2011.10.10 – Boat Work Continues I

New time-lapse video!

It’s only fitting that an entry about continuing boat work should begin with images of history repeating itself. Two pictures, taken 22 years apart, of father and son engaged in the same labor of love.

Dad in 1989 at Minnesott Beach, NC, and me in 2011 at Rockland, ME.

Dad in 1989 at Minnesott Beach, NC, and me in 2011 at Rockland, ME.

If one day you tackle a deck refit of your own, you may ask yourself (as I did), “Where does the deck end?” In this case I decided it ended at least an inch over the edge and down the topsides so that the welded edge itself would see the same attention and new paint layers the deck would. This, of course, meant more of my favorite activity: grinding.

Working my way around the entire perimeter of the deck (over 90') with the grinder.

Working my way around the entire perimeter of the deck (over 90') with the grinder.

Edge of the deck ground and feathered into the old and new paint, with new white primer following close behind.

Edge of the deck ground and feathered into the old and new paint, with new white primer following close behind.

Even the perimeter led to complicated areas, here the underside of the anchor platform. Note that the anchor platform, along with countless other massive items onboard, were fabricated entirely from scratch by Dad back in the day. 1/4" to 1/2" stainless steel plate and titanium fittings all cut, machined, and welded in the back yard and without a proper machine shop. Awesome!.

Even the perimeter led to complicated areas, here the underside of the anchor platform. Note that the anchor platform, along with countless other massive items onboard, were fabricated entirely from scratch by Dad back in the day. 1/4" to 1/2" stainless steel plate and titanium fittings all cut, machined, and welded in the back yard and without a proper machine shop. Awesome!.

As I may have grumbled about last time, the deck was taking forever. Not only was I slowed by days of rain and cold weather, but also a sore back and the desire to work on something else. So, I decided to tackle an area of interior trim around five large deadlights in the main salon that had never been completed. Armed with balsa wood and superglue, I began a project that would soon fill weeks of nights and rainy days.

Framing in the rough shapes of each deadlight, one piece at a time. Because it has to be removable (for maintenance on the interior steel) and has so many compound curves, this seemed to be the best method.

Framing in the rough shapes of each deadlight, one piece at a time. Because it has to be removable (for maintenance on the interior steel) and has so many compound curves, this seemed to be the best method.

Tools of the trade. Balsa is cheap, incredibly easy to work with, and strong enough to hold a shape until it can be reinforced with fiberglass cloth.

Tools of the trade. Balsa is cheap, incredibly easy to work with, and strong enough to hold a shape until it can be reinforced with fiberglass cloth.

Progress. The goal is to have the middle three deadlights framed with a single unbroken panel.

Progress. The goal is to have the middle three deadlights framed with a single unbroken panel.

Finally, the panel is complete enough to hold its shape (with the help of a temporary "backbone") and can be lowered out of place.

Finally, the panel is complete enough to hold its shape (with the help of a temporary "backbone") and can be lowered out of place.

Next comes work in the shop, filleting the framework and adding / removing structure where necessary.

Next comes work in the shop, filleting the framework and adding / removing structure where necessary.

Starting to look better. Using bondo for filleting and additional balsa, a "box frame" of sorts is created that runs inside the entire curved length (over 9') of the panel.

Starting to look better. Using bondo for filleting and additional balsa, a "box frame" of sorts is created that runs inside the entire curved length (over 9') of the panel.

Preparing to fiberglass the "box frame" and other structural details.

Preparing to fiberglass the "box frame" and other structural details.

Fiberglass cloth cut to length and arranged in the order in which they'll be epoxied in place.

Fiberglass cloth cut to length and arranged in the order in which they'll be epoxied in place.

Nicolas and Santiago showed up at this moment ready to head for the pub. "We'll get to that cold beer a lot faster if you guys put on some gloves and grab a brush!" I said. They did, and in less than 15 minutes the three of us had the epoxy and fiberglass completed and were enjoying a cold one. - Photo by Nicolas.

