Over the last 18 months or so during periods of heavy and prolonged rainfall we noticed that a few of our windows were beginning to leak. Symptoms were:
The window channel on the rear cabin filled with water but there was no clue as to where is was coming from! We had tried a thin bead of clear sealant on the outer frame but to no avail....
Small pools of water at the bottom of each front windscreen, where a small gap had appeared between the ends of the window rubber.
We were missing several exterior rain shields which had been glued/bonded to the outer frame but had worn loose and fallen off over the years....
The plastic film on the bathroom window needed replacing as did the window seals between the moving pains. No water was coming in but it was getting very tatty!
The glass in one of our front cabin windows was delaminating and the resultant "bubble was getting ever bigger.
The sliding cabin windows and seals were very worn, stiff to operate and loose within the channels.
A small pool of water under the galley window. While checking for sources of leaks we noticed that the inner cabin skin (underneath it's formica trim) was very wet and alarmingly soft! - This was the job clincher as we didn't want any rot spreading from a relatively easily fixable root cause....
Our thoughts then moved to fixing the problems and included:
The number of rusty/damaged screw heads on each of the window frames. Many of these would probably need drilling out...
The logistics of doing all 6 major window panels whilst attached to our home mooring during the shorter/colder/wetter winter days,
The need to keep the boat weatherproof/watertight while work was in progress once the window frames and glass had been removed.
The need to source and obtain all of the relevant seals, mouldings, replacement glass and other items required to complete the task ( - there are no "spares" lists or obvious single source suppliers available!)
The need to remove, replace and re-cover the inner skin of the galley window surround, which due to it's size wouldn't fit in (or on) my car. The large original panel needed an equally large and accurately made replacement that fully aligned with the frame on both sides! The same again was needed for the formica (or other) covering for the inner skin, based on what could be sourced....
There might be other damp/rot exposed once the frames and/or panels had been stripped down....
For these reasons we decided to have the work done professionally subject to suitable estimates for both time and cost etc. Having long admired several lovingly restored/renovated classic "woodies" (both "stinkies" and "sailies") as we pass by Belaugh Boatyard on our way to/from Wroxham we discussed our needs in depth with Gerry at Belaugh Boatyard.
Gerry recommended Dan Sims as a window repair/renovation specialist which was fine by us, as Dan was also one of the two specialists recommended to us quite independently elsewhere.
The inner panel replacement was a quite straight forward task for Belaugh Boatyard and fortunately for us they have acquired a large stock of Formica panels and had an exact match/replacement for the one used on Free Spirit!
Dan took us through his detailed assessment of the problems/probable root causes of the various leaks and outlined the detailed disassembly and rebuild of each window set, replacing any/all worn parts including metal work, catches, fixing and of course seals and rubber channels.
He also outlined how he would keep the boat water tight while he took each window set away one at a time to work on in his own workshop. Based on that discussion we agreed the cost of the jobs and scheduled the work for a couple of months ahead. The complete job would take around 2 weeks elapsed time.
A week before the agreed start date, Gerry called us to confirm the kick off and to arrange collection of Free Spirit from our moorings at Coltishall and transfer to Belaugh.
Over the next two weeks we were sent regular progress reports and the images included here showing the extents of water damage and progress being made.
Fortunately for us October was a relatively dry and mild month and the scheduled work all went according to plan.
Bang on our timescale and cost schedules, our boat was returned to it's home moorings in time for a really heavy couple of days worth of wind and rain which verified all leaks were now fixed! We are very pleased with all works completed - our windows are now fully water tight, open, close and lock very easily and all run very smoothly in the new rubber channels and seals.
We are happy to share our experience of working with both Belaugh Boatyard and Dan Sims with any club members considering similar work....