How to Repair and Maintain Deck Hatches and Portlights

There are plenty of small maintenance and repair jobs that need to be done on your boat. Over the course of a year you could save yourself a small fortune by doing some of the work yourself rather than paying someone to do it for you. Some jobs are complex and worth paying for, but small jobs like repairing deck hatches and portlights could be doable with some basic DIY skills and a little research. Plastic portlight lenses are nearly always made from see-through acrylic (PMMA). Common brand names include Crylux, Plexiglas, Acrylite, Lucite, and Perspex. Portlight lenses can also be made of tempered glass, which has better longevity and is also easier to clean. However glass is brittle, which means it should only be installed in a rigid frame. This means it is unsuitable for fixed portlights, because even portlights with metal frames flex to the contour of the side of the cabin. Plastic hatch lenses are often made from see-through polycarbonate (PC) such as the Lexan or Makrolon brands. Both acrylic and polycarbonate have pros and cons. Acrylic is shinier and cheaper than polycarb but easier to crack. Polycarb is more resistant to impact but scratches more easily than acrylic. Both of them are lighter than untempered glass, with acrylic being 4 to 8 times stronger than untempered glass. Polycarb is around 200 times stronger than untempered glass. Acrylic hatch or portlight lenses do not last forever. Over time they become faded, crazed, hazy and stop sealing. They not only make the boat look tired, but when the seals also do not work, it makes being below deck unpleasant. Everyone notices the hatch when they go below deck. Even if you restored or replaced every other part on your boat and neglected to revive the hatch, it will still look like an old, tired boat. A new acrylic lens can make all the difference to the hatch if the old material is well past its use by date, but in a lot of cases the acrylic can be restored to a beautiful finish. Gather your parts and tools and tackle the job. The biggest problem with acrylic lenses is crazing. Once see-through acrylic turns opaque and ugly with age but you can bring it back to life. The My Sailing website details how yacht owner David Bowden restored an acrylic hatch that looked unrecoverable from crazing. David worked on the acrylic windows of his catamaran in 2012 and, years later, the windows are still in good condition. He not only enjoys a better view, but he has saved himself the hassle and expense of replacing the hatch and windows. He concedes his technique wo not make the acrylic look brand new but you need to look hard to see the imperfections. By removing 0.5 mm of the acrylic you can remove surface crazing. If it's bad, you may need to remove up to 1mm. It only takes around an hour to revive an acrylic hatch or window (portlight). 1. Use a 150mm random orbital sander and a 40 grit paper. Move the sander in even sweeps in alternate directions. Wait until the craze disappears before moving to a finer grit paper to polish. 2. Start with 60 then move to 80, 120, 180 and finish on 350 grit paper. 3. Check the underside of the acrylic in case light crazing has occurred and if so treat with a fine paper. 4. Use a polishing and finishing pad as a final step. 5. Fit the acrylic back into the mounting frame. David recommends using a regular protectant if a full sun protectant is not available. The sun's rays, dirt and chemicals cause most of the damage to acrylic, so avoid cleaning with harsh solvents such as benzene or ammonia. Be wary about using plastic mesh sunscreens. A fabric cover is a better option than plastic. There is nothing worse than storing your gear under a hatch only to find it wet from spray or wash down. To make your hatch watertight again, try replacing the seal/gasket. Order the correct size gasket seal for your hatch. Once it has arrived, you can get to work stripping out the old and replacing with the new. 1. Pull out the old gasket and use a narrow chisel or knife to remove all the old adhesive. 2. Use Isopropyl Alcohol on a rag to wipe over the gasket area. 3. Pull the backing cover off the end of your new gasket and starting at a hinge, install around the perimeter. 4. Once you have covered the edge, carefully cut to create a butt joint. 5. Next take a new tube of super glue and cement the butt joint, being careful not to get any on the lens then allow to set for five minutes. 6. Apply pressure to the entire gasket to ensure the tape adheres. Use a marine silicone lubricant to extend the life of your gaskets, weather stripping and seals. Just like hatches, portlights will give away an old girl's age. Replace or maintain them to keep your vessel looking good. If you want to replace a portlight on an old boat, you may struggle to find a replacement one to fit the same aperture. You could be forced to install a bigger or different-shaped portlight. If you find a portlight that is slightly smaller than the gap left by the old light, fill it with plywood or foam skinned with fibreglass. However, there is a considerable amount of work with this option and, if not done well, it may leak in the future. It may be worth ordering a custom-made portlight so it fills the aperture and saves you time. To ensure you get the size right, remove the old light and make a template for the manufacturer. Sailing Magazine show how to replace an old portlight with a new one here. A common problem on older boats are leaks around or through the portlights. The leaks can cause plywood to warp and buckle. Much of the damage may not be obvious at first so do not leave a leaking portlight unrepaired. Always use a marine grade silicone sealant. Plastic leaks oil over time so a good quality silicone sealant is your best line of defence against future water leaks. You can read more about the types of sealants available here. 1. On the outside of the boat cut the old caulking by prying the frame off the boat with a putty knife. If the frame does not budge, try a small electric cutting tool to cut through the caulking before prying off. 2. Use a small sharp chisel to remove the remainder of the old silicone. 3. Move inside the boat and pry the frames off. 4. Use a scraper to remove all the old sealant off the frames. Remove any rough surfaces and contaminants from the edge of the hole in the hull. 5. Use an acetone solvent to clean off any remaining contaminants. Always do a patch test of any solvents. Clean the portlight with solvent on a rag to ensure both surfaces are perfectly clean. 6. Drill holes in the new trim. 7. Slowly spread caulking around the portlight on the inside and outside edge. 8. Put the screws in and use a scraper to remove the excess caulking that has escaped from under the light. 9. Finally, clean up the last remaining residue with acetone. You can watch a video of the process. Keep your ageing boat looking good by repairing and restoring parts as they show signs of wear and tear. You will not only enjoy a great-looking boat but it will keep your boat functional.

