Galley, Sink Cabinet, Part 1: Analysis, and Cutting of New Hole

The new hole for the cabinet beneath the sink
The galley on the Ericson 25, like the galleys on many pocket cruisers, is a split-style, with one side devoted to a stove and the other to a sink. The split-style galley has its advantages on boats in the 25 foot range. For one thing, it allows for more space in the main salon. On the Ericson 25, for example, it allows for two, full-length settees/berths. The split style galley also has its disadvantages. One of the most obvious is the lack of counter space. This lack of counter space translates into a lack of cabinet space, or at least very little of it. As is often the case, however, with many production sailboats, regardless of their size, there is additional storage space to be found, if you go looking for it, and if you make some modifications to open up this previously inaccessible space. On my boat, there was quite a bit of space underneath the galley sink. The only problem was that the small cabinet door, which came with the boat, provided limited access to the space, at best. In this multi-part article, I describe how I opened-up and modified this space on Oystercatcher, my Ericson 25, to provide storage for plates, bowls, cups, and other such items. This was one of the most useful modifications I made to this boat, but it was also one of the most time-consuming.

The Ericson 25 that I purchased in 2009 had never been used for anything more than day-sailing and perhaps an occasional overnighter. Accordingly, there had been no need for the first two owners to modify the galley in any significant way.
On the port side there was a pressurized alcohol stove. Beneath it were three drawers and one cabinet. I address the modifications I made to this cabinet in my article, "Galley, Stove Cabinet."
On the starboard side, there was sink and an icebox.
The former owner had added a few things here and there, some of which were useful, some not. Among the useful there was a paper towel rack, and a small box for utensils. As for the useless, there was a minuscule spice rack and a soap dish. How's a wet bar of soap supposed to stay put in a flat dish on a sailboat this is heeling over?
The icebox, that was integral to the boat, was spacious. Knowing that the insulation for iceboxes on most production sailboats is minimal, I would later turn this space into a pantry of sorts for the storage of dry goods.
The lid for the icebox was a slab of wood that had been made to look like a cutting board. This was not original to the boat. The former owner had sloppily cut this out of a larger cutting board and installed a stainless steel pull ring in an effort to give it a nautical look. It wasn't big enough to serve as a useful cutting board, and it wasn't thick enough or sealed enough to serve as a proper lid for the ice box. I should note that the coaxial cable that I am here pulling out of the way was poorly located. Sure, this was the most direct route to the VHF radio, which was mounted above this area, but why not route the cable so that it doesn't hang across the galley sink?
Beneath this area there was a beautiful, solid mahogany door, which appeared as if it would open up to an ample storage space. Unfortunately, it did not. Instead it opened up to a space that was almost entirely unusable. It did provide excellent access to the valve, which you see pictured below. This valve regulated the drain for the galley sink. The hose, as you can tell, was also easy to access. It did, however, serve as a barricade of sorts, since it prevented access to the ample space behind it.
After I had purchased the boat and gotten her back home, I decided that I wanted to open up that difficult-to-access space. The only way that I knew how to do this was to take drastic measures by cutting a new hole on the side of the original cabinet. Believe me, this was not a project that I approached without much forethought. Anytime you take a saw to fiberglass, there's no going back.
I decided that the best way to make the new hole look like it had always been there was to construct a panel that would both define the space and trim the edges of the hole. This panel would in someway mimic the mahogany plywood panel that was on the inboard side of the cabinet. I considered using mahogany plywood for this new panel, but I eventually abandoned this idea on account of the cost. There are some marine plywoods available here in Charleston, South Carolina, but not mahogany. It was just too expensive to ship a piece from Boulter Plyood in Massachusetts. Instead, I used A-B exterior grade plywood that I would later paint white. In order to coordinate the appearance of this panel with the rest of the boat, I would trim the panel with solid mahogany and I would construct a solid mahogany door that I would join to the panel with stainless steel hardware. I would also make a faux panel for the forward side of the cabinet on the other side of the boat. Yes, it would be a faux panel, but it would, like this one, serve a real purpose - that of supporting the counter extensions. For more on this, see my article, "Galley, Counter Extensions."
After I had drilled a pilot hole, I pulled out my Roto-Zip (pictured below), and got to work. This proved to be a worthless tool for this task, despite what some might say on some sailing forums. Only the most careless craftsman could think this is a good tool for the job, even with a fiberglass cutting bit. The Roto-Zip is primarily a tool for cutting holes in sheet rock, i.e., drywall material. It's a real timesaver, in that it prevents you from having to use a razor knife to cut out the holes for electrical boxes. Those holes don't have to be perfect, because they are eventually covered by decorative switch plates. For holes of this nature in fiberglass - especially fiberglass with gelcoat on it - the cut needs to be as perfect as possible.
At this point, I abandoned the Roto-Zip and picked up my Makita jig saw. Taking my time with it, I cut a neat line, using the panel, at least initially, as a jig.
Then I removed the panel and made the final cuts, making sure that the hole itself was larger than the hole in the panel. This way the panel would serve as a trim piece and thus hide the thin edge of the fiberglass.
I should note that as soon as I was finished with the cut, and as soon as I was able to gaze into this space, I knew that I had made the right decision. This was valuable storage space that was now fully accessible. I had worried somewhat that by cutting this hole I would weaken the cabinet. I can assure you that the cabinet is rock solid despite this hole. Many times during the refitting of this boat, when the companionway latter was often removed, I would climb into boat by putting my full weight on the corner of this cabinet. Never did the cabinet flex or move.

