6 June 17New Awlgrip. For the last couple months, due to bubbles in the Awlgrip just above the waterline, we have focused on repainting the boat. The first thing I did was to build some new scaffolding out of 2x4s. I made these foldable and plan to keep them. Then, we used Awlgrip dewaxer to ensure we got all the old wax off the topsides. Next, we marked and taped off the waterline two inches above the old waterline since the boat was right on her marks when fully loaded (I raised the waterline three inches during the rebuild). I sanded the topsides and applied Awlgrip 545 epoxy primer to about 18" above the waterline--to cover the area I sanded the bubble out of the paint. We applied four coats of primer then sanded it smooth and carefully faired in the top edge. Next we had to address the wind. In a perfect world we would paint the boat in a shed. But, since we don't have the Far Reach in the Sailboat Restoration Facility anymore we had to deal with reality. Worse than painting in the sun is painting in the wind. The paint will dry out before it can self level. And with a high-end glossy paint like Awlgrip the whole idea is to get a smooth mirror finish. So, we needed to build a wind screen. I drew up a design and purchased about $220 worth of 2x8s at Lowes. I ripped them into 2x3 1/2s. I borrowed a friends framing nail gun and Gayle and I trailered everything to the boat yard and built eight 10' x 10' and one 10' x 12" panel sections in about four hours. The next day, my friend Steve Chase came by to help us attach 6mm plastic sheeting. Steve has been my best friend since college. He is a retired fighter pilot. Long time readers of the blog may recall that Steve welded up our bronze bulwark brackets with his TIG welder. They are works of art. A couple days later my sister Tricia came by and helped Gayle and me erect the wind panels. Loyal reader will remember that Tricia, a retired Sand Diego Fire Captain, and I have sailed together since we were children. She sailed with me last year to the BVI from Cape Lookout, NC on an 18 day upwind bash. It was great to have her help us out when we needed an extra pair of hands. With the windscreen up it was time to start painting. It took about 10 days to get the weather right for Gayle and I to roll on four coats of Awlgrip paint. Gayle and I work well together. It took awhile to figure out the best technique. The bottom line is the technique we used was for her to roll the paint horizontally with 6" white foam whizz hot dog roller and I tipped vertically with 3" Jen-poly foam brushes. Let me just say we tried all the other ways the experts recommend. We used high quality badger hair brush kept wet. And while it did on occasion produce beautiful results over several feet it was inconsistent. It would be gorgeous then for two feet there would appear the most hideous brush marks you ever saw. We eventually discovered the foam tipping brushes were the way to go and the results were spectacular and 100 percent consistent. We painted about 15' and swapped out the roller and the brush as they would start to swell from the chemicals in the paint. I have to say, I can't tell it is not sprayed. Having said all that, brushing is a hell of a lot of work. Way more work then spraying. When you spray, all three coats are applied in one day. BAM. You're done. When you roll-and-tip however, it's one coat a day then the whole boat gets sanded with 320-400 grit abrasive. We could not sand and paint in the same day as the temp would come up too much. It took a long time. But, it's done and we are very happy with the results.
Next, I took the wind screen down and disassembled it and trailered it home. We then sanded the hull in a few places and I touched up the barrier coat. I applied 5 coats of new barrier coat to the hull over two days where we raised the waterline another two inches. Now, all we need to do is apply bottom paint, install the bowsprit, and we can launch the Far Reach.
I also shorted our dinghy oars by five inches so they are now 7'8" long for our 9' long/54" wide Fatty Knees. Additionally, I cleaned up the 14.5' sculling oar we use on the Far Reach.
I originally wanted to use copper rivets but I could not find ones in the size I needed and it just became too much to working that angle. So, I went with what I had on hand. I used SS bolts and aircraft locking nuts. I hated the results. I hated the look. And if you paint SS they will rust. And if you don't paint SS it will rust. Ughhh. I had to avert my eyes all the time. So, after thinking about it for 18 months I decided now was the time for action. I removed the plugs, bolts, and nuts.
I used a 1/2" foster bit to countersink where the nuts used to be and inserted bronze nuts so they were about 1/32-1/16" below the surface of the white oak but blocks. Then installed 1/4-20 FH bronze machine screws. I used a Dremel to cut the bolts flush to the nuts and covered them with thickened epoxy. I sanded them smooth and faired them in with West epoxy and 407 filler. I installed new wood plugs and then primed and painted. The whole thing looks a thousand times better. Beautiful to my eye. Now, I enjoy looking at them.
