A Kiwi couple's cruising adventures on America's Great Loop and around the coast of New Zealand

Sunday, 4 August 2013

Bottoms up

My humble apologies to followers for the lack of postings. I kinda thought that no-one really cared about the blog now that we aren't Looping any more, but I have received a few complaints about the lack of updates so I figured I had better make the effort. It has been a very busy time for us as we downsize from our large home to the apartment that we have bought in Orewa. Our house sold in 16 days but, fortunately, settlement isn't until mid September, so we thought we had plenty of time....but doesn't it just zoom by!!

When  we first bought Loopy Kiwi in 2011, it was obvious she needed antifouling (bottom paint) and it was our intention to have this done when we reached Florida, and included coating the running gear with Propspeed. Because of the circumstances, nothing was done there and by the time we reached Savannah and had the hull waterblasted (pressure washed), a great deal of the bottom paint was missing and we were back to the gelcoat in many places. As there are several fiberglass boats in our Marina suffering from "rotten bottoms" caused by osmosis, it became imperative to me that the hull was repainted as soon as was practicable.

Originally, I intended that this would be as I was quoted to have the work done by the tradespeople in the USA..ie "a heavy sand and 2 coats of bottom paint" ($2300 BTW!!!), but it was noticeable that in many place that the bottom paint had fallen off, that there had never been any sealer or barrier applied to the gelcoat before the antifoul was painted on. You may get away with this in fresh water, but in the sea this practice (apparently) is and invitation to promote osmosis (blisters) and a humungous future problem. So I was advised that we should remove all of the existing bottom paint back to the gelcoat, sand with 80 grit sandpaper to a dull finish and apply 2 coats of 2 pot epoxy barrier primer, before overcoating with 2 coats of antifoul (bottom paint).

Sounds easy, eh! and while it wasn't particularly difficult, there were many times when I wondered what I was thinking to buy a boat with such a big bum. Charlie came down to give me a hand and, after we had removed all the old antifoul and we had to sand the bottom, we found that crouching beneath and pushing upward with the sander to be very strenuous. In the States I had observed that hardstand were generally concrete and the boats were propped up low to the ground and the guys doing the work would use mechanic's "garage creepers" (little flat trolleys that you lay down on) to sand and paint the hulls. Our boat was relatively high off the ground, which is gravel, so this was impossible to mimic. Overnight I had a revelation of an easier way and we tried it out the following day:
It was very successful, and made the job a lot easier to achieve the result we wanted

Loopy Kiwi is unusual in that she has underwater exhausts. They are fabricated from stainless steel and were coated with a black epoxy paint that had stuck perfectly well for the 8 years that the boat was in fresh water. However, once she reached the sea, all that changed and the paint began to peel in places. Note that I said "in places", because where it hadn't peeled it did NOT want to come off. The makers of these exhausts and whoever decided to put them on the boat were the subject of significant blasphemous utterances during the removal of this paint.

We then had to apply 2 coats of the epoxy barrier to the hull and, as the second one "tacked off" the antifoul had to be applied immediately to bond to it, so we had a team of four of us applying it. The job was done in several hours and she was ready to have the propspeed coating for the running gear and the lower halves of the underwater exhausts. This was done the following day and she was returned to the water looking very pristine.

In the meantime, Kindred Spirit (look back to the beginning of the blog)  has also sold and tomorrow is being lifted out to be transported to her new home in Wellington. The new owner is in the chemical cleaning business and supplied me with a container of phosphoric acid to clean the rust stains off Loopy Kiwi that came from the containers during shipping. We made it up into a 50/50 mix with water, broomed it on....and watched the rust disappear!!!. 3 cupsful of acid in water did the entire boat and she is now looking loverly again.
Well, that's the update. I read the AGLCA digest every day to see where the Loopers are at the moment and still wish we could have been there. But it has been a very mild winter and we will be in our new home soon and looking forward to summer cruising around New Zealand's beautiful coastline. 

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