessed into the sole. 
The cockpit is well designed for racing and cruising. The coamings are wide enough to sit on and the seats are long enough for lounging, yet neither would hamper a racing crew. A large and uncluttered cockpit is essential for quick boathandling in racing situations, and is just as important for cruising. After living aboard for a month or so, you'll appreciate every square inch of space in the cockpit.

Two cabin version works best for a cruising couple. 
The boat can be configured with two or three cabins and one or two heads. For cruising I would choose the two cabin, single head version. The forward cabin is large and incorporates a good sized berth, two hanging lockers, a seat and plenty of open space. This kind of space gets important quickly for liveaboard cruisers. The main cabin is open and features a big enough galley and a big dropleaf table amidships. The accommodations plan above shows a forward facing nav station, but the photo below shows the three cabin layout with an outboard facing table with a stool instead of a seat. I would demand the configuration shown above. Those little round stools are great for the local pub, not so good for working at the chart table, especially underway.

The three cabin version, shown here, is okay but the two  cabin version is ideal for a cruising couple.

I like the fact that the builder chose a basic, straightforward interior design, without gimmicky features like angled bulkheads and foldaway tables. This is a comfortable and useful interior plan that will wear well over the long term. If you visit the Salona web site, where all of the photos I used here came from, you can see 360 degree views of all the interior plans.

Salona uses vacuum infusion technology to fabricate the hull, deck and other fiberglass parts of their boats. This process results in light, strong parts and minimizes styrene emissions into the atmosphere, which is important for the health of the people who build the boats, and good for the environment. They also incorporate a structural steel grid in the hull to accommodate keel and rig loads. This is not the easiest or least expensive way to build boats, but ensures they will be strong, light and stiff for years to come.

Overall I give the Salona high marks for design and construction. The boat will be fast enough to be a lot of fun to race, yet has enough cruising amenities to make life aboard quite comfortable. It's a good looking boat that avoids extremes and faddish design elements. The nearly vertical transom lacks a swim step, which would be desirable for cruising, but other than that minor point, this boat is ready to go racing or cruising.