A victim of the latest craze

Window repair advice? You can see right through it, to coin a glazed expression.

In his latest column, published in the July 2015 issue of PBO, Dave Selby puts leaky windows in the frame…

I don’t want to blind you with science – that’s what the other sections of this magazine are for – but basically, windows are a pane. Frankly, just the mention of them makes me glaze over.

In purely technical terms, most boat windows are very carefully designed to leak first, and then craze; that’s unless you’ve got the much-improved more modern ones that craze first, then leak.

Of course, there are notable exceptions such as Mirror dinghies and jet-skis, which don’t have windows, and old wooden boats, which do but leak so much from everywhere else that leaking portlights are considered a spot of light relief.

In short, what windows need is a little bit of transparency. And as a Sailfish owner I feel I’ve got something to offer in this area, for the Sailfish 18 is made almost entirely out of windows. It saved on glassfibre and fulfilled the original design brief based on the novel concept of grafting the cockpit of a Boeing 747 jumbo jet on to the hull of a Reliant Robin.

This is just one of the Sailfish’s literally innumerable virtues, for with its high coachroof, which provides good shelter, the helm can peer through the wide companionway and out through the panoramic bay window to see the boats that are making off in the distance and the ones coming the other way that are trying to run you down.

It’s also the perfect vantage point from which to watch your windows leaking. But as with every benefit on a boat, there’s a downside – or two. With the large window area, life aboard a Sailfish is a bit like being in a goldfish bowl.

Consequently, Sailfish folk are rather fixated on elaborate ruched curtains: this is an area of intense competition among Sailfish-wives. As I don’t have one, I rely on the windows crazing for privacy. The other downside is that the three-piece Perspex windows were originally fitted with the same kind of seals that made a 1950s Ford Popular leakier than a wooden boat. And because of the large window area the seals are longer than many a boat twice the size.

As a result, the only time Sailfish owners don offshore oilskins is when they go to bed. Owners of leakier Sailfishes use survival suits as pyjamas.

Of course, the other solution is to repair the windows. I had a go, but found the whole matter utterly opaque. Some advised acrylic, others Perspex, and many more suggested that for me the best material was polycarbonate, which apparently is bulletproof. I wasn’t aware I’d offended anyone that much.

The job also involved buying a special implement, and from experience I’ve found that anything that involves buying a tool, especially one that you’ll only ever use once in your life, is doomed to failure.

And so it proved. I found the so-called ‘glazing tool’ was perfect for gouging holes in the new rubber seal. Nevertheless I persisted, and when the job was done I felt that deep glow of satisfaction practical boat owners get from a job well done.

That was until it rained, and I found my new Sailfish windows leaked in all the exact same places as the old ones, and a few more.

On the plus side, the darker tint gave Marlin a rakish, go-faster, almost sporty look, like a hopped-up Reliant Robin. I even thought of putting a stick-on ‘Bart and Dave’ sunstrip on the top of the front window; it might stop some of the leaks.

Over the years I’ve stemmed the flow to some extent with all manner of splodge and bandages of duct tape, so that Marlin now looks like she’s just been patched up at A&E after a pub brawl.

But there’s another problem. When I wake up every morning, the whole cabin drips with condensation. It’s even worse if you have guests who breathe. A while ago I had a particularly annoying guest who breathed and snored, and that’s how I came up with the ultimate solution. I slept in the Sailfish’s spacious and long cockpit under the boom tent.

The original, fabulous, fitted boom tent is another of the Sailfish’s innumerable virtues. It’s watertight, lets air in and even has plastic windows that don’t leak at all.

It was given to me by Bob Smith, a mate whose Sailfish windows don’t leak at all. He got his done in an hour by a car windscreen replacement company. And that’s just one of the innumerable advantages of having a boat based on a Reliant Robin.

I just wish I’d known that sooner. If you’re after a glazing tool, I’ll have one going cheap at the next Essex boat jumble.