Ah, the place from which all good things flow. Shabby’s kitchen has had a couple of makeovers since I brought her home, but it all started like most of her work – by ripping something out. I this case it, was removing the rotten counter around the sink. Somehow, the butcher block surface originally installed had delaminated.

Looks like someone left the swiveling spigot in the "RUIN WOOD" position...

Looks like someone left the swiveling spigot in the “RUIN WOOD” position…

First step was to carefully destroy counter until the seriousness of the illness was identified. I was pretty careful doing so, surgically removing bits and pieces thinking I could scarf in little fixes (this was before I adopted my ‘Oh fuck it, just rip it out‘ mantra when faced with the choice of figuring out how to fix something the builder did or doing it my way). As it turned out, not much could be saved so I took the easy route, exchanging the scalpel for the crowbar. In short time I’d ripped up the counter and saved myself some frustration.

I laid in a new piece of plywood that I “painted” with West epoxy to prevent future issues. The only challenge was shimming the counter to the level of the rest of the galley. Easy enough.

New waterproo-, uh, resistant counter top.

New waterproo-, uh, resistant counter top.

Too neat, so I customized the work area to feel more comfortable…

Easier to find stuff when I organize things!

Easier to find stuff when I organize things!

Actually, this was measuring sink position. Next step (relatively speaking, it was actually 100 steps later) was to cover the plywood in something attractive that chicks might find appropriate. Me, plywood’s fine and it would have had the added bonus of being able to see if anytning was amiss, but 1) not everyone is enthralled with Bare Pine, and 2) no project can be completed before its time. So off to visit the Shaboom Wing at Home Depot…

Ideas considered and discarded: Butcher block (yeah, who’s got time to make that?); laminate sheet (too 60’s); ready built home counter tops (underside is pressboard, which would be super thirsty – plus I would have had to run long lengths of ‘ready built’ through the table saw to cut it ‘Shaboom built’; zinc sheets reminiscent of my days hanging out in bars in Italy (which then reminded me of grappa, and there’s no need to remember that night again so that was out, plus it’s pricey as hell). In the end I settled on tile.

Having tiled a bathroom before, I wanted something that would fall to the will of cutting, which meant the usual ‘hard’ tile was out. Too brittle and time consuming. I settled on stone tile.

4" stone tiles easily cut with a Dremel cutting wheel.

4″ stone tiles easily cut with a Dremel cutting wheel.

The tile was remarkably easy to work with the cutting wheel of the Dremel. I bought a dozen extra tiles to replace any that I might break in the future through carelessly dropping tools and the like on them. Although I’ve since re-redone the galley, I still come across the odd tile when digging through the root cellar looking for other items. I used the recommended tile adhesive but always had a niggling thought in the back of my head whether it would hold in the marine environment. I actually considered 5200 briefly until I pictured tracking caulk throughout the boat.

I went Technicolor on grout, selecting green. It was like the Karate Kid – grout on, wipe excess off. More grout on, wipe excess off. Let it cure, seal, done!


Can’t go to all this trouble without adding trouble, so I made new fiddles-

Almost looks like I knew what I was doing!

Almost looks like I knew what I was doing!

Those of you that have worked with wood know the satisfaction of driving the bungs, trimming them down, sanding, and varnishing. It’s a sign that maybe, just maybe, things are almost done; worst case, you’ll be sweeping up and admiring your handiwork proudly within a year. Or two…

Shoulda quit here...

Shoulda quit here…

Unfortunately, over the next ten years or so the grout cracked and some of the tiles became stained. I really didn’t want to re-redo the area but my options were limited. Try to sand out the stains and dig out and redo the grout. In hindsight I should have done just that, but why do it the easy way?

Instead, I decided to take a step up with Corian. Easy to work with, fairly indestructable, did’t need grout. I had an inside source at a kitchen renovator that assured me I could find the little bit I’d need on the scrap pile. I made a template and sent it off and waited. And waited. And waited.

I was running out of other projects to work at the same time and gave up waiting. I wandered by the local kitchen stone joint and looked at other options. I was kinda bummed looking at these virtual slabs of stone samples that would have put a serious list to the boat until I can across a piece of black slate that was about half inch thick. Perfect!! I did another template with the sink and reefer cutouts carefully drawn out, the twists and turns of the bulkheads cut to the nth degree, faucet hole marked out, etc. Two weeks later the call came in that my order was in! This was gonna be sooooo cool! Anticpiating how fragile the slate would be until it was laid down I threw two pieces of plywood and some all purpose duct tape in the car to sandwich it until I was ready to install it.

Nothing ever goes as planned…

The freaking thing was at least 1″ thick! But the sample I looked at was, like, half that! I told the salesman there was some mistake, that I specifically (well, you know) picked the slate because it was going on a boat and weight was critical, and FOR FUCK’S SAKE, LOOK AT THE SIZE OF THE SAMPLE! (That’s what I heard in my head, but I’m sure it came out saner.) Guy just looked at me and explained the sample was that thick because they didn’t have a ‘real size’ sample to display. I looked at my order, he gave me the “special order, no refunds” look, and I was left wondered where I could rent a crane to move the pieces. In the end, I pulled out my debit card and endowed another business’ Shaboom wing…

The reefer side 'slated up.' Before I left the store I had them cut out the thin strip forward, fearing it would shatter when I moved it (plywood sandwich notwithstanding).

The reefer side ‘slated up.’ Before I left the store I had them cut out the thin strip forward, fearing it would shatter when I moved it (plywood sandwich notwithstanding).

In the event I haven’t mentioned it, nothing ever goes as planned. Turned out I needed a hole drilled for the Fynspray spout, but I figured that’d take an hour to drill out. Ever drilled slate?? The reefer top hole wasn’t quite cut right and the top would snag on the slate when it opened, so I spent a couple of years Dremel’ing and sanding stone away. Built some serious Charles Atlas arms lifting the tops off and on getting things fit up just right. Sensing a heart attack was imminent, I finally pumped out some adhesive and dropped the suckers down, hoping for the best. In the end, I might not have gotten the best but it’s pretty close to it!

Compared to the counter saga, the stove job was almost anti-climactic. Once upon a time the boat had one of those two burner alcohol jobs:

Classic model, using alcohol to heat. Waste of good alcohol if you ask me!

Classic model, using alcohol to heat. Waste of good alcohol if you ask me!

It was gone by the time I met the boat. In its place was an EneRoyal stove, a fine Brit model jetted for Compressed Natural Gas in keeping with its Continental heritage. Seemed to work okay with propane, (as long as you didn’t need to use the oven) though, until it didn’t. Turns out the company is really in the furnace business, but hey, why not diversify? Naturally it crapped out just hours before a week-long trip from NY to Annapolis was to start, forcing loyal crew babe Steve and I to survive on Little Debby’s, cheese and crackers, and beer (best trip ever!!)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERARather than sending it off to UK for service, I bit another bullet (I should have used it otherwise) and bought a Seaward Princess 3 burner unit with an oven large enough to cook a turkey in the event I get overly ambitious. I won’t bore you with installation details, but I will mention clearances to hang the sucker are… precise, and if the oven doesn’t heat accurately, call Seward for calibration instructions.

Seaward Princess. Makes wicked good cinnamon rolls!

Seaward Princess. Makes wicked good cinnamon rolls!




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