From ugly duckling to beautiful swan…mostly…

ugly duckling

Ugly duckling

Painting the exterior of a boat is difficult.  Well, maybe ‘difficult’ isn’t the right word.  Expensive is a good word … awkward is another one.

First comes all the sanding.  What a messy job.  Rick rented a sander from the marina and it had an attachment that keeps all the dust from blowing around.  Marine paint isn’t environmentally-friendly.

Since we are on a budget – as you may have noticed – we had to do the painting ourselves.  Primer, then sand, then primer, then sand, then paint and paint and paint again!

The process involves scaffolding, which involves scrounging around the yard looking for A-frame scaffolds and long wide planks which go between the scaffolds and upon which we stand.   I’m a klutz so standing on a plank that’s about a foot wide?  Hey, there’s a reason I didn’t do the balance beam in gymnastics!

The paint is expensive and we pour in an additive to make it more fluid so we don’t get unsightly brush streaks.

Which leads me to the real difficult part.

Boats are glossy and shiny,  In order to get glossy and shiny boats, we must paint the boat (after 3 coats of primer) standing side-by-side; 1 of us rolling on the gorgeous blue paint and the other doing something called ‘tipping’, which doesn’t involve money.

You take a sponge-brush and, tilting the brush about 45 degrees, lightly, lightly!! wipe the paint that has just been applied, first in one direction then in another.  Horizontally then vertically, then horizontally…  The point of that is to keep the paint from having obvious brush strokes and visible lines separating sections of rollered-on paint.

Tipping is an art which my husband is good at and me, not so much.  So I got to roll on the paint.  I mustn’t roll it on too fast nor too slow, I must just keep ahead of the tipper, trying not to paint over each others’ hands as we go, trying not the step in the paint tray or step off the plank and trying not to get my hair in the paint.

Its windy, its hot and its dusty from people driving by on the gravel road…aargh.

Also, its surprising how many bugs love fresh paint.

We had to keep spraying and taping up tiny holes to discourage wasps – yet, they built large hives anyway!

Rick and I enjoy ourselves, despite the heat and the mess and the mess and the heat.  A boat owner came by and she said she had wondered if a husband/wife team could actually work well together on a project like this, but when she heard us laughing all the time, she figured we were doing OK!

By the time we got to the last coat on the last quarter of the boat, it was looking pretty good!



So, we abide by the 20/20 rule.  If you are 20 feet away, going 20 miles per hour, the boat looks pretty good.  Even if we do say so ourselves 😉


Where to go on the 4th?

Last week we were wondering where to go on Independence Day and realized that question pretty much has a permanent answer:  To The Boat!

Rick is still working on it at least 1 day a week, sometimes 2 and sometimes, but rarely, 3 days.  There are some good things about being slow at work, one of them is time to work on your hobbies.  Of course, the down side to being slow at work is there isn’t much moolah to pour into one’s hobbies!  If he isn’t up where the boat is docked, then he’s sanding and finishing the bits and pieces here in our backyard/parking lot.

However, Rick still needs to devote more elbow-grease than money so off we went.  I and my still-relatively-new beach chair and he with his terry-cloth sweatband and pile of work towels.

We have a tarp draped like a Boy Scout pup-tent over the boom to help keep from getting sunstroke and Rick spent his time happily rollering and brushing finish on the wood from tip to tail, stem to stern.

He’s on the second coat now and this weekend he’ll put on the 3rd coat.  The outboard engine expert is meeting Rick there on Saturday and now we’ll find out what is going wrong with it.  Once the engine works (fingers crossed), then its only a week or so till he motors on up the Napa River to the dry dock and begins the dirty work of sanding off the old paint and giving the old girl a new paint job.

Paint is darn expensive!  The ugly colors are cheaper, natch, but I think we will regret not painting the boat a color we are enthusiastic about just to save a couple hundred bucks…yes, it could cost about 700 bucks to paint a little 30 foot sailboat and that’s with Rick doing the work himself!  Marine quality stuff ain’t cheap.  Oh, I know, you with your 75 foot sailboat might be snickering behind your hand at our penny-pinching efforts, so this is me, throwing a raspberry at you!


Anyway, here are some pictures of the woodwork that’s been given just tender, loving care by my husband.

You can see the stripper around the windows. The wall to the right is so yellow with aging finish. Rick’s taped off the racing plaques to protect them.

You can see the partially stripped wall, the ugly finish at the right.

Here’s the new stain, so beautiful.

Now that I’ve had my sewing machine fixed I’m primed and ready to make new cushions.

…something tasteful with palm trees…in a sort-of-like-this-but-not-really way…

I’m going to create patterns from the old material – if I could just bring myself to touch it 😉

Murphy’s Law, its how we roll

Rick bought a ‘bus’ so that the instruments are plugged into this at the switch panel and then the wires go to the batteries (or something along those lines, don’t ask me for details!).  That way, when an instrument must be replaced or upgraded it will be easy to pop them out and in. He even made his own ‘wiring harness’ tying everything together neatly. 

Naturally, because this is the way our lives work, he put the new switches in upside down – we looked at the switches and tried to figure out which way was on and which was off.  Finally, he figured it out – there is a tiny, tiny, itsy-bitsy, almost invisible notch at the ‘off’ side – but not before he’d already put everything together.  The switches themselves weren’t a big deal since they simply screw in or out.  But, the ‘bus’ was ‘gorilla glued’ on and getting it off?  Well, that wasn’t going to happen.  Fortunately, Rick was able to rotate the switches but it’s a VERY close fit…and now, the switches are upside down, oh, bother!

 And, naturally, that steel bracket Rick spent so much time polishing up?  Well, its too small for the outboard motor.  The bolt holes don’t line up with each other…so…good thing he only paid $25 and now he’s off to find another bracket – paying 3x what the smaller bracket cost BUT still only ¼ of what a new bracket would set us back.  Gotta look at the bright side, you know.  Rick will post the smaller one for sale on Craigslist.


Discovered that there is a gas filter on board!  Then when cleaning it up – thinking that he was saving having to buy another one for 100 bucks, he sees that the inside factory paint is flaking off…not a good idea to gunk up the fuel that way, so the old gas filter gets tossed, bummer.

 He’s made up drawings of the boat and motor and waterline and where everything lands when the motor is installed.  He’s very graphic.  Architect, you know…

He’s also cheap.  Instead of buying the proper color of brown and white wiring for something or other at the expensive marine supply store, he purchased brown wiring from Lowe’s and he’ll take a silver Sharpie down the length of it, I did say ‘cheap’, didn’t I?

We’re also thinking of the timing and order of painting – like do we paint from the bottom up?  From the top down?  Wait to do the deck until the interior is done?  Do the interior last?  Oh, nevermind!  It can make my mind spin. 

Some of this stuff sorts itself out as we go along, so we shouldn’t overthink it too much.

Oh, and colors!  Blue hull with a thin yellow stripe at the water line and red below that?  That’s what I’m leaning toward.  There are some pretty greens, too.  Paint comes in quarts, ½ gallons and gallons.  And it’s VERY expensive…a quart can be $50!!!  It figures that white is the cheapest color.  That may dictate what color we paint the boat, sad to say…but it does explain why there are so many white sailboats about 😉