It’s all in the prep work, we hope…

How many times have you heard, “a good paint job is 90% about the prep”? I guess that makes tomorrow our moment of truth, as there’s nothing left to do but start rolling & tipping the deck on a fine April Sunday. The whole exterior of the main hill is 220grit sanded down to the waterline.




It took half of Friday and all Saturday to finish sand (and of course fill and re-sand three more little pinhole fields). That includes sixty bucks spent on the commercial painter neighbor’s assistant. He hand sanded the net lashing tubes all along the hull, plus the entire cockpit and windshield base, because I was just too damn sick of these picky areas that have taken too many amateur hours.

Along with the hull painting we’re trying to keep pace with all the loose parts. Tonight was another primer pass (and some fairing filler in spots) on these:

Tucked in to that photo are the 16′ boom, 6.5′ rudder, stern radar / windvane tower, engine bracket / sled, lazarette lid, and main cabin and aft cabin hatch covers. There’s not enough room in the shop to spread everything out properly, so we’re juggling moving stuff inside and out during the day.

Ok, we’ll watch more YouTube videos for reminders on roll&tip boat painting, and cross those fingers for a good looking deck tomorrow.

Prime-ary season

Never mind The Donald and Hillary and Bernie, etc. Over here we’re focused on finishing up the Primer work and starting the final paint!

As expected, laying on the primer paint exposed a number of little surface imperfections, so that’s led to quiet (non-posting) days of more filling and sanding. See the colored fairing compound ‘fixes’ above the primer paint layer:


The good news for us is that’s the last of it, and the second coat of primer, where needed, goes on this evening. Then we’ll sand it all down to 220grit and begin final painting the deck with Interlux Perfection two-part LPU. Off white for the deck (same as the floats) and Platinum for the topsides (same as the mast and beams). I just ordered some West Systems roller covers, as everything sold locally disintegrates with the solvents in these paints, leaving roller residue in the surface. We can sand that away at the primer stage, but it would be a disaster in the final paint. If anyone has an actual roller cover brand name personally proven to withstand marine two part paints, please let me know!

There was no boat building last weekend because of the opportunity for a coveted crew position in the Doublehanded Farallons race. Skipper Andrew Scott had F27 #277 Papillon ready for battle, and we pulled off a 4th overall, 3rd multihull result. We were faster and corrected out over all under-30′ boats. It was a day to prove ‘waterline is king’ as the F31R had enough length and mass over the F27 to handle 25-30kts and really ugly square wave seas still sailing fast. The two F27s that finished the course were at their limits. Hats off to the F31 crew, and I have no problem with 2nd and 3rd going to a $2mil+ Gunboat and an expensive carbon-rig 40′ J120. Surfing 25 miles home on the ocean, getting overpowered downwind even with double reefed main and jib, meant a tired crew needing recuperation, not boat painting for a few days :)
Maybe next year we tackle the course with 39′ in the water…

What your wife doesn’t want

Boat parts in the driveway!

Just before thanksgiving we lost the shop neighbor’s storage space for this little trailer holding the finished beams. It’s been crowding the shop and now that we’re serious about painting, the trailer had to move. Seeing the beams in the driveway is rather motivating to keep working!

Three weeks of business travel caused a gap in boat work (and updates here), but we have a bit of catch up for you. Doing a solvent wipe down for the primer, we found a bunch of pinholes in the fairing along the hull topsides. So much for painting before the flight. Better to catch them now, under the primer. Look closely…

And the blue tape is the treasure map

They were fixed with a thin slurry of red-balloons putty; nice and runny with plenty of pressure filled the little holes.


And finally, we’re starting to imagine a painted boat. This primer is similar (but darker) to the platinum grey final color of the topsides. It’ll go up to the net lashing tubes.



