I’m still sanding……

Since I own a larger boat – a vessel I prefer to refer to as a “boat,” not a “yacht” – I’m often asked what the difference is between a boat and a yacht.  I didn’t have a good answer until recently.  But now I can definitively and without irony declare:  Sanding.

Getting a defect-free, yacht-quality finish requires hours and hours of sanding, none of which is really necessary for a “boat” to do its job on the water.  It’s purely an aesthetic conceit.  But after putting so much work into building the boat, I want it to look GOOD!  And so…   Sanding.

When I got back from Tuscany I set to work sanding the coat of primer I applied prior to my departure.  Sadly, what this revealed was that there was still enough variation in the surface that I’d go completely through the primer in some places before I got rid of all the orange peel in others.  The variation was enough that I didn’t think we’d fill it with just a couple of coats of the 545, so I bought some AwlGrip High Build and had my friend Chris shoot two heavy coats of it across the entire hull.

I then blocked this off using the stroke sander where possible, and manual sanding blocks in the really curvy parts, and was able to get to a fair surface with only a few places where I went all the way to the hull.  Good enough!

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The transom and rear quarter areas were the least fair, but not bad at all.

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Along the way, I decided to bring in some sanding help.  This is pretty rough work and it was killing my back.  My dad was away – and frankly I wouldn’t want to subject him to this anyway – so I hired a gentleman from the local boatyard to help.  He’s done some work for me on my big boat in the past and is very talented.

As we were sanding, it became clear that he thought his buddy from the yard – the painter from the yard … who shoots AwlGrip all day, every day – would probably be interested in a side job shooting the boat.  Chris had been a bit nervous about shooting the AwlGrip since he’d never worked with it before and didn’t want to screw up on something that had this much prep into it.  We agreed that they’d both come by the following afternoon to take a look at it.  In the meantime, I finished blocking out the High Build, and by the time the guys showed up she was ready for finish primer.

After a little dancing around the issue, we agreed that they’d shoot the primer that afternoon (Monday), come back in the afternoons this week to sand it off and prep for topcoat, and then shoot the topcoat on Saturday.  This will be the first work I’ve “hired out” on this job, and I was a little hesitant about it, but honestly painting is one of those things that demands a lot of expertise – which comes with practice – and I wanted it right.  Unfortunately, it’s not cheap, but I’m off to a wedding this morning, and when I get back to Alameda on Monday my boat will have a professional, high gloss finish.  I’m thinking it’s worth it.

Here they are shooting the primer.
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I’m really happy with how fair she looks with a glossy coat of wet primer on her.  There are a few spots that have minor waves to them, but they’re the kind of thing that the builder notices because he’s run his hands over the boat 1000 times, but nobody else is likely to see.  It’s mostly in the rear quarters where the glass tape didn’t get completely faired in, and a little just under the sheer guard where it’s tough to sand smoothly.  For a first effort at building a boat, I’m ecstatic.

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Anyway, while the painting is happening I’ve been working on some CNC-cut Starboard cabinetry for the leaning post.

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Oh, we also took a day off to run out in the big boat and watch the America’s Cup final.  Pretty amazing sailing.  Those boats are FAST!

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That’s it for now.  Come Monday, I should be able to share photos of a glossy, painted hull ready to be turned over and wheeled back into the shop for the inside to be finished out.  I can’t wait!
-Ben

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