S/V FROG'S LEAP.com

Refitting in 2013 - Deck, Paint, Rig, Heater

I have to warn the reader that this is a tedious project. Lots of details in the reading material, but it you think of the tediousness of reading through this, also realize that each step described is hours or days. A total of approximately 30 weekends was spend in Annapolis, MD to perform this refit. This does not count the hired professionals that did the paint and the rigging. The total costs was quite significant in adidtion to my time and materials.

In 2013 after Hurricane Sandy, I spent time in the summer seeking a boatyard for some paint work. I checked out New England Boat works, and was duly impressed with their capabilities and the seriously professional top shelf attitude. I sailed from NJ to Newport with my Daughter and her now husband, and one crew. I lfth the yard after a tour and discussions with the project manager Ian Mackechnie who would perform the estimate. I have nothing but praise for the yard, but I decided to get the boat to Annapolis instead. The boat was delivered on the tail end of a nasty Easterly that spanned past newfoundland waters and the grand banks, and blew east at 35 to 40 knots offshore for days on end. We were supposed to leave on a Thursday and ended up leaving on a Sunday Night, waiting for the weather window in October. This was an bit of an adventure. The announced seas were 9 feet every nine seconds and with the wind against the tide in the Sandy Hook Channel I suspect we saw 12 feet or more. No worries, the boat held its own, but I did start wondering about my judgment when the feet felt like they were leaving the deck as the bow rode up the wave and the stern swung down. Fortunately, staying in the channel afforded us enough water, the engine ran fine at slow pace, and there was no junk in the fuel tank to get loose and clog filters as is always a worry in seas. After a half hour into the wind, out went the jib and we close reached all the way to cape may at 8 knots plus, though beam seas were rude and wet in the october temperatures. It was dusk as we motored in the Sandy hook channel, and it was duck the next day as we were three quarters up Delaware bay to the Cape Cod Canal. As the wind died we motored again to the canal, and after a fatigue induced moment of insanity where I truly believed I would not fit under the bridge at the entrance of the canal, the passage was uneventful and a very large car carrier took the middle but we still had room to squeeze. We collapsed in our respective cabine by 2AM on the Sasssafras river and a short day the next day got the boat to Jabin's Yacht yard where Rod Jabin's brother was expecting us. We scooted right into the pit and out she went and was on blocks within a few minutes. This page is not the story of the sailing, but of the work that begins afterwards.

I selected A&B Yachtsmen for the paint work. I don't think I would repeat this. The staff was great, but I had a few negative experiences with the owner. My first was upon arrival, knowing his painter had quit, he immediately went ahead and put dibs on the project by sanding it outside in the boatyard while another boat cured. THe other boat sat for a few weeks while I got stuck with the inability to switch to another contractor. Jabin's yard does not perform carpentry, welding, mechanical work or bottom paint. It provides nothing, but allows off site contractors access as well as charges some contractors for building space. It is a great setup. Jabin has some of the best equipment in the area, and the customers have choices. Also this solves the problem or running a very large operation with a highly cyclical work load. While Rob, from A&B, was kind enough to provide me access to his shop so I could work on the boat and stay onboard while locked up in the shop, I wish he did not leave for Mexico in the middle of my project while he no longer had a right hand person supervising the work. I also wish he did not nickel and dime me for extra stuff, including a gallon of bottom paint, which was 1% of the total job cost. I wish his folks used roving instead of mat to fix the hull in the area where we had to grin out overthick gelcoat. And, yes, I wish he did not charge 20% less for the same paint job to the guy who had his boat painted after me, while nickel and diming the new painter simply because I hired the painter directly for the finish work on the new deck awlgrip. But in the end, the boat looked great and the whole thing was a lot less then New England Boat works, but I had to do a fiar amoutn of project quality control.

While the boat was being painted, during the weekends I would go down to Annapolis and work on the other projects. I completed the heater installation in the aft cabins of the boat, and the main cabin. THis provided heat for the winter, and it was a cold one in Annapolis in 2013-2014. I also rebuilt some winches and did some electrical work. Also, I started working on the planning for the rigging projects. I also reinforced the hull in the area where some crazing was noted on the outside. It turns out the gelcoat was crazed bacause it was well over maximum permissible thickness. But the crane had strapped the boat in that area during the recovery from Hurricane Sandy a year prior, so I was cautious about the structure and decided to add about four layers of 18/10 biax on 0,90 and 45,45 cut. This would do the trick.

Once the boat was painted, I built a fairly beefy frame to serve as the structure for the shrink wrap. THere would be nine sections of frame, and these would be made of 1.25 inch aluminum tubing, schedule 40 thickness. I ordered Kee clamps to hold the frame together. Unfortunately, the tubing that arrived was 1.5 inch instead of 1.25. This was a mouse click error on my part, but because the tubing came in on a truck pallet and I was not keen on shipping it back, I decided to return the clamps and upgrade to 1.5inch. Of course this makes the frame almost laughable, but i have had the last laught in the winter snow storms so far. The wind does not affect the frame, and the shrink wrap down pressure does not either. And, the frame clearss the boom which means the boom stays up in the winter, another bonus.