This is probably about the fifth time I’ve said “one last little external build piece to go…” We had assumed the bow pulpit would be build in steel post-launch. But since we’ve been on the roll of eliminating metal, why not here? Now I want to get this done and glassed in before painting the deck. Here’s a mockup of thin glass that was wrapped around PVC.

Thinking we’ll carve this shape from styrofoam, glass that, then dissolve out the foam to form hollow tubes. If anyone has tips on this, or a better way to form the curves, we’re all ears.

4 more inches

Keith called today with a story of a friend’s boat build; things were done with a heavy hand and when it launched with the bottom paint done at the designed waterline, the boat settled in a few inches lower leaving unprotected topsides submerged a bit. What a drag to pull a fresh launch out of the water and redo the waterline paint job. So… Not that we think we’ll be fat and saggy, but it’s a lot easier now to add a few inches of barrier coat ‘just in case’

Here’s coat #2 of 5, with the roller headed northbound by about 4″ :). One more coat tonight and hopefully two tomorrow to finish this step.

I pity you guys as this website is now literally watching paint dry! To keep busy in between bottom coats today we tackled final builds on the stern tower. First is the little crane off the back to lift the rudder out of the water when stationary. If you look at older photos the top edge was purposely lower than the top of the tower. But overall this thing seemed too flexible and potentially weak. So it grew an extra foam core top, then more carbon ‘strapping’ wrapping over the top of the tower. Much stiffer now!

Next is the radar, to mount on the extra ‘ear’ of the tower to starboard. The mounting pattern of the Raymarine unit required some modification. And since we’re not interested in a metal bracket, we made a fiberglass foam pizza instead.


Last up is a shelf for the tiller pilot. This location should allow us to attach the ram directly to the steering gear, or more intriguingly to a second set of cables to steer the trim tab on the rudder just as the windvane system will do. Much more on that story to come once we get to sea trials.

This little shelf add is perhaps 5 ounces of foam and carbon, but further stiffens the whole structure – so much better than a big metal structure on the back of the boat! (We hope anyway)


Lady in waiting

This boat hull was built 15 years ago. The deck and topsides got a primer coat 5 years back, but some of you will recall the bottom wasn’t faired until just a few months ago. But tonight, a decade and a half late, the raw underwater skin was painted with the first of five coats using Interlux interprotect 2000. This will create an epoxy barrier coat over the epoxy-skinned hull, so blistering or other water intrusion should not be a future worry.


One more bow shot here to remind us where the Kevlar protective strip sits across the front. (You can see it as a vertical yellow shadow under the white fairing skim)


No boat should take this long to build, but what a great step tonight. You could feel the good vibe in the room – seems like the boat knows we’re sealing things up and sprinting towards the water. Anticipation grows…

Selfie gone wrong

Clearly I don’t get the concept of glamorous self-taken phone photos in picturesque locales. BUT, this is actually a very relieved boat builder. This goes back a few months to our first experience with the very good but rather volatile high end marine topsides primer paint. One night I geared up to hit the shower and toilet compartments with the Interlux Primecoat 2 part system. I wore the full face respirator, but neglected any fans to force air out of the space. After about 15 minutes the respirator was overwhelmed, resulting in attacked eyes and lungs. I basically dropped everything, and threw the paint/roller/brush in the trash as I ran out of the shop seriously spooked about painting this boat.
So we’ve pretty much been skulking about re: paint fumes, but yesterday sucked it up and dove in to researching solutions. Holy cow, did you know decent industrial volatiles protection hoods are a thousand bucks!!?? So instead we went half Apollo 13, half McGyver rerun and came up with this:

Yep, that’s the good full face respirator with one filter taped completely shut and the other taped off except for the receipt of a long vacuum cleaner hose. The other end of that hose is the output from our oldie-but-goodie 3M belt pack NiCad battery-driven forced air filter. So instead of taking the positive flow filter in to the paint environment the jury rig hose keeps it out in the fresh air, feeding the face mask.
Tonight with all the simplified plumbing cabinet and bulkhead revisions finished, the toilet space was prepped along with the abandoned shower, the goofball selfie was taken, and we dove in again with the nasty paint. The work took about 30 mins, the mask performed well – no eye discomfort and negligible smelling of fumes. Certainly no dizzying or worrying amounts of volatiles coming on board! That was a big relief and we’re once again seeing the path to paint completion.

