Category Archives: Repairs/Upgrades

New Ceiling in Forward Cabin

44°55′7″ N 75°50′5″ W

When we bought Santosha in 2017 I noticed that there was some water damage to the port-side of the ceiling in the forward cabin (photo below).

The visible damaged spot was relatively small, only about a foot square but it was very noticeable and was going to be difficult to repair because the vinyl material had “shrunk” and could not be stretched back into place. In addition the plywood base it was adhered to was badly delaminated.

Upon closer inspection I determined that the damage had occurred because the gasket in the ceiling hatch had shifted out of place and water leaked in during heavy rains and/or when someone was over-enthusiastic when washing the forward deck with a hose.

To prevent any further damage Catherine made a waterproof vinyl cover for the hatch that securely fastens to the deck with dome snaps. It is several inches wider than the hatch on all sides so it provides lots of protection when it is in place. I also repaired the gasket on the underside of the hatch. No more leaks – even in the heaviest rains.

I spent a considerable amount of time thinking about ways to make a decent-looking repair to the ceiling but couldn’t come up with any worthwhile ideas. So I chose to ignore the “scar” on the ceiling because I had found the source of the leak and fixed it – but my guilt kept nagging at me – something had to be done. This past September I had a lot of time to work on the inside of the boat while Jay, my fiberglass guy was working on the hull so, no more excuses, the time had come for me to tackle the ceiling repair.

The ceiling in the forward cabin is basically made up of two large panels – one for the port side and the other for the starboard side. I tried to find the same vinyl material (photo below) as what was already installed so I would only have to repair the port side but was unable to find anything readily available with a pattern that was a perfect match. Not really a surprise for a boat that is almost 30 years old.

So, my next choice was to replace the entire ceiling using a fabric that would at least be complimentary to the ceilings in the rest of the boat. I settled for a white marine grade vinyl that has no pattern at all. I figured this would be a good choice because it should be relatively easy to find anywhere if additional repairs are needed at some time in the future – either in the forward cabin or somewhere else in the boat.

The ceiling panels are held in place by teak strips along all of the outer edges and at the seams where the panels meet. In addition, the wider sections were adhered to the underside of the foredeck with generous amounts of flexible caulking. This caulking resulted in me basically having to destroy each of the panels in order to get them off the ceiling.

Once the original panels were removed I did the best I could to put them back together so I could use them to make templates for the new panels. This worked – in a fashion.

I transferred the dimensions over to new 1/8″ thick door-skin plywood. This was the same thickness as the original plywood. Because of the layout of the cabin it was going to be very difficult to replace the ceiling with only two panels so I opted to divide the ceiling into four segments. This made each panel much easier to work with. Even so, I had a lot of “fun” fitting each panel in place because of all the unusual angles and curves that had to be matched. That was even evident in how the original panels were fitted. The teak trim strips hid a lot of small gaps!

Once I had the four plywood panels cut to fit I marked out the patterns on the underside of the vinyl and then cut it to fit each panel. I attached the vinyl to the panels using contact cement and let everything cure overnight. The next day I was able to install the panels and secure them to the ceiling with the teak trim strips.

I had never done anything like this before. It really was not all that difficult and I learned a lot through the process. The entire project cost less than $300 for the plywood and vinyl fabric and took about 12 hours over 3 days.  If I ever have to tackle a job like this again I will not put it off for so long.

New Swim Platform

44°55′7″ N 75°50′5″ W

When we purchased Santosha in 2017 it had a teak swim platform on the stern that was the full width of the transom.

I removed the platform and the transom mounting brackets while my fiberglass contractor was refinishing the hull.

It had obviously been on the boat for many years and was not in very good shape. It was a bit “springy” in a few spots between the mounting brackets and was also beginning to come apart at some of the joints. This was likely due to the platform being sanded and stripped several times over the years for refinishing.

Last year I added some hardwood pieces as a temporary fix to try and strengthen the weak spots. They helped a bit but looked awful. Bottom line was that I needed a new swim platform soon so I started researching my options. I also began paying much closer attention to ones that I saw on other boats during my travels.

