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The Sailboat Diaries: Color Change

Posted October 24, 2017 11:07 AM by HUSH

Several times I’ve read that novice boaters shouldn’t bother with cosmetic fixes to their boat. Inexperienced boaters are likely to cause cosmetic damage anyhow, so it makes sense to just make those repairs after some seasoning. Besides, boat paints typically have to be reapplied once every few years and all that time spent working could be time spent on the water.

Yet, I persisted. There were a few unsightly gouges aftward on the port side of my Matilda 20 that were created by a collapsible swim ladder. Additionally, the yellow bottom paint was peeling considerably, which affects boat performance as much as aesthetics. Lastly, I didn’t want the neighbors to think an albatross now existed in my side yard, so the optics of the situation was also a factor.

The first task was to expand the gouges a bit to create a chamfer on the edge and also allow the fairing compound to be spread easier. This was my first experience working with fairing compound. While the final result was definitely more attractive than the original gouges, the finish is still a little uneven. I resanded and faired this area three times until finally, good was good enough. I wouldn’t call this a failure as it is nonetheless an improvement, but I was hoping for a perfect result. Ultimately, working with this nasty material on a 90°+ F day was a mistake, as it was curing before I could even spread it.

Originally I had hoped to purchase some used boat stands to complete this project, but none were to be had in the local classified websites, and new set of boat stands started at $500—about 125% of what I planned to pay in painting materials. Painting on a trailer is doable, provided you are willing to sacrifice some comfort during the task and ensure the boat trailer doesn’t tip while you are under it. I cut some short 4 x 4 posts to wedge under the trailer frame to prevent tipping and also lowered the trailer jack as far as it could go. The trailer was positioned over a large plastic drop cloth and the trailer itself had a week’s worth of newspaper wrapping exposed surfaces.

Reference texts recommended that I first test the adhesion of the old paint to the hull. This is done by scoring and then applying masking tape to a few areas. If paint comes up when the tape is a removed after a short interval, then entire coating must be sanded off before a new layer can be applied. Thankfully the old coating would suffice after some sanding.

A pressure washer removed a lot of ground-in dirt and grime prior to sanding. It was surprising how white the fiberglass was! An orbital sander with 150 grit paper was used to prepare the entire hull for the first layer of paint, but corners and crevices were wet sanded by hand to prevent damage to the underlying fiberglass. A full respirator and safety goggles are highly recommended for this, as some marine paint dust is highly toxic. A box fan helped with visibility while I performed this task underneath the trailer. Areas where the bottom paint started to chip also required some scraping. All of this was followed by a washdown with some simple house siding cleaner.

The hull was painted in two sections: above and below the waterline. Paints used below the waterline are typically ablative (a.k.a. soft)—meaning that slowly the paint leeches a chemical that prevents the build-up of algae or other marine life. There has been a lot of legislation in recent years about what are acceptable marine paint ablative fillers—copper is most common and is the filler of the type of Rustoleum I used. Since this boat will be primarily used in freshwater, the ablative properties aren’t as important. However, since I didn’t know the type of the bottom paint I’d be painting over, and hard-coat paints don’t cover ablative paints well, ablative was my only choice.

The hull portion located above the waterline was painted first, and my wife was an enormous help here. She had the patience to precisely tape off the waterline, where the hull paint meets the bottom paint. When it came time to paint we used a topside Rustoleum. The wife primarily focused on the trim work while I rolled the rest of the hull. Painting the hull above the waterline was probably to easiest task of all and could be done in about 45 minutes.

Another round of sanding occurred after the first coat of paint, this time prepared with 220 grit sand paper. After a washdown, the next layer of paint was applied.

Outside of the obvious challenges of painting a boat on the trailer (cramped working space, fresh air, paint all over myself) there is also the issue of the trailer rollers. After the rest of the bottom had received the recommended two coats, I needed to roll the boat about 8-10 in. back on the trailer to paint the spots that had been obstructed by the trailer rollers.

Sliding a 1,500 lb. vessel on the trailer isn’t easy, so I deployed a car jack between the upward trailer post and the nose of the boat. After some fabric and wood bumpers were added the car jack was the perfect solution. I kept the boat in this position for about 24 hr., which was just enough time to fill in spots on the bottom of the hull.

This was also my opportunity to do a lot of other painting and aesthetic improvements, including the companionway hatch boards and steps, some areas of woodwork and repair on the interior, toe rails and several other spots that were faded or didn’t match the new color scheme. As one of the last acts of this phase, my wife applied new registration stickers.

And now she’s ready for a name. (The boat, that is!)

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#1

Re: The Sailboat Diaries: Color Change

10/25/2017 4:50 PM

Beautiful job! Made a world of difference.

