and more prep for paint

11 days later we received this e-mail:

Finish primer.

I am happy with this update.  I know what primer is!

look how smooth it is!
look how smooth it is!
so boaty and pretty!
so boaty and pretty!
excitement beyond belief!
excitement beyond belief!

This is really, really exciting!  We are finally getting somewhere!

Happy galley plus

So everything is coming along nicely!  Our galley almost looks like it’s fit for human habitation.

counter top!
counter top!
the sink will go on the right.  the stove will go on the left.
the sink will go on the right. the stove will go on the left.
It's still dirty but at least it's in there.
It’s not perfect but at least it’s in there.

The outside of our boat is smooth and beautiful.

getting' smoother!
getting’ smoother!
fixing it.
fixing it.
holes? what holes?
holes? what holes?

I can see the light at the end of the tunnel and I’m pretty sure it’s not a train coming the other direction…

welding, redux

So, the welder returned… again.  We were sent some real-time photos that really made the process come alive.

the bad bit
the bad bit
cutting out the bad bit
cutting out the bad bit


The transom had a hole in it that had been patched with fiberglass.

a hole you can actually see through is a hole that should be fixed
a hole you can actually see through is a hole that should be fixed

The welder cut away the rusty steel back to solid, non-rusted steel.

fixed it.
fixed it.


This was a particularly fun thing because the stanchions and lifelines had to be removed.  At least it’s been fixed….

Our problems are solved!

Here is the next email message we received from the boatyard:

I’m attaching some photos of the welding work, and of the fairing along the waterline…  …they have started welding on the transom.  If you have any questions, as ever, don’t hesitate to contact us.

this is fixed!
this is fixed!

Oh happy, happy day!  There are fewer holes than there were!  Our boat could actually be considered seaworthy if she were to be gently placed into the water and there was minimal wave action. This is Important and Eventful!

(We celebrated at The Commune with a bottle of champagne.)

this is fixed, too!
this is fixed, too!
fixed it, fixed it, fixed it!
fixed it, fixed it, fixed it!

They had to do fairing along the waterline because all the paint and fairing compound and the rest of the things that keep the outside of the hull looking smooth had been sandblasted off in our quest for holes. There was a sort of lip above the waterline where the stuff had not been blasted off. Initially I did not want to do the fairing. It was expensive and I figured that it wouldn’t matter because the boat would be in the water so no one would see it anyway. My Better Half made the eloquent argument that it would look stupid when were in anything except flat calm water. Oh. Also the argument was made that the lip could potentially cause drag as we were sailing and slow us down.

fair fairing
fair fairing
fairly faired
fairly faired

I just was eager to get done…

Windows/port lights/portholes/holes

Remember when I mentioned that the window in the trunk berth had gotten so rusty and flimsy that it had to be torn out?  Here’s what happened:

Once upon a time, long ago (and possibly far away), the seal around the port light (the only one below deck level) began to leak. Instead of really fixing it the previous owner just squirted some caulk in where it was leaking. This may or may not have worked. At some point later a new type of caulk was squirted in to stop the leak. This leak/squirt business continued until there were 9 different types of caulk squirted into this port light.

definitely a "before" picture.  For future reference, the problem is never small when something looks like this.
definitely a “before” picture. For future reference, the problem is never small when something looks like this.

Now, I don’t claim to know a lot of things about the mechanics of boats.

What I do know is a little bit about:

(1) galvanic corrosion and

(2) chemical interaction.

Galvanic corrosion (1) occurs when two dissimilar metals are in close proximity and especially in the presence of salt water. Read more about it here. I know it’s a bad thing. A steel boat should have as few other metals touching the steel as possible.

Chemical interaction (2) of sealants is a little more basic. Multiple types of sealant aren’t going to stick to each other. If just one type of sealant had been used it probably wouldn’t have been such a big deal because it would have had a better chance of sticking to itself. Instead it divided into so many spaghetti strands of dried up glue…

As it were, because the seal around the port light was shot and there was aluminum on steel and lots of salt water everywhere: the steel was basically worthless. We initially thought that we could just enlarge the opening a little bit and throw a new, larger port light in. The boatyard cautioned against this.  They had been grinding away the bad metal and were at about twice the size of the original opening. Even with this large amount cut away they still hadn’t found the original steel thickness. We could have put in a picture window and called it good.

Here are the rather interesting pictures to illustrate why you should not put off maintenance:





everyone is suffering

For three days I was so excited about the fact that the welder was going to save the day by fixing all the holes in our boat and it was all going to happen so quickly!

Then we received this e-mail:

We should have the quote from our welder this afternoon (or tomorrow at the latest), though he has cautioned us that it will be about two weeks before he can get to it due to the enormous weather-related backlog everyone is suffering.  Your estimate will include the holes found above the waterline on the transom.