Speaking of plumbing, this week has been finishing those 3 below-waterline through hulls, plus another big one about a foot above the line for the galley drain. Here’s the process for the toilet tank drain. Measure, stare, worry a bit, measure a few more times, then get the hole saw spinning.

Next was very careful Dremel work to dig out the cedar core about 5/8″ back from the hole edge, but not disturb the outer or inner hull skins. (The Dremel is skilled in throwing little shards of boat hull in one’s eyes and nose.)

Then fill all that rebated space with solid epoxy/cabosil putty, and after it cured, sand it back flush.

During curing steps we had been making epoxy-coated plywood backing plates for the seacocks. They finished up as the holes were done. I understand these backers can be loose and mounted with the same sealant as the thru-hull fitting, but we opted for permanently bonding them to the hull and one more shot of putty to smoothly line the thru-hull passage as one watertight unified ‘tunnel’. These two are the toilet tank drain and depth sounder that’ll be close neighbors.

That’s a little bolt & block setup to clamp the backer in to the bonding glue.

All four came out just as planned, and now await paint. We’ll show them off again when their fancy Forespar valves are installed. About six layers of primer and bottom paint from now!


PS – is anybody wondering about that red fairing putty in the first photo tonight? Um, yea, those are the finished, painted main cabin surfaces getting just a bit more touch up once all the new lighting went in and I could see little nits that would drive me nuts once the boat is launched. Figured it was worth the piece of mind and a couple of hours to clean it up now…

Practice those fillets!

So I’m on my back, sprawled on the aft cabin bunk, reaching up installing lamp wires. Damn, that looks like crap up there! The memories come back from last summer – it was hot, the workspace was awkward and I was SICK of fairing work. There were some spots under the big wiring chase in that cabin with pock marks, uneven fillets and spreader-knife ridges. But “no one will ever see that and enough is enough!” And I had left in a PO’d state. So it was sort of funny two nights ago realizing I was working where future crew will lay heads on pillows and gaze up at the blotchy spots!

OK, never mind it’s already painted and the cabin declared done. Go get the sanding and fairing tools and clean it up! We cast a critical eye around the whole interior and found a few more spots that needed a bit more. And all because we’re waiting for the electrical fittings (which just showed up, so it’s Christmas again tonight!)

The point is, for new boat builders, don’t do what I did. Don’t just read the pages in the Gougeon Bros book that make fillets look super easy, and declare yourself ready. They wrote that guide after making 100s of strong, lightweight, elegant joints. But as a rookie “finisher” contorting around the far reaches, working on acute/weird angles, it just doesn’t happen smoothly. I should have practiced! Out on the workbench, in the light, in the fresh air, with nice music on the radio, etc. Make the fillets along the floats bulkheads works of art that no one will see. Get the techniques down. So when the conditions suck inside your to-be-pretty cabin, you are actually very skilled and won’t do work that has to get done a second time.

There, end of soapbox.

We figured out how to light the wardrobe locker areas, which led to a couple more mounting bases needed, plus a nice face frame for the main battery switch. And more Birdseye trim over the galley to hide wiring in case the sink and freezer need additional lighting. That’s a few ounces of wood and glue to future-proof. Seemed worth it.


Also huddled under those heat lamps at the top of the photo is another glass tube build – wrapped around a 1.5″ PVC coupler, to line the hose-pass throughs for the toilet platform. That’s the one area inside the boat that needs finish work, so we attacked old problems with fresh eyes this week and get the head compartment ready for proper marine paint as soon as the shop warms up. Today you see your breath in there :(