06 February 2008 | Isla Margarita
Today was our prep for departure day. We had Juan working on our clearance out with my Parents being added to the crew list. The women went off shopping. Dad and I were left onboard to get the rack installed and pick up the water sports gear from El Yaque.
The rack was designed to mount up under our hard bimini. The backing plates that go on the roof were designed to match the existing SF50 plates which have captive nuts. This is where the nuts are welded to the backing plate bottom so that only the shiny polished plate shows on deck.
If I were to do this again I would not go this route. Having the captive nuts forces you to carve out a lot more of you strong fiberglass upper skin so that the nuts can sit down in the laminate leaving the plate flush. Also welding the nuts on can mess up the threads requiring you to re-cut them and it is hard to get everything lined up perfectly. The harshest bit is the fact that the bolts then need to be the exact right length to come up from below and seat into the nuts tightly without bottoming out. This inevitably means you need to cut the bolts.
You can not file bolts down. At least I can't. I mean you can but it ruins the threads and the bolts need to be hand repaired with a sharp triangular file. If you need to take a lot off you have to cut them. A grinder with a cutting blade works great for this but it is fairly dangerous unless you are very careful.
After a gallant effort, Hideko, my Dad and I got the rack up but it was a ways from complete. We could only find 302 stainless bolts in Margarita so those would all need to be replaced with 316. Until that was done we couldn't finalize the install and caulk everything with 5200. I was nice to see the rack up there and have it out of the way. It was going to be perfect when it was finally done.
In the mean time we tied the wind surfer up in the dink and put the rest of the gear in the garage (the Starboard aft cabin). We were set to sail for Tortuga on the morn.