Dorade Boxes

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Back to Home ... Projects ... s/v Stella Blue home

To the left, you can see one of my forward dorade boxes, looking up
from the main cabin with the headliner removed.
You can see the base of the cowl through the 4" PVC pipe.
That negates the whole Dorade Box concept. Water drips down the forward edge of the cowl and into the boat. It only happens when lots of water enters the cowl, but I want to be able to take water over the bow or a serious rain storm.

Also, the polycarbonate tops are filthy and crazed.
I don't see any point in having light coming in
so I'm going to replace the tops.

In 2001 I made
Sunbrella covers
for them
( which stay put even while sailing) so nobody knows what the boxes look like.

October 2002 -- Dorade boxes are named after the yacht 'Dorade',
which was designed and sailed by Mr. Olin Stephens.
The C&C Landfall 38 has FOUR of them. Ventilation is not a problem on this boat.
Mine need a little improvement, though.

I had planned to just remove the bolts from underneath,
pop the boxes off and take them home
and seriously refinish them.
These boxes are not coming off the boat
without destroying them.

I tried.

It looked like Silicone, and I figured once it got going
it would pop off. I tried to hammer a sharp putty knife,
but it was *way* too much work and it looked like if I pushed too hard I'd create damage. There's a point of no return, where you
try too hard to do something and can't back out,
and this job just wasn't worth pushing it.
I stuck an 8" long 3/8" bolt through the drains, and tried to winch it up with a spare halyard (it worked with the mast collar.)
No movement, though I didn't push too hard since
this isn't worth screwing up my masthead...
The Dorade boxes sit on a raised area of the deck that isn't cored, so I don't need to examine for water damage.
Fine. They're staying put, and I'll refinish them on the boat.

I found these PVC pipe fittings at Home Depot. They'll move the air flow forward 1.5 inches, which is all that's needed.

The forward boxes were a tight fit, and I broke the PVC on one of them. No big deal. They're held in place with a dab of epoxy putty, which I also used to seal the little openings on the edges. Might as well.

The 'dam' on the forward boxes also seemed a little high, so I used my Handy Dremel Tool to sand it down a bit.
This new setup will constrict the air flow a bit,
but I want to eliminate leaks.

I sanded them down, but left a lip to keep any splashes from working down into the boat. The forward boxes have a higher lip, since they're more prone to let water in.

The aft boxes (below) are much simpler.

Here's looking up from underneath, with the new tops on.
The space for air flow is about an inch wide.
This probably reduces the air flow a bit, but in truth
a *bunch* of air is still coming through the vent. I think the shape of the cowl creates positive air pressure inside the box that overcomes the restriction of the smaller opening.

And I can take a hose and blast straight into the cowl
without getting a drop in the boat.

The new tops are made of Starboard. It's the perfect material for the job, and the Seafoam color is remarkably close to the gelcoat on my deck. I didn't caulk them down yet, because the boxes need a finish.

The Sunbrella covers don't fit any more, because the Starboard is a little thicker than the old Lexan tops.

I think it would look really nice to paint them the same
Interlux Ocean Blue as the fiberglass strip I used
to hide the scars from the old
self-tending jib track.

The purist in me
shudders a the thought of painting my teak.
We'll see.

By the way, the cowls themselves are painted with
Quick Dry Rust-O-Leum
spray paint. After wiping them clean with Acetone, I sprayed them. The Quick Dry spray formula contains some serious solvents, and after 2 years
looks as good as
the day they were painted.

After six years,
the paint is starting to wear off,
and I might repaint them.

2002 -- Finally, there is nothing left on the cabin top to replace or rebed,
and I can put the rest of the headliner back on!
It's been over a year for the main cabin...

Update August 2005 --

Three years ago I had an on-line poll on this page about the paint vs. varnish question. Actually, I ignored the results and decided to paint the damn things to match all the other painted parts on deck.

But I put it off, since the sunbrella covers worked fine and I never took them off, even when sailing.
But earlier this year I caught a sheet around a box
and a sunbrella cover went overboard.

That was a sign to deal with it, and I painted them with Interlux Ocean Blue, just like all the other painted parts on deck. It looks just fine.

They look great,
and it was the right thing to do.

I don't have time to refinish deck teak.

The toe rails are enough.