Hold up.  Two weeks???  That’s two weeks before he even comes out to begin the welding?  Yeah, everyone is suffering.  Everyone has problems.  We are Technically Not Homeless so it could be worse.  But, honestly, I’m starting to forget that I own a boat. I just see my bank account dwindling…

We are in the process of determining how much and what will need to be disassembled to allow the welder access, then to re-foam, re-glass and reassemble the interior.  We are getting those numbers together and we’ll write them into a contract for your approval. I’m including some pictures for you to reference from the conversation today..

So, the gist of all this:

1. More holes were found; these were above the waterline.
2. This is going to be costly in time and money.
3. The welder won’t be able to come out to start the whole process for two weeks.


The way that steel boats work is that the steel has to be protected at all times.  It can’t be left open to the elements or else it will rust (see previous posts and pictures for a thorough and scientific explanation).  On the outside it is protected by thick layers of paint and fairing compound and other things that are painted on.  On the inside it is protected by a sealant and then, because it is metal and metal conducts heat or cold, there is insulation put on top of the sealant.  Our boat was so well built that it had fiberglass put on top of the foam insulation.  This is awesome in theory because the fiberglass protects the foam that insulates the boat, which protects the sealant, which protects the steel.  As long as moisture doesn’t penetrate the fiberglass (and then the foam and into the steel) it is a perfect little non-rusty capsule.  Aaaannnnnd…we all know where that ended.

On the plus side we did get a whole crop of illustrative and depressing pictures.  It’s amazing what sins paint can cover.
Rust Dis preview 001
It looked a lot better when we bought it
Rust Dis preview 002
getting closer doesn’t help
Rust Dis preview 003
yeah, let’s not get any closer…
Rust Dis preview 004
Oh, we got closer.
Rust Dis preview 005
this was a lot cleaner when I left.
Rust Dis preview 006
water damage. Yay, rust and it’s causes!
Rust Dis preview 007
under the stove. I have to admit I didn’t clean here.
bad stuff. bad wiring. bad, bad, bad…
starboard side water tank. this was not up to par.
more bad stuff. water tank and an almost-black water hose. gross.
ooh, look! more holes!
and even more holes!


I got these pictures and it took me a little while to realize that all this could be fixed.

For half a heartbeat I considered burning it and collecting the insurance money*.


*This is insurance fraud and not condoned or endorsed by this blog.

and goes…

Next e-mail:

Some good news for you.  We got the other side (right, or starboard in boaty terms) of the hull sand blasted this weekend, and it appears that the first spots we located were the worst; the rest are pin holes.  We are now ready to have the welder come in and make his recommendations. Hopefully, the attached photos will give you a good indication of what we’re looking at now that the paint has been removed.  

Here are the pictures:

she looks so sad...
she looks so sad…


dirty rusty holes
dirty rusty holes
dirty, dirty girl
dirty, dirty girl

This means that there are a lot of tiny little holes and a few big ones.  That seems ok.

Let’s fix all the holes!

and so it goes…

Here’s the next communique we received from our boatyard:

Included are some pictures of the bottom sand blasting as it is coming along this afternoon.  There are an additional 13 holes on the port side – most of them the size of a pea, a few the size of a dime.  The crew will be putting the primer on as discussed with you this evening.  
I also wanted to see if there were any questions on the updated estimates and summary email I sent yesterday for the #1 Spot repair to remove rust areas and #2 Sand blast prime and paint.  Do we have your authorization to run the remaining deposit amount of (insert large amount of $ here) on the credit card on file? 
We will give you a call on Monday with another update and will send you more pictures.  I hope you both have a great weekend.
That great weekend thing was a bit of a stretch after reading that.  I also had not given the authorization for the credit card because I hoped that if I ignored it the problem would go away…  It didn’t.  We paid.
So here we have pictures of our boat sandblasted down to metal (and then with primer slapped over it quickly so it wouldn’t rust more).  At least we have found all the problems, right?
Port Hull Mar 14
Port Hull 2 Mar 14
Port Hull 4 Mar 14
Port Hull 3 Mar 14

What have we done?

After our abject terror subsided we signed a contract to have the boatyard completely sandblast the bottom of the boat.

We got these pictures:



These pictures were reassuring because the problems seemed to be localized to one area with small issues elsewhere.  We initially thought the hull was going to be full of holes.  As in Swiss Cheese.

Unsalvageable is the word that sprang to mind.


The yard said that when the holes were sandblasted two things happened:

  1. The epoxy that had been used to fill them flew to pieces.  Thanks previous owner, you’re awesome.  And, You’re Welcome for all the money we gave you.
  2. Water came out.  This boat has not been in the water for 8 months.  Where would water come from?