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Sailboat Projects

After 8 years of pretty much continuous use, I needed to strip and revarnish the drop boards. I’ve repaired nicks, dings, chips and breaks in the finish up to now, but there have developed several dark spots under compromised varnish that are too extensive to repair.  The boards are red oak, which is a strong, heavy material that looks beautiful under varnish.  The drawback with this wood is that it is prone to rot, which means any break in the protective finish needs to be repaired right away, or deep dark stains result, followed by deterioration.

The middle board has two vents built into it for fresh air movement.  With the forward hatch open an inch or so and the vents in the middle drop board, I never have any problem with mold/mildew through the sailing season, and not much of a problem during the winter when the cover is on.  However, where the vents are epoxied into the board has been a problem area, and it’s been difficult to keep them sealed from the weather. Aside from chips and wear spots on the upper and lower boards, the middle board in the vent area is affected the most.

I spent several hours out of two days with chemical stripper and a scraper, only to remember a little later that a heat gun would have done a more efficient job. The heat gun is not the tool for the epoxy-glued vents. Heat would weaken the glue bond and I’d have more problems, so regardless I would have needed to use the chemical stripper on the middle board.

It’s a messy process. The only way I could do this at the pier was because it was a windless day, and I could collect all the varnish shavings.

There were many, many coats of varnish to remove. 16 or 20, probably.  This is because I refresh the finish at least once each year, often twice. It’s not really a lot of labor to refresh the varnish – really, just a light sanding with fine sand paper, wipe down with mineral spirits, and then a quick coat of new vanish thinned 10 to 15% with mineral spirits or paint thinner. But it does build up and begin to look bad after years of refresher coats, and needs to be all removed. An important tool for this job is a paint scraper (or two) with a mill file handy to sharped the blade every so often. It is surprising how tough the varnish layers really are. They were hard to remove.

The louvers in the vents, as you can imagine, were the most tedious to prepare. I used the scraper and several applications of stripper, working on both sides of the board. After that, I wrapped sandpaper around a paint stir and sanded all of the interior surfaces of the louvers.

It looks most of the way stripped here, but it’s actually only about half done. Two or three more applications of stripper were needed to get most of the varnish off.

This board is finally done, and I have also bleached it to remove any water stains that stripper didn’t get.

I used oxalic acid to get any dark stains out of the wood, followed by a neutralizer (baking soda in water). I discovered a few years ago, that if the acid isn’t thoroughly neutralized – not just rinsed with water – that the finish would turn milky underneath the varnish after some time in the sun.

The vents are taped off so that I can fill the seams between the board and vents with thickened epoxy. The sanding process excavated some of the original expoy. This is also where the finish failed, and I want to ensure that the crevices are completely filled and sealed.

First sealer coat of varnish applied. Not very shiny yet, but protected against the weather until I can add additional coats.

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Cay of Sea is unwrapped, sanded, painted, signed, sealed. . .  but not delivered. I’m waiting for the boat yard to launch her.

As usual, I used Hydrocoat antifouling paint, and continue to be satisfied with its performance. It effectively keeps the hard growth at bay for two seasons, and is easy to sand smooth after the second year, prior to recoat.

The winter cover greatly reduces deterioration due to weathering, and effectively keeps rain water on the outside. Like most older boats, Cay of Sea has her share of deck leaks, typically along the gunnels. Eventually I’ll need to recore the side decks and rebed hardware. The decks aren’t soft anywhere, but I know there are sections of saturated core along the sides.

Here are a few photos of the spring work.

 

Winter storage

Sanding in progress

Sanding complete. Topsides washed and waxed.

Not shown, but I coated the prop with cold galvanizing spray this year. I usually use bottom paint, which works fairly well. We’ll see how it works – I’ve heard good reports.

Starboard view.

 

Cay of Sea is finally buttoned up for the winter. Although she’s been hauled out for 6 weeks now, we’ve finally finished the alterations on the winter cover, and it fits nice and tight.

Alterations involved cutting appropriately placed slots for stanchions and shrouds, then sewing binding tape around the newly cut slots. We also needed to take material out of the stern section. This area was marked with a sharpie, pinned together into “darts,” then sewn up along the marked seam lines.  Finally, the excess material was removed from underneath the darts. My wife, having sewn a great deal in her younger life, knew exactly what to do, and did a great job.

All in all, it wasn’t a marathon sewing session. Just a couple hours on two different days. The final day of sewing involved a trip to the boat (just a mile away from our house) to fit and evaluate the alterations. Then a final session with the sewing machine finishing up the last details.  Here are some photos of the process.

Cutting new relief slots for stanchions and shrouds.

Cutting strips of excess material on the bias to be made into binding tape.

Sewing the tape along the raw edges of material.

A finished slot, raw edges bound with tape. There were probably 10-12 of these slots to bind with tape.

There’s the finished product.

Compare with last years’ arrangement, when the cover was just put on any way it would fit:

The alterations made a big difference. Now it lays flat and tight without bunchy gatherings where the cutouts were in the wrong places.

