Hunter Marlow shipbuilders are on my shit list.
Our lovely clear decks are possible through a design not often seen on sailboats. Instead of running lines across the top of the decks like most boats, Hunter created a recessed channel across the cabin roof and put a cover over top.
It actually looks pretty slick, but as we have learned can hide issues.
We’ve always known that there was a leak somewhere around the base of the mast. It pretty much never rains in California, so it isn’t a big deal and is easy to ignore. Since we’re heading to climates where squalls and rain are part of daily life it seemed prudent to be proactive and try to find the source of the water.
I pulled all of the screws holding the two deck covers in place and lugged them out of the way. And that was when my day went to the dogs.
There is a steel bar that runs across the recessed channel holding the lines down flat so the cover can be flush and low on the deck. It takes enormous loads since most of the lines including the mainsheet, main halyard, reef lines, and jib halyard run under it. Granted, the bar doesn’t take the entire load of these lines, but I’d guess its at least 40%. The bar had pulled partway out and was hanging in place by only 2 of the 6 bolts meant to secure it.
So, source of leak found, but also source of massive new headache found as well. A quick trip downstairs confirmed that only 2 of the 6 bolts were accessible from below and sin upon sin were not through bolted. The center 2 could be seen when the main cabin light fixtures were removed, but the outside pairs were completely covered up by the fixed headliner. Through the light fixture hole I would see that there was just a thick layup of fiberglass and an embedded aluminum plate for the machine screws to grab. Obviously the plate had ripped out and left nothing for the screws to bite into.
I’m not a fan of this method, but it works well enough for the lifeline stanchions and grab rails on the deck. I was flabbergasted that Hunter used this light weight install for something so critical and carrying such a load.
Fortunately, we had Panda- a highly regarded bay area rigger coming out to look at a couple other things in the next few days so I decided to punt the problem to the professional.
Thank goodness for professional consults. Panda immediately understood the issue at hand and after just a few minutes had a solution. He installed hollow bolts with a wide pan head that the bolts from above threaded into, essentially squeezing the deck together and making a through bolted system. We will have to keep and eye on it to make sure the bolts hold up to the stresses and the headliner doesn’t crack, but it beats the heck out of what we had before. Thanks Panda!