After last week’s streak of bad luck, we were still kind of unmotivated. The fiberglass work seemed endless and the recommendation of a professional made us doubt our approach. Time to take a day off: we celebrated my birthday extensively.
A professional opinion
In order to have a professional on hand for our hull renovation, we have registered with Andy from Boatworks Today as a Patreon. So, we could send him photos of Milagros and get his opinion on our approach. We had already started to fill the deeper blisters with 7.5 oz fiberglass cloth when we got the long-awaited answer from Andy. We didn’t like what we read.
He recommended fairing the entire hull (above and below the waterline) and laying 1-2 layers of so-called 1708 biaxial fiberglass mat with a density of 25 oz per square yard. This would stabilize all delaminated areas and (most likely) solve the osmosis problem forever. So, a 100% solution with which we would have a new hull, so to speak.
It is tedious: Anyone who has ever worked with these mats knows that they are difficult to process even for small repairs. Because unlike fiberglass cloth, the mat must be soaked in epoxy beforehand. That makes it heavy and unwieldy. Laying up large pieces of it must be horrible. For comparison: We are currently using simply woven fiberglass cloth with a density of 7.5 oz per square yard, which is very easy to process.
It’s a battle of material: The amount of material required, especially epoxy, is enormous. We’ve used almost a gallon of epoxy and 5 square yards of fabric for the blister repairs only.
It’s over the top: Andy is absolutely right – his approach would be optimal. Will we sink our boat if we don’t follow it? No. What’s the worst that can happen if we don’t follow Andy’s advice? The barrier coat can fail and we will have to do osmosis treatments again at some point in the future. Worst case, we have to admit that we should have listened to Andy. And maybe we have to sand everything down again and follow his advice. Or maybe not. Nonetheless, we know he’s actually right.
The sailing community here is wonderful. We were cheered up, were able to discuss Andy’s approach and weigh the pros and cons. In the end, we decided to stick with our planned approach. However, we still have the option of laying 1 – 2 layers of fiberglass cloth instead of mat after fairing, depending on the result. While leafing through one of our books, I discovered that the condition of our hull even has a name of its own: boat pox.
A systemic problem
Blisters usually occur between the gelcoat and the first layer of laminate. In the case of boat pox, the blisters do not occur occasionally. The entire bottom is covered with blisters, which is a systemic problem. Then the gelcoat must be removed and the paint reapplied.
With us, many blisters go deeper than the laminate/gelcoat junction and are located beneath the first laminate. The problem is created already during the boat building process. Unfortunately, it was common practice to apply the first layer of fiberglass to the wet gelcoat in the mould. Then waiting a day to continue the layup. As a result, the bond between the two layers is weak and therefore susceptible to blistering. The suggested solution is to remove the corrupted layer and replace it with a layer of 10 oz fiberglass cloth.
No end in sight
But we’ll stick to our plan: We won’t add an additional layer. So, we continued to glass happily, and sometimes less happily. Working on such a large area is challenging and sometimes almost overwhelming. Mainly because at times we doubted our decision and were not sure whether we were doing the right thing. In order not to lose the overview, we drew a grid on the hull – so we could work our way forward square by square and celebrate small successes. The potential of frustration at this work was increased by the fact that three boats were launched and another one was as good as ready to be launched. On the one hand we wanted to go sailing too and on the other hand we “lost” some of the great people here on the yard.
I was pretty happy that my sixth 27th birthday was coming up this week. For a long time, we had the plan to rent the really annoying beach buggies, which have been bothering us with their noise for the past two months, ourselves. When we shared the idea with a few other residents of the boatyard, SV Cavu, SV Alegría and SV Liquid were immediately in. Together with Mike and Katie from SV Alegría, Betty, their car, and Rosco, their dog, we checked the prices in advance to find the best deal. However, the Razor (the coolest looking buggy) we had in our sights was a whopping $ 250 an hour. No thanks. We decided on the slightly less cool Rhinos, which are basically golf carts with four-wheel drive. $ 40 an hour and four seats seemed appropriate.
The first day off
We and others needed day off of boat work – for us the first in almost 2 months. So, we all met at Milagros at 10 in the morning for coffee and
cake beer. I was very happy about the many sailors who came and clinked mugs and cans with me. We then went out and rented two Rhinos – one in pink and one in fast red. Cavu Dave and Alegría Mike took the helm first. As soon as we drove to the boatyard to get loudspeakers, I knew: it was worth it! The overpowered and top-sprung vehicles were noisy and fun.
On the way to the dunes of La Choya we left the paved road at the first opportunity and took a shortcut through the sand. The buggies are not made for the street, their natural habitat is the sand. So, we tested the suspension, the steering wheel angle and the 4×4 right away. The passengers in the back seat and the beer were shaken vigorously like on a roller coaster. That was just a foretaste and we wanted more.
Shortly before La Choya you could turn off the road again and drive through the desert. A mogul slope as far as the eye could see. Since it was Thursday there were almost no other people. Alternately we pushed our vehicles to the limit and competed with each other. Marla from SV Cavu even managed to reach the maximum speed of 60km / h. Having a beer in the back seat was impossible. The highlight was when we climbed the mountain of La Choya (San Juan Hill) and were rewarded with a great view at the top. We toasted my birthday with tequila. What fun!
Exhausted and happy
After 2 hours we brought the Rhinos back, exhausted from the jolting and shaking. Maybe we went a bit over the top, because both buggies were making weird noises that they hadn’t made before. Cavu Dave put it tellingly: “It feels like I’ve been in a car accident”. The conclusion was clear: that was a lot more fun than expected. And we now have a little more understanding for all the tourists who drive around in the streets next to the boatyard. But only a little, because as I said: these things have to be in the sand and not on the street.
The fun continues
We were back at the yard just in time for SV Catspaw to launch. A launch is always a big event as it (usually) means the end of work and the beginning of fun. Afterwards I was surprised with an Oreo ice cream cake from DairyQueen – even with candles, which I did not blow out because of Covid. We ended the evening with fish tacos and beer at SV Dogfish. What a day!
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