We managed to go a whole month without posting, mostly because when we’re not working we’re playing with Captain. We spent the first three weeks of December hauled out at Tiger Point Marina, with the boat pretending to be a tree house. The main reason was to have her bottom sanded and painted, because it looked like this:
That’s just after power-washing, and already a lot of the outer layer of paint has flaked off! Sanding revealed a more uniform surface, if maybe a surprising color:
And of course, I didn’t manage to get a photo of the painted result before getting it all streaky washing the free board – but this still looks obviously better than when she came in.
What’s with the tape, you ask? I decided to repair a bunch of cracks in the gelcoat. That added an extra week to our stay on the hard, and of course I did it in the wrong order by polishing and waxing the whole boat before starting. Here’s a before-after of the polishing part.
That’s not a surface coating, that’s the boat’s skin – all that luster was just hiding under some oxidation! Once it was shiny, we put on a synthetic sealant, a SiO2 nano coating, that’s supposed to keep gelcoat protected for at least two years. And because I’m not sure I believe that, we put a heavy duty wax over the top of that. So hopefully she’ll stay shiny for months to come.
Of course, spending all that time up close to the body, all the spider cracks started to look much more prominent. And we found a couple of soft spots that really did need repair, where the crack was because of a gap between the gelcoat and the fiberglass. The original cracks are hard to photograph, very white-on-white, but here are some process photos of drilling out some around the bow. You can see the flakiness in the first one, and then the second shows how much material had to go. For scale, that biggest section is a little too small to put a dime into.
And once you’re doing the “major” sections like this, you might as well do all the tiny cracks and pinholes that accumulate over 25 years, and tidy up some sloppy older repairs, and suddenly the boat is a painter’s tape Mondrian. So the general process: grind out the cracked material, fill with new gelcoat, sand flat, polish, and re-wax. Of course, I had to repeat steps 2 and 3 in a couple of places, when I didn’t fill all the way and sanding revealed there was still a hole. Working with gelcoat is a bit fiddly, but there are plenty of real experts who can tell you about that.
So at the end of it all, we now have a boat with a much newer looking exterior, and confidence that the gelcoat is still nice and thick, meaning the boat hasn’t been over-polished over the years. Many other projects happened, and we’re actually now in Fort Pierce, but those are different topics and I’ve probably already lost the part of the audience that wants the pretty photos.