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Getting to the Bottom of things

Being almost fifty-two years old, Flirt has lived a long life for a boat. From the looks of things, a hard life as well. From her neglected woodwork to the cracked and crazed gelcoating that left her glassfibre hull open to water impregnation, she needed and still needs a lot of work before I can consider her “seaworthy” in any fashion.

Today I finally finished clearing off the last of the bottom paint from her shapely underside. This was a hard and rather miserable task that exposed a lot of things I expected and a few I did not. Like her topsides, her bottom’s gelcoat is in poor shape. crazed from stem to stern, it does little to protect the underlying glass and resin mixture from water intrusion. Also like her topsides, Flirt’s underwater areas were covered with several layers of paint. From a light blue that likely came from the Sea Star factory floor all the way through a dark blue, a bright red, a dark red, and finally a black ablative, Flirt was carrying a fair bit of paint beneath her water line… and it took countless hours and sanding discs to get it all off.

Now that you can see the glass, I have noticed something about how she was built. It puzzles me that her port side (left to the landlubbers) is in decent shape considering, but her Starboard side has several areas where the GelCoat was not backed by resin or glass, but instead had a large air bubble between the two. This was not a blister, as the gelcoat was not bubbled outwards at all, but it seemed like somebody did not quite know what they were doing when they laid up her hull and went far too fast. At least that is all I can come up with to explain it.

Plans are coming together on how I am going to clean up the mess that is Flirt’s bottom, and I am giving no hints here tonight, just enjoy the pictures.

As you can see here from the pic I took at a rest stop in Upstate New York, when I picked up Flirt, she was sporting a rather worn layer of Black Ablative bottom paint. While it looks decent enough here, you can see where it is worn away at the end of her keel and on her rudder.

Flirt on the Trailer

Thruhulls for the non-existant (and illegal) marine toilet where exposed as I sanded.

Toilet Thruhulls

And they were quickly dispatched with a hacksaw and a Glassfibre patch.

Filled Thruhulls

And then onto the stern-most section of the keel where I was forced to cut out the channel the rudder rode in and repair it with some high tech and sexy carbonfibre.

Cut keel

Open keel

Some grinding back to get a good bond between the old ‘glass and the new Fibre

Ground back keel

And it was on to the Carbonfibre repair (I cannot call this a patch, it is too structural)

Repaired Keel

And then comes all the sanding… I started on the stern Port side and moved my way forwards to the bow before coming back to the stern on the Starboard.. during the way I needed to contort myself between Flirt and her Trailer as I struggled to keep my orbital sander doing the dirty work without destroying my shoulder in the process. It was a hard couple of weeks of an hour or so there and an hour or so there.

Port Stern Sanded

Port Bow Sanded

Starboard Sanded

And along the way, I find Flirt’s waterline and the marks for her boot line buried under more layers of paint


But now that is all behind me. Soon I will have to accomplish the repairs I need to do before it gets too cold to get a layer of barrier coat on her bottom. She will not get bottom paint this year.. but will before (hopefully) going into the water next spring.

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A long time sailor who has been away from the water for too long, I am working hard to bring an old and abused boat back to life. When not working on my boat, I can often be found working as a Stage Hand in Atlantic City or just out and about on my Mountain Bike. I really come off as a quiet and boring person when people first meet me.

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