Dorade Boxes and Cowl Vents

On Serenity, as with most sailboats, we have cowl vents to help get airflow into the cabin.  The vents swivel 360 so you can position them to grab the breeze.  Our cowl vents are stainless and sit on top of a dorade box.  The box is there to help minimize water getting into the cabin via the vent, and in case any water does come in, the boxes have an opening on the side so water may escape.  Our dorades are made of teak and of course they needed some TLC.  One needed some gakked up teak replaced and all needed the old varnish stripped off.

Dorade's and cowls on boat

Dorades and cowls on boat

I was looking forward to this project because unlike projects that require crawling around on the floor and sticking my arm in tiny places, this one involved wood, outdoors, the use of the heat gun, red paint, and pretty-fying Serenity.  Anything that involves pretty-fying I’m down for.

To replace the gakked up teak we got some new from Teak Hut in Sarasota (LOVE that place). Tim cut the new piece, then some planing, sanding, more planing, final sanding.  Et voila.  The piece fit perfectly.  Glue.  Clamp.  Done.  Mega kudo points for Tim for matching the grain direction.  My anal retentive self thanks you!

Now for stripping.  *cue bow chica wow wow music*  Fortunately we did this project on a day that was overcast and a little bit breezy so the warmth from the heat gun was delicious versus hellish.  What seemed to work the best: heat gun on high, about 4 inches away from the wood, some back and forth motion to get the wood and varnish hot, but not set it on fire, then use the scraper.  When done correctly the scraping action was easy and the varnish just flaked right off.  Heat.  Scrape.  Repeat.  Give it the once over with 120 grit sandpaper and those bad boys are ready for varnishing. Talk about satisfaction to watch the old varnish vanish and the nice teak emerge.  FYI – I love teak.  On top of being beautiful I’m pretty sure it has magical powers.

dorade boxes

Naked and still partially dressed dorade boxes.

Okay, so I have to admit, we’re stalling about doing the varnishing.  There seems to be a jillion different ways to varnish and a million different opinions and I don’t want to do it “wrong”.  Dumb, I know, because the dorade boxes are the perfect project to get our feet damp when it comes to varnishing.  I promise to post some pics and the process when we varnish the dorade boxes.

The cowl vents: these poor things were so pathetic looking.  We both spent an afternoon chipping and scraping and sanding and acetoneing to rid the vents of all traces of paint and gunk.  I taped off the openings and this is where my anal retentiveness served me well.  Taping something round using straight edged tape?  That’s a lot harder than it looks, yo.

Cowl vents-before and after scraping

Cowl vents-before and after scraping.
Ready for painting.

Lucky for me I had a “spray booth” in the form of an empty dock box.  I lined it with newspaper and got to spraying. Tip: make sure to cover the entire exterior of the vent with tape or newspaper because paint will magically leap onto the unprotected metal.  Arg!  I technically did just 2 coats of paint but I’m hoping with overlap and back and forth spraying it’s closer to 4 coats.

Ta-da!  Are they bright red?  Yessiree bob, but I like it.  Our color scheme will be navy canvas with cream colored decks and top sides and I think the red gives it a jaunty pop of color.

Cowl vent - shiny and new

Cowl vent – shiny and new

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