I should also note that I took great care to cut this hole as large as possible, without cutting it too large. For example, it terms of the lower part of the hole, I reinstalled the settee cushion in order to take account of its height. I did the same with the back-rest cushion.
All in all, this was a good start for a good project that would serve good purposes for a long time to come on Oystercatcher, my Ericson 25.

Through Hull Replacement, Part 10: Flange and Through-Hull Installation

Installing the new bronze through-hull
Of all the steps associated with the replacement of old bronze through-hulls, the final steps, which involve the installation of the new through-hulls, are perhaps the easiest. As anyone, who has properly painted anything, knows, it's all about the prep work. The same, I believe, can be said for the replacement of through-hulls on a boat. The prep work is about 90% of the job. Once that is complete, the rest of the job is not that difficult. With a little patience and attention to detail you can bring this project to completion. In this, the final part of my ten-part article, I describe the quick and easy steps I took to install both the flanges and the new bronze through-hulls in Oystercatcher, my Ericson 25.

I began with the most accessible of the three holes - the one devoted to the intake of raw water for the marine head. A quick wipe of the backing plate and the bronze flange with acetone, and these parts were clean and thus ready for the application of adhesive/sealant.
Outside, my buddy cleaned each of the bronze bolts with a brass brush to remove any dirt or residue from the threads.
Afterwards, we wiped all of the hardware with acetone.
Then I grabbed a tube of Sikaflex brand polyurethane adhesive/sealant. Sikaflex makes a variety of polyurethanes. This one was Sikaflex 291 LOT (Long Open Time). As I have said in numerous places in this ten-part article, I often followed the suggestions of Maine Sail, whose article on his Compass Marine website, I found to be quite helpful. Maine Sail used Sikaflex 291 LOT, so I thought it wouldn't be a bad idea to do the same. Here's a suggestion of my own that I can add: be mindful of the fact that this product is stamped with an expiration date. If you grab the first tube off the shelf, or if you buy a tube from a bargain basement online store, you might find that you've purchased an old one. About half the tubes at the local West Marine were expired. Some of these they had marked down. Others they had not. The one pictured below I ordered from Defender, the big online retailer based in Connecticut. It was a good one, the expiration date of which was well removed from the date of purchase.
We began by applying the Sikaflex to each bolt.
The amount that we applied to the first bolt seemed like overkill, until, that is, we pushed it into place.
As you can see in the picture below, there was not a lot of excess.
On the subject of hardware, before going any further, I should mention where I obtained the bronze nuts, washers, and bolts. In several parts of this ten-part article I have consistently referred to the bronze machine screws as "bolts." I have done this simply because the word "screw," tends to make most people think of pointed wood screws, whereas the word "bolt," tends to make most people think of flat-ended pieces of hardware onto which they can screw a nut. To get technical, I'll tell you that I used 5/16 inch x 2-1/2 inch silicon bronze, flat-slotted, machine-screws. These I ordered from Jamestown Distributors in Bristol, Rhode Island. I opted for Jamestown, because they sold these screws individually (instead of in boxes with quantities far greater than what I needed). I ordered 10, even though I needed only 9. I learned long ago that it's always