Port Leak Repair

Late one dark and stormy night, Rick is in the saloon reading and a drop of water hits him on the head. Oh, no this is not good. He forms a drip-catcher out of aluminum foil and paper towels.

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The next day, Rick removes covering boards and carefully examines the wood underneath with a flashlight. He locates first one source; A leaky port he thought he had fixed in Ensenada. And then after further close inspection, more moisture trails from all four (4) ports on the starboard side.

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He knows when things dry out there is a lot of work ahead of us.

The first step is removing the exterior bronze port frame.

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Rick first removes the screws. Next, he, using a hammer, gently forces a metal putty knife behind the frame cutting the old 3M 5200 away from the house side and the port ring. He goes slowly so he does not bend the frame in the process or unduly mar the fiberglass and gelcoat on the house side.

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Once the frame is off we see old dried up, loose caulk, clumps of resin used to install the ports when they were originally installed, and large voids around the porthole.

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When they cut the holes for the ports, they cut them too big. As a result, the empty areas around the ports are huge and difficult to fill and seal.

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Rick does some careful measuring of the existing holes and questioning of the current buider and discovers the original screws are too short to hold the frame securely. We need bronze, #12, 1-1/2″ Philips, Oval head screws. These are not available locally.

A search on the Internet reveals the only place we can get the right size and shape screw in a reasonable quantity (a 10,000 minimum order was considered a bit too many) is from Li Chun Industrial Corp., Taiwan. We place an order, make payment arrangements through our bank, and wait.

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We started the job when the weather was relatively cool (Feb/March). Due to all the “hoops” we needed to jump through, the screws arrive after summer arrives (July). Even though it is mid summer when the temperature is in the high 90’s and the humidity is often higher than the temperature, we work on the ports everyday until they are done. Because of the heat and humidity, we can only work a few hours in the morning. It takes “forever”!

Rick removes the port rings and cleans out the voids and Lynn cleans the frames with solvent and a bronze brush.

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It took a long time to get the screws from Taiwan to Mazatlan, Mexico. When we tested the job, we found we still had leaks.

We had made some mistakes and had to do the work over again. Mainly, we did not put enough caulk in the voids. In the end we have had to do all four (4) ports on the starboard side twice and one (1) of them three (3) times. It took us several months to completely reseal the ports. So far, our efforts have been successful. We have our fingers crossed that we remain successful.


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