Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Fun With Toxic Chemicals: Deck Paint Edition

When we prioritized projects prior to Peponi's launch last fall, cosmetic concerns got pushed way down the list. We had to get the hull buttoned up, the power train finalized, and the rig put together first. And because we launched in the fall, that meant that repairing and repainting the deck ended up having to wait almost 8 months for the somewhat reliable sunshine to return to the Northwest.

We've had an incredible stretch of late spring and summer weather here this year, and that let me get to the deck project. It also has the Admiral in a good mood. She's a Southern California girl, and anything less than constant sunshine is a cause for complaint.

Like everything else on the boat, the deck had not been cared for well. Or at all. The gelcoat was dull and scratched. The non-skid wasn't very "non" anymore. The beige had faded to an ugly brown shade that had permanent stains on it (as well as some actual stain, dripped from the previous owner's attempt to reseal the teak on deck).

In short, it was a mess. Here are some shots of the day we boat the boat, many moons ago. Granted, the winter light makes anything gloomy, but we have to have some sort of baseline, right?

You can click on any of the photos on this page to see a large detailed image.

An overall look at the deck as we found it 3 years ago.

Side deck detail
Side deck detail

Foredeck detail
We made a first pass at the on deck teak while the boat was hauled out at at The Boat Yard, but this was mostly an attempt to just feel good about ourselves. It will need to be redone soon, as our cursory job didn't really end up look all that good. But for now, it was the deck that needed to be done to make Peponi look like she had actually been refit.

One thing I quickly learned while attempting this project is that everyone who has ever painted anything has a lot of opinions about paint selection, application, brand, prep, and cleanup. The downside of doing this job while the boat was in the water (aside from having to paint the side decks from on the boat itself rather than from a ladder) is that everyone who walked down the pier found the time to stop and offer his opinion. And even before I started, I was told what paint to buy, where to buy it, what to thin it with, what roller or brush to use. Even at Fisheries Supply, after I had selected the paint, the cashier took the time to ask me what I was using it for and then proceeded to give me a look that said, "That's not the paint I would have chosen."

So here's the deal: I chose to use a one-part paint. Interlux Brightside, to be exact. In White and Bristol Beige. Why not two-part epoxy paint, you ask? Because it's a pain in the ass. That's why. And because in a "test spot" I was able to get really good results with the one-part Interlux.

I started with the white areas of the deck with the logic that the darker color would cover any runs or mistakes in taping. Most of the white deck is smooth gelcoat, and to get the paint to run out smooth (no brush marks) it needed to be thinned down. Interlux makes a brushing liquid called 333 that I used at about half of the maximum ratio, a bit more as the day heated up.

Also, I know it is an unforgivable sin, but I left the deck hardware on the boat. I just taped everything off really well. Removing and rebedding the stanchions and other hardware will have to wait. I can only tackle so many frustrating projects at once.

I learned a long time ago with home painting projects that prep is everything. A good masking job, a clean surface, and the proper tools makes any project much easier. That said, I hate prep. Because I was applying multiple coats, I ended up taping, un-taping, and re-taping the boat several times to keep the adhesive from setting or the tape from lifting up in the rain or dew. It takes over an hour to mask off the deck, in case you are calculating your own work time. Buy expensive tape and apply it carefully, in pieces as long as you can manage.

The deck has a few big spaces to cover, the most obvious of which is the front of the cabin. This is what everyone sees, so naturally it is the area that was the hardest to get right. The paint either sagged on me or it didn't run out and left brush marks. I ended up painting, sanding, painting, sanding, and then painting it. Finally I have a serviceable job there. The other spot that ends up being looked at a lot is the mast step, and it needed a few tries, too. The rest of the white paint turned out pretty nicely. After two coats:

Two coats of Interlux Brightside. Waiting for non-skid.
It took a couple of weeks to find the time and weather to get all the way around the boat three times with the white paint. For the non-skid areas I laid down one coat of untextured paint and then one to two coats of paint with Interlux non-skid additive mixed in. Then a thin coat of untextured to seal it up. More about the non-skid in when I get to the beige areas. The final result was a nice grippy surface that didn't look too bad.
Non-skid section detail.

The beige, non-skid areas of the deck got a similar treatment. After some careful taping I applied a thinned coat of paint with a small mohair roller (spend money on roller covers and brushes; the cheap ones give you cheap results). This went down really well and was one of those jobs that gives you more or less instant gratification as you see the results, much like waxing a dull, chalky hull). By the time I worked around the boat once, it was dry enough to start again with a round of textured paint.

A note on the texture situation. If you paint the existing non-skid with a smooth paint, hoping that the existing non-skid pattern will be enough to provide traction, you will be disappointed. It's slippery as hell.

