During the end of the hurricane season I had my old cloth bimini replaced with a fiberglass hardtop as I wrote about at the beginning of November. I love the new hardtop and the sliding hatch over the helm. I even got a LED strip which can blink, fade, or shine different colors and is a hit with guest. The one problem I have had with the switch is the old frame was not structurally meant for the 200 pounds or so of the new hardtop. If fact I am surprised the shipyard put the new top on without talking about reinforcing the framework.
This is where Bruce at Independent Boatyard came into the picture. He came out to look at the old frame a couple weeks ago and got an idea of what he would like to do. The problem was working within his, mine, and the work dock schedule. It turned out he called me on Wednesday and said Thursday was the day and could I be there at 8am. I had a charter starting Saturday at noon and knew I did not have much time, but I also did not want to lose this opportunity.
His assistant, Albert, and I ended up taking down half the ceiling panels on the boat to get access to the bottom of the deck. While Bruce was busy measuring and welding new structural pieces Albert and I replaced all the bolts and added hefty backing plates to replace the tiny washers used in the past.
It took a day and a half (plus me staying up until 1am running new wiring for the cockpit light), but at noon on Friday we finished. In addition to all the new bolts and backing plates Bruce added two poles to the back and two to the front (see the red circles in the 3rd photo). Plus he had to fix at least three of the old welds, which cracked due to the side to side movement the old frame allowed because it had no lateral support. If you have any welding you need to get done have him do it, because he is great and wonderful to work with.
The frame was now rock steady, but the boat looked like half the boatyard walked through it and the ceiling panels had hand prints all over them, plus I had to pick guest up in 24 hours. I called a wonderful lady to come clean the inside of the boat for me while I went to the store and provisioned for my guest. She was surprised by how dirty everything was, but she got to it and did an outstanding job. With her help I was able to take Friday night off and relax before I got up on Saturday morning and hammered out the deck scrubbing. I might have lost half my brush, but the boatyard dirt is all gone and the boat is ready for my next guest, which I hope you get to read about next week.