Wednesday 24 October 2012

Low-Buck Long Term Review: Hits and Misses, Part 1

"Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose."
                                   -Carole King

    I don't like only getting half the story.

    In today's society of 24 hour news cycles, instant information, infotainment and  in for a dime, in for a dollar infomercials shilling miracles for four easy payments, we are all easily enticed by the claims....

....but the results?  That's the other half of the story we rarely get.

   And I have been just as guilty as Ron Popeil.

   See, I've merrily bragged informed you of all of the low-buck work that I have done and the low-buck gear that I have purchased...

....  but, largely,  didn't let you know how well the aforementioned has performed.

 It's time to pull back the curtain and write the other half of the story.  In no particular order, here's the low-buck low-down.

Quack's  floor:



   The retrofitted plywood floor started to delaminate at the edges within two months of  it's May installation.  By the end of September, it was seriously compromised.  I can't fault the materials however- this miss is strictly user error.  I rushed and cut corners and, as it always does, it bit me in the butt.  I scrimped on the epoxy coating, and then scrimped again on the varnish topcoat schedule, and then further scrimped by not properly drilling and potting the hardware.  This winter, I will find the time to do it right.

   Moral of the story:  If you haven't got the time and/or money to do it right, you will have to make the time and/or money to do it again.

Cockpit table:


   Five seasons on, it is still doing it's job, with no deterioration of function and only mild weathering of appearance.  The table has only needed to be revarnished once, while the brackets have been recoated twice.

V-berth hatch awning:

(qualified) HIT

     It has faded, and needed some restitching, but the hatch tent has done it's job in all weather.  Preventing this project from being an unqualified hit is the stitching failure, but, again, this is a human error issue not a material problem.  The solution is to restitch with better, UV-resistant, outdoor type, thread.

Cockpit grate:

Big HIT.

   It has darkened, but has not failed. No broken slats, no peeling finish, no issues at all.  Has been revarnished once in four seasons.

$2 PV LED insect trap:

    Unbloggable MISS

  This thing was so useless I didn't even bother writing about it.  Allegedly an  LED insect trap powered by a photovoltaic cell, it failed to attract more than a handful of insects on both Whiskeyjack  and Ed's Siren, after I passed it onto him, thinking he may have better luck. It was only a $2 investment, but that's $2 that would have been better spent on citronella candles or mosquito coils.




  Three seasons on, the davits show no delamination, no failure, and are happy supporting the new solar panel in high fall winds.

Saloon, v-berth and galley upgrades:

The flurry of woodworking documented in  low-buck Sunday  has held up well over two seasons, even if one project was repurposed.

The spice rack became a binocular rack instead, and has performed admirably in it's unintended role.

    The dinghy, Chirp:


Four seasons on, she has weathered, but not failed.  As seen above, she will finally need some significant refinishing this winter, but considering the materials used and the inexperience of the builder, I am pleased that she has held up as well as she has.  Unfortunately, although Chirp met and even exceeded her design brief, she proved to be unsuitable as a Dock and swim-ladder- boarded dinghy.  Chirp proved to be an excellent straight tracking beach-launched rowing and light outboard  dory, but she was a handful to board otherwise, prone to tipping would-be occupants into the drink.

More to come.

"Talk the Dock!"


  1. Nice job. That cockpit grate looks good.

  2. The problem with the floor in Quack is further exacerbated by the constant immersion in water as a result of rain totally immersing the plywood in water. So far the score is overwhelmingly to the good. Pretty good odds for those projects.
    I can't wait for you to install the solar powered projector for sail-in movies next summer.

    1. Thanks for the write-up! You're better than Ron Popeil.

    2. Quacks floor could have been made with some chain sawed sections of your donor boat's fiberglass decks.
      Plywood is a poor choice of materials for use in a wet environment. G10 would be great but is wildly expensive.

      Make your own G10 out of scraps of boats that have given their all.

      Next I'll be advocating to make your own blocks for $2 a piece.

      Caleb D.