In addition to leaking, the thin acrylic was scratched, fogged, and badly crazed. It was like looking out through a pillow case, not a window. Without having any idea of the quest to follow, I added yet another item to my exponentially growing to-do spreadsheet.
My first goal was to simply stop the major leaks. I could see that the sealant under the heavily-oxidized aluminum frames had long since dried up and given up its post. This seemed like a pretty simple task, and as such it was promoted to the top of the to-do entries. Now, at this point in the story I have been a sailor for a few weeks. I knew very little about anything, let alone the mysterious world of boat goops. So, I did what any new guy would do, and went down to West Marine to ask for advice. <Author smacks himself on forehead>.
In all fairness, the advice I was given worked somewhat well. The salesperson sent me along with a tube of Boat Life Life Seal silicone / polyurethane sealant. I removed the frames, cleaned everything up as best I knew how at the time, and gooped them back in place. I made a bit of a mess in the process, and unfortunately hadn't been aware of how good an idea it is to lay down tape before using goop. Ahh, leassons learned indeed.
The fresh seal job eliminated about 90% of the water ingress that ports were responsible for, but after closer inspection I could see that the sealant and gasket which sealed the acrylic to the aluminum was in very bad shape. It was hopelessly cracked. I now knew that to really solve the problem I'd need to replace the acrylic and give it a fresh sealant as well. That would have to wait though, as I had a few more weeks of sailing to go.
Eventually, the season ended and Ravat was hauled out. Once I had a tarp in place I was able to un-waterproof her, and that eventually included the ports. One day while waiting for a round of epoxy laminate do kick I decided to unscrew all of the frames and bring them to a local glass shop for replacement. This was one job I though I could "out source" and save a little time. What a mistake that turned out to be.
<stay tuned - I'll finish this article soon...>
Placeholder for port replacement project...
3/8" Acrylic - machining, polishing
#10 x 1" fasteners
Dow Corning 795 vs. Sika - sika requires additional primer.