1. When youu2019re driving in the sun, what sunglasses do you rely on?

Thanks for the A2A. I like to wear polarized black tinted sun glasses similar to these by RayBan. The ones below are reflectorized, but I don't really care whether that is the case or not. I don't care one whit for fashion. For me it's totally about functionality and safety. I'm funny that way. I prefer the following in a pair of sunglasses, and I've listed the characteristics in order of importance:Polarized - This is the main thing. I will not buy a pair of sunglasses that is not polarized. Polarization reduces reflected glare off of the object your are viewing. When I'm driving, I want to clearly see the other vehicles on the road.Full size lenses - I want fairly large sunglasses like the RayBans below. I definitely don't want those freakish sunglasses that fit inside the eye sockets. I feel like those are not safe in an accident where your upper head strikes something. It's going to be bad enough recovering from a broken nose or concussion. I don't need scratched corneas or cut eyelids and eyeballs on top of that. Too me, that is just a common sense thing.Uniformly black tinted lenses - I don't like the lenses that are darker on the top and get gradually darker towards the bottom, as the bottom part will let in too much light. My eyes are very light sensitive, and I can get headaches from too much sunlight. I prefer the lenses to be fairly dark, but not super dark. If I have to take them off every time the sun goes behind a cloud, that's too dark.Metal frames - Plastic frames always seem to break pretty quickly. Metal frames last longer, and if they get bent out of shape, you can bend them back. Memory metal is not my favorite, because you can't bend them the way you want them.Position of the nose supports - The little oval plastic pads that sit on the sides of your nose must be far enough from the frames so that the frames are not cutting into my face. If there are on relatively strong wire rods as these RayBans are, that is a plus, because I can bend them away from the frame if I need to to keep the frame off my face.Black frames - The RayBans in the picture have chrome frames, but I prefer black. Don't know why, but that's what I like. The color is not a deal breaker, as I will buy gold-colored or chrome-colored frames, but I prefer black.Except for the chrome lenses, the above RayBans fit my requirements to a T. But if this was as close as I could get to my requirements, I would not hesitate to purchase them. When you're driving in the sun, what sunglasses do you rely on?

2. Am i going to die?! Radiation exposure.?

The fact that they call them X-ray machines does not mean they are X-ray machines! Sunglasses would not affect an X-ray machine but they could set off a metal detector if they have metal frames, so I would place a large bet on those things being metal detectors. You might have picked up some tropical infection so it might be worth seeing a doctor anyway. I think it's safe to say you are not going to die from it, whatever it is.

3. does anyone have the metal frames to put in wet pant legs while they dry to leave a crease? Instead of ironin

just spend five minutes or less on a pant after washing dude, otherwise I have tried hanging khakis on a hanger while they are a little wet and moist and by morning they look great, good luck

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Riding Out an Electrical Storm
We delved into a few urban driving legends last week. Let's pick apart two more: the safest place to be during a lightning storm is in your car, and red cars attract more speeding tickets than less-colorful vehicles.You've undoubtedly heard this saying. But you might not know the real reason why it's safer to be in a car than being outside during a storm."It's not because of the rubber tires, as people often claim," said Daniel Davis, a physicist who narrates the Boston Museum of Science's famous lightning show. "You're safe riding inside the T, for example, and the T has metal wheels. You're very safe inside a plane. Most commercial airplanes are struck by lightning once a year on average and there's very little damage. They're airborne, and the rubber tires have been pulled up into the fuselage."Cars and other metal structures are predominantly safe havens from lightning for two distinct reasons, Davis said. First, they are great conductors of electricity. Second, when cars and the like are struck by lightning, the current stays on the outermost surfaces of their metal frames. No matter where you touch inside the car, you won't get zapped."The charge is pushed to the outside skin of the conductor. It's called a skin effect," Davis said.The science behind this phenomenon goes something like this, explains Davis: A bolt of lightning might last but a second, but during that moment, the intensity of the current fluctuates several times. The current might start at 100,000 volts, jump up to 1 million volts, then slide back down to 500,000 volts, all within a second. The fluctuations create a magnetic field in the object that's being struck, such as your car, and that magnetic field pushes the current to the outside surfaces of the object."We do a very similar demonstration at the Theater of Electricity in the Museum of Science," Davis said. "We have a [human-size] metal bird cage with one-quarter-inch-thick iron bars that's struck by our 1-million-volt Van de Graaff generator. Visitors regularly touch the inside of the cage as it's being struck and they don't feel anything. Certainly, they are not harmed."Davis added a few points of caution, however. A car will conduct the electricity from a lightning strike with the windows open or closed. But if you were to stick out your hand, the charge would likely jump to your skin.While being in a car is safer than being outside during a lightning storm, it's probably only slightly safer than being in a house. (A house's electric wiring and plumbing will soak up the charge from a strike.)Likewise, you might be "marginally safer" in a larger vehicle than, say, a Mini Cooper, according to Davis.
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