6 Mar 17With the winter upon us I was ready to start work on some small projects. The sailmaker had installed an aluminum jam cleat on the foot of the jib just behind the tack of the sail. The jam cleat was for easily adjusting the leach line. Because I have hank on sails, when I dropped the jib, the metal jam cleat rubbed on the varnished bow sprit. I needed to repair the damaged varnish. I thought about stripping the bowsprit in place but that would require another project in the boat yard and I would have to delay until the weater was better. Since I designed the bowspirt to be able to be removable I decided to see if that would be the case. I let off the tension on the back stay, removed the headstay, bob stay, and spritshourds and with the help of a pice of doug fir placed behind the anchor roller and a mallet the bow sprit came right out. Excellent. I took it home to begin the task of stripping the bowsprit with a heat gun and reapplying varnish. I also took the jib by Doyle Innerbanks and the sail maker and I discussed a solution to the metail jam cleate. He recommended some grommets for securing the leech line. He modified the sail with no charge.
I discussed the bubbles with the local Awlgrip rep and he in fact made a trip to see the boat and also broght along the rep from Annapolis area. They listened to my story. They inspected the bubbles. They chipped a few bubbles off and looked at the substrate with a magnifying glass. They informed me they believed that I did everything correct. The knew Bruce Mallard, the certified Alwgrip painter who sprayed the paint and who subsquently passed away. They offered various theories. They most likely, it seems to me, is the paint was not applied thick enough--enough coats. It was hard to listen to all this but I will say, they were wonderful about the solution. With Mallard dead I figured it was going to be my tough luck . . . lesson learned. But, with no promting from me they offered to provide all the supplies for repainting. They would not pay for labor. But by supplies they would provide everything I would need--Awlgrip paint, epoxy primer, solvents, cleaners, reducers, thinners, wipe down rags . . . the whole thing. As an additional good will gesture they threw in a couple gallons of bottom paint and barrier coat. They have been as good as their word. They mailed everything to me.
Now, truth be told there is a little more to this story--I only mention it for readers to get an understanding of my mental state and how loath I was to repaint the boat. After the Awlgrip reps agreed to provide the materials I was ready to do anything to avoid (a) repainting the boat and (b) keeping the Far Reach out of the water longer than necessary. I came upt with an alternate solution. I would sand the bubbles off and then raise the bottom paint two inches (which is needed) and add a bootstripe. The Awlgrip rep was fine supporting whatever I wanted to do but told me if it did not work they would still support the original "repaint the whole thing approach."
There is an aruguement that most boats look better with a bootstrip. But, I have patterned the rebuild and modifications of the Far Reach to an earlier era when bootstrips were not that common. I like the nice clean look. But, this solution seemed like it could be easily accomplished. It was early Oct. The weather was right. "Let's go this easier route and get back to sailing." Gayle and I went to work. We washed the boat, removed the wax, and got read to go. We marked the new waterline and tape off for the boot stripe. There were a few bubbles we that would be above the bootstripe but we would catch most of them. When I went to reposition the tape, some of which was layed over the few bubbles we could not capture in the bootstipe, the bubble simply tore off. That was that. But, as I mentioned, the Awlgrip was as good as his word and send the larger amount of supplies we would need.
There is no outside spraying allowed at Beaufort Marine Center. So, if we wanted a spray job, the yard would have to do it which meant dropping the mast and moving the boat into the yard. They gave me a quote that allowed me to do all the labor but they sprayed. Way too much money. They said I could build a temp shed over the boat to save a bunch of money. But, I would still have to use their painter. In the end, I decided we would roll and tip. The reasons are I think we learned enough from the last ill fated expereice that we can do a credible job, its much less expensive, and if we can do a good job it gets us out from under the tyrrany of professional boat yard crews that charge and arm and a leg. It means if we need to repaint overseas while out voyaging we will have the knowledge and skills.
With the decision behind us, I took my trust Porter Cable DARO sander, my mini cyclone and some 80 grit abbrasives and went to work. I sanded off all the bubbles. There was no way we were going to be able to get such a big job done in the little time we had before the weather changed. We were out of time. The painting would have to wait till the spring.