With the boat well covered, most of January through May was spent as follows:

- Remove all hardware from the cabintop. THis meant mast collar, mast blocks, handrails, eyes, turning blocks, granny rails, foredeck hatch rails and dorade guards. The result was a teak deck that was ready for removal.
- Remove the teak deck using a chisel and a hammer drill. Purchased a bench grinder to resharpen tools on a regular basis.
- Remove the newer screws. Drill out all the screw holes. Inspect the deck and find moisture areas. Check for delamination areas by injecting low pressure air and seeing if bubbling takes place. Fill all the screw holes with epoxy. Cut out the deck in two major areas. Remove the core from one area and keep the deck plywood in the other area since it was merely moist. Place heat lamps to dry both areas fo exposed core.
- Grind out all the bad core in the starboard deck just in front of the dodger. make an edge seal in teh ground out area to keep gas flow out of it, using milled fibers and epoxy. Grind out the milled fibes. Cut the core to the contour of the cut out area. Apply cloth and milled fibers to the cutout area and paste the pre-shaped core into the prepared area. Vacuum bag and place heat lamps on the deck to cure. The next day, grind out the core. Shape the core using a longboard and 80 grit paper. Cap the core with fiberglass engineer cloth, biax on 0,90 and 45,45 in alternate layers. THis is done by ensuring a 12:1 feather on the deck area, and preparing fabric fto the proper shape. Once all the fabric was cut, wet the cloth and vacuum bag the area. Cure overnight. continue to build up the area with one or two more vaccuum bag steps. This is followed by a power planer rip of the bumps and the high area. A very long level was used to find the high spots and the planer was set on the shallowest of settins. Complet shaping and fairing with the longboard.
- The overal deck had to be stripped of cauling. I used soft scotch brite type rotary attachements for the drill, This was followed by sanding. The epoxy fill in the 800 screw holes was sanded flush with the deck. The deck was, after sanding, coated with one or two coats of interlux 2000E primer in white. The primer was sanded a couple of times, another coat added, and overcoated with grey. The awlrgip epoxy filler was added. No sanding is necessary between the primer and the filler. Once the filler was sanded in the areas it was needed, two more touchups of fillers followed by sanding alnd a coat of 545 awlgrip primer was applied. This too was sanded. THe 545 was then coated with two awlgrip coats. The deck was taped, and the areas to remain white were masked. The moon walk color paint was used in the nonskid areas. I did not to the final prime coat or the awlgrip. I hired a professional painter for that work.

Spraying in a yard is never allowed. However, because the boat was so effectively tented in the shrikwrap, we were able to use an evaluation fan of the type used in manholes. The fan was at the bow and the tupe exhausted the fumes at ground level in the yard, through filter fabric. This would allow no overspray to reach nearby boats. One drawback from the shirnkwrap, however, is that being white there was no contrast and all the light was flat, which made it difficult for the painter to figure out the amount of spray on the surface. If you want to use that ttrick, use transparent shrink wrap. We ended up with another, unplanned spray operation but did throw in extra bucks for the painter, it was fair since painting under the cover was very tricky.

All the deck hardware had to be placed back. Access to the deck hardware mounting bolts had required the removal of the headliner, which also had to be put back in place. It was a happy day when the last bolt went on the deck fittings. I need to note that all the turning blocks and mast base blocks were changed, as were mainsheet blocks. This was a pretty complete rig upgrade.

The mast went back on without incident or scratches to the mast surface. The rigger did an excellent job and the spartite has not leaked since. Both Hydraulic pistons and the vang were rebuilt.

Unfortunately, the day of departure had to be delayed by a week. The hydraulics had all be refurbished except for the hand pump, and this failed the day the rig came back onto the boat. I had to have the pump rebuilt, which is something I did myself on the last boat, so, this was more money that had not been planned, but the whole rig is in great shape now.

I thought this amout of work would be a singular event for a winter but I find myself continuing to invest a tremendous amout of time in mechanical rebuilds and maintenance. Hey, it's a boat, and it has to run properly or else problems occur.

It was a tight fit in the yard's shed rented from Jabin to A&B Yachtsmen. The anchor and the anchor roller had to be removed in addition to the pulpit

Rod Jabin has an large ( I think 80T) travelift, but also he has a 25T or so that fits in the workshop door. The boat was a tight squeeze as we will see in the other pictures.

