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Old 04-04-2011, 08:44   #1
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skipgundlach's Avatar

Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: Currently on the boat, somewhere on the ocean, living the dream
Boat: Morgan 461 S/Y Flying Pig
Posts: 1,143
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Taking a Shine to the Boatyard Blues

Taking a shine to the Boatyard Blues (and blacks and reds, too!) while going
slightly batty (well, "dinghy")

When we left you last, we'd just completed a booming trip from the Ragged
Islands of the Bahamas to Fort Pierce, FL, averaging 8 knots over a 480-mile
nonstop voyage.

Now that we're settled in to the Riverside Marina boatyard life, things are
happening at the usual pace of such an environment, which is to say, slowly,
but surely.

No sooner did we hit the ground (well, were carefully placed on boards under
the keel and supported by several special jacks under the hull) than someone
from my earliest days in our boat searching walks up and introduces himself.
The guy who was so enraptured of Endeavour 43s that he was convinced it was
the only boat I should consider has had his boat, bought before we even
started our search, STILL in the yard.

I'll save you the myriad unhappinesses with that model boat, but he's still
working on it, over 8 years later. Granted, it's a work of art, and once he
gets his new knees, he'll probably, finally, ship out. Ever helpful, he
also immediately offered the use of his specialty tool (well, specialty to
the average cruiser), a vacuum high powered sander, for doing our bottom
job, as well as offering a variety of other helps..

Hard on his heels were three other cruisers, spaced out over a day or so,
who - apparently my reputation precedes me - wanted to talk to me about our
internet setup. True to form, we were online from the moment we entered the
channel on our entrance to the area, albeit on various connections as we
moved from in front of the USCG facility to the yard. Our supplier,
Marine PC's & WiFi by IslandTime PC, is out sailing as I write, but there are now three
orders (that I know about, anyway!) for the same system we have waiting for
his return in a few days. We also have a half-dozen other cruisers sharing
our signal from our local (inside the boat) router, all of whom have come
over to see us as the site name for our router suggests they do :{)) It's
one of the ways we meet other cruisers, and, as those of you who have been
with us for a while know, sometimes, when we move local anchorages, we have
a "following" who keep near us to stay connected.

We're not moving from this spot for quite a while :{))

We have a three-page list of boatyard projects which is not only slowly
being whittled away but, as usual, has had additions made to it as we go...

Our first project was to obtain an inexpensive car, accomplished, courtesy
of Craigslist, in a couple of days. Cheaper, even if we threw it away, than
renting, it will wind up going to one of my children's family, they having
lost their second car a few months ago. We need that due to the
long-distance traveling we're going to be doing while we're ashore, and, not
insignificantly, our reprovisioning.

The last reprovision we did was in August 2009; we ran out of a few things,
and have surplus of a few others, but, in general, that turned out to be a
pretty accurate list. That will put our water line back closer to the
surface - we've been moving higher, a millimeter at a time, as we worked
through our provisions.

We'll likely add close to a ton of provisions, which will bring us back down
to the new waterline we did in our original refit, and restore our 7' draft.
So, while I would REALLY have liked to have gotten another Fiero (I used to
be a Fiero nut), as it's unequalled for comfort and style for long distance
travel, as it has a trunk about the size of couple of a large suitcases and
is a two-seater, it would be very inappropriate to our tasks. So, we got a
one-owner 2000 Mercury Marquis, with its limousine seats and cavernous trunk

The next major project was to clean off the bottom of the boat so we could
do a new bottom coat. Between the blister repairs we did in our original,
3-year-long refit, the hull repairs we did after our wreck on our maiden
voyage, and our interest in not having to do this job any time soon after we
launched the first time, we had between 6 and 10 coats of ablative (it's
designed to slough off under use, exposing new paint all the time) paint to

Of course, the nature of that paint is to come off, naturally, so what drove
us to this project was that there were places which were bare, and major
areas which were down to the first, color-change (allows us to see when the
outer layer is gone, but still protect against the critters which want to
attach to our hull) coat. The fact that we got 4 years out of our initial
work suggested we'd done it pretty well - many folks do their bottoms every
year, and most are happy to achieve a 2-year cycle!

None the less, much of it was still very thick. The specialty sander,
offered to us by the above friend, was not making much of a dent. So, I dug
out my tool I'd used in our wreck rehab and commenced grinding away. More

Another major project was to replace the covers to our aft berth mattresses.
Portia has done a number on the lightweight terry material, and, if you've
been with us a long while, you'll recall that we had to redo our bow cabin's
covers after an inadvertent disposal of the same stuff as is on the stern
presently. We did the needed research into various suppliers of that
skillset, settling on Brant, of Canvas Works, a very talented fellow who has
done some very serious work with governmental boats, as well as the more
typical small-boat work.