smart to have an extra piece of hardware on hand. As far as the nuts and washers (flat washers and lock washers) were concerned, I opted for Top Notch Fasteners out of Mankato, Minnesota. For some reason, Jamestown Distributors will sell screws individually, but will not sell nuts and washers in this fashion. Top Notch Fasteners, on the other hand, will not sell 5/16 inch screws individually, but they will sell nuts and washers in this fashion. Make sense? I didn't think so. The take away from this is that if you're planning on doing this project yourself, you might have to forget about one-stop shopping.
As far as the application of the Sikaflex to the flange was concerned, I again followed the suggestion of Maine Sail. I laid down a large bead around the threaded hole and then around each of the bolt holes. I would only stress that you should not hold back on the Sikaflex. Even though this might look like overkill, it was not. I almost didn't get a full and consistent squeeze after I bolted the flange into place.
My buddy and I worked in tandem on the flange. He stood outside with a large slotted screwdriver. I knelt inside the head and tightened down the nuts as much as possible . . . with my fingers.
Leaving the nuts in this finger-tightened state, I went outside the boat and applied copious amounts of Sikaflex to the through-hull itself while my buddy slowly rotated it around his finger.
He then slid it into place and began to screw it into the flange.
He screwed it as far as he could by hand.
Then, he grabbed the large screwdriver, and I grabbed the wrench, and together we worked to fully tighten the nuts on the flange. We used the same technique that people commonly use when tightening the lug nuts on a car tire. We tightened one a little bit, then another a little bit, and then another. Eventually, the flange was fully snugged-up to the backing plate and the nuts were firmly in position. I took care not to force the nuts once they felt nice and firm. This was a point that Maine Sail made. I suppose it's not hard to strip the threads on bronze. That would be one excellent reason to have an extra bronze bolt on hand, wouldn't it?
Outside the boat, my buddy began to screw the through-hull firmly into place. Instead of using a step wrench he used the head of a closed-end wrench and a pair of vice-grips. This was something that he had come up with earlier during our dry-fitting of the parts. This make-shift step wrench worked well and saved me a lot of money. The head of the closed-end wrench gripped the nubs on the interior of the through-hull very well. No slippage whatsoever.

After he was finished, I stepped in with a plastic putty knife and began to spread the Sikaflex in a smooth and consistent manner.

I then cleaned up some of the excess Sikaflex with mineral spirits, the solvent recommended by the manufacturer. I took care not to get the mineral spirits too close to the joints. Obviously, I did not want to weaken the sealant in these areas.
Afterwards, we moved on to the through-hull underneath the galley sink. This went quickly.
All that was left was the large, waste-outlet through-hull in the head. This too went quickly.

I would leave these areas undisturbed for a week while the Sikaflex fully cured. Later I would sand and paint these areas as part of the final steps in the post-boatyard bottom-painting process. Note, for instance, that the patches, where the jackstands had stood, were still in need of paint.
The replacement of the old, bronze through-hulls with these new ones, was a relatively easy task, once the more difficult preparatory work was complete. Was it worth it, you might ask, given the difficulty of that prep work? Peace of mind is, to me, almost always worth the toil, whatever the project might be.

