If you are following me on social media, you will know that I have been doing an extensive boat restoration of Spindrift. It all started when COVID-19 hit and I decided to shut down my 2020 Sail Nelson season. This led to me realizing that I had some time to do some much-needed maintenance to Spindrift. And so, after a family season of sailing, the can of worms opened in October of 2020…
How it all began…
Spindrift is a Robert Perry Aloha 8.2. She has beautiful lines, solid construction, new sails, a BBQ (essential), and a stern drive that makes me want to bash my head against the wall over and over again. The stern drive means that she needs to be pulled from the water every few years for impeller replacement that involves removing the powerhead. Not a small job. I will write a blog post specifically for the engine maintenance part of this restoration. She also needed a good bottom scrub and bottom coat, so off we go!
Since the main purpose of taking Spindrift out of the water was to replace the impeller and to do a bottom coat, that’s where we (my friend Graham and I) started. The work spread like wildfire from there and let’s just say there are several more blog posts on the horizon. But this one will focus on the bottom.
Where did we start?
First things first, we started sanding… and sanding… and sanding… and sanding… you get the idea. We used orbital sanders with 80 grit sandpaper. Several days of sanding later, we were down to the base. She’s in good shape! No major surprises to be found on this boat restoration. We did manage to find a couple of small manufacturer defects including a pinhole in the fiberglass near the stern, pitting in the gelcoat from oils/sealants, but overall she’s a solid 40-year old babe. The thru-hulls and ground plate are all in good shape!
What supplies did I need?
As mentioned above, we have kept the 80-grit sandpaper suppliers well employed! I have probably spent over $200 in sandpaper alone (and that’s conservative). Other tools needed included:
- drill for Graham to poke holes everywhere to make sure core wasn’t wet, including many experimental-let’s-see-what-happens-holes
- earplugs for me to not hear Graham making said holes everywhere
- generator to get power as we were in a field
- lots of extension chords to keep those orbital sanders going
- eye protection, ear protection and ventilators
Once our shoulders recovered from sanding, we completed any glassing that needed to be done. The stern of the boat had many little spider cracks, so this was an area that Graham ground out with the angle grinder (while I was in the fetal position) and then we glassed and faired it. Spindrift was also created by putting two half molds together, so she has a fancy seam right down the middle where the two parts were connected. Again, Graham ground that out “just to check on it”. Sigh. The front edge of the keel turned out to be a bit wonky so Graham ground it down and built it back up with several layers of fiberglass. Tools used for glassing:
- woven fiberglass cloth
- chop-strand fiberglass mat
- Epoxy resin + hardener (I used West System 205 Fast Hardener)
- disposable brushes
- mixing pots, plastic mixing sticks and syringes
The next phase is to fair the bottom. Fairing is used to make a surface smooth. Graham has decided that Spindrift should compete in the next Volvo Ocean Race, so she went through MANY hours of fairing (he is literally still trying to fair while I am doing the final painting…). Fairing is quite satisfying, but you do need to draw a line somewhere or you will fair every inch of your boat! Remember, at this point we are still just focused under the waterline (that is a hint for another blog post). Tools needed for this part of the job:
- Epoxy resin and fairing compound (I used West System purchased through Lee Valley)
- Mineral spirits to wash any grime
- Putty knives, plastic spreaders, mixing cups, gloves
- restraints to stop Graham from fairing too much
- rags and cleanup stuff
Once the fairing was complete (ie I started painting so Graham could not continue fairing), I started with a two-part epoxy primer. For this job I used Interlux InterProtect 200E Kit. I went through many rollers during this boat restoration, so make sure you have a bunch on hand. I have completed 4 coats of the bottom and not too many bugs were memorialized in the process. Spindrift had to do a little balancing act as I lowered supports so I could paint under them, which is always fun. The weather was a great 20 degrees or so, so the working time for the primer was pretty good. Once it got closer to 30, however, it became harder to work as the paint was setting up while I was still trying to apply it. I also worked out of direct sunlight whenever I could. Tools needed for this part of the project:
- foam rollers
- roller pans
- rags for cleanup
- paint mixer drill bit (epoxy settles in bottom of can and needs a good long mix)
- measuring cups to mix quantities needed
- disposable brushes
The last part of the bottom project is to put on a few coats of Interlux VC17 Bottom Paint. I’ve had several tips and tricks passed along from other boaters on the best way to apply this thin paint prior to launch. I will do a couple of coats while in the field, and then I’ll apply the last coat a couple hours before launch at the marina. In the meantime, time to get all of the deck hardware rebedded, and oh, did I mention that for this boat restoration Graham talked me into painting above the waterline too?
Until the next post…