We'd originally thought to use the material we replaced the bow cushions'
covers with, but found a similar product in his catalog. It seems a thinner
material than that in the bow, which I expect is a bonus, as we, now
sleeping in the bow due to the work happening in the stern, find the cover
there too stiff, depreciating the benefit of the Tempur-Pedic clones we'd
designed for that cabin...

However, in the course of discussions on our work in general while he was
designing the changes we wanted to make in the salon seating, Brant
mentioned that he also knew a fiberglass wizard. In his work on smaller
boats, usually brought to his shop, this fiberglass wizard, who'd cut his
teeth on Zimmer modifications to Ford Mustangs many years ago, also did work
on the hulls. Brant thought he'd be very reasonable if we wanted him to
take off our bottom paint.

As our list is prodigious, and we want to be back in the Bahamas in late
June (after the 5-7 total weeks of family time which would take us away from
the boat), having someone else take on that chore would allow me to be doing
other things. True to expectations, the price quoted was very reasonable,
and John, who's also an ASE certified technician, and whose card reads
"Expert auto body and fiberglass restoration services," set to work.

I'd told him what to expect, and pointed out the various small repair areas
I'd already uncovered, but it was still a surprise to him to see how much
black (outer coat), blue ("reveal" coat) and red (original boat's reveal
coat) paint there was to take off. However, his work in the automotive
business created a perfectionist at what he does, and, while there is still
much to come off, his art in removal is stunning. Eventually we'll have
pictures of all of this, linked to a picasa album, and, also eventually,
uploaded to the gallery in my sig line, but it suffices to say that the
bottom will be very well prepped for the very minor repairs (some new, very
small, blister areas, and a few corrections to some repairs done after our
wreck, now 4 years ago) we've discovered.

We'll also be doing a new barrier coat - special paint which will keep water
away from the fiberglass, which can aborb moisture, leading to blisters,
later. We've taken most if not all of the barrier coat which was applied
over a "peel job" (removing all the original gel coat, the factory means of
applying a barrier to the fiberglass during manufacture) at a very long time
ago in a prior owner's history, during our blister repairs in our initial
refit so that will happen before we apply our
critter-killer/vegetation-discouraging paint.

Topsides, we also decided to redo our salon cushions and fabric, long a
thorn in our sides, as the cushions were worn out (original, which makes
them 30+ years old) and we weren't fond of the pattern on the upholstery
(which was extremely high quality material and workmanship, but just not our
style). Design changes we'd been thinking about for years will be
incorporated, making seating vastly more comfortable, in addition to the new
foam which would help in and of itself.

The fabrics for both the aft cabin bedding and the salon seating are
red-based, so between the bottom paint and the fabrics, we pretty much have
the color scheme in the title covered :{))

The shine part is that, in our last refit, in '09, we'd heard about a
varnish substitute which seemed literally too good to be true. Tuf-Shield
was promoted to us by a guy who'd used it on his boat in Maine. Always
exposed, the severe weather, from freezing - along with the snow and ice -
to broiling in the 19-hour summer daylight there (he claimed) hadn't caused
any deterioration in his finish in 10 years!! Some research revealed that
the original owner of the company had died a few years earlier, but the
company was once again producing the product.

Viral marketing hasn't yet taken hold, and they currently have only two US
distributors, but this product was selected by Bill Gates for his family
compound on a lake in WA, a massive project; it's a reasonable assumption
that cost was not an issue, but performance definitely was.

Hmmm. Perhaps this was worth pursuing, even though it seemed more expensive
than other alternatives more commonly used by sailors. Particularly,
refinishing of teak is an onerous job, second only to bottom work. Those
who contract it out pay VERY dearly for it due to the insane labor hours
needed for a quality job, so if we could mitigate that portion of keeping
our teak looking great, we were all for it.

Thus encouraged, we contacted the company, which sent us a sample package of
their base coat and both gloss and satin top coats, along with the special
reducer used in the base. It's taken us nearly 2 years to get to where we
are able to apply it, but Lydia's giving it the acid test, refinishing some
extremely weathered areas we'd let go natural.

Of course, it will be some years before the proof is apparent, but all we
read about the nature of the product suggests it will perform as advertised.
If we find it to be effective (that is, we don't have to do anything at all
to it for a couple of years, and additional coats are as easy as shown in
the application instructions), likely we'll carry a stock, as distributors.
The tropics are a great proving ground for marine finishes...

The other shine is that we're considering repainting our topsides. In boat
terms, that's the part above the water, but not the part on the top of the
boat, that being "deck and house"... We'd had stunning initial successes in
restoring shine to the presumed-15-year-old-paint with Poli Glow, but the
realities of reapplication from the water or deck made it such that we
didn't keep up with it. As a result, our topsides are not at their best.
However, re-enter the fiberglass wizard...

As he keeps at the grind below, we've been talking about how to attack the
part above. At this writing, it's a wrestling match between gel coat and
AwlGrip, the "standard" in boat paints. Gel coat is more forgiving, being
able to patch or touch up in the event of a scuff, or worse, but will
require more labor to keep shiny after a few years. Awl Grip requires less
later work, being an epoxy paint, but its hardness means that it is easy to
chip, and dings can't be repaired - at least not cosmetically perfectly.

