Haven’t had time to post an update for the past two weeks as we’ve continued to push hard at finishing all the painting by doing all the non skid surfaces on the decks and the anti foul paint on the bottom of the hull. Delighted to report that this is now all done and I should “splash” in the next few days! After almost EIGHT months out of the water and pretty much non stop work you can imagine how exciting it is and how great it will feel to be back in the water.
I’ll let the pictures do most of the talking so you can see what has been happening the past two weeks. The biggest job was covering almost all the horizontal deck surfaces with non skid. The first time consuming task was masking off all the areas that are going to stay glossy.
Most of this involved long lines of masking tape that creates a bit of a tiled or paneled look. However as you go around every block, fitting, hatch and track, and at each and every intersection and corner you have to put in some masking tape and then very carefully cut a commonly radius curve. I didn’t count them all but there were probably more than 250 of these curves and shapes we needed to cut with razor blades.
Once the masking was all done we applied the non skid a bit different than I previously described in that we did it pretty much all in one go. First we rolled on a thick coat of the same gloss white polyurethane paint and then sprinkled the non skid particles, which are like coarse sand, evenly over the wet paint, waited a few minutes and rolled on another thick coat to seal in all the non skid particles. There were three of us working that day, Isikeli, Sivan and myself and we got into a good rhythm and set of roles and were able to finish the whole job in one day and were done by about 4pm.
We had a bit of a problem at the beginning because they had changed suppliers of the non skid particles and there was only two grits available which were very different than what they had used before. I had been checking out other boats they had done to determine how rough I wanted the non skid to be but the new grits were like the Goldilocks problem; too fine or too coarse and nothing that was “just right”. The fine particles were like very fine sugar or salt crystals and we did a test patch with them and it was like 400 grit sandpaper, very fine in other words, and I just didn’t think this would stand up over time and give me enough of the critical safely factor I need to ensure my feet don’t slip when the decks are wet and the boat is heeling over at 30+ degrees and I’m trying to deal with some problem out on the decks in the middle of the night. So we went with the coarse grit which ends up being like about 36 grit grinding disks! One thing is for sure, there will be absolutely NO slipping on Learnativity! The only new safety factor is that if you fall you're going to loose some skin!
The decks are comfortable enough to walk on but you don’t want to be kneeling on them for long periods of time. However over time the sharp upper corners will all wear down and over the years I will apply additional coats of white paint so it will all just improve with time and won’t need redoing for many years to come. I decided to go with all white for both the glossy areas and the non skid in part so they are as cool as possible but also to make it easier to repaint the decks in the future. With them all being white I can just do a minimal amount of masking of the very outer edges and then just roll or spray white over both the non skid and the glossy border areas. Should work very well and I’m very pleased with the way this all turned out.
Once the decks were all done we could give our attention to finishing off the bottom of the hull which was still just coated with the primer we applied after the sand blasting. There was a lot of filling to do to smooth out each corner and fair everything in nice and smooth both for hydrodynamic flow through the water as well as making it a bit easier for me when I dive down about once a month to clean off all the growth on the hull.
Once it was all sanded and filled the boys put on three good coats of white epoxy barrier coat paint to seal between the primer and the anti foul. After a day or two to dry they then rolled on the first two coats of the special anti foul which is a light blue in colour. This paint contains copper and other biocides to inhibit plant and creature growth on the hull and keep it nice and slippery through the water. Even with that I need to spend a full day or two about once a month diving down and cleaning off the growth that starts to form. I have found that an old piece of short nap carpet works well and that along with my Sea Breathe electric air compressor or “hookah” setup that let’s me dive without Scuba tanks and just a regulator and hoses, it all works pretty well. We will put on the third and final coat of anti foul paint the day of or day before I schedule the Travel Lift to put me back in the water so that the biocides are as fresh as possible and don’t dry out too much.
For a bit of visual appeal I had about 20 rolls of 1/8” / 3mm blue vinyl pinstripe tape shipped in (thanks John!) and as time permits I will carefully apply this pinstripe tape around the outer edges of all the non skid to glossy borders which will really set it off quite nicely. I’ve tried a few spots already and it really adds a nice touch. However this is all in the “nice to have” esthetic category and there is a VERY long list of must do items that come first as I now dive into one of the world’s largest jig saw puzzles by trying to put Humpty Dumpty Learnativity back together again.
Given that I removed literally everything that wasn’t welded on, this is a VERY big job as each hatch, winch, block, pulley, track and window have to be all cleaned and rebuilt before they go back on, every threaded hole has to be rethreaded to remove al the paint and sand blast grit and most parts need to be bedded in with sealant/adhesive. So what sounds like a simple one hour job to replace one hatch, turns into a day or more of work. But I have been busy rebuilding and cleaning all these parts for the past few months and it all feels very good to be putting Learnativity back together again and heading back for the water where we belong.
There were also two last spots on the sides of the hull where I found some bad rust pitting with my neat little sonar thickness meter and I had them cut out and replaced with new steel. Daven and his helper made short work of it and they had it all done in just over a day.
I marked out a section about a meter long and 6”/15cm wide and they cut it out with a cutting wheel in the grinder, welded new 6mm steel to fill this back up and then ground it down all flush with the rest of the hull. A bit of filler and it was soon better than new and we could roll on metal primer and then cover it all with the white epoxy barrier paint and the anti fouling.
We also had to move all the prop stands holding Learnativity up as the areas under the prop blocks had never been touched since she came out of the water back on September 5th. It took four of us to put in a new stand beside each original one, tighten it up to take all the pressure of my 33 Ton baby and then remove the original prop stands. Once removed it didn’t take Ron too long to grind it all down to bare steel and then build up the primer, barrier and anti foul coats on these areas.
So the painting is all done now except for that last coat of anti foul! Very exciting milestone for me as you might imagine. The last few days I’ve been very busy attending to all the little things that need to be done before that big splash date such as fitting the propeller onto the new prop shaft, putting in the new transducers for speed, depth, etc. which are inserted into through hull fittings in the bottom of the hull and putting on all the necessary equipment that has been removed like the rebuilt windlass (electric winch that pulls up the anchor and chain), all the anchor chain, propane tanks, life raft and a long list of other items. The weather has been spectacular with no rain now for almost two weeks so that is helping to speed things along and let me go a bit longer with all the openings up on deck and let me delay mounting hatches and the like. If it all goes well I’m hoping to go back in on Thursday (May 3rd). So with any luck my next weekly update will be to tell you that I’m back in the water and send you some pictures to prove it!