Lessons from Scarborough

BCC 116 Zygote has now been in Scarborough Marina for 12 months. I think it’s the 10th marina to provide a berth for our home.

In the Chinese tradition, I expect to learn from about one in three of the people I meet. And never to stop learning.

So it has proven from meeting our fellow marina residents in Scarborough.

Here’re two gems of wisdom garnered from my past 12 months in Scarborough Marina. Each was a revelation to me, but they might both be stale news to you:

  1. Midas technique

For about $100 (depending on today’s price of gold), you can get one bronze portlight fitting, or one dorade cowl, plated with gold.

Gold-plated bronze looks like perfectly polished bronze. Without the polishing. In fact, since the gold plating is only a couple of atoms thin, it’s best to flush it with freshwater and never polish it.

Bronze wood screws and bolts can be gold-plated too!

  1. Preventing & terminating wood rot

Ethylene glycol is available from most automotive supply stores, sold either dilute or concentrated for use as antifreeze in coolant systems. The undiluted (concentrated) form comes in retail containers of around 2 litres, dyed a bright green color.

A spray bottle is the dispensing tool of choice. And the target is any timber which gets wet with freshwater and is a candidate for rot.

On Z, that includes:

  • the hull/deck join cover board, where the wooden blocks that support the bulwarks and the bases of the stanchions can trap a film of rainwater on top of the cover boards;
  • the timber around the galley sink that sometimes gets wet;
  • the timber around the head that sometimes gets wet; and
  • the platform on which the engine wet muffler sits that sometimes gets a dribble of hot water.

Ethylene glycol penetrates timber, going through all but the soundest coatings of paint and varnish, and seeks water. Ethylene glycol kills rot fungi and their spores, so it defeats and prevents rot. It does not seem to bleach or darken the timber noticeably (but the green dye might show up in very pale timber).

Wooden ships that have been recovered after hundreds of years of being submerged are soaked in ethylene glycol as part of the standard conservation technique (a waxier version, poly ethylene glycol is used after the timbers are soaked in ethylene glycol).

Timber soaked in ethylene glycol is similar to timber soaked in water: it expands and loses strength.

But a monthly spray will stop and prevent fungal rot.

The technique is simple. Spray ethylene glycol on any timber suspect of harboring or being prone to rot. Come back an hour or three later to check that all ethylene glycol has been absorbed. A splash of seawater washes away any excess.

Ethylene glycol is toxic (wood rot fungi, cats more than most animals). It breaks down in seawater. Take the usual precautions for handling dangerous chemicals. Wikipedia will tell you more.



Good info, thanks Bil. I’m experiencing that rot in the covering board issue right now. I was surprised at how little bedding compound there was under my stantions… A few of the bolt holes will be getting a little dutchman.