Friday the 13th is usually a lucky day for me and it certainly was this time as we had a perfect day of blue sky and sun without a drop of rain and were able to spray on the final coats of gloss white on the decks. Yeaaahhh! This is a big deal because it is the last of the spray painting, all the rest of the painting of the non-skid and the anti foul on the bottom will be done with rollers. This means I can finally start removing all the masking that has been covering every hatch, window and unpainted surface since September! It is been like living in a bat cave down inside the boat with every bit of light blocked off so it is truly like emerging from hibernation to have light back in the boat.
The spray painting on the decks and cockpit went well as we had spent so much time doing round after round of sanding and filling, finding every little problem spot we could. As you may recall we had been all good to go with spraying the decks back on March 28th after weeks and weeks of prep and good weather. But the night of the 28th is when the Tropical Depressions or TD’s started to hit and culminated in Cyclone Daphne giving us a near miss so we didn’t get any work at all done for over a week and had to take down all the tarps and scaffolding when the high winds and rain were approaching.
As you may have seen on your local news there was lots of severe flooding here in Fiji and all the roads in and out of here and the airport were washed out for several days, the airport was closed for several days, many homes lost or flooded with mud and many people died when their cars were floated away off the roads or in their homes. Unfortunately this is an annual occurrence so everyone just pitches in and gets busy recovering and drying out. Cyclone and rainy seasons typically end by May so we are all hoping this was the last of the storms for this year and we will now see the weather improve each week as we head into the sailing and good season here in the SW Pacific. Here in the marina we were not too badly hit and of course the good thing about living aboard a sailboat is that you are very self sufficient so I had all my own water and power and wasn’t too badly inconvenienced, just wet and unable to get much boat work done.
This week the weather started to get back to the typical hot sunny days with thunderstorms in the late afternoon and so we were able to get all the scaffolding and tarps back up, redo all the masking and make the final rounds on the decks to wet sand everything one more and hopefully last time. And so it was that Friday the 13th was the day we aimed for and it turned out to be truly perfect. Brilliant blue skies greeted me at sunrise as I started getting everything ready for the crew’s arrival about 8am and by 10 we had everything all set to go, paint mixed, respirators ready and we were off. For the first time in a very long time we didn’t even get any rain in the afternoon and had a perfect evening to let the paint dry fully. So it was a very lucky Friday the 13th indeed!
The last time we painted the decks there was quite a problem with overspray in part due to the challenge of trying to blend all the painted surfaces in as you start and stop moving around the whole boat. It is a very big boat and you can’t just start at the front and move your way back as there are too many areas and compartments throughout the boat to get at and not one big surface to spray. So you end up finishing up one area, going to the next and then picking up where you left off quite a while later and the first round of paint has already dried so when you start spraying again there is a visible misted area between where you start and stop. We also had problems with the paint mix, not enough of not the right thinners so the paint was not blending in well and not the high shine it should be. So we paid extra attention to the paint mix this time and it all flowed very well even in the hot weather we had all day.
However the biggest help was that I spent several hours on those rainy days working out a whole choreographed routine and order in which we could spray all the areas with strategically located start/stop points that would eliminate or reduce these overspray overlap areas. It turned out to be a very fun challenge to figure out these start/stop points, figure in where the overspray would be going as we painted one area after another and making sure we could get back into each spot when the paint was still wet. Not sure how well you can see, but the photo here is what’s left of the choreography diagram I drew up with each numbered step of the order and direction we needed to go.
As you can see it really is like a complex dance routine but it worked very well. The spray gun is attached to a large 5 liter pressure canister by about 20 ft./6m of dual hose that carries the air pressure and the liquid paint and you can see the (L-R) Sam, Isikelli, Ron as they clean the hose before we head up on deck. So it takes four of us to do the job; the spray painter, the hose handler (to keep it off the freshly sprayed areas), the dust remover/tack rag handler, and the person moving the big pot down on the scaffolding.
I did a bit of the spraying to give Ron (seen here with me just as we were finishing) and the other painter Philip, a break from time to time as this is a whole day affair and we sprayed non stop from 10am through till just after 4pm and the fumes can get a bit overwhelming even with respirators. Mostly though I was the choreographer showing Ron where to stop and start and always at the ready with the tack rag to wipe down each area just before we sprayed for any last bits of dirt or bug as well. Oh, and also he very necessary sweat rag as it literally runs off you in this heat and one of our biggest challenges was to keep from dripping onto the surfaces as we were painting as that would leave a nasty mark where the paint won’t stick. Wearing a full Tyvek white suit with lots of head rags helped, but it was a constant challenge to prevent any drops from landing on the paint. So when I say that a lot of blood sweat and tears have gone into this renovation I really mean it quite literally! It was a very long hot day but we were all smiles by 4:30 when we could put the gun down and step back to admire those shiny white decks!
Today is Saturday and just to remind me how lucky yesterday was, it has been raining non stop since sunrise this morning! However the paint had plenty of time to cure and this morning Ron and Sam came by for a few hours to help remove some of the masking and then I continued doing so for most of the rest of the day.
There is still probably another few days of just removing all he plastic and masking tape as we had to mask everything that couldn’t be removed like the mast, boom, rear solar panels, railing and so on. I needed to remask the side windows in the salon as it will be a big job for next week or so to install all the new glass in them but I was able to finally remove the masking from the front windows in the salon and the cockpit and see through them for the first time in almost eight months!
This is also an exciting milestone because it marks the turning point where I can now start the huge job of putting my Humpty Dumpty Learnativity back together again! Having removed literally everything that isn’t welded on, I have my work cut out for me to reinstall all the sail tracks, rigging, lines, winches, windows, hatches and so on. But it will feel great doing so and I watch my “new” boat emerge and we start heading for the water. There are two more paint jobs to be done, the non skid surfaces on the deck and cockpit areas and then finish painting the bottom of the hull with the last of the primer, then barrier coat and finally anti foul paint. I’m still hopeful that I will be back in the water in early May so keep your fingers crossed and stay tuned to see how it all goes and what the all new Learnativity looks like!
I’ll let the photos do most of the talking and put in a short album of some of the shots as we were painting and the finished results. Remember, you can enlarge any of photos in any of these blog postings just by clicking on them.