So at this point, SV Rad Mode is just about ready to wear her beautiful, completely refurbished, stainless steel bowsprit. But first, the sampson posts and forward bulkhead need to be installed. Part one here is going to cover our prep for the sampson post and bulkhead installation along with other considerations made during this part of the work.
First, for you non-sailor readers, here’s a brief explanation of some of the parts I talk about in this post.
Bowsprit – A horizontal beam that goes from the bow forward over the water. It’s used to ram other ships at sea before you terrorize their crew, put them in chains, and send their ship to the bottom. It can also be used to increase your sail area since you can pull an additional sail up over it.
Sampson Post – These are horizontal wooden posts that go down through the deck and are attached to bulkheads. The bowsprit is bolted through the sampson posts. They are basically used to reinforce the bowsprit, which harnesses extreme forces on it whether you are ramming someone or flying a sail over it.
Bulkhead – This is basically a wall in a boat, typically constructed of marine grade plywood, that connects the deck, both sides of the hull, and the keel. It helps make the boat more stable and reduces flex in the fiberglass hull and deck while under sail and being beaten by waves.
After weeks of battling weather, long visits to the Pacific Northwest, and other time-sucking setbacks, we are finally ready to git dat bowsprit on. SV Rad Mode, being an unfinished kit boat Westsail 32, the sampson posts were never installed on her so fitting these for installation was the first order of business.
I started by ripping a hastily installed wooden cleat from above the cutouts for the sampson posts. I’d never seen under this old and polysulfide-covered piece of plywood but after cutting off some decent sized bolts and doing a little work with the prybar, I could see that the sampson post cutouts were indeed cut out. Sweet! But were they done right?
It was certainly exciting to walk over to the cutouts with the posts and try the fit. One hole was perfect and the other was a little too thin. Good. When it comes to dealing with holes of all kinds, I’d rather they be too small instead of too big. It’s always more fun that way. Anyways, I grabbed our Dremel and with a sanding bit, widened it up slightly. I’ve learned that for me at least, it’s far better if I do less sanding than I think is needed and then fit things again to make sure I don’t remove too much material. That’s what I did here and after one run with the Dremel, the second post fit perfectly.
Now to check the inside…
Thinks weren’t looking as hot down below. The previous owner of Rad Mode did great work but in certain places, he built some temporary guides with the intention of removing things later after installing other parts. Life, of course, owned his boat world and he just never got back to work on her. The bow just under the sampson posts is one of these places and it was very clear that some penetrating epoxy would be needed before the posts and bulkhead were installed. No problem. It’s supposed to be 70 degrees tomorrow.
I gave the parts to be epoxied over a good scrubbing with acetone in preparation for tomorrows epoxy addition. I’ll end up hitting it again real fast in the morning with some more acetone but I prefer that most of the clean up work be done the night before.
After cleaning inside the bow, both were the sampson posts will be seated and the hull all along where the bulkhead will be fiberglass taped to it, one more time, I seated the posts and went down below to check things out and have the wife weigh in. Two minds are better than one and although we almost always see things the same way, she always brightens my day with at least one smart-ass comment while talking over things. Things would not be any different today.
Looking at the posts seated where they would be permanently installed, I tried to think through our other plans for the bow and any other considerations I may need to make before moving along with the more permanent end of this installation.
Several things came to mind. First, I need to be able to install the PVC tube for the bow
anchor chain. This seems like a simple task to me but upon examination of the bow, I realized that the were I to hole saw down through the horizontal bulkhead on the bow side of the bulkhead I need to install, that I would have no access to that part of the boat. Access would have to be made and that meant changing things beneath the V-berth bed on Rad Mode. So be it. Our goal was to get the anchor chain as low in the boat as we could as was reasonable. Amid rumors of hobby-horsing with a lot of weight high in the bow, we just decided that since we are pretty much starting from the beginning that we need to just get it right from the get go.
Also, that brings to mind one of the most awesome aspects of owning a Westsail 32…the online community. The information age, of course, has given all of us a vast resource of knowledge that, otherwise, would not be accessible to us. I could probably say that I would already be or soon be dead were it not for the online community. Thank you, People of the Internet, for saving my life. The Westsail internet community has been an awesome resource for my wife and I. I honestly can’t imagine being able to take on challenges like this without all of the online knowledge and help we’ve received.
Back to the boat…the decision was quick but doesn’t feel hasty. We needed to have access to that forward part of the bow. Things would be rearranged a bit beneath the V-berth but that could be done after the bulkhead installation. No stop work order was issued and we could continue with the bowsprit installation.
Another consideration we made was how we would use the space forward of the V-berth bulkhead we were going to install. We decided that having an extra deep cycle there to power a windlass along with some book storage would probably be the way we’ll go but that confirmed that nothing else needed to be done before proceeding.
My wife got right to cleaning the bulkhead for it’s close-at-hand installation as I thought over the next steps of this install and what we had to do to prepare. The sampson posts
had three holes in each that needed to be drilled and epoxied. The area underneath them needed to be treated with penetrating epoxy along with both holes through the deck. There was some gelcoat repair that had to happen before the bowsprit was permanently installed. That would be new for me but nonetheless, had to be done because it would be too hard to reach it later. The stainless bowsprit needs a but more work to shine that sucker up and believe me, I intend for it to shine. There would be three other holes drilled in the deck to through-bolt the bowsprit down. Those would also need epoxy.
I’m excited to continue sharing this project as it progresses and please, feel free to point out any other things I need to be concerned about during this process. Also, this will be covered shortly in an Episode video of ours when I get around to editing this film. If you like what we are doing, please subscribe to our Youtube channel for updates regarding our videos.
Thanks for all of your internet help and advice and stay tuned for Part 2! It should be up in a day or two.