This ends this ten-part article on how I replaced the through-hulls on Oystercatcher, my Ericson 25.

Through Hull Replacement, Part 9: Resizing the Large Chamfered Hole

Sanding the cured epoxy in the large chamfered hole
When resizing the chamfered hole for flush-mounted through-hulls, you have two options. Either you can coat the new through-hull with wax and screw it into place overnight, hoping that the wax will prevent the thickened epoxy from sticking to the bronze, or you can coat the new through-hull with wax and screw it into place temporarily, hoping that a good impression of the head of the new through-hull will be left behind in the still-uncured epoxy. I describe both of these techniques in greater detail in Part 4 of this multi-part article on through-hull replacement. If you have read Part 4, "Resizing the Holes," you'll know that I favor the latter technique, if only because I don't feel comfortable allowing a bronze through-hull to sit overnight in a bed of epoxy. You'll also know that if you use the latter technique, you'll need to do a good bit of sanding to make the new chamfered hole smooth and consistent, since the impression left in the uncured epoxy is not entirely smooth and consistent.

In Part 4, "Resizing the Holes," I described how I resized two different small chamfered holes to accommodate new, 3/4 inch, Groco brand bronze through-hulls; I also mentioned there why it was unnecessary for me to resize the large, waste-outlet through-hull, since the head of the new 1.25 inch Groco brand through-hull fit well into the original chamfered hole. At the time, it did indeed seem that the resizing of this large hole was unnecessary. After, however, I had gotten to the point where I could dry-fit all of the new hardware, I had come to the realization that the head of the new through-hull did not fit as well as I thought it did. This meant that, before I could do anything else, I had to resize this large hole.

For the resizing of this large chamfered hole, I would use the same technique that I used for the smaller holes. I would, however, develop a new way of ensuring that the new hole was as smooth and consistent as possible. This new approach that I took for the resizing of this large hole in Oystercatcher, my Ericson 25, is the subject of this penultimate posting on through-hull replacement.
The original chamfered hole
You'll know from my previous posting that I experienced some difficulties when drilling the bolt holes for the flange (the piece of hardware into which the through-hull is screwed). The wooden bulkhead, beside which the backing plate and flange are located, prevented me from situating myself and my tools squarely over the flange. Consequently, I had to hope for the best when drilling the holes. I was fortunate that two of the three bolt holes (pictured below, top and right) exited the hull in the proper location. One of the bolt holes (at the bottom of the picture), however, did not. This caused head of the bolt, when inserted into the hole, to encroach on the head of the through-hull. As I said in the previous posting, I had to re-drill the hole from a different angle, in order to get everything to fit just right.