Teak is very expensive so I figured I had 4 main choices (listed below in order of my preference):

  1. another type of wood
  2. marine grade plywood covered with fiberglass
  3. engineered or synthetic wood
  4. aluminum

I like woodworking projects but felt that this was quite a bit beyond my skill level – plus I don’t have the tools needed to do the job properly. I talked to Jim and Steve Flewitt at Aylings Boatyard in Merrickville where Santosha is stored and they suggested that I consider using mahogany because this type of wood stands up well to constant exposure to water and it is considerably cheaper than teak. They also had the skills and equipment needed to build a new one for me right on site at a reasonable price. With that information at hand it was an easy decision for me.

They started the build with six rough cut mahogany planks each measuring 2″ thick x 10″ wide x 12′ long. I asked Jim if I could help so he assigned me the job of pile-it. He cut the wood and I piled-it. That was the full extent of my involvement in this project :).

Jim set up their table saw. It cut the planks into long strips measuring about 1 1/2″ wide (by 12′ long). We ended up with about 20 strips of mahogany ready for final sizing.

Jim’s next step was to run all of the strips through a 4-dimension planer which planed and sized each strip to the final dimensions in one pass (approximately 1″ thick x 1″ wide by 12′ long).

Now it was time for assembly. We had decided to make the new swim platform roughly the same dimensions and layout as the original – with some modifications to improve the swim platform’s function when installed. The original swim platform was the same width as the boat’s transom. I wanted the new swim platform to be a few inches narrower than the transom on each side because if I was not really careful the outside edge of the original platform would rub up against the dock as I pulled away. Hopefully a slightly narrower swim platform will stop this from happening so much.

Jim laid out a template on his workbench that matched up with the inside curve of the transom and also ended in a gentle curve on the outside edge. Laying this out was much more complicated than I had anticipated. I did not realize that the transom had such a curve in it – I always thought that it was basically flat from port to starboard – not so!

Long strips of mahogany were spaced apart using shorter strips. This design uses much less wood, makes the platform lighter without sacrificing strength, and allows water to quickly drain away when the boat is travelling in rough waters.

All pieces were clamped, glued and screwed into place. Jim’s design allowed for the screws to only go into the adjoining piece of wood through the sides and then each screw head is completely covered by the next strip. By doing it this way no screws are exposed to water, reducing the opportunity for wood rot. The swim platform is also designed to be fastened to the transom’s stainless steel mounting brackets from the bottom so no screw heads will be exposed on the top.

Once the build was finished Jim sanded the wood and ran a router with a smooth edge bit around the perimeter and around the inside of each divider section.

The final step was to stain the wood followed by several coats of varnish. The end result is fantastic and will really look smart when it is installed on Santosha next spring.

Thanks Jim!

If you need a new swim platform for your boat be sure to call Jim and Steve at Aylings!


Bottom Refinish – Part 2

Lat/Long: 44.918701, -75.835843

In September 2019 I had Santosha’s bottom stripped by a contractor using a high pressure waterjet “sandblaster” – but the blasting media was tiny glass beads, not sand. This blasting media is much more environmentally friendly and safer for everyone involved. You can follow this link to read about the glass blasting job: CLICK HERE

I stored the boat over the winter inside a covered shed at Aylings Boatyard in Merrickville. The covered storage allowed the boat hull to thoroughly dry out before beginning the the next phase of this project.

My plan was to have Jay, my fiberglass contractor refurbish the bottom in the spring of 2020 and then launch the boat and go cruising on the Trent-Severn Waterway for the summer. Unfortunately, Covid-19 significantly got in the way of those plans!

Santosha remained in storage for the summer and in late August Jay began to refurbish the bottom. While I was sad to not be able to go cruising this past summer it was a benefit to the boat hull to have a few more months to dry out.

Jay began by grinding out all of the spots where small osmosis blisters were evident. This was a cosmetic problem to be fixed – there was no damage to the integrity of the hull.

