I want to remind everyone of the surprise I got when Tallulah was pulled out of the water after my first summer as a “sailor”.
Now, I am sure there’s some people questioning how I didn’t know that the bottom looked like this before pulling the boat out of the water. Well I knew there were zebra mussels, as I had cleaned them off many times throughout the summer while swimming, but the boat did not come out of the water until the end of October. By this time the water had been chilly for a while, so it was quite some time since I was in the water and looking at the hull.
I must admit I was always quite skeptical of the “repainted and redone hull” that was advertised when I purchased Tallulah, especially because of the slick,shiny finish it had that more resembled indoor/outdoor paint, than antifouling. The paint job did look “redone” in some way, so I decided to put the boat in the water and go on the assumption that the previous owner would hopefully have used some sort of marine paint. Well it would seem that wasn’t the case.
I spent the entire winter that year pricing out various methods of redoing the bottom. I looked into various sanding methods: multi-orbit palm sanding, dual action air sanding, belt sanding, sandblasting and I believe there were even more options than those mentioned. I decided palm sanding was the best option, as it was supposed to be the most gentle on the boat’s gelcoat. After I made that decision a Mastercraft palm sander appeared magically under the Christmas tree that year and I was quite excited (how naive of me) to use it. I then went on to research various types of antifouling paint and decided to go with your standard Interlux BottomKote, as people seemed to like it and it was reasonably priced.
The mysterious blue paint that was on the hull may not have been antifouling paint, but man was it ever strong! I tried for hours one day the next spring to sand it off and got nowhere! I chewed up several sanding disks on my little palm sander and barely got through a patch the size of a toonie, the paint was almost rubbery. Since I was still working at the marina at the time the staff persuaded me to stop fighting the old paint and cough up the extra money to get the hull sandblasted. This seemed like a good option to help me finish this task before the winter came again. If my memory serves correctly the sandblasting job cost me about $300, and I am honestly not totally sure if it was the best way to go. When I went to inspect the hull after the sandblasting job, I was hit with yet another big surprise, small pock marks covered the entire hull surface, and there was still remnants of the blue mystery paint, as well as various other hidden paints below that!
After the sandblasting I spent about two weeks heading to the boat every night after work and suiting up in my full paint suit and mask to sand until the sun went down. There were even some nights when I turned the car to face the boat and turned the lights on to continue sanding past dark. Each evening I’d return home exhausted and looking like a smurf with barely enough energy to shower before crashing into bed. I tried using various sanding techniques (none seemed much faster than the others) the palm sander, orbital polishers with sanding disks, a borrowed pneumatic DA sander and eventually the hull eventually ended up looking like this…
Thank god the boat is only 26 feet long!
Then it was time to come up with a new plan, yet again and decide what to do next. I knew at this point after the extensive sanding and the sandblasting I couldn’t just slap on a few coats of antifouling. The research began again and I weighed my options; my top two choices were to epoxy the bottom using West Systems Epoxy or using Interlux’s Interprotect. There seemed to be many valid arguments for both options, however, I decided to go with Interprotect as it seemed to be the more reasonably priced option as well as easier to apply without much experience.
Since the keel was a bit rusty after the sandblasting, I had to take a grinder with a wire brush and remove all the rust; then immediately coat the keel in Interprotect to stop the rust from returning. By this point my arms were already quite sore after all the sanding, and now grinding, so needless to say I was starting to question the undertaking of this job!
Finally it was time to start painting with the Interprotect. Coat, after coat, after coat…
After the second coat I realised that the pock marks were still quite noticeable, though I had hoped they would be basically gone after the extra sanding and coats of Interprotect. My solution was to add Cabosil to the Interprotect and use a plastic scraper to apply it to the hull in a slightly thicker coat to fill the pock marks for good. Below is the result of that technique.
The pock marks were not completely gone, however you needed to get extremely close to the hull and press your nose right against it to see them at this point. I was satisfied with how the hull looked! However, since I had applied the final 2 coats of Interprotect with the plastic scraper I had to get the sander back out to do a light sanding to smooth the surface before applying the antifouling.
Remember before I mentioned I had decided on Bottomkote as the antifouling, well I had an instant change of heart when I learned that thought VC17 is more expensive, it doesn’t require sanding between applying new quotes each year. SOLD! After spending weeks under the boat with a sander, it took me all of two seconds to change my mind and buy four quarts of VC17 (and eventually 2 more at a later date). I could finally start to see the end of this job when I started to add the beautiful looking copper paint.
Ahh the finished product, and she looks great, time to hit the water!
JUST KIDDING! First I had to complete all the steps over again under each cradle pad as I supported the boat with separate stands chained together under the hull…
Then I installed the transducer for my new depth sounder/GPS combo. Yes, in a very different way than your typical sailboat installation, but it works great for me!…
Finally, Tallulah was ready to hit the water about 6 weeks after the whole process began!
Sailing Lesson #4: Always be prepared to find surprises during any project on the boat, and be ready to readjust your plan of attack accordingly!