Very First Reconstruction (Mast Project)

Last thing we wrote about the mast project, we were going to hang tight through Irene and then get back to it.  As we posted, the hurricane wasn’t so bad up here in Fells Point.  When I got back to work, I pulled out the grinder again.

I wish I’d gotten pictures of it, but…I taped thick plastic sheeting all around my work zone, trying to contain the fiberglass dust I would create.  It was not a complete success.  Three straight lines with the grinder = 5 min.  Set up and clean up = hours.

Fiberglass dust makes you itch – it irritates your skin – it hurts!  So I filled a bucket with water and wiped down every single surface that got dusty, from the cabin top to the cabin sole.  It was far more of a cleaning than I felt like doing, but I made the mess.

The whole reason I made those cuts?  In the picture below, you can see that I had chiseled the lower part of the plywood.  I got up to the fiberglass tabs that fix the bulkhead to the cabin top and wow.  The wood wasn’t rotten enough to come out!


The wood is obviously not in the pink of health, but it was too strong for me.  The arch is the part I removed with the grinder.

And then I chiseled.  Oh my.  I kept turning away, thinking there was a quicker way.  If there is, I don’t know it, so I turned back to the job and got it done.

In The Groove

And then I cut the piece that would replace the old plywood.  I made patterns of the front and back, transferred those to a piece of plywood, and got out the jigsaw.  I love the jigsaw.  It makes such disciplined cuts, for a freehand tool.  However, I got fancy and tried to get the poor jigsaw to behave in an undignified manner.  I tried to angle it manually in mid-cut.  And I burned the wood and the blade.


That picture’s actually from after I used the Dremel to take off the knob that was left.

And then I went to fit this in place, figuring I would need to do a bunch of subtle shaping to make it fit perfectly.

Doesn't Fit

Except it doesn’t fit!  I mean, it might fit when I can get it into place, but there’s no way to lever it into the groove between the two existing pieces of plywood.

Major bummer!

I put the project aside so I could ponder.  What I’ve come up with – I’ll cut a rectangle out of the good wood underneath (the darker stuff in the picture).  Then I’ll pound the top piece in place from underneath and push the other piece in place afterward.  It’s not ideal, but it’s the kind of thing I sometimes do on this boat.

Of course, when I walked to the hardware store to get a thinner grinder wheel for the cut…well, it’s Labor Day.  They were closed.

So another day with very little accomplished.  Ah well, I did get some writing done!



  1. Isn’t it great how you can ‘butcher’ wood that way, make a semi-close fitting patch, glue it in place and it end up as strong or stronger than the original structure? Wood is one of natures good inventions.

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