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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.