My Second Morgan Invasion, Mar. 2005

{{{My Second Morgan Invasion}}} {{By Bob Horan}} {{March 13, 2005}} {{{Part 1}}} The experience started on Thursday, the 14 th about 5:30, when I cranked up my antique 1972 Ford F250 4X4 and pulled up the street on my way to the 20 th Annual Morgan Invasion. It was smooth going until I heard a loud bang while passing a semi tractor trailer 10 miles north of Cordele, GA. I could see no lost tread from the semi, so I decided I should pull over to check my rig. By the time I had gotten stopped, I knew it was my rig. Left rear tire on the truck shredded. Back on the road with the wimpy spare and headed to Wal-Mart for two new back tires, but their garage was closed and would not mount them. 20 miles down the road, I finally found a service station that would mount them for me. By 9:30 PM, I was on the road again. I had gotten 70 miles in 4 hours. It was time to get serious about driving. At 1:30AM, I stopped and rested near Ocala until about 7:00AM and then pressed on to arrive at the War Veterans Memorial Park boat ramp in St. Pete at about 10:00. Raising the mast and launching was smooth and I took my time getting everything ready for arriving at the Treasure Island Tennis & Yacht Club. Arriving at the Club, I was one of the first 24s to arrive. The evening was a mixture of good food and meeting sailors I had met last year plus the new faces of new Morgan Yacht owners. My daughter Linda arrived about 9:00Am on Saturday, and by then I had also recruited another couple from St. Augustine, FL. to be crew also. We would be a crew of four. Tom and Leslee also own a Morgan 24 and were happy to be able to sail on Linda Jean to gain the experience on a boat like theirs. With introductions completed, and race instructions in hand we pushed off from the dock following the fleet. The sea looked peaceful when we raised the sails and we soon decided we needed the 150% Jib up to sail well in the 8-10 kt. wind. When we arrived at the starting line to find we had up too much sail, with the wind blowing about 20. After changing sail and tacking back to the starting line we saw a Morgan 38, Tease, that had the top of their mast broken off. Nobody injured and no hull damage. The start for us followed shortly with us being on the wrong end of the starting line. We finally started 3-4 minutes late. The wind was blowing strong and we had our hands full. The rail was in the water a lot and we trailed behind the rest of the Morgan 24s. As we approached the last leg the waves were building up a lot and rounding the mark was a challenge. Now we were in some pretty bumpy seas and we could see one of the boats behind us was having trouble tacking on the mark, and the other Morgan 38 had lost a man overboard. They retrieved the man and came back in the race. We were on a port tack when we heard and felt the crack. I thought we might have broken a centerboard. Linda called back that the chain plate had pulled up on the port side. I pushed the tiller and Leslee let up on the jib. I let off on the main and told Tom and Linda to pull down the sails. I cranked up the motor and forced Linda Jean into the wind so they could get the sails down. We would be in serious trouble if the mast came down. With the sails down, I went inside to look at the damage. Not good. The chain plate fasteners had ripped apart the bulkhead and was being held from pulling thru the deck by the acorn nuts of the bolts. Back on deck I tied the outer shroud to the jib track using some small line. We motored in thru the 4-6 ft seas hoping we could get into some calmer water before the mast pulled the chain plate and the jib track up. I called the Race Committee boat on the VHF Radio to tell them we were withdrawing from the race. After we motored thru John’s pass we all relaxed a bit, as we broke out the snacks and drinks, since we had been too busy out there to do much of that. Back at the dock we surveyed the damage a little closer to find that the starboard chain plate was also starting to show signs of fatigue. Linda Jean would need some serious repair or replacement of the main bulkhead. The good part of this is that the mast did not fall, no one was injured, and the cost of repair will be relativity low, but would take months to fix. We had dinner and then the awards ceremony started. We knew we would not get any trophies for the race but wanted to see who did them in the 4 classes. During the awards, Linda Jean received the under 40, “Most Pristine and Innovative Morgan Yacht Award. Pristine Classic”. So we did go home with something. Many asked if I would return next year, and my reply was “ I will return to skipper one of my Morgan 24s next year for the 21 st Annual Morgan Invasion”. The return trip home was uneventful. Arriving home at 8:10 PM on Sunday evening after leaving the War Veterans Memorial Park at