The Galley Sink Story

I am not good at finished carpentry. That’s the kind of job that intimidates me: it’s something we’re going to be looking at for a long time. It has to be done right. Am I up to it? 

Mistakes were made. But this is how we tweaked our counter-top for about $3.00. You read that correctly Three Dollars

Once upon a time, Whitby’s came with double sinks. Small double sinks. 

For those with big, roomy houses or apartments with big, room kitchens, you might have a double sink that’s 36″ in length, 22″ in width. Roomy. Some folks I know have multiple double sinks in their kitchen.

Boat builders will cram a double sink into a 22″ space. And it might be awkwardly shallow. Each half is a little 10″×12″ basin. You’d barely be able to wash your pressure cooker in that little sink.

The simple solution might be a 12″×22″ single sink to replace the old 12″×22″ double sink. Seems simple.

But that’s not what was done.

What was done was this:

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That’s a 15″×18″ sink with a 4″ piece of a cutting board used to fill in a hole that was originally for a 12″×22″ sink. The new sink is wider and shorter. Sigh.

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Note the crumble factor on the cutting board. The wood has seen better days. It was rotting from sink water.

Also notice that the lip of the sink is propped up above the counter top by about ¹⁄₈″. There was a wooden shim of some kind around the sink.

If you’re weekending, this is no big thing.

The Commodore Says

The wood is rotting. And water is getting under the sink onto the things stowed there. 

For those with big, roomy houses or apartments with big, room kitchens, you might have a few cleaning supplies under the sink. It’s a popular spot for a bucket, a brush and some soapy chemicals. 

We keep food there. 

Food that gets wet. 

Ick. Rusty circles under the cans. Wet onions.

So the Commodore has issued orders to plug that hole.

A good carpenter might replace the counter top. 

The lazy bo’s’n suggests we “patch over” the mess. Remove the old cutting board fragment. Get a ¹⁄₈″ thick sheet of counter-top material of some kind that’s at least 15″×24″. Cut a sink shaped hole in it and put it over the old counter-top. 

Remove the Offending Member

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We pried the old sink out of the counter top. For those of us unfamiliar with the basics of plumbing, there were four little brackets that hold the sink in the hole.

One of them was placed in such a way that it was almost impossible to get a screwdriver on it. That’s a lot of mirror and flashlight work to unscrew the bracket. The fasters are cylindrical (not hex-headed) so only a slotted screwdriver will do.

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Once the brackets (and drain) were off, we could lift the sink out of the hole and see what else might need to be done. In our case, we could remove the soaking-wet shims around the sink.

We also spent time cleaning and then letting the wood dry. The wood was damp from water intrusion through the old  ¹⁄₈″ shims.

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We found the holes where the old faucet had been. And that showed why we had so much water under the sink. The hole was partially covered with a shim that didn’t really keep much water out.

This confirmed our plan to put a piece of countertop over the whole area so as to keep water out of holes like that.

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Remove the Other Hardware

Once we knew that all the holes needed plugging, we had to remove the fixtures. This revealed details of other holes. 

We could have filled these. But the new counter-top like panel would cover them well enough. We figured that adding a bead of silicone around everything would keep water out even better.

First Cut

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We bought a damaged 24″×24″ piee of 1/8″ countertop-like material. Since it had a big scar, it was about $3.00. I think it’s a kind of particle-board, so it may not last more than a few years.

CA made the first cuts to shape overall. This involved two clever little cuts around some corner bits, and a long straight cut to fit the counter-top space. 

While it’s generally true that nothing on a boat is square, the galley countertop was actually nicely rectangular.

She cut it a hair large. It took a little bit of sanding to get a good, tight fit. That means narrow slots that require silicone. Less chance for water intrusion.

Second Cuts

Cutting the sink hole is challenging. There’s not much support, and we don’t have a really good workbench on the boat. 

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We elected to cut the panel in place.

We drilled up from below to mark the corners of the sink hole. CA traced lines on the top. Then I took the Fein Multimaster and made a bunch of erratic cuts around the edge. We used the existing countertop to support the panel as we cut it. This prevented twisting or cracking the flimsy panel.

We were so happy that we had a good cutting tool. And a ShopVac for cleaning up the sawdust. And a working inverter. And solar panels. And plenty of Florida sunshine to charge the panels to power the inverter to power the tools to make the hole in the cheap counter material to replace the hole the former owner made to fix the small sink that Whitby built.

We did the same trick for the various faucet and spigot holes. I drilled a pilot hole from below then finished the drilling from the top side. I had circular hole saws that were the exact right size for all three holes. 

(Whew! The alternative would have been another trip to Shell Lumber and Hardware to buy one more hole saw for the one unusual size. That would have raised the budget above $3.00.)

This second cut involved a large amount of sanding. And a third pass at cutting on one edge. The initial guide holes were drilled far enough inside the corner radii that the first version of the cutout was too small. By a lot.

Goo and Brackets

We had some clear silicone on board. CA applied this liberally under the new countertop panel before we put it into place.

When you redo your countertops with a patch like this, do all of the goo before you reassemble the fixtures. We did this wrong, and CA was trying to apply goo around the fixtures. Needlessly ugly and messy.

The brackets that hold the sink down were placed sort of randomly around the edge. Two in the back, one in the front and one on the inboard edge. Nothing on the side with the cutting board section.

I put some ¾″ shim material between three of the brackets and the piece of countertop that had no other support. I put one bracket on the other side. 

CA applied goo around the edge of the countertop material to keep water from sliding under it.

Also, the thin material buckled slightly under the pressure of being squeezed in. We could have sanded the corners so more. Instead, we put screws in it to keep it down. Ugly, but necessary. 

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The galley is brighter and shinier. We think it will be easier to clean. We think we won’t have water dripping on the food stored under the sink.

It remains to be seen how long this lasts.

[BTW. The left-most spigot is the manual freshwater pump. The center one is the powered pump and filtered water. The right-most one is raw water from whatever body of water we’re sitting in. Today, it’s Biscayne Bay.]

Our fallback plan is to get a 24″×24”″ piece of ¹⁄₈″ Starboard or similar HDPE material if we have to do this again. We can use the piece we just installed as a template before cutting.


© Steven Lott 2020