Nicolas and Santiago showed up at this moment ready to head for the pub. "We'll get to that cold beer a lot faster if you guys put on some gloves and grab a brush!" I said. They did, and in less than 15 minutes the three of us had the epoxy and fiberglass completed and were enjoying a cold one. - Photo by Nicolas.

Once the epoxy dried I cut away the temporary “back bone” and the thing held its shape perfectly, weighed less than 10 pounds, and fit into place beautifully. This winter I’ll fair, fiberglass, and paint the visible side of it and start on the two outboard deadlight panels, which will be built the same way.

In anticipation of finishing the deck, the teak toe-rails needed serious attention. Beyond the toe-rails themselves, new mounting isolators needed to be made to keep them from abrading the paint on the steel mounting tabs. Part of making these required a large hole punch, which unloaded a layered history of Mom’s previous canvas projects. Green canvas from tarps, blue from cushions, sail cloth from the main (yes, Mom sewed the entire 450+ square foot main sail, from scratch!), yellow ripstop from the sail she made for my 12′ Snark (when I was 11 I think), etc. Each little colored fabric dot a memory of some project she’d made by hand for the boat.

One of the four toe-rail sections sanded, three to go.

One of the four toe-rail sections sanded, three to go.

The toe-rails hanging between neighboring boats after the third and final coat of varnish (Sikkens Cetol).

The toe-rails hanging between neighboring boats after the third and final coat of varnish (Sikkens Cetol).

Colorful fabric dots from Mom's canvas shop. - HDR

Colorful fabric dots from Mom's canvas shop. - HDR

While Jason was here we made fine use of the nice weather days. The first job was to re-fiberglass the cover over the companionway hatch.

Jason grinding the paint off the hatch cover.

Jason grinding the paint off the hatch cover.

Jason masking the areas we hope to keep free of epoxy.

Jason masking the areas we hope to keep free of epoxy.

Four new layers of 8 oz fiberglass cloth set in epoxy resin.

Four new layers of 8 oz fiberglass cloth set in epoxy resin.

Books and tools for weight atop salon cushions and plastic sheeting to compress the curing fiberglass.

Books and tools for weight atop salon cushions and plastic sheeting to compress the curing fiberglass.

Next with Jason’s help was to paint the entire topsides of the boat. My folks and I had already decided that unlike the deck, grinding the entire topsides was not worth the effort. Though not beautiful, the existing topsides paint was for the most part intact and would not see as much wear as the deck. Still, the preparation took several days and included pressure washing, scrubbing, and grinding / epoxying a handful of areas with exposed steel.

Jason epoxying areas of exposed steel.

Jason epoxying areas of exposed steel.

A healthy coating of epoxy resin which should provide years of corrosion protection.

A healthy coating of epoxy resin which should provide years of corrosion protection.

To make a long story short, in the early 90’s we originally painted Northern Cross green and she was beautiful. Sometime later we decided to paint her white (something about dark hulls being too hot in the tropics……..) with a green stripe. Ever since then (1998 I think) we’ve longed for her to be green again. So in complete secrecy from my folks, Jason and I purchased three gallons of “Forest Green” paint and began an undercover face lift of Northern Cross.

Test patch of "Forest Green" to make sure it matches Northern Cross's "natural color." Note the bits of blue tape which mark areas needing grinding and epoxy.

Test patch of "Forest Green" to make sure it matches Northern Cross's "natural color." Note the bits of blue tape which mark areas needing grinding and epoxy.

The hull after two coats of gray primer.

The hull after two coats of gray primer.

First coat of green on the starboard side. The cover was quite light and required three coats.

First coat of green on the starboard side. The cover was quite light and required three coats.

Jason and I had some fun graffitiing the hull before rolling on the green.

Jason and I had some fun graffitiing the hull before rolling on the green.

The hull after the three coats of green paint and the new white name hand painted on.

The hull after the three coats of green paint and the new white name hand painted on.

A time-lapse video taken over three days of painting the topsides of S/V Northern Cross green and painting the white lettering of her name of the starboard side.