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#5
In reply to #1

Re: The Sailboat Diaries: Color Change

10/26/2017 8:46 AM

Thanks! I'll admit that the paint job turned out to be relatively easy and well done. Much better results that I had hoped!

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#2

Re: The Sailboat Diaries: Color Change

10/25/2017 5:55 PM

Certainly a labor of love. Gives quite a bit satisfaction in job well done.

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#3

Re: The Sailboat Diaries: Color Change

10/25/2017 11:19 PM

I don't know a sheet from a spinnaker, but that looks like a nice job, none the less.

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#4
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Re: The Sailboat Diaries: Color Change

10/26/2017 8:45 AM

Sheet = line

Spinnaker = 'kite' to help pull the boat downwind

Boat = money pit

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#8
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Re: The Sailboat Diaries: Color Change

10/27/2017 12:27 AM

Sheet usually, but not always, refers to one of the lines/ropes that controls one of the sails. Examples: main sheet controls the position of the mainsail relative to the wind; same for jib sheet(s); spinnaker sheet(s). etc.

Some other nomenclatures include: boom vang for the rope/line that pulls the boom down to increase the effective size of the sail and to raise it or lower it/the boom at the bottom.

Although Halyards, the line/rope/cable that raise/lower the sails, are usually referred to by their function and not as a line. ie. Main Halyard (line), Jib halyard (line), Spinnaker Halyard, and Genoa Jib halyard.,

The rope/chain/cable that is attached to the boat and the anchor to keep it in one location is most often referred to as a line, no matter what it is made of.

What does all this mean to the newbie sailor? He/she can still sail the boat and enjoy himself and also the crew. When you are sailing with others it is best to refer to the items with their correct name. This is especially true when your sailing skills advance and you sail with others with some sailing experience. Common language = better communication. The mast is a mast not a pole; port is to the left side of the boat as look towards the front (bow) of the boat. Starboard is the right side. Aft is towards the back of the boat but the back end is usually called the transom.

The best source of information on boating and sailing is Chapman's "PILOTING, SEAMANSHIP AND SMALL BOAT HANDLING".

Hey, enjoy yourself! For me the best part of sailing is being able to make it as easy or as difficult as I want it to be.

Good Luck, Old Salt

Stronger than the storm >>>Any day on the green side of the grass is a great day!!

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#9
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Re: The Sailboat Diaries: Color Change

10/27/2017 6:45 PM

And then we can be three sheets to the wind.

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Re: The Sailboat Diaries: Color Change

10/27/2017 7:25 PM

Been there. Roosevelt Lake Arizona. 1981 shakedown cruise on a Catalina 25.

It was November, I broke the cable on the center boat and had to go under the boat, no mask or tank and rig the cable so we could raise the center board and put the boat on the trailer.

The boat owner was too drunk to drive so I gave my truck/camper to our boss and him and drove his truck and trailer the 60 miles back home.

When I got home, my boss had tried to drive my pickup/camper under the carport, where it didn't fit, and ripped to top of the camper open.

The boat owner was passed out in the cab of my truck and I called his wife to come get him.

There were NO happy wives that weekend.

Youth, it's wasted on the young.

The boat owner was raised in Denmark and was a hell of a a sailer, so we did have some good sailing.

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#12
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Re: The Sailboat Diaries: Color Change

10/30/2017 6:10 PM

Yep . . . . you had fun all right.

And then you had to face the music.

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Re: The Sailboat Diaries: Color Change

10/30/2017 6:39 PM

I traded that wife in on a new model.

This one lets me run amok.

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#14
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Re: The Sailboat Diaries: Color Change

10/31/2017 10:26 AM

Trust me, we know... LOL!

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Re: The Sailboat Diaries: Color Change

10/31/2017 11:42 AM

I think we've been attacked by the OT Police.

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Re: The Sailboat Diaries: Color Change

10/31/2017 11:56 AM

Yes, not another word, except:

BOAT, FIX, REPAIR, PATCH, LOOKS GREAT, EXCELLENT HARD WORK, and Hush!

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#6

Re: The Sailboat Diaries: Color Change

10/26/2017 9:11 AM

Great job! Your description shows how much materials science (the paints and repair stuff), mechanics, and common sense went into the refinishing. Wishing you and Mrs. HUSH many years of happy sailing.

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#7

Re: The Sailboat Diaries: Color Change

10/26/2017 10:14 AM

My favorite part of this kind of work is taking those ten steps away and then turning around.

Nicely Done!

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Re: The Sailboat Diaries: Color Change

10/30/2017 3:32 PM

Nicely done! I never undertook on such a scale, but I have done home remediation painting (used epoxy to fill some bad spots), and restored a 40+ year old lawn mower to as near "factory" condition as I could.

I also totally took apart an electric range/oven, and re-wired, and painted surfaces, and put in new insulation that was better than "factory". Fiberfrax is wonderful stuff.

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