Upon arrival in New England Boat works for the first estimate, my duaghter Isabelle was cleaning the salt off and shortly we took a tour of the yard. We left within 4 hours of arrival. Covered about 250nm in the weekend with a crew of 4 out, and two or three of us took the boat back.

After the shop ground out the outside of the hull to remove the crazed gelcoat in the port aft cabin, I added several layers of engineered stitched biax to the inside in alternate 0/90 and 45/45 layers. THe cloth has is 1810, has 18 onces of fiber strands on a 90 degree angle, and a 10 oz mat, all stitched together. I avoid woven roving, it is simply not as strong. The shop used matt and polyester, which I was not very happy with, but it was not a structural issue. You really have to keep an eye on everything at AB Yachtsmen.

The deck viewed from abaft while in the paint shop

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The boat in the paint shop.

There were quite a few hours spent removing the transom teak and the swim ladder, as well as the steps. It took me til summer 2015 to get to the replacement of the teak. I do think it looks nicer than any alternative on a transom.

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The amount of dust generated when sanding an area this size is daunting, even with vacuum sanding machines. The boat was tented, I calculated that the oxygen molecules penetrated the thin plastic fast enough to sustain life, before going below to sleep.

While in the shop, access to the boat was not interrupted. This allowed me to complete the second half of the heater installation which was done the prior year, and prepare for the winter live-aboard on weekends on the hard.

You first spray the base coat for the cove stripe and the boot stripe.

The boat is sanded, the crazed gelcoat repaired, and the next step is to sand and fill the bootstripe. The white gelcoat wears at a different rate than the blue gelcoat because of UV exposure and subsequent polishig. The bootstripe was filled and recoated with interprotect 2000E primer. The whole boat was then primed with gray primer. It was not longboarded unfortunately.

To get to the point where the whole deck could be primed, the repairs to the core had to take place. Two areas of core had moisture, and one was moist plywood that was still in great shape with no delaminations. It just had to be dried. THe other was an area of balsa that was half rotten and completely saturated with water. It had to come out, Hours of grinding and a full face mask combined with the exhaust fan venting dust outside the boat. Vacuum bagging the new core ensures that the intersticial spaces between the balsa blocks are fully filled with epoxy and therefore isolated from each other. I noticed there was a lot of filler in that area as well, it seems like that section of the deck was built by a bad worker. during production. Surprising for a Wauquiez.
In the picture above, you see marks that show the pattern of the fabric added prior to vacuum bagging. Fabric was added to the top deck layer in a pattern to assure uniformity, then the whole thing was flattened with a wood plane and a long level to help find the high spots. After several iterations to glass over the low spots and re-plane, the whole area was sanded with a long board. You would never know by looking at the finished deck that there is anything that went on below your feet. The use of vacuum bag increases the strength of the structure.

Might as well sand the bottom while the boat is in the shop. I knew the spring would be too tight to get everything finished.

The blue paint was protected from the white when shooting the paint. There were three coats applied. FIrst, a flash coat to allow the rest of the paint to stick. A few hours later, a second coat, then a third coat. There are clear instructions on the paint mixing, thinner amount, and the amount of time within which the second coat needs to be applied. There must be enough time for curing and not too much time to prevent chemical bonding of the next coat. Three coats of clear coat were applied on top of the paint. This emulates the look of awlgrip but the paint on Frog's Leap is awlcraft, which is repairable in case of docking mishaps.

The waterline was a challenge. The shop had taken pictures of the waterline but had made no measurements. Additionally, the concept of the line width varying with hull angle was not quite understood. I spent a morning on a Saturday with their crew to set the lines at the right heigt and also the right thickness before they could spray. This was while the owner of the shop was on vacation, and as a direct result of his inability to strike a deal with his painter there was no one to overview the more complicated details.

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The shrink wrap was placed above the new paint. Since the paint was fresh, it was expected to continue curing throughout the winter and spring. The gap was .

Might as well rebuilt the bow roller. I may still build another sone someday, bur this is pretty well reinforced now. The roller had shown some stress from side loads and that is resolved with the able welded onto it. The hoop on the end os to tie a asymmetrical spinnaker downhaul.It is solid 1/2 inch rod, 316 stainless.

Of course, it was winter. And this means very unpleasant work conditions, as well as poor temperatures to keep the epoxy curing. The use of heat from shop lighting helped. Notice the epoxy in the crate in the background. Also, the bench grinder which had been used to sharpen the chisel end of the hammer drill when the wood was removed. It was a complete mess, tools everywhere and what not.

The deck finished with the first coat of primer.

Days were spent stripping teak with a hammerdrill with a chisel attachment. I used concrete chisels and sharpened them into the shape of wood chisels. The deck above is the first major milestone: Wood removed, all deck fittings removed, the caulking sanded off, all the repairs completed on the core, and hundresds of screw holes countersunk and filled with milled fibers and epoxy, then sanded flush. A coat of grey primer was put on, and then filler applied. This would be the cycle of week. Sand, prime, let cure, sand, prime, let cure. This is a multistep process with three passes before a finish coat. I may have been able to save some time sanding if I used a thicker primer, like Awlgrip high build primer. But it may have saved four days, not 15.