Both our fiberglass wizard and the yard are quoting on that job. As that
was one of the things we thought we'd do - assuming we got there; cruising
is not subject to very hard dates! - in Cartagena in Columbia, a place we've
heard is VERY inexpensive in very talented labor, including two major refits
of a sister ship, if it's not "reasonable" (reasonable being a very relative
term in the boating world!), we'll wait on that.

The yard is also quoting on a modification of our arch. That, if we do it
here, will be a real nuisance to accomplish, as it will have to come off,
along with all the electrical attachments (wind generator, solar panels and
4 different antennas), which will have to be rethreaded and reattached,
along with the new connections required when I cut the wires under the deck
(better than taking out all the wiring back to the batteries!) when it's

However, this arch has been a thorn in my side since the day I installed it.
Despite my having specified materials orders of magnitude larger than the
usual arch, it's been wobbly since the day it was installed. Worse, there's
a weld failure on one of the reinforcing tubes, at the top on the port side.

Addtionally, due to the fabricator making a mistake he wasn't willing to
rectify during construction, our solar panels are at a permanent angle,
inefficient for a fixed location (some arches' design allow for tilting the
panels, but the need for the swing room makes for a much smaller area which
can be covered in solar panels, leading to less output other than in times
you continue to adjust for the sun's angle, something we'd not wanted to
bother with).

I'd designed it with davits incorporated, to keep the dinghy out of our line
of sight, which made for a very tall arch. So, our proposed modification
would shorten it so that piece with the broken weld was no longer there. In
addition, another, inner, reinforcing structure would supplement the outer
one I'd designed.

Along the way, we'd straighten out the solar panels' misalignment. A bit
fiddly in fabrication to make the now-shortened outer reinforcing frame
match up, as well as to come to the right point on the new top pieces so
they'd match up with the existing leg-remainders, but it could be done. And,
as we'd never found the dinghy to be anywhere near our line of sight,
shortening the arch would also allow for more stiffness just by virtue of
the smaller lever arm resulting.

There are LOTS of small jobs, but the other major one was to resolve our two
dinghies' failures. Porta-Bote came through immediately, prorating our 10
year warranty; the new bote (intentional "misspelling" due to the actual
name of the product!) arrived much more promptly than we'd expected. Walker
Bay continues to be a black hole of frustration, as their customer service
department moves glacially, despite it being based in Mexico. None the
less, they assure me that we'll have that one resolved before we set out
again, as well.

If we don't have a follow-up to my most recent request for a progress report
in the next few days, I'll try the trick our Kiwi buddies who have since
swallowed the hook (the term for cruisers who move ashore and sell their
boat) used, which is to call the headquarters and ask for the CEO's email
address. According to him, they REALLY don't want to see this go to a board
meeting, and, since we've been working with various folks there, starting
with the VP of Marketing and working our way into the Customer
Service/Warranty departments, for close to a year, including the "Alice's
Restaurant"-like multiple color glossies, my guess is that this might -
possibly! - speed up the process :{))

There are 16 projects currently in progress (started, but not finished due
to waiting time or other eventually-to-be-resolved impediments to closure),
another 30 or so smaller ones not yet started, and about a dozen major ones
already crossed off the list. (Lydia gets huge satisfaction when she can
draw a line through one of the projects, large or small, as it means the
list gets shorter!)

As seen in our last, the reason we hurried here - aside from the ideal
weather window at the time - was to attempt to achieve our list completion
before leaving for the wedding three weeks from today. That probably won't
happen, but we're very hopeful that we'll have it all finished before Lydia
gets the call to go play Grandma sometime a few weeks after we've returned
from the wedding.

Ever hopeful, this will do for now, in hopes that it's not quite as long as
the typical diatribe from me :{))

So, until next time, Stay Tuned!


Skip, back in the boatyard

Morgan 461 #2
SV Flying Pig KI4MPC
See our galleries at Web-Folio -- Your Portfolio on the Web !
Follow us at TheFlyingPigLog : Morgan 461 Hull #2, Flying Pig
and/or Flying Pig Log | Google Groups

"Believe me, my young friend, there is *nothing*-absolutely nothing-half so
much worth doing as simply messing, messing-about-in-boats; messing about in
boats-or *with* boats.

In or out of 'em, it doesn't matter. Nothing seems really to matter, that's
the charm of it.

Whether you get away, or whether you don't; whether you arrive at your
destination or whether you reach somewhere else, or whether you never get
anywhere at all, you're always busy, and you never do anything in
particular; and when you've done it there's always something else to do, and
you can do it if you like, but you'd much better not."
Morgan 461 #2 SV Flying Pig, KI4MPC
See our galleries at!
Follow us at
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