Noon. {{{Part 2}}} While I was at the 20th Annual Morgan Invasion, I asked a couple of people including Charlie Morgan, what I should consider in repairing the damage to the bulkhead which the chainplate connects to. I received a couple of suggestions. They were: 1: Replace the entire bulkhead. (Maybe sailing in a year) 2: Cut out the rotten wood, patch with wood/fiberglass and add a larger backing plate. (Maybe sailing in a month) After looking at the damage, I decided go with Charlie Morgan’s advice. I would do a wood/plywood patch and a larger backing plate but I would also extend the chainplate to approx 20” instead of the original 7 ”. (I wanted to be sailing a month) I started working on the repair by taking measurements of where the chainplate used to be on both the port and starboard sides. Then after borrowing a cutter from my son, I started cutting on the Formica that covered the port side bulkhead. The cutter was a carbide blade that had only short teeth but would cut even metal if needed. I cut a square of about 12” by 12” cutting out the wood , I tried to keep the edges straight. While I was cutting, the blade created a lot of smoke and dust and after only a short time I was required to put on a gas mask and eye protection to continue. After examination of the wood at the edges of the initial hole, I decided to try cutting a little more down the bulkhead thinking the wood was not too good yet. I cut almost 7 more inches down and found the wood to be very solid. With all solid wood showing I cleaned up the hole so I could put together a good plan. I cut out a cardboard piece to fit the hole and then started looking for some plywood to use for this project. From the local Lowes Home Improvement Store, I bought a sheet of pressure treated exterior plywood. Cutting out a piece that was roughly the same size as the cardboard one I got it ready for installing. I had decided to insert bolts into the good wood and use a sort of interlocking system with the plywood to make the patch tie in with the remaining original bulkhead. Using 5/16 X 3” stainless lag bolts, I inserted the bolts leaving about 1” showing yet. They were in tight in good wood and would hold a lot as long as they were tied in to the patch securely. Cutting T shaped slots in the plywood, I had the plywood ready to slide over the bolts. With the plywood ready, I started the fiberglass part of the patch. Putting in 3 layers of glass on the back side I glassed in the snug fitting plywood. Quickly, I mixed a batch of fiber strand enforced patch and filled in the holes and tried to level out the patch so the cloth and resin would be easy to lay in. The patch was still setting up when I started putting resin and the first layer of cloth on the front side. Using larger pieces of cloth each time, I put on 5-6 layers of cloth with the final 4 layers being large enough to be glassed to the to the hull. Now it was time for a little more patch to fill in enough to make the patch smooth so I could make it ready for the paint and connecting the chainplate extensions and the 20 inch backing plates. After some sanding and more filling, I finally had the patch smooth enough. I painted the patch trying to match the color of white already on the bulkhead. I had ordered a couple of 3ft anodized aluminum bars from McMaster Carr, that were 2” by 3/8” thick. While the paint was drying I cut the 3/8”anodized aluminum bar so that I would have a 20” backing plate and enough for the front to overlap the existing chainplate. I lined up the top hole in the chainplate extension with the bottom, hole in the chainplate and drilled the first hole so it would tie into the chainplate and then extend downward to match up with the 20” backing plate. Using a torch, I heated the aluminum bar so I could put a ” offset in it so it would bolt to the chainplate and then bolt flush to the bulkhead. With the chainplate extension & backing plate drilled, I mounted and through bolted them onto the repaired bulkhead. With the chainplate firmly in place it was time to seal around the chainplate on the deck and clean up the boat. The starboard side also looked like it might have some rotten wood but after cutting away the Formica, I found solid wood, so I just fiberglassed over the wood to smooth it up with the Formica and installed an extended chainplate and backing plate to match the new port side hardware. The two repairs look exceptionally strong, with the six ” bolts connecting the chainplate/extension with the 20” backing plate. It maybe an overkill, but I will never worry about having a problem with the chainplate again under normal sailing conditions. Total cost including the plywood, aluminum straps, 12 bolts, resin, cloth, filler, & lag bolts came to $171.40. Labor came to about 35 hours. For a failure of this type, I came out pretty good on the cost part of it.