Once the grinding work was completed all spots to be repaired were rinsed with acetone and filled with a waterproof epoxy filler product that is designed especially for use below the waterline.

After this work was completed the entire hull was sanded and inspected for any small spots that had been missed as well as any “pinholes” and low spots that showed up after sanding. This entire process was repeated two more times. It takes a lot of labour and is very time consuming.

The hull was rinsed again with acetone and then sprayed with a thick layer of gelcoat. The gelcoat was allowed to cure for several days. Then another inspection for any remaining pinholes which were subsequently filled and sanded.

Finally we were beginning to see some light at the end of the tunnel! Easy for me to say – I was not the one who was doing all of the filling and sanding! Jay and his assistant had that lovely job.

After all of this prep work the entire hull below the waterline was lightly sanded, rinsed with more acetone and then four coats of Interlux epoxy barrier coat were applied – one a day over four days.

Each application was an alternating colour (grey, white, grey, white) so it was easy to see where the coverage was needed for each coat.

Once the final epoxy barrier coat was cured the hull was lightly sanded and then Jay applied 3 coats of light blue antifouling paint. The job was then “topped off” by a new dark blue bootstripe along the waterline.

I am very happy with the end result and I am sure that Jay and his assistant are happy that this epic job is done – especially the sanding part!


Refinishing Santosha’s Bottom

Santosha is overdue to have the bottom stripped below the waterline & and new anti-fouling applied. However, before new anti-fouling paint is put on I will have some fiberglass repairs made to the hull. Once those repairs are completed I will apply at least two coats of epoxy sealant & then apply at least two coats of anti fouling paint.

Shortly after Santosha was hauled out for the season my fiberglass guy began sanding the bottom using heavy grit sandpaper on an orbital sander & a belt sander. Unfortunately the paint was so hard that it took him the better part of an entire day to make just a little bit of progress.

We also discovered that the bottom had probably been stripped 2 or 3 times before & as a result there was virtually no gelcoat left on the hull after this current sanding. Therefore, the hull will have to be repaired & sealed before new anti-fouling paint can be applied.

To finish sanding the bottom using electric sanders would be ridiculously expensive so I opted to hire someone with dustless media blasting equipment to do the job for me. With the help of staff at Aylings Boatyard I found Tatlock Tractors & Dustless Blasting, an Ottawa area company that uses various media with a dustless blaster to strip paint.

They had stripped the bottom of other fiberglass boats using a combination of high pressure water mixed with glass grit.This process was much faster than the electric sanders but it still took the fellow almost 8 hours to complete the job.

Santosha will spend the winter under cover in a shed at Aylings Boatyard. My fiberglass guy will come back In the spring to finish the bottom refit job.

Guess I’d better start saving up for the next phase of this project.


Santosha Cleanup, A New Bowthruster & Launching

July 8 to 21

Aylings Boatyard, Merrickville

44°55′7″ N 75°50′5″ W

After the fiberglass repairs were completed Santosha was filthy & covered in dust. It was time for a major cleanup & some detailing.

The hull was also in bad need of a thorough cleaning & wax job. Just doing the hull alone is roughly the equivalent of washing & waxing 10 cars – too much for an old guy like me, so I recruited Jaden, my grand-nephew from Ottawa to lend me a hand. Tall, young, strong & enthusiastic, he was exactly the kind of help that I needed!

Jay, the fiberglass guy was kind enough to give Jaden & I a tutorial on compounding & waxing a heavily oxidized hull. Then Jaden was off & running.

The results speak for themselves. Look at his reflection in that shiny hull! It was a lot of hard work! Jaden made a few extra bucks for his efforts & that will help him out as he heads off to his first year at Brock University in late August.

I attended to a variety of other projects while Jaden was focused on the hull. Top of the list was installing a new bow thruster because the original one had quit working at the end of the season last fall.

Finally Santosha was ready to go back in the water. I must confess that there were times when I never thought I would see the day….