When I finally did get everything to fit just right, I was a bit troubled by the fact that there was now a noticeable gap between the edge of the head of the through-hull and the hull itself. I was also troubled by the fact that the bottom bolt hole, due to my re-drilling of the hole, was larger than it needed to be. For this reason, I decided that I had no choice but to remove the hardware and fill both the chamfered area and a portion of the re-drilled hole with thickened epoxy.
As I had done when I had resized the smaller holes, with this large one I thickened some epoxy with colloidal silica and spread it around with a plastic stir-stick. In the picture below, you can see how I used the epoxy to fill a portion of the bottom hole. Notice how the top two holes are countersunk. Understandably, I decided to postpone the countersinking of the bottom hole until after this epoxy work was complete.
A few days later, after the epoxy had cured, I broke out the Dremel and got to work. As I have said elsewhere, this tool, especially when equipped with the right-angle attachment, is incredibly helpful for all sorts of boat projects.
After I had removed some of the hardened epoxy with the Dremel, I checked the fit of the through-hull.
Obviously, there was still a lot of material to be removed, but the last thing I wanted to do was to remove too much of it. If I did, I would have to start all over.
As I worked my way deeper into the cured epoxy, I created more and more dust. Despite the fact that it was cured and thus much less dangerous than it would be in its uncured state, I wore an organic vapor respirator. I've seen some guys in boatyards sand this stuff and smoke cigarettes at the same time. Not me.
Normally, I wear gloves when sanding cured epoxy, but for this job I needed to feel the contours of the chamfered hole.
Eventually, it seemed that I had reached the end of the road with this sanding job. The hole appeared to be smooth, consistent, and well-chamfered.
Nevertheless, when I screwed the through-hull into place, I could still detect some small gaps here and there between the bronze and the hull.
Therefore, I removed the through-hull and did a little more sanding.
Again, however, when I screwed the through-hull into place, I could detect some gaps. These gaps were in the same place, despite the fact that I had just sanded those areas. This made me think that perhaps there was some other area of the chamfered hole that was causing this area to have the gaps. This also made me worry that if I continued to sand in the same area that I had been sanding (which, incidentally, had been in the upper left area of the hole), then I might remove too much material and thus cause the entire job to be ruined.
It was at this point that a simple, yet effective, idea came to me. What if I covered the flange with ink from a red Sharpie marker, and then screwed the through-hull back into place? Wouldn't that reveal the high spots in that chamfered hole? That's what I was thinking, so I thought it wouldn't hurt to try.
I screwed the through-hull into place, and then unscrewed it. Not surprisingly, the ink revealed that the problem area was not in the upper left (where I had seen the gap, and where I had been sanding), but in the lower right portion of the hole. I therefore began to sand this area.
Again I screwed in the through-hull and then unscrewed it. Again, the red ink indicated that the lower right area of the hole was the problem.
I repeated this process, and found similar results.
The next time, the problem area appeared at the bottom of the hole. This meant that the through-hull would surely now fit more snugly in the hole, since I had eliminated the first high spot.
Now I would start working on this bottom area. I'll spare you the many photos I took (for the purpose of reminding myself how many times I had to do this), but I will say that I repeated this process seven more times.
Despite my repeated sanding of this bottom area, I was still finding it to be problematic. Therefore, I took a short break, re-coated the head of the through-hull with red ink, and got back to work.
The first two times I screwed in the through-hull and unscrewed it, I continued to find marks at the bottom of the hole, such as you see below.
The third time, I began to see marks again at the lower right portion of the hole. This meant that I had solved the problem at the bottom. The better fit of the through-hull, after I had screwed it back into place, only confirmed this.
Seven more times I would do this, and each time I would find the marks in the same, lower-right area.
Again I stopped to take a break and to re-coat the head of the through-hull with ink.
This time, I began to see the red marks more evenly distributed along the lower half of the hole. This was a sure sign that I was getting close to the end.
Three more times I did this until, at last, the marks were scattered here and there around the hole. Finally, it appeared that I had sanded this hole as smoothly and consistently as possible under the circumstances. When I screwed the through-hull into place, there were no gaps whatsoever between its head and the hull. This confirmed what the red marks on the inside of the hole had revealed.
Sometimes I have wondered why this large chamfered hole was more difficult to shape than the smaller ones. I believe it was simply a matter of the size differences of the holes. For me, it was  easier to sand the smaller holes in a consistent pattern. The larger hole, I believe, allowed for more variations in the angle of attack. Without using this red-ink method, I'm not sure that I could have achieved a snug fit.
Despite the fact that I had to screw, unscrew, and sand this large hole many times, I'm still glad that I approached this project in this fashion. Sure, I could have coated the through-hull with wax, screwed it into place, and allowed it to remained seated overnight while the epoxy cured. Some persons have apparently found success with this method, but this is not a method that made me comfortable. I could not risk permanently bonding the through-hulls to their bronze flanges with epoxy.
This ends this posting on how I resized the large chamfered hole for the new, 1.25 inch, waste-outlet through-hull for Oystercatcher, my Ericson 25.