Thanks to Jason’s help Northern Cross was really starting to look good!! But winter was approaching and the deck was still there and unfinished.

Grinding the stern pulpit down to bare metal.

Grinding the stern pulpit down to bare metal.

Starboard side details sandblasted and painted (drying under the plastic sheeting), time to start on the port side.

Starboard side details sandblasted and painted (drying under the plastic sheeting), time to start on the port side.

Sandblasting around the backstay chainplates and stern cleats after hours of removing chipped paint with a cold chisel and hammer. - HDR

Sandblasting around the backstay chainplates and stern cleats after hours of removing chipped paint with a cold chisel and hammer. - HDR

Grinding and painting around the anchor platform. The far forward rust would later be cold chiseled and sandblasted.

Grinding and painting around the anchor platform. The far forward rust would later be cold chiseled and sandblasted.

Though technically part of the topsides, the transom had sat south-facing for 11 years and was in worse shape than the deck. So, it received the same treatment. Top - decaying as found. Middle - ground and sanded. Bottom - after 3 coats of epoxy primer.

Though technically part of the topsides, the transom had sat south-facing for 11 years and was in worse shape than the deck. So, it received the same treatment. Top - decaying as found. Middle - ground and sanded. Bottom - after 3 coats of epoxy primer.

Preparing the wood hatch beds for epoxy.

Preparing the wood hatch beds for epoxy.

Tiring again of the deck, I turned to the boom which had corrosion problems of its own. A few days of sandblasting, epoxying, and painting and it was as good as new. The entire 60′ tall mast needs similar treatment, and depending on schedule in the spring will either be refinished where it stands (as in sandblasted and painted while hanging in a bosuns chair) or taken off with a crane to be done at ground level.

The boom, before and after refinishing.

The boom, before and after refinishing.

Just as the dependable good weather finally said goodbye I passed a major milestone on the deck. Finally every square inch, every weld, every detail, every protrusion had been ground, sandblasted, or otherwise prepared and painted with at least three coats of epoxy primer. It’s a funny thing on a project when finally you look around and there’s nothing left. Or so I thought. Now comes the fun part, nonskid.

The nonskid method we chose was to paint, throw sand all over the wet paint, then paint again, and finally paint one last time with a two-part polyurethane top coat. Sounds simple, and it was. Simple as in a week of 14 hour days simple.

Masking off areas to remain free of non-skid. If only I owned stock in Scotch / 3M. - HDR

Masking off areas to remain free of non-skid. If only I owned stock in Scotch / 3M. - HDR

Masking off areas to remain free of non-skid.

Masking off areas to remain free of non-skid.

Areas on the foredeck masked.

Areas on the foredeck masked.

Top - masking prior to nonskid. Middle - loose sand sprinkled on wet paint. Bottom - first coat of paint over nonskid, and new areas masked which will not get the final polyurethane top coat.

Top - masking prior to nonskid. Middle - loose sand sprinkled on wet paint. Bottom - first coat of paint over nonskid, and new areas masked which will not get the final polyurethane top coat.

50 pounds of sand spread over an entire foredeck of wet paint.

50 pounds of sand spread over an entire foredeck of wet paint.

Like my own private beach!

Like my own private beach!

After the nonskid is painted over, an entirely new set of blue tape is applied to mask the areas which don't get top coated.

After the nonskid is painted over, an entirely new set of blue tape is applied to mask the areas which don't get top coated.

Finally, the battleship stage is coming to a close!

Finally, the battleship stage is coming to a close!

Attempting to keep the dew off the deck the night before the final topcoat was to be applied.

Attempting to keep the dew off the deck the night before the final topcoat was to be applied.

Finally the foredeck was finished. The after-deck remains without non-skid as the weather is no longer consistent enough to finish. A week in the spring though and I’ll call the deck done.

Finished foredeck with toe-rails finally installed.

Finished foredeck with toe-rails finally installed.

