I can See Clearly Now the Acrylic Plastic is Gone

Wednesday July 31, 2013


There has finally been a boat project (half) completed on Serndipity where we can actually see the results.  Not that our half varnished glossy interior isn’t an indication that things are getting done, but today we were able to complete something that Serendipity has been needing for a long, long time.

When we bought her, she came with deadlights (or non opening windows, in landlubber terms) made out of acrylic plastic, and the years had been taking a beating on them.  They were getting cracked, way beyond hazy, and no matter how many times we cleaned or polished or buffed them, it was only a matter of time before they went back to their previous state.  Perfect for when you’re in a marina where your neighbor can only see fuzzy outlines of what might be happening inside, but not very useful for the rest of the time you’re on the water and would actually like a clear picture of what is going on outside.  Which is, 90% of the time.

This is a project we had been back and forth about ever since we bought the boat, and almost took care of those months spent on the hard in St. Augustine, but due to the money we were hemorrhaging on other projects, we decided to hold off.  That is, until we were on Luis’ boat admiring his tempered glass.  They really were beautiful, custom made, and fit to perfection.  It was also then that we found out that he had actually had his glass replaced while in Guatemala, using a company based in Antigua.  The best part?  He mentioned that it was incredibly cheap.  We like incredibly cheap!

Long story short, he contacted this company on our behalf to get an estimate, we replied with measurements, and found out that we could replace all four of our deadlights for about $35.  Back in Florida, we were looking at close to $200.  Between a few phone calls, emails, one money order, and three weeks later, we were picking up our new windows from impact doors – Impact Glass USA, where they had been shipped to the local bus company.  Don’t ask me why, I do not know.  All I do know, is when we finally lugged the crate from town back to the docks, Matt was like a kid in a candy store while opening it up.  All in all, our new package included the two starboard side deadlights we had popped out and initially shipped in for a perfect match on sizing, four new deadlights, and three tubes of Dow Corning 795 to seal the new windows to the boat.

7.30.13 (1)

 Now I don’t feel as bad when I misspell a foreign name.

7.30.13 (2)

7.30.13 (3)

“Oooooh!  Gimme, gimme, gimme, gimme!”

7.30.13 (4)

Oh my god, you can actually see through it.

Since our old glass was already out on the starboard side, we wanted to work as quickly as possible to get the new glass in.  The same afternoon we were picking up the package, we were able to position the new deadlights into place using a few screws on the outside of the boat (they didn’t go through the glass, but were placed below the glass for it to sit upon, and above to keep it in position).  Matt took a tube of the Dow 795 and ran it along the edge of where the glass met the inside of the boat, and as he ran back out on deck to keep it in place, I took a plastic blade, smoothing out the edge, and then cleaned up any smudges with mineral solvent.  Of which, there were plenty.

That part needed to set overnight (or approximately 12 hours) before we could do the outside, so we thought we’d wake up with the sun to finish the starboard side completely.  Typical reaction as the alarm clock went off at 6:00, we hit the snooze for another three hours of sleep.  When we did wake up, the sun was baking and we were not looking forward to sitting out in it, even for an hour.  Working as a team again, we had the plan that I would work the caulk gun, and before the sealant had any chance of hardening up in the heat of the day and become tacky, even in the two or three minutes it would take for me to go all the way around, Matt would be following right behind me with the plastic blade to smooth out the edges.  These did not have pretty frames to cover up imperfections like the interior, so the calk needed to be even and precise.

For the most part we did really well, I’d create a steady bead of sealant coming out, and Matt would be six inches behind with the blade, smoothing it down to perfection.  The first deadlight was a little iffy (editors note: we ended up ripping out and redoing that one), but the second one was as close to perfection as the two of us were going to get.  There was one ‘oh shit’ moment on the second window where we were cleaning up after a few smudges with the mineral solvent, and a finger indented the freshly laid caulk.  Luckily, another squirt of 750 and some magic finger work from me had it 95% smoothed out again.  As we always like to say to each other when something didn’t go exactly as we had wanted, “It’s good enough for who it’s for”.

Since we were only able to get three tubes of the Dow Corning 795, and we expect that we’ll need 4-5 to properly do all windows, the port side will be held off on until we can do some shopping in the States and pick up a few more tubes.

7.30.13 (5)

 Old acrylic plastic.  Can’t. See. S#%t.

7.30.13 (6)

 New tempered glass.  It’s like….looking through glass!

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