Boat Maintenance Boat Project

The Hull Truth | A Fresh Start

Monday, December 05, 2016S.V. CAMBRIA

Since we'll be putting Cambria on the market soon, I thought it would be a good idea to hightlight some of the work we’ve done over the years. Unfortunately, the biggest jobs happened before we had the blogsite or took a lot of pictures. For this post, I was able to scrounge up a few photos from an old camera phone (circa 2004), but they’re not exactly impressive.

When we bought Cambria in October of 2003, the anti-foul was so thick that it was cracking in places and we knew it would have to be removed. We were living in New Zealand then and by the time we worked up enough nerve to tackle the job, David had gone back to work to top up the cruising kitty and put us right with immigration so I was in charge of the operation (for the most part).

We started off with a chemical paint stripper that was recommended by a fellow cruiser, but it couldn’t handle the job. So, I moved on to hand scrapers with replaceable blades like this one.


Progress was slow. I took my time, stopping work whenever I got tired so I didn’t accidentally break through the gelcoat and damage it. I’m sure there was a better tool than the one I chose, but it worked well and allowed me the control I needed to do the job right.

Day after day (after day), you could find me in the yard covered in blue anti-foul paint as I carefully stripped layer after layer away from the hull. In some areas, it came off easily with the simple stroke of the scraper. In others, like the waterline, it was more stubborn and took hours to clear a square foot. To say it was a painstaking process is a huge understatement.

Once the paint was removed, David borrowed a surveyor’s theodolite from his job to strike a new waterline (the old one was too low). After that, he lightly sanded the hull to scuff the surface and open the pores so there would be a good key for the for the next phase of the project: applying Interlux Interprotect 2000E, a two-part epoxy coating that protects the hull from water and osmosis. The company rep said three or four coats would do, but the product specs at the time called for seven (current specs call for four or five). Happy to err on the side of caution, we applied the seven coats over the course of three or four days. Once it was fully dried, we applied four coats of Interlux Micron Extra anti-foul paint (one red warning coat and three black coats). 


The keel needed attention as well, but required a different strategy. For that, I scraped the paint off and applied two coats of Interlux Primocon Metal Primer before painting with the Micron Extra.

The whole process took about three weeks, but a lot of that was due to the fact that I did most of the scraping myself and could only work three or four hours at a time before my hands wore out. Had we both been able to scrape the hull, it probably would have taken a week and a half (two weeks tops). Despite that, we save thousands of dollars by doing the work ourselves and can look back with pride on another job well done.

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7 comments

  1. Matt did a lot of scraping during the last haul out. It was terrible, and we decided we'd pay someone next time! There's a new waterline making tool?! We also had a lot of consternation over our new waterline. At first, we just added 1.5 inches to the existing waterline, but then we went down a rabbit hole since the white between the waterline and our hull vinyl stripes wasn't consistent. I think I'm going to have hysterics thinking about it!

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    1. Lol. Boats, right? Why can't lines be straight and corners square? I know exactly what you're saying. During the haul-out that I just wrote about, we were going to add a boot stripe above the waterline but it turned out to be too big of a headache.

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  2. That is a lot of work! Remind me to give you a call next time we need to do some scraping. :-)

    I think posting about all the work you've done to Cambria is a great idea for a blog series. Good info for prospective buyers and a chance for you guys to look back at all of the big projects you did.

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    1. The funny thing is, I don't like living on the hard but have said for years that if I went back to work, I'd love a job in a boatyard. Not here though. Somewhere where it's 72 and sunny every day.

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  3. I can't believe you stripped all that paint by hand. Oh my!! You are a better trooper than me. We repainted Irie's bottom many, many times, but never took the paint all the way down to the gel coat. Still, scraping the barnacles off, removing the hundreds of white calcium deposits, sanding by hand, washing it all down, fixing the blisters and applying all the paint was enough work! Yes, we saved a lot of money as well each year, but scraping and sanding the hull was one of my least favorite jobs in the boatyard!

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  4. OK, I see a thread of similarity between your ability to scrape paint off with painstaking slowness and a tiny blade and your amazing drawings. The level of hyperfocus is astounding. Nice work!

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    1. That's funny. I'm so easily distracted whenever it comes to work that I never really thought about myself as being hyperfocused. But it's true. I get lost in my own world when I take on these types of jobs in the same way that I get lost walking, writing and drawing.

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