Sandpaper, Longboard paper, hammerdrill, vacuum bag supplies, biax cloth, tape, milled fibers, air supply from the compressor, the "garage" area while the work went on with the deck. I had taken the wheel home.

This was a typical daily scene, one area had been primed, and the other area was being sanded and filled, ready for another coat of primer. Note the hole in the mast collar ara, and the absent deck hardware. I did not remove the hatches, there was little need to do so. The handrails are absent from this picture as well. Eventually the boom was moved to the cockpit area to allow for shooting the deck.

This is a must have for a project like this. 5 HP gasonline compressor. You need this size to drive an airboard, grinders, random orbit sander, and to de-dust the work and the living areas of the boat. Dust control is a huge effort in large projects.

This was a major victory day. Glorious sun, the cover was removed and the shrinkwrap disposed of, the hand rails were ready with varnish, and the deck hardware was ready to assemble. Note the two tone deck, and the cutting up of the large area into sections. This takes some time to tape up and mask, but the approach is aesthetically much more pleasing than having one large area of paint. The large fan on the mast step may be there to vent the cabin. There was still some dust inside despite all precautions, and the use fo the fan and some compressed air blew the dust out of the boat.

The advantages of Awlgrip on a deck are multifold: It can be pressure washed. There is almost no maintenance. It is cooler by 20F inside the cabin. You can walk on it barefoot without burning your feet. It is lighter and the boat lost 200 lbs most likely. It does, however, require a recoat every ten years or so.

While the rigger did his thing, I tore down and regreased all the winches at home. Two primaries, two secondaries, Two runner winches, one mainsheet, one roller furler, two mast winches, one pit winch. In total, 11 winches.

CREDITS:
Rod Jabin, the co owner of Bert Jabin yacht yard. A very reasonable guy and a great businessman who offers the best service in Annapolis. Not the cheapest, but you don't have to worry about them dropping your boat or breaking something. Top shelf.

Rob Argentieri, with some reservations on the business approach, who painted the boat. Fair job, but a difficult relationship. I do appreciate letting me stay in the shop on the weekends to further my heating project completion.

Lemme Tyler, for giving me a hand with the Deck and other paint work. Great work, and we got along very well. He is a really nice person and you can't go wrong getting his help.

Marcia, at A&B, for her help in logistics and taking deliveries of my stuff during the week so I would have it on weekends.

Russ, the bar tender at Carol Creek's Cafe, and the rest of the crew there, for making it a home away from home to socialize and chat.

Jay Herman, the owner of Annapolis Rigging, who did an outstanding job re reigging the boat. Gosh I cant' remember his staff's names, but they were simply great folks and very helfpul. Thanks to Jay also for allowing me to use his bandsaw a few times.

Port supply Annapolis, which is the only west marine store that has people in it that actually sail and has a splicing shop, carries awlgrip products, and stocks stuff. The rest of the west marine stores have the sophistication of a home depot, with some exception.

Faucet Marine, for a well stocked store and great service.

Anthony, the mast painter for Jay Herman, for his advice on how to prep a deck.

Bob and Erin, from the yacht Mandy, for providing reminescence of my younger days and showing the same passion I had, except that they showed the courage to cut the ties and sail far away, daily. We had a number of great conversations in the yard, what a passionate bristol channel cutter crew.

All the inspiring offshore bound sailors who cut the tie to work and went off sailing. From the German executive to the pilot in southeast asia, all great folks part of the sailing community.

Sandy Hutchinson, for helping deliver the boat to Annapolis, in dicey weather.

Daisy Pelszynski, for double handing the boat back north right after a high pressure moved through.

Mike for his help in finding supplies.

The vacuum bag operation. The yellow seal tape keeps air from getting to the vacuum bag. The bag is mylar and quite strong for its thickness. Above the laminate biax cloth saturated with epoxy, there is a polyester release fabric which lest resin through but which does not bond to the epoxy. Above the polyester release cloth there is a fluffy breather blanket which is designed to absorb the excess resin. When the vacum is drawn from the bag area, the bag presses on the laminations at one atmosphere. Pulling the release cloth off after rippin the bag off and removing the tape leaves a surface that is ready for the next layer without any need for grinding. Vacuum bagging is stronger, lighter, relatively easy, but more expensive and requires more preparation than hand lamination.

This is a must have for a project like this. 5 HP gasonline compressor. You need this size to drive an airboard, grinders, random orbit sander, and to de-dust the work and the living areas of the boat. Dust control is a huge effort in large projects.