Monday, June 30, 2014

In Pursuit of Reflection
By Michael

Me, standing on an 8-inch block of wood to
reach the boot stripe I'm painting.
Standing ashore and looking back at her, I’m always pleased to note that Del Viento is a fine looking boat. But approaching her in a dinghy over the past couple years, the nearer we got, the rougher she looked. It became increasingly clear that she sorely lacked cosmetic attention.
Her hull and topsides were rough and chalk-like. Everything soaked into her porous surfaces and left a stain. Her 36-year-old gelcoat looked like 36-year-old gelcoat. The turquoise ornament and boot stripes were worn, chipped, and faded. Our pending haul-out represented an opportunity to remedy this.

Back in my 20s, when I lived aboard the first Del Viento, my liveaboard neighbors took sandpaper to the hull of their Passport 47. It was the first time I’d heard about very fine grit sandpaper and wet sanding. I was shocked to see this method bring a high shine to Mimosa’s gelcoat.

So twenty years later, I bought a lot of sandpaper, sheets and sheets of the 400-, 600-, and 1500-grit stuff suitable for wet sanding. For days in the Guaymas boat yard I stood on scaffolding and ran my 1/3-sheet electric sander over the hull with water everywhere (don’t do this at home, I nearly destroyed the cheap corded sander, went through nearly half-a-can of WD-40 to keep it going). White gelcoat residue ran down my arms and covered my hat. In the 110-degree heat, it felt good.

Slowly, a smooth, shiny finish emerged. At this point I taped and painted the ornament stripe and boot stripe a dark, dark blue. Then I used my buffer to first apply a liquid polish and finally a paste wax. It took more than a week of work and my arms were ready to fall off, but the results are astounding. Del Viento could almost slip undetected into a gaggle of new boats at the Annapolis Sailboat Show--sort of. I've yet to do the same to the gelcoat surfaces of our cabin top.

Next up is the story about the final major yard project. This one didn’t take the most time, but it was the most curious of the projects by far…

Caught in the moment--Frances reacts to something she ate
at a Guaymas taco stand.
Eleanor and Sophia (of Dawn Treader) and Frances at a fancy beachside
restaurant in San Carlos where we celebrated Carla's (Dawn Treader)

This picture sort of captures the shine of the polished gelcoat.
In fact, this picture captures everything, taken the
evening before we launched.
The girls feeding rice to pigeons in the pretty Guaymas plaza.
Windy insists it's an urban myth that you shouldn't feed
birds rice lest their little stomachs explode. If so, shame about all the
weddings where the end of the rice tradition resulted instead
in the manufacture and disposal of millions of little bubble-
blowing bottles. Think twice before you start an urban myth.

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