The Great Flooring Project – The Destruction

One of the biggest projects we’ve been working on lately is our floors in the salon. When we first bought Chancelot, we assumed the plywood was rotting in a few spots and would need to be replaced. With a little one on the way, we knew we needed to get the project done ASAP as it would create quite a big mess and disruption in our living space.

Check out that precision you can get with the laser!

With a week off of work, Jason set out to start the project. Our floors are teak hardwood with holly strips inlaid in them and then epoxied to a layer of plywood. The goal was to separate the hardwood from the assumed rotted plywood so we didn’t have to spend thousands of dollars on new hardwood. The first step was cutting up the floor in different sections. Armed with our new Rockwell saw, Jason was able to cut the floor into different sections only as deep as the hardwood. He used masking tape to mark his cuts, and the laser on the saw helped him maintain a straight line while cutting. To separate the wood from the plywood Jason tried a few different approaches, but found the best success using a mallet and a metal yard stick to break up the 35 year old epoxy holding the layers together. In the end Jason was able to successfully save all of the hardwood! We’ll have to do a few spot replacements to certain sections that were water damaged or cut to accommodate the too-large-for-the-space new fuel tank, but overall a huge accomplishment!

Separating the hardwood from the plywood aboard our sailboat was a time consuming project.
A successful separation of the hardwood and plywood.
Water damaged 35-year-old plywood flooring underlayment aboard our Vagabond 42.
You can see just how rotted and water damaged the plywood underlayment truly was. It is a miracle we didn’t fall through the floors. WOW.

Once the floors were up, the next step was to remove the old fuel tank. The original tank was somewhat structural to the floor, so when the previous owner replaced it, he simply had a hole cut into it to fit the new tank. While this was good in theory, the old tanks slowly started to rust to brittle pieces as the metal was now exposed to air. So, with the new tank was removed, Jason had to cut up the old tank into pieces so it could be removed from the boat.

Old fuel tank in a Vagabond 42.
You can see remnants of the old fuel tanks on the left and right of this picture, with a hole in the center where the new, much smaller tank sits.
Cut up old fuel tanks pulled from a Vagabond 42.
Look at all that rust! Off to the dumpster for these nasty pieces of metal.
Cleaning the bilge of a Vagabond 42.
Scrub a dub dub! 35 years of grime is NAAASTY.

After the removal of the old tank, came the serious scrub down of the bilge. Jason was able to clean off 35 years of old grime. Look at all that space now that the old tanks are out of the way! For now we will be keeping our single fuel tank but will likely add another before we go cruising again. We will also be adding fiberglass boxes for dry storage alongside the tank. Any bilge water will run underneath the box. I’m having visions of my own little wine cellar – a girl can dream, right?

With the fuel tanks out, next up was to inspect our water tanks. Two of our three tanks were tucked into our bilge and we really couldn’t access them before. We knew at least one of them was leaking, but weren’t sure from where. The hope was that we’d be able to pressure wash the inside of the tanks to clean them up, and then weld the tanks to fix any of the leaks. However, we ran into a few problems. First was that the tanks appeared to be in MUCH worse shape than we expected, and we could only see in a small inspection hatch. There was so much rust inside. The second, more pressing issue, was that the tanks were too big to get out of the companion way. We tried every way we could to get it out but just couldn’t find a way to Tetris it out of the boat. Defeated, we landed on the fact that we were going to have to cut up the tanks and replace them with smaller tanks that could make up the 100 gallons of tankage. Sigh.

To begin to put our home back together, we added a few more support beams and then laid down temporary plywood. Before we can relay the permanent floors we need to glass in a few more support beams and we can’t do that for a couple more months. We need to wait until the water warms up a bit more and doesn’t create condensation inside the hull. To cover the plywood we picked up some remnant carpet from Home Depot and cut it to shape. The carpet really makes the boat feel homier while we’re in the middle of construction.

Stay tuned for part two of The Great Flooring Project, coming soon!

If you get the desire to tackle this project on your own boat, below is a list of the products and tools we used:

We wanted to send a HUGE Thank You to our friend Scott who helped Jason out with this project. He really couldn’t have done it without you.