V-berth and Solar Panels

Nicely recovered from the dental work and mightily relieved at the fact, I took over working on the vberth and N got to work temporarily bolting the panels in place.

Just a general rule of mine, but when I step into even small projects, I like to review the work done to date.  Nathan does good work, so I only  found one issue:  the lower plywood panel accessing the anchor locker had no thermal break between it and the fiberglass liner on three sides.  Less than 48 hours later, the lower half of the panel was solidly wet from condensation.  Again, Nathan does good work, so pulling that panel back out was a bitch and a half, and I finally had to call N back in to help me.  Cutting a sliver off the sides and bottom provided enough clearance to install a gasket of insulation around the perimeter.

With that done, and satisfied with the rest of the work, I stuffed the vberth storage area full of sails, replaced the hatches, cleared out the project detritus and moved on to inspecting the upper walls of the vberth.  (N was still up top carefully drilling holes.  Because drilling perfectly located, vertical holes in 316 stainless steel tubing six feet up in the air, in Alaska during the winter, is difficult and requires patience, steady hands, and cold-tolerance ;-). )

Last spring,  we’d installed a thin layer of adhesive backed soft closed cell foam, then a layer of Reflectix, on the upper, heated walls of the vberth.  Though I am EXTREMELY dubious about the advertised R-value of foil-faced bubble wrap, the stuff is cheap and an excellent radar reflector.  Alas, black mold had accumulated at the base of the Reflectix, and along the wood trim, accompanied by a nice film of condensation.  Ugh.  While N continued to carefully drill holes in the bimini frame, I removed all the now wet (but fortunately not rotted) trim in the vberth after trashing the failed experiment.  Wiping down everything with isopropyl alcohol solved the mold issue, but not the insulation issue.

Thanks to the cabin liner, I couldn’t get insulation against the hull here, where it belonged.  Thanks to the shoebox flange’s construction (the attachment point of the liner, cored topside, and hull) I couldn’t fully insulate to the interior of the liner without potentially trapping water above to freeze/expand/wreak havoc.  (Thus why we’d cut the heat loss and chill from the walls a little with the adhesive backed foam, knowing it wan’t enough to move the dew point, but not done a more comprehensive job.)

Without insulation above as below, the vberth will be colder, and still damp.

I have not figured out a permanent solution to this, but for now the wood trim is stowed away, and I’ve got a section of the starboard wall encased in the last quarter sheet of 1″ blueboard.   Another test section ;-).

None of my tasks required much precision–mostly cursing and alcohol fumes, really–so I was cutting up the mattress to fit just as N finished the temp mount of the solar panels.  We admired our respective projects, and celebrated by taking advantage of the harbor wifi while lounging in our new bedroom, and ignoring the ridic mess in the main cabin and cockpit.

Less than a month to go!

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