Avoid drilling holes in your boat

Ocean Navigator|May/June 2020

Avoid drilling holes in your boat
Once I settled on a Tayana 37 pilothouse boat as my choice to allow me to tick off the primary item on my bucket list (circumnavigation), I set out to find a suitable used boat.
John Lewis

John Lewis calls his nav station “Dual Lock central,” after using it to attach so many items, such as the holster for the autopilot remote and two small digital clocks.

At the time, I was not able to find any boats on the market that did not have teak decks, and by the time I factored in the cost of removing a teak deck from a used boat, I was right up against the cost of a new boat. So, for the first time in my life, I bought a brand-new boat.

This brought with it emotional issues that I had not planned on. All my previous boats had come to me with a few scars that reflected on the modifications of the previous owner(s), as well as those of a few docking indiscretions.

So, I did not feel like I would be doing much damage when I drilled the holes I needed to install new gear.

But my Tayana 37, Active Transport, was delivered in pristine condition, and I had a real problem picking up my drill and making holes.

That’s when I started trying to find ways to install things belowdecks that did not require drilling holes. I’ll discuss a few examples to illustrate the major categories of solutions I have come up with and leave it to you to figure out the details for your boat. I have also used one of these solutions above deck, though never for mission-critical gear. Every-thing that takes any kind of load is always through-bolted.

Drilling holes in teak was traumatic enough, but at least those holes are easy to repair with teak plugs. The real problem, for me, was drilling into the white plastic parts of the ceiling and overhead, where a cosmetically invisible repair was much harder to pull off. Besides the benefit of avoiding the trauma associated with drilling holes in my boat, I think I have also done a lot to preserve value for when the day comes to sell it.

Hole-free attachment alternatives also give me the freedom to try positioning things where I want them without overthinking it. If I change my mind, it’s not a big deal if I have not drilled any holes.

There have been situations where hole-free options would not be adequate. The 32-inch TV is securely attached to a bulkhead, for example. But my rough estimate is that I have avoided drilling at least 100 holes in the cabin of my boat during the 17 years I’ve owned it.

Port blinds

I needed some way to prevent sunlight from shining directly on the varnished surfaces and to provide privacy when at a dock, but drilling holes to mount curtain rods and having custom curtains made did not really do it for me.

I discovered a new product (new in 2003, that is) that was called “peek-a-boo shutters,” made by Zarcor. The name seemed dumb, and the company eventually changed the name to CloZures.

CloZures are attached to the glass of the ports using round dots of 3M Dual Lock tape (more about this miracle material later). The CloZures consist of two pieces of thin polycarbonate, one of which is attached to the glass while the other slides back and forth to open or close the shutters. Vertical bands of paint are silk-screened onto the polycarbonate. When the bands line up on top of each other, you can see out; when the inner piece of polycarbonate is slid so the bands are side by side, you cannot see through them.

3M Dual Lock tape connects with itself — no need to worry about hooks and loops.

At first, looking through the shutters seems like looking out through the bars of a jail cell, and the photos make this look worse than it really is. Your brain quickly learns to ignore the vertical bands when you are looking out through the ports.

The CloZures vertical blinds John Lewis installed on his boat, shown closed in the top image and open on the bottom.

My CloZures have been in place for about 17 years and show no signs of needing to be retired. I have replaced the tiny nylon rivets that hold them together due to sun damage, and I occasionally take them off the ports so I can clean the glass, but otherwise they have been maintenance-free. Most of them are still attached with the original 3M Dual Lock dots. Zarcor sells all the replacement parts.

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May/June 2020