Pylasteki is a 1961 Pearson Triton sailboat. She is one of my personal project boats... I am rebuilding her as a blue water cruiser.

Enjoy, if you have any questions or comments, drop me line:


Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Update... The journey through the valley of thinking, reading, contemplating, and vacuuming.

The updates have slowed to a crawl as I reached a point of not knowing how to proceed. A spending spree at the bookstore yielded such classics as "Skenes Elements of Yacht Design" and Gerr's Boat Strength along with a few thousand pages of other lesser works. I've been trudging through these calculating and pondering Pylasteki's future as a cruising boat, and what the priorities are for her performance after refitting.

Form follows function, but in order to hit the mark... a goal must be set.

With the somewhat recent (Last month... gosh time flies!) discovery of a rotten main bulkhead, and cracked main beam I've decided that the deck must be recored pronto. The idea being that she'll hold her shape with a strong deck. So, on that front I have 8 2x4 foot 3/8ths thick sheets of of balsa coming in UPS ground. I'll have to support the underside of the deck, and add a few layers to the inner skin as it is quite thin in places. (Grinder marks up in the bow... and the side decks weep water through dry spots where the laminate wasn't fully wet out on the side decks. Ugh!)

Spent a few weeks reading, researching and calling... bouncing between foam and balsa. Then I got the idea of making a stiffer deck with thicker variations of the two... finally decided Pearson got it right (enough) and to go back with stock. This as you might guess, goes against most of the fibers in me... if I'm going to work on something I want the end product to have improved in stiffness/strength/weight or speed from what I started with!

As I've been reading and pondering boats... a little bit of economic stuff slipped in to the reading list. I read Jay Fitzgeralds books, Seasteading and Wind and Tide... I learned about and started reading some more. Interesting stuff! Somewhere along the way I heard about Dimitri Orlov... a Sailor/Writer/Political activist that has an interesting, albeit out-there view of the future. I read his article "The New Age of Sail" and was compelled to buy his book "Reinventing Collapse." Good read, gets you thinking... really hope he's wrong!

What does all this have to do with Pylasteki? With oil prices skyrocketing, I'm less than excited about the potential price of swings of resin. Up to this point I've used West Systems epoxy exclusively for her refit. Miracle goo, except on the economic front... and that nothing but epoxy sticks to epoxy. So... I've been reading and researching I've come across Vinyl Ester resin. Vinyl ester resin will stick to polyester resin, better than polyester does. Deflects twice as far as polyester before breaking. Gerr's guidelines are almost exclusively based on Polyester boats... and Allan H. Viatses Fiberglass Boat Repair deals almost exclusively with Polyester too. I've still got my thinking cap on, 5 gallons from US Composites for $172... I can add some kevlar up in the bow for the same price as going to epoxy on the deck recore. Hmm...

Yes, its less expensive, but if the deck rips off at the polyester toe rails before the vinyl ester fails... but mainly I want to keep the boat repairable into the future with three choices instead of one. I'm going to borrow a big vacuum pump from work and vacuum bag the deck to try to conserve on weight, though I have not found a consensus on the topic of Mat being required in vinyl ester laminates. Some purveyors of goo say yes, some say no... I'm no fan of mat, but if it makes the bond between the balsa and skins better I'll be using it! (Don't remind me of the fairing nightmare involved with an 1/8th inch lump... hopefully the whole deck is rotten so it'll be uniform in strength and height!)

In the non-thinking arena, I spent last weekend cleaning out Pylasteki. Stripped the v-berth of all cushions and woodwork which had been congregating up there. Vacuumed out as much dust as I could find from previous sanding and demolition work. Then spent a few hours with my tape measure, and straight edge working through how to proceed. Thanks goes to a friend who keeps a watchful eye over her... a blue shop rag found its way to the cockpit drain, and filled her up to the floorboards with rain in a storm last week. I am seriously questioning running all the water that hits her deck down through the cockpit! Good for collecting rain water... but a few more days of rain and I'd have had my first salvage operation...

I have a conundrum... The boatyard where I'm working on her just parked a hundred and twenty foot barge directly behind her. Parked quite literally, with the lift gate firmly planted on the bulkhead wall! So... I'm wedged in place with an 83 foot coast guard cutter tied up behind me. The space between them would be wide enough to run through, if it were not for the anchor cables criss crossing the space... So I'm in a wee bit of a jam.

It'd be smart to replace the main bulkhead on the hard with the mast down. So far I've been doing all the work afloat (RIP screwdriver, hole saw, bungee cords, and random fasteners.... glad flipflops float.) I'm contemplating adding external chain plates while she is floating. Building a wooden frame between the toe rails and hoisting the mast up to take the load off the deck... replacing the main bulkhead and and V-berth. Oh yes... its all tabbed together and impossibly tight to grind and glass in new without tearing the boat apart. Tim, you are a my Idol... can I borrow your boat shed? (Grin)

In other news, I've been spending the night hours digitizing Albergs line drawing of the hull into Solidworks so I can stress test her and see where bulkheads, stringers, hat shaped stiffeners and other goodies ought to go. I can really appreciate the work that goes into lofting a mold that is dimensionally accurate. The more you know, the more you realize you don't... a few of these curves have made smoke come out my ears... and crashed the computer trying to crunch them...

Paralysis by analysis! I want see the South Pacific... and with the price of transit through the Panama canal... Gotta build her strong enough that she can take care of me! Gotta have the priorities in line, drowning gives entirely to much time to reflect on losing the boat... Really big grin!


Anonymous said...

Amazing amount of work, Zach. I hope you share some of the photos and stories on the Cruiser's Forum. This is really a great log of what it takes to refit a boat.

I'm impressed.


Tim said...

Well, I had a longer comment yesterday, but it didn't seem to "take" and show up.

Rather than repeat it, Zach, I'll just summarize it, and tell you what I know you already know:

Use epoxy for your repairs. It's just a better choice for this sort of work. Yes it costs more. The bones of your boat aren't where you want to start compromising purely for the sake of cost. Epoxy is stronger and bonds much more strongly in a repair application, period. That ought to be good enough reason to use it.

You'll find countless situations as you proceed where you need to balance cost against benefit. Often, the choice comes down to personal needs and compromises, but cutting cost in favor of using inferior (for the application) materials is just the wrong way to go about it, in my opinion.

You're putting a lot of thought into this boat. Don't lose sight of what's really the most important thing in the end.

Zach said...

Thanks guys!

I'm leaning back towards epoxy... The realization that if I really need to, I can always grind back to polyester again if in the far corners of the world and use whatever goo available.

Tim, I share your thoughts about good enough and "Best." Plus, working with mat isn't the most fun thing in the world. (Sorry if any of you guys are named Matt... grin)