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Project Log:  Sunday, September 19, 2010

Although I'd set out initially to keep major demolition and reconfiguration of this boat to a minimum, it became clear throughout the processes accomplished so far that it made little sense to keep and work around anything but the main structural bulkheads in the cabin.  The combination of the existing structures' condition (water damaged, sun-baked, hole-filled, or some amalgamation thereof) with the ever-present mud and silt from the sinking, which continued to crop up around each hidden corner, led me to the belief that there was little purpose in saving anything but the core structures of the boat.

During my initial removal of various interior components--mostly the galley--I'd left the port side dinette structure in place, though I'd removed the back cabinet during an early stage.  But in the end, I saw no benefit to keeping the original L-shaped structure, which was of very basic construction to begin with.  Since I planned to rebuild the interior in cherry, the only purpose the old dinette could serve was as a backing for new cherry paneling, and that wouldn't be any quicker or easier than simply rebuilding it from scratch even though I didn't plan substantive changes to the layout.

The old plywood front and drawer unit (at the forward end) came out easily with a few screws' removal, along with the remaining support cleats.  For the moment, I left the remaining plywood sole substrate in place, though I suspected there was a good chance I'd remove this--and its compatriot to starboard beneath the galley--before all was said and done.


Since conceiving the project and latching on to the Fisher 30, I'd found myself less than enthused with the layout of the pilothouse, particularly the starboard side, which featured a low, narrow settee that still managed to project too far into the open space and doorway while being far too low for the seated occupant to see out the windows.  So from the planning stages, as I perused all available sistership photos I could find, I'd determined to reconfigure the starboard side of the pilothouse.

Additionally, the original design incorporated a narrow, dungeon-like quarterberth running from aft of the galley and beneath this pilothouse settee--an unnecessary and unpleasant use of the space as far as we were concerned.  So it was clear early on that all this would have to go.

I'd held off removing the pilothouse settee because it provided the means of support for the pilothouse sole.  However, it was time now to remove it, so I began from above and unscrewed various plywood panels inside the settee unit and removing them as necessary.  Eventually, I had the area cleared out, exposing the quarterberth area below, complete with more mud, silt, and debris.


I had not originally planned on removing the port side of the pilothouse, at least not until the boat came home and I determined the condition of the original cabinetry, which eventually caused me to change my mind.  With myriad holes left over from instruments, wiring, or the original construction, and a surface that was badly damaged by sun and water--along with my increasing knowledge of just how simply-constructed the interior of this boat was--I decided that the large plywood panel defining the port side of the pilothouse would be best removed and simply rebuilt with new material.

Part of the driving force behind my decision to essentially remove the entire pilothouse interior, other than the main bulkhead forward, came from a desire to better utilize the space in the engine room below.  The original design had featured a huge wasted space to port beneath the sidedeck, purportedly a captain's berth but more like purgatory for stowaways.  This cavernous space, which we'd certainly never use as a berth of any sort, needed to be better used.  I envisioned additional tankage and organized stowage, which I could duplicate on the starboard side where the quarterberth had been.

So it was out with the old.  In two stages, I removed the large upper plywood panel at the port side of the pilothouse; it was secured with screws and cleats at the forward end, screws and cleats at the lower end (just below floor level), and some fiberglass tabbing at the aft end.  The small shelf at the top end was tabbed to the side of the pilothouse, but the tabbing was weak and pulled off easily.


Next, I removed the lower section of this longitudinal bulkhead, back as far as the aft bulkhead of the pilothouse.  I cut the tabbing at the lower (hull) end, and sawed through the plywood at the aft end.  Later, I removed the after portion of this bulkhead, having deemed it unnecessary and in the way of cockpit scupper hose access.

Similarly, I removed two bulkheads from the starboard side, beneath where the old pilothouse settee had been.  The longitudinal bulkhead here was further towards the centerline than its counterpart to port, but with the overall reconfiguration underway this bulkhead would eventually move further outboard and be symmetrical with the port side, increasing space around the engine.  But that would be later in the process.

A short transverse bulkhead, which had defined the aft end of the quarterberth, was next to go, exposing various hose connections that would have been difficult to access otherwise.



With all the bulkheads out of the way and the space wide open, I spent some time removing the old hoses, through hulls (where easily possible, mostly those above the waterline that weren't throughbolted or had no valves attached; later I'd concentrate on removing the remaining seacocks and through hulls), the old refrigeration system, and portions of the old fuel system.  The original copper fuel supply line had, oddly, been glassed to the hull in a couple places, so I used a chisel to break the tabbing and pull out the old line; for now, I left the line intact, complete with its shutoff valve at the end, until I could deal with whatever contents there were in the fuel tank.

I removed the stuffing box and hose and set it aside for possible reuse.

With the engine room and pilothouse cleared out, and lots more dried mud and silt exposed throughout the process and beneath each hidden component, it was time to clean up once more.  I began up forward and vacuumed up various bits of debris through the accommodation spaces, including dried mud and silt from the bilge, as the forward parts of the bilge had had time to mostly dry out.

Throughout the day, I'd been brushing debris and dried mud into the engine room bilge, as I'd been under the impression it was relatively dry, and that the debris would help absorb any remaining liquid, making it easier for me to clean out.  Unfortunately, there was much more liquid than I thought, so the bilge contained roughly 2" of sloppy mud beneath the newer debris on top.  Nonetheless, I scooped this out for disposal, which would have been fine had that been the end of it.

But I discovered that the narrow area behind the stuffing box, beneath the fuel tank and nearly inaccessible at this point, was full of mud, the depth and quantity of which I couldn't really determine.  I tried vacuuming out the mess, as I could slide a vac hose in there, but eventually this just clogged up the hose and turned everything into a muddy mess.

I used a garden hose to wash down the engine room, and to spray out the area beneath the fuel tank; this worked to some degree, but the mud made a mess of everything all over again, and now the bilge contained a few inches of water, which, because of the aft-sloping design, didn't completely drain out through the drain holes I'd made further forward during my earlier cleaning efforts; enough drained out to turn the shop floor into a nightmare of water and mud, but the engine room bilge still contained an inch or two of muddy water.

What a disgusting mess.  I'd really not wanted to resoak the boat with water, and had hoped to just remove the bulk of remaining mud and leave the rest to dry for later removal during the interior sanding.  I was muddy and soaked in Hudson river filth, and now I had to vacuum out the muddy water, which was made difficult since the vacuum wouldn't pull the water up the 4' height to the vacuum, which was located in the cockpit, and I had to use the suction to basically fill the hose, then lift the hose up so the vacuum could manage to pull the water into the container.  Then, after a death-defying struggle down the ladder with a water-laden vacuum--which I completed without incident--I managed to dump the contents on the floor when I set the vacuum down.  I bitterly regretted my decision to re-introduce water into the boat.

In any event, I got most of the water out, as well as most of the mud, but there was still mud and debris all the way aft where I couldn't reach.  I decided to leave that alone for now, let things dry, and figure out some way to get it out later.



Here's the pile of the debris from the day's efforts.

Total Time Today:  7 hours

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