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Project Log:  Saturday, December 11, 2010

I was ready to begin work on the hull.  Despite the generally good condition of the existing hull surface--it had been painted with Awl-Grip in 2002--I knew from early on that I'd be repainting.  I preferred a different color scheme, and wasn't happy with certain aspects of the existing paint job.  I wasn't about to go through this rebuilding process only to settle on a so-so hull appearance.

My first step was to determine some reference points for the existing waterline.  (Note:  when I say "waterline", I mean the top edge of the bottom paint.)  Based on the general appearance of the existing waterline and boottop, as well as some in-water photos of the boat taken at an earlier time, I planned to restrike a new line from scratch, but I wanted the basic reference points duly recorded before I proceeded, for whatever they were worth.

At the stern, I measured up to the waterline from a straightedge held along the base of the skeg.  The existing waterline took a little dip right at the end, where the molded shape of the stern made an abrupt change in direction, and this resulted in the waterline and boottop taking an awkward and unsightly jog downward.  So I compensated for this in my base measurement.  The measurement I recorded was 21", as shown in the photos (the tape was held at 4" at the starting point to allow it to lie flatter).


At the stem, I hooked the tape into the bottom edge of the bow roller assembly, and measured down the curve of the stem to the waterline, recording 66".


With these measurements and reference points filed away, I could move on with the hull work and not worry about the position of the existing waterline and boottop, which would soon be sanded away.

One of the distinguishing features of Fishers is the series of wooden strips that cover the outside of the bulwarks.  In order to paint the boat, I thought I needed to remove these; plus, they were in fairly decrepit condition, and it'd be easier to sand and varnish them on the bench.

Each strip was held in place with screws, which were hidden from view with bungs.  To remove the strips, I first center-pointed the bungs, then used a 1/2" Forstner bit to drill away the bung, exposing the screw head.  Everyone always says to break the bungs out with a chisel, but I vastly prefer this method.  It takes a modicum of care to ensure the bit remains centered in the bung, and to avoid damaging the screw head.




Once the screw heads were exposed, I cleaned out the slots and removed the screws, beginning at the bow and working my way aft.  Each of the three tiers of teak comprised three lengths of wood, joined together with half-lap joints where they met.  So it was surprisingly easy to remove all the wood from the starboard side, and all nine pieces came off without incident and appeared to be worthy of re-use.

I did discover that there were screws driven into the top edge of the top board from within the caprail above, so I had to go on deck and remove all such screws before proceeding.


The starboard side went so swimmingly that I moved directly over to the port side, expecting to finish the removal before lunch.  Unfortunately, things were different on the port side; a bit of explanation and backstory is in order.

Something I've not yet discussed here is the fact that the boat was clearly involved in some sort of collision in the past, on the port bow.  Even though I didn't know what had happened, I'd noted a number of pieces of evidence as I worked my way through the boat to this point.

One of the things I noticed first was an area on the port sidedeck, right at the forward side of the forward freeing port, where there was clearly an area that had been painted.  This was obvious since the deck was otherwise original gelcoat, but there was aged and blistering paint in this area.

A further sign of this past damage could be found inside the forward cabin, in way of the round ports in the hull; here, there was evidence of a patch.  The work appeared good, and this caused me no concern, but I wondered what had happened.

The final piece of the puzzle, as it were, came to light as I tried to remove the bulwark strips on the port side.  I began, once again, at the bow, since the half-lap joints were aligned with the forward piece over the piece behind.  As before, I removed the bungs and screws with no trouble.  However, these boards--which, upon closer inspection and with the benefit of new-found knowledge, were clearly newer than the remainder--appeared to be bonded to the hull (and, worse, to the half-lap joints) with some sort of adhesive. 

This made removal extremely difficult, particularly the lower board, since there was little room to insert a prying tool beneath the board.  Eventually, I did manage to pry the boards loose, but discovered--as alluded to above--that the boards were also similarly glued to the half-lap of the board behind, which was a real problem. 

The adhesive (or sealant) in question was black in color and had been slathered all over the backs of the boards on their bonding surfaces, though fortunately all of the stuff hadn't contacted the hull.  I wasn't sure what the material was; it acted in many ways like silicone, and it's possible I uttered a few choice words about whoever had done this installation.

My solution to this, for the moment, was to remove the screws from the next length of board, and then take down both forward pieces at the same time, being extremely careful not to stress the wood around the firmly-glued half-lap. 

However, despite my best efforts, I did slightly damage the wood just forward of the half-laps on the lower and middle tiers--but managed to avoid any true breakage.  But on the top board, which was also adhered to the bottom of the caprail with whatever evil black compound had been slathered everywhere, the bond was so tight--particularly at the screw located just forward of the joint--that shortly before the last bit of adhesive released, I heard a sickening cracking sound, and the forward board broke a couple inches forward of the half-lap.  This displeased me, and I might have muttered some derogatory comments aimed at the previous installer.

The remaining boards on the port side were clearly original, and came off as easily as their counterparts to starboard.  Later, I scraped off the offending sealant or whatever.  It scraped off the hull easily--more easily than I'd expect of silicone--but the gobs of it on the back sides of the boards seemed resistant and rubbery to the touch, like silicone.  I really was unsure what it was, but I didn't like it.



What  became all the more clear now was that whatever had happened to the boat, clearly these wood strips--just the forward third--had been replaced at that time, along with the forward half of the wide teak rubrail just beneath.  (I now remembered the previous owner telling me he'd replaced the rubrail, though it was clear only the port forward section had been done.) 

In fact, the boards must have been replaced when the boat was painted, as there was a clear paint line in the recessed bulwark area that had been previously hidden behind the boards; none of the original boards had been removed for the paint in 2002, and these areas were original green gelcoat.  This led me to believe that the reason the boat was painted in the first place was probably to hide the repairs to the port bow, after which the affected pieces of wood trim were replaced as necessary.

In any event, all the teak boards were off, and I'd have to spend time later to see if I could de-bond the half-laps on the port boards.  But that'd be for another time.

I really wanted (in an obligatory sense) to remove the rubrails too, in order to clean them up, refinish the back, mating surface, and to ensure that they were well sealed to the hull at the fastener locations.  Most of the fasteners were easily accessible from inside the bare hull, but the aftermost bolts still seemed virtually impossible to reach, even with everything removed from beneath the cockpit.  I postponed any decision on the rubrails for now. 

I hated the thought of not doing an unsavory chore while I had the most logical chance, but at the same time I also hated the thought of removing and then reinstalling these rubrails--all the more so because I figured whatever fool had bonded the bulwark strips the way they had probably would have used similar stuff on the new forward port section of the rubrail, and I didn't want to damage that either.

Moving on, I now got started on what I'd expected to be the main focus of the day:  sanding the hull to prepare it for primer and paint.  The existing paint was in good-enough condition that I'd only need to thoroughly sand the surface; there was no need to attempt to remove all the old paint, as I often need to.  In addition, I knew the old paint--Awl-Grip--would be compatible beneath the new paint. 

To begin, I sanded everything I could reach from the floor.  Using a 6" finishing sander, I sanded first with 80 grit paper, then followed with 120 grit.  In this way, I worked myself around the hull.



Afterwards, I had enough time left in the day to begin some of the staged work, beginning at the port transom and starting to work forward.   My small rolling staging worked well throughout the day's processes, since I'd still not managed to put together any real staging for this job.

Total Time Today:  6.25 hours

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