I added texture using the recommended Interlux product and following their ratios pretty closely. Here is what I learned there:

You have to trust the manufacturer. It doesn't seem like it is putting down any non-skid and the tendency is to add extra grit to the mixture as you go. Don't. Be patient, apply the well-mixed paint, and let it dry. You'll be surprised at the results. If it isn't enough after one coat, simply add another following the same ratios.

Also, go with the pre-mix method. You can, theoretically, paint a section and then broadcast the non-skid on the top with a salt shaker or flour sifter. Two problems here. One, the shit gets everywhere if there is even a hint of a whisper of a ghost of a wind. Two, it is so fine that there is no way to see the results as you go. Mix the paint, wait 10 minutes, stir like crazy, only pour what you need for a small section into the roller tray, stir like crazy, repeat. Don't let the grit settle to the bottom of the paint (it is so small and light that it won't happen as fast as you think, but still, the bottom of the roller tray has more grit in it than you expect.)

The most important thing I learned was to trust it. You can see it well, but there is a fair amount of non-skid being laid down.
Foredeck taped and ready for non-skid.
I did the foredeck as its own project to ease moving around the boat. Then I came back two days later and did the side decks and cockpit.

Port side deck taped and painted.

Starboard side deck taped and painted.

Port side deck detail. Taped and painted.
Port side deck detail final.

Waiting for paint to dry.
In the end the decks look clean and crisp (though not "factory" new.) From a few feet away the one-part paint and the contrast between the beige and the white make Peponi look as good as any boat on the dock. No doubt there is still touch up to be done, and the cockpit still isn't done (it has the most complicated corners and is the hardest to paint while at the dock), but I am pretty happy to have this much done, anyway.

I hope to get a good stretch of weather while on the mooring up at The Boat Yard over the week of July 4th to get the teak redone so that it sets off the new paint even more.

Now back to sailing.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

New Tack

Spring Sunset at the Marina
As you can tell, I stopped posting here once Peponi was in the water and we were sailing her. But as you also probably know, the projects didn't stop.

So rather than just neglecting this space I put it back on my to-do list because I am positive there are two or three people out there who care, or at least who get bored enough to search "Cape Dory" in Google and get sent here.

Since we last spoke:

Cap'n Ron, Elton the Mechanical Genius, and I took part in a long, cold, wet delivery slog from Port Townsend to Everett, where Peponi's new slip was waiting. This would be the first test of the new mechanical systems on board, and it didn't take much convincing to get Elton to go with us, tool kit in hand, in case things went wrong.

With the new Beta 14 and prop, Peponi cruises easily at 5.5 knots and will do over 6 if pressed above 3,000 rpm. Not bad for a short, heavy boat.

Motoring Through Puget Sound
We had one of those typical Puget Sound cruises where there was wind the whole time, but at every turn it was right on the nose, leaving us little choice but to just power into it. It was a wet ride.

It took about 6 hours to get from marina to marina, and it was a good chance to work out a few things, mostly ergonomic. The important take away from that shakedown was that the boat is awesome.

I am comparing her to our previous boat, an O'Day 302 that was typical of boats from the late 1980s: roomy inside and full of ideas and features that almost worked. By comparison I already loved Peponi more than the O'Day. Her motion is kinder, she tracks better, and remarkably, she is faster. The O'Day, with its wing keel and barn door rudder wasn't really very good at anything except sitting at the dock.

After a long cold day, we pulled Peponi into the Everett Marina. It was October. Just in time for winter to hit. Great timing. We did get a few great days over the winter, and any time the sun came out, we tried to take advantage of the dry weather to sail or just work on some of the ongoing projects onboard.

Mostly, though, Peponi sat and floated while we waited for calendar pages to turn. In the Northwest we can sail year round since nothing ever freezes over, but the days are painfully short and the weather is cold and heavy. I ended up tarping up the boat to keep her as dry as I could while I did some final wiring, electronic, and plumbing tasks. By the time spring hit, pretty much everything was working as planned. The new Standard Horizon chartplotter was displaying the AIS information from the VHF radio. The cockpit repeater was wired. The stereo was streaming tunes from my iPhone. The hot and cold running water was, well, running. Also the drink holders were installed in the cockpit. Important.

It didn't take long before the experience of being in Everett started to get me down. This is the marina where we kept our last boat, and it is a little cheaper than other local boat basins. You can read about me finally losing my patience and moving the boat to her current home at my other blog.

Today Peponi lives in Edmonds. And it's now officially sailing season.

I have spent the last two months getting used to how she handles, setting up the rigging, and working on remaining projects. But mostly it has just been pure happiness after 3 years of work to have her on the water.

Coming soon, updates on:
  • New deck paint
  • New sails
  • Other upgrades
Until then, some photos:

Quick Sail to Kingston for Lunch

The 9 Year Old Sailing Like a Pro


The Junior Crew