boat life Boat Projects DIY humor liveaboard sailing

If You Want Something Done Right…

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Jamie and I were eaten alive by mosquitoes while we were in the slip last summer. Jamie more so than I. In fact, Jamie was the local dining hotspot for the Marina Del Rey mosquitos population. Jamie woke up daily with new mosquito welts. I would wake up with bites, but I was like a mediocre restaurant that does well simply by being in proximity to a Michelin rated spot. I was definitely the mosquito B choice.  In an attempt to avoid malaria, west nile, and general discomfort I started a quest for screens for our windows.

You would think that being in the second largest manmade boat basin in the world there would be several places to obtain screens for boat windows. The truth is complicated. There are several people who advertise their services locally. They show pictures of past projects on their sites, and they profess to be the best in the business. Some of those folks even answer the phone when you call their number. None show up when they say they are going to. So, knowing that, we decided to skip the local “expert” route, and do the DIY thing.

Jamie, being more pleasing to the mosquito palate, took a keen interest in this project. She researched and purchased the best screen material for the job. She purchased enough to do all of our hatches, and the companionway. Our initial idea was to velcro in screen to the existing port light frames. Our prototype showed us that we were not going to have a ton of success, so we opted for wooden frames.

I wanted to build the best possible screen for the least amount of money so after some brainstorming we decided on bass wood planks from the craft store for our screen frames.

Jamie carefully measured and cut the bass wood planks. Once measured I used a dremel tool to cut out the pieces Jamie marked. Once the pieces were cut out, I spent several hours sanding them by hand. When I was satisfied with the sanding, I put a few layers of cabin top paint and started the process of stretching the screen in the frame.

I found that the easiest way to stretch the screen on the frame was to use file binder clips from Staples as clamps. After cutting out the wooden frames I took one half and laid the screen over it and clamped it in place using the binder clips. Once clamped I took the epoxy and spread it carefully where screen met wood. I let that sit while I spread epoxy on the other half of the frame, then joined both halves together and clamped them until the epoxy dried.

 

I alternated between painting pieces as I went, and painting the entire frame after it was assembled. Painting as I went became my preferred method. I used a cabin top paint from West Marine which required several coats. I didn’t have any primer laying around, and I didn’t want to make another trip to West Marine…but had I had primer, the painting would have been significantly less labor intensive.

The project was not terribly difficult, and it was nice to work together on this together. We spent a day cutting out, and making the parts and I tried to get two screens a day completed for this last week. The end results are pretty satisfying. Jamie and I did it ourselves, and at a very low cash expenditure.

 

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