Pimp my ride.

WABI”’ is getting a bit of a makeover.

In real time i’m just about ready to go back in the water after a short and manic refit because i want to go sailing again, my partner is on leave and i want to have a late summer/early autumn voyage.

I got quite a few comments about being ashore in the summer : some commentators even going so far as to say that summer is for sailing and winter for painting…..?.  Well here i try and sail nearly all year round except for a very short break in the real winter which means January and February, not exceptionally cold but often very wet, dark and cold.  This winter i hope to be working on a new project in the workshop as well as continuing with the book project and hosting an entirely new feature on the blog.

Anyway, as i write i’m most of the way through a repaint of the bottom and topsides but i haven’t touched the cockpit and deck because of next year’s major project.

I had a horrible week underneath the boat, mainly laying on my back with a scraper and then a palm sander getting all the old antifouling off.  I managed to get paint flakes and dust in my eyes and all inside my clothes despite wearing a mask, goggles and overalls….what really didn’t help matters is that we also had extremely high spring tides so i had nice wet ground to lay on when it came to priming the hull.

So, the bottom job first : all the old antifouling off, the whole underside sanded off and it’s looking good, no hidden nasties found.  I did kick around the idea of coating with a 2 part epoxy such as VC tar which i’ve used before and really like but without being able to totally dry the hull out, which would take months, i felt it best to not potentially trap moisture underneath a new epoxy coat.

Instead what i have done is a fairly standard job of 2 coats of Primocon primer followed by 2 coats of a hard racing antifouling ( 3 around the waterline).  I did think about a complete copper-coat but Chris the boss advised me that it doesn’t seem to work well in our muddy water conditions which tends to leave a mud film on the boat…..as soon as that happens weed and barnacles just start to get a hold.  Hard racing antifouling does seem to be the best solution for a boat that lives in a mud berth and will get scrubbed a couple of times a year.

I didn’t photograph the primer layer, didn’t have the camera with me but here’s the underside result.




Next, the topsides.

For the last 2 years iv’e been waiting for the opportunity to bring WABI’s topsides back to condition : the nearly 35 year old gelcoat being very faded and ‘chalky’.  I did think about just doing a polish job, did a small patch by hand and Chris the boss did offer me his big power-buffer.  Just buffing/polishing with a cutting compound did look better but what i decided to do was a very light cut with fine wet and dry paper used wet.  The topsides did start to look a lot better….at least consistent and perhaps could then have been ‘cut’ finer and finer and then buffed and waxed.

However i made an executive decision to paint the whole hull at this stage mainly due to the presence of some deep gelcoat scratches which i couldn’t colour match closely enough.  Of the original Hunter gelcoat’s the light blue (Wedgewood blue) does fade a long way from it’s original colour….we could see this when i peeled off the dead trim stripes, the original colour underneath being a lot richer than even my newly exposed gelcoat.

I did look at all available paint systems, had i been able to work in the yard’s shed i would have gone with a 2 part polyurethane but because i could only work outside in marginal painting conditions iv’e gone with conventional one part paints as they are much easier to work with outside.  My experience with painting with one part paint over GRP is that i can achieve a nice finish and the gloss seems to last about 3 years but is then quite easy to wet sand and re-coat.

Iv’e had difficult painting conditions in the yard : mainly a gusty breeze and light rain showers….at times i reckon my working wet-edge has been down to maybe 30 seconds so iv’e had to work with thinned paint and at speed.  In the past i have had worse conditions, for instance trying to paint with a one pack gloss on deck in the fresh breeze and sunshine in the Caribbean.  I don’t mind working at speed because she’s only a small boat….what i do mind are the yard ‘experts’ who expect a conversation when i’m running a very marginal wet edge.

Second primer coat.


Topcoat…..got the nod from the boss !




    1. It’s only one pack but that’s all i could really work with outside, it’s not the perfect finish but a whole lot better than the chalky GRP…..have been promised space in the shed next summer for the project. Off again today.


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