Many thanks to Kate and Frank for the use of their excellent Sailrite sewing machine!

Here are links to previous posts on this subject:

https://middlebaysailing.wordpress.com/2016/10/18/score-winter-cover/

https://middlebaysailing.wordpress.com/2017/01/07/winter-cover/

 

I’ve been away. Literally and figuratively. We travel far and long this summer (to S. Korea and back), and spent every free moment with our kids who were moving there (before they left).

But, I’m back now.

We’ve been day-sailing recently and had an over-night with a group of friends over Labor Day in the Rhode River. Last week I finally installed and satisfactorily tested a tiller pilot that I picked up for cheap at a second-hand marine shop ($40.00!). As I’ve experienced with my previous tiller pilot (that gave up the ghost about 5 years ago), it isn’t strong or fast enough to steer the boat in a brisk wind, but in moderate conditions it’s okay, and of course for motoring it’s excellent.

As you can see, I had to adapt the old bracket with an extension because this unit is shorter than my old one. This is a prototype bracket, and I need to make one that looks a bit more shippy.

I’ve done a couple other small projects on the boat, mostly by way of keeping the appearance and functionality intact (the continuous refit). Otherwise, she’s been sailing great and doing exactly what we want her to do.

Some boaters get 5-foot-itis – the desire to get a bigger boat. We keep pushing that away, knowing that for how we sail and cruise, Cay of Sea is just perfect for us. We are so satisfied with her size, seaworthiness, and cost! Besides that, I can’t imagine starting all over again with a different boat. There is always so much to do with a boat before you trust her completely, know her systems, know the status of all her maintenance items.

We’re completely comfortable with boat we have!

 

 

Finally finished up this little project. Always a challenge when I have to dodge rain drops. I installed the trim back into a fresh application of Boatlife teak-colored bedding compound, then installed the plugs with varnish as glue. Some folks use shellac, but varnish seems to work just as well. Gluing them in with anything stronger makes them difficult to remove next time.

Plugs set, waiting for the varnish to cure so I can trim and sand flush.

To trim, set a sharp (very sharp) chisel 1/8″ proud of the surface being finished, and gently tap. The top of the plug splits away. You can do this several more times for a curved profile to pare away excess material at the edges before you begin to sand. Just don’t set the chisel too closely to the base material, or the plug may split away below the surface. I set the beveled edge of the chisel towards the eyebrow so that plug tends to split up and away from the base. After trimming with a chisel, use a small block with 150 grit sandpaper wrapped around, and sand only the proud part of the plug, as much as possible. You will certainly sand a little bit of the base material as well, but careful attention to the level of the plug will keep it to a minimum. After all is smooth and flush, coat with your finish of choice. I use Cetol on these.

Done. Trimmed, sanded, and coated with Cetol.

I started this project about a year and a half ago, and lost momentum. I’m finally back at it, as the port side eye brow is absolutely embarrassing now. Add to that the fact that half the bungs are missing, and it’s just in a very bad state.

I removed the screws after splitting out the remaining plugs. There was a fair amount of something in the screw head slots – not sure what it was, but probably whatever was used to stick down the plugs originally. I guess some of the material has been lost from the teak trim pieces, as many of the screw heads were not too much below the surface of the wood.  No way would a plug stay in there. That means I’ll need to deepen the recesses for the screws. Screws out, and that was the easy part. Next was to separate the trim from the coach roof. It was bedded on to the coach roof with a sealant that released pretty fairly well with paint thinner, but much better with acetone. Still, it took a patient and careful 45 minutes to slide a couple of putty knives between the surfaces.

Had to work it from both ends, as one of the screws (not an original) was too short to thread out, but too far in to easily release.

As I gently pried the trim from the coach roof, I poured a little acetone into the crack that was revealed. That allowed me to separate 3-4 inches. Finally I separated the last few inches, and the remaining screw lifted out of the hole. I was happy to get the trim off in one piece.

Now, just lots of clean up left to do.

Next step is removing the old sealant, and cleaning up the trim pieces in preparation for new finish.

I sanded smooth the first batch of fairing compound on the port side, and did the same with a couple of other smaller areas, then refilled the same area (port side) with another batch of compound to bring all the repairs up to surface level – and picked up the scratches that I missed the first time.

Thought I would add this photo of the sheer in sunny conditions. You can really see how well the paint leveled out.

I resanded the filled areas, and repainted the repairs, then added a second coat to the repaired areas again yesterday. Now the sheer has two finish coats of paint. I began the painstaking task of pulling tape – I don’t know what I was thinking when I used the blue painter’s tape. The difficulty of removal just isn’t worth the $5 I save by using the cheap stuff. I had to leave a couple areas taped on the rub rail, as I couldn’t peel them off easily, and the paint was still too fresh to work on it without marring the finish.

Finished repair and two coats of paint.

And today the boat yard launched Cay of Sea – Nice to have her back in her slip!

Home for the season.

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