Somewhat artsy view of the finished foredeck. God I can't wait to see blue-water washing across this!

Somewhat artsy view of the finished foredeck. God I can't wait to see blue-water washing across this!

Timing is everything! My folks were headed this way and just in the nick of time I rolled the last coat of paint on the deck and transom within hours of their evening arrival. Their reaction at seeing Northern Cross green again was priceless. And by that I mean there was no reaction. In the darkness of night they were trying so hard to see the beautiful new deck that it wasn’t until I prodded with a few “Notice anything different? Perhaps about the topsides? Any colors not as you expected?” that they let out a scream of delight. Turns out the dark green hull looked so natural they simply thought she was “just how she should be.” Suppose that’s better than them wishing we had painted her blue or something!

Mom and Dad realizing that Northern Cross is green again!

Mom and Dad realizing that Northern Cross is green again!

The day after their arrival the three of us helped on an overnight offshore sailboat delivery to Newport, RI and then returned to Rockland for more boat work. I’d held off work on many items needing their help and expertise so now was the time. Unfortunately there are few pictures, but in short we got the entire propane system rebuilt, the stove burners repainted and working, new canvas bits sewn, the battery system upgraded, the cutlass bearing removed, new stereo installed, halyards reconditioned, mast winches removed for rebuilding this winter, sails inventoried, the spreader light fixed, lockers cleaned out and organized, and rigging preliminarily inspected.

Rebuilt propane system and new canvas covers. And thanks to Ed of Vinalhaven Fuel, the tanks are re-certified and full of propane! - HDR

Rebuilt propane system and new canvas covers. And thanks to Ed of Vinalhaven Fuel, the tanks are re-certified and full of propane! - HDR

Stove and oven all fixed up and ready for cooking. In celebration Mom baked cookies, the first delight to come out of the oven in 11 years!

Stove and oven all fixed up and ready for cooking. In celebration Mom baked cookies, the first delight to come out of the oven in 11 years!

View from the top of the mast (about 70' above the ground) while inspecting the standing rigging.

View from the top of the mast (about 70' above the ground) while inspecting the standing rigging.

Dad inquiring what tools I need sent up.

Dad inquiring what tools I need sent up.

One nice looking deck if I do say so myself!

One nice looking deck if I do say so myself!

Navigation and anchor lights seem to work.

Navigation and anchor lights seem to work.

In anticipation of the coming winter, I close with a slide we found from 1989 taken at Minnesott Beach, NC shortly after we purchased and began work on Northern cross.

Northern Cross in 1989.

Northern Cross in 1989.

Advertisements
Gallery | This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to 2011.10.10 – Boat Work Continues I

  1. Andrew says:

    WOW. What a ton of work. Great job, Ryan. The boat is looking beautiful and I’m impressed at everything you’ve done! I hope to meet her someday!

  2. Chuck and Sue says:

    Ryan – what a story you are telling!. You will inspire many, and send many more back to their arm chairs! Keep up the fantastic work – it will all be worth it! Love Dad and Mom

    • Cathy and Kent says:

      Awesome comes to mind!! We are amazed at your accomplishment thus far. I doubt that your parents knew those many years ago just how much skill and talent and knowledge they imparted to you……
      She is beautiful, Ryan…..
      Good Luck with the rest of your efforts, and Do be careful when you take off around the world! We have no doubt that you will accomplish exactly that.
      Love to you,
      Cathy and Kent

  3. Karen Liechty says:

    Ryan, Bec connected me to your page – wow!@!! What a job you have done and I think getting the flower garden beds ready for winter and firewood in is a big job. When did you start the work or did you spend the whole summer — looks really great! Perhaps you have found a new profession? All the best, Karen Liechty, Montana

  4. Carrie and Mike Bishop says:

    Ryan – your work on Northern Cross clearly reveals the eye and heart of an artist, the skill and attention to detail of an artisan, and the technical scope and vision of an engineer – a rare combination! Thanks for letting us visit the project from time to time. Carrie and Mike

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s