Another busy week here in Vuda Point Marina on the big renovation of the good ship Learnativity as we finished all the prep work for the topsides of the hull (waterline up to the deck) and started in on the preparation of the deck surfaces for their upcoming coats of glossy white and then anti skid paint.
The topsides are the most visible part of the boat for those ashore or when you are looking at her from the water so we have been working hard to get those surfaces as smooth and flat as possible. This is especially important as I’m going to change the colour from white to dark blue and as you would know from looking at black or dark colour cars the darker colours show every little imperfection and ripple. Of course Learnativity is a 20 year old steel boat so I’m not looking for perfection and what the crew from Baobab Marine and I have settled on is that if we can feel it with our hands we remove it, which would be small dents, dings and hollows. We won’t be able to fully remove the larger scale waves in the steel plate surfaces but Learnativity was so well built originally that most people mistake it for a fiberglass boat because the steel surfaces are so smoothly curved. Most steel boats are built with what are called “chines” which are hard edges that result from building the boat with straight sections of steel plate and forming the curves for the hull by creating these faceted surfaces. But Learnativity was built by cold forming the 6mm steel plate over top of the ribs and stringers built up to create the shape of the hull and welding the plate in place as it was bent around these curved ribs. You may recall seeing how we did the same thing a few weeks ago when we welded in all the new steel sections in the undersides of the hull for added strength and to replace some rusted sections. So the last month or so has been a recurring cycle of priming, filling and sanding the hull with long sanding boards and orbital sanders to get the surfaces all smooth and flat. That’s all behind us now and these surfaces are all ready for the final spraying of the dark “Aristo” blue polyurethane paint. We are hoping to do that on Tuesday as the weather looks good that day with no rain and we will use Monday to mask off the bottom of the hull and the decks to protect them from all the blue overspray and do the last fine inspection for any small bits we might have missed. You can try to imagine how big the surface area of a 52’ boat is and we have been over every square millimeter of that surface many, many times now.
I also spent quite a bit of time figuring out just what colour blue I wanted to have. You don’t realize how many shades of blue, or any colour, there are until you start to look closely. I had a good set of paint chips from the paint company to choose from and they were very handy as they had a hole drilled in the middle of each one which let me put it up against another boat or object that was painted blue and easily see how close or far it was from the paint chip colour. So I spent several days wondering around the yard looking for every bit of blue paint I could find on other boats or tarps or stripes. I wanted to have a blue that looked blue at any time, in strong sunlight and shade and so I didn’t want to have that really dark Navy blue that often looks black yet neither did I want something too light or “baby blue”. Ahh, the troubled life I lead! Finally settled on one paint chip and had the factory mix up just one liter of it and send it to us so we could paint a small test patch and see what it really looked like. as you would know from painting at home colours look so different when they are on a large surface than on the paint chip in the store. I thought we would have to go through a few rounds to adjust a bit darker or lighter but I was delighted when the test patch up on deck as you can see here in the photo, turned out to be just what I wanted. Like Goldilocks and the three bears, it wasn’t too dark, not too light, it was just right! The factory quickly mixed up the whole batch and all 20 liters of it arrived on Friday. Now we just need a day with no rain next week and the hull will make its transformation to beautiful Aristo Blue.
With the hull all ready for final top coats our attention turned to the decks and as you can see in the photos here we are making good progress as we do the final stages of the paint, fill, sand cycles up here. The deck is quite a bit more work and slower than those expanses of long flat steel on the hull as it is almost nothing but nooks and crannies where all the life line stanchions attach to the deck for example and all the areas around the hatches, fittings, tracks, windows and the like. However if you compare these photos to the ones from last month you can see how far things have come. The white is the primer/filler paint that was sprayed on a few weeks ago after we had finished all the major filling, grinding, welding and sand blasting and covered all the base primer that was that reddish brown colour. The green you see in these pictures is the paste epoxy filler that is mixed up to the consistency of peanut butter, spread on with putty knives and fingers and then sanded down once hard.
You can see that things are turning out so well because Commodore Ruby continues to be on watch at all times and we are all under close supervision.
So all is well over here on this side of the world. My mornings continue to be wonderful sunny retreats up in my tree fort on the aft deck and life continues to unfold just as it should. More to follow after the hull is all shiny and blue so stay tuned.