Clumsy captain

by Glen

Sunday 9 Jan, cruising day 43, Key West: Windy day, stayed on board doing jobs.

The wind is quite strong today, so we decide to stay on board. But we are determined to have a more productive day than yesterday.
Mid-morning Oana starts to defrost our day fridge. This small vertical fridge on the galley countertop has been troublesome ever since we bought the boat. It is basically a cheap caravan fridge put behind a nice teak door. It runs OK, but in humid climates the freeze box completely frosts-up within just a couple of weeks and the door seal is totally useless, leaving dampness all around the wood at the base of the door. Previously, I had added sealing strips but never very successfully. The original magnetic sealing strip is now all hardened, and the steel rim that it grips to is starting to rust. We decide we will be buying a new fridge for next year. And maybe an upgrade too. We’ve certainly had quite enough of messing with this one.
In the meantime, today I will again make another attempt to fix the seal and deal with the rust, but first I enquire on the HR forum if others have had a similar situation. Many came back saying they have, and offered various solutions. Most of which I have already tried in the past.

While the fridge is defrosting, I tackle the second aft deck hatch which still needs its seal replaced. I did one the other day but found I didn’t have the right glue. Now I have the right stuff, 3M Sealant strip glue. Anything made by 3M is usually good. With the hatch removed and upside down on the aft deck, I cover the open locker top with a towel, so none of the old rubber bits get blown in there as I remove the old strip and sand off the old glue.
I recognize the towel presents a good elephant trap (a pit camouflaged so an unknowing elephant, or other large animal, will walk on it and fall in) but I make a metal note to warn Oana. A few years ago I had left a floor hatch open in the galley after I had been looking at the fridge compressors, and despite the hole only being about 25 x 25cm, Oana managed to fall down it with both her legs, badly cutting her foot, grazing her legs and leaving her in total shock. So I try to warn her about such potential traps these days.

To take a break from the hatch I go back inside and remove the fridge door. There is mold all around the seal which needs to be cleaned off. The swim platform is always the best place for this, so I leave the cabin with fridge door in hand and head to the back of the boat… can you see it coming right? Yes, I walked straight over my own elephant trap and down I go, 3ft (1m) into the locker ☹ And at the same time the fridge door goes flying over the transom into the sea. So there I am, crumpled in the locker not knowing where the door had gone. Then I poke my head up and see it floating away in the current. Right at that moment I don’t care what I’ve cut or broken, I just need to get that door. Clothes are stripped off and in I dive, while I can still see it.
Long story short, I was very stupid and clumsy as usual, but luckily unhurt other than a cut on one toe and bruised on another. Well, at least the door got a good pre-wash soaking, and I get down to scrubbing off the mold before going back inside for a shower and make my confession to Oana. I tell her that she should start lining up the institution for me sooner than expected, because surely, I’m already losing my marbles!

While the fridge door is drying in the sun, I get on with the hatch sealing strip. The new glue is really good, and I soon have it firmly in place and the hatch screwed back on. I then climb into the locker (on purpose this time) and shut hatch to see if I can observe any rays of light coming through where the new sealing strip is. Pleased to say there was no light and also pleased to report I managed to get back out the locker without locking myself in!

Then it’s onto the fridge. I decide to go drastic this time and completely cut off the old magnetic seal on the door and replace it with the same type of rubber sealing strip I just used for the hatch. This gets put in place, using the same 3M glue, where I just cut off the old one. Then inside the fridge itself I use grey vinyl wrap to cover the offending rusting strip. The fridge door is then remounted onto its outer teak door, and I check the new seal will be forced tight against the fridge. It looks good, so the hinges of the teak door get screwed back in place and I test the seal again. This time, using a tip given me by another fellow HR owner (thanks Paul): I insert strips of paper around the door to check they are “grabbed” by the seal. All good. None of the paper could be removed with the door closed. That should mean the new seal is being forced against the new grey vinyl around the fridge opening.
I have to say, I’m quite enjoying this new skill of vinyl wrapping. It has now been used for a multitude of cover-up jobs on Cloudy Bay. The blue strip on the hull and around the cockpit, the cracking and yellowing mounts below the deck clutches, chrome vinyl circles on the chromed through hulls (where chrome plate had long ago vanished) … and all sorts of other beautification uses. Maybe I should go into the vinyl wrap business!

With the tools cleaned up there is just enough time in the rest of the evening to relax a little before bed.
Tomorrow the wind should drop enough for us to get into town and do some shopping. Then we have to pick our day to depart to Mexico.

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Gary Stephens January 10, 2022 - 5:43 pm

I continue to enjoy all of your updates and especially your maintenance projects, Boat Maintenance Part 5 was very entertaining! Looking forward to Part 6 in due time knowing how much work is involved in producing them. Thanks Glen! With that being said, I do look forward to following your sail to Mexico (via Cuba?) which is why you are active sailors and not static live a-boards. I sensed there was no “boat envy” in Key West Glen! Stay well and safe.

Niall Rath January 12, 2022 - 8:18 pm

Hi Glen
Grateful if you could send links to the parasail episodes

Warren Dahlstrom January 13, 2022 - 11:03 am

Glen you have a future in comedy. Yes, I saw it coming yet it was still a surprise when it happened to you. What a visual! Thank you. Vinyl wrap? Post pictures please I cannot quite imagine what this looks like

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