Yes, its finally done.
After some 6 months and many $’s the project is at last completed and I’m sure happy about that. No longer living under a plastic tarp she stands strong and proud, wedded to Freespirit for all time, now ready for action.
Yesterday Chris and I put the final touches to the dodger under darkening skies.
Having to dance around the fickle Tassy Spring weather has meant that this project dragged on, despite our best efforts.
The last remaining items were the installation of the windows and as these needed to be blacked out in the contact areas and then stuck on with a special glue, we needed a good drying day or two to do it.
Since then of course the weather has closed in and whilst the rain beats upon the deck above I sit in dry warm comfort recalling the build. Its been a long journey though ultimately satisfying and as I look back I can say I am truly happy to have done it, albeit with the expert help of Shipwright Chris Moncrieff.
This final stage of putting the windows in was not without its hazards though.
Chris’ trade began with an apprenticeship in building wooden boats and although skilled in this and many other areas, he had no prior experience in dealing with Acrylic windows. Yet despite this, he did an excellent job.
First a double-sided sticky back foam tape was laid down to hold the window out from the frame so that the glue between them had time to cure. The windows went in after that and were left overnight for the whole thing to bond and become solid.
Yesterday, as the final holes were being bored to install the front hatch I couldn’t bear to watch. Having dealt with sheet acrylic before whilst replacing all the cabin windows, I know just how brittle and finicky this stuff can be. The prospect of cracking it as the holes were being drilled had me nervous and jumpy.
Happy to say though that my worries were unfounded and it all went without a hitch. The hatch was installed and fixed firmly to the superstructure and the sharp edges smoothed off.
Stand back and admire!
My last post hinted at some of the early stages of this project. Prior to returning to the placement of the dodgers’ windows, we finished the layout and construction of the dashboard, ending with a trial fit of the instruments.
I am happy to say that this too turned out well.
Built entirely with the remnants of the ply left over from the dodger construction, it will contain all new engine management instruments alongside the pre-existing sailing ones. In addition to these improvements is the further installation of stereo speakers… for those sundowner moments when soft background music is just so right.
Once the build was complete I took it all apart again to give it a jolly good dose of wood preserver. This evil stuff will ensure the integrity of the marine ply is maintained if ever it should be exposed to the elements.
My current intent is to paint the dashboard a low sheen burgundy to match the sunbrella covers I’m making for the the cockpit, dinghy, outboard and more. Bringing this colour into the dodgers’ stark white interior will provide continuity and focus for the three main colours I’m using throughout the boat.
The curved dashboard top I’m intending to finish in a weatherproof vinyl of a colour closely matching the non-skid decking paint which I’ll apply when we have a more consistent run of sunny days. This should soften the dodgers’ internal lines whilst providing some texture in what otherwise is a pure white glossy interior.
Here is a photoshopped image of likely how it will look.
Still lots to do!