Sunday, May 13, 2018

Bottom Job!

There are several questions to ask yourself before buying a forty year old sailboat.
Is the Keel intact?
Is the hull structurally sound?
Are you prepared to spend one beautiful spring day sanding until you turn blue?

Have you lost your mind?

For good or bad, our answers to the above questions were all 'yes'.
Except for the sanding part.
That information was withheld.

The hull, or the underwater portion, of our fixerupper is fiberglass – layers and layers of it.
The Keel, the big fin underneath, is lead.
Both are covered with marine grade paint to protect them.
Or in our case, were covered.
Over time and exposure, that paint peels and no longer protects sufficiently.
Just like a house.
Except you can't put aluminum siding on a boat.
At least I don't think you can...


The normal person would pay to have the boatyard powerwash and repaint. Or, as the Ozark Yacht Club calls it, a Bottom Job.
But, from those original questions, we have established that we are, in fact, not normal.
Plus, we spent the 2018 boat budget on a new propane outboard and a port-a-potty.

Which is why I found myself, on a lovely April afternoon, sanding the bottom of the boat, which is up on jack-stands on a parking lot right off the Bagnell Dam Strip. There is no electricity. There is no running water.
Just a whole lot of gravel and sun.
Sure, I am in the shade...

This is after 10 minutes. Ten. Minutes.
Truthfully, the sanding wasn't terrible. It took a couple hours but we got the worse of the peeling paint off. Sure we inhaled a moderate amount of fiberglass and lead dust. But you know, live and learn.

The sanding was followed by a vigorous brushing with a stiff, long handled broom and then an alcohol wipe down.
Rob chose the alcohol wipe as
      1. there was no water to rinse the excess dust off
      2. alcohol dries very rapidly.
Oh, and
                       3. inhaling all those alcohol fumes just added to the amazing quality of the                                    day....

Once we regained consciousness, the boat was taped off and Rob rolled while I edged and painted the smaller areas around the jack-stands where the roller wouldn't reach. (Sorry about the paint on those straps, guys.)

Blue tape. Blue Boat. Blue paint...
Fancy Hull Paint. Only used about half the can!
Goes on smooth...
Clean up was a little dicey.
It was a toss up between being 'green' and trying to wash all the rollers and paint containers in the bathroom at the yacht club or remaining members of the yacht club.
At the end of the day, everything went in the trash.
Looks brand new! And to think, this will be underwater the next time we see her.
We brushed off as much blue dust and paint as we could before heading down the hill to clean up a little.
With the lake three hours from home, and our 'lake house' on jack-stands, we opted to stay the night at the Quality Inn.
It says a lot about the desk clerk that she never mentioned my interesting blue tan or the homeless quality of my clothes.

Sunday was spent taking Blue Skies, our wooden sloop, out on the big lake. She was neglected all last year in favor of the fixer-upper.
We set her up in the parking lot, with one good reef in the main as it was fairly windy, even in our cove.
In the land of power boats and fiberglass, this is a sight for sore eyes.
And if anyone doubts that a boat has a soul, they should have been holding the bowline as she hit the water.
The minute Rob pulled the trailer away, she strained at those lines, just begging to sail.
It was an amazing feeling, holding her back, sails still down and no tide or current.
You get a much neater reef when it's done on the parking lot.
We had a fantastic afternoon, even with one reef. We did put the jib up after a bit and even ventured out into the main arm near the dam, where the wind really picked up and Blue Skies soared!
Wing on Wing. Don't get to do this very often.
The weekend wrapped up with that three hour drive home.
We were slightly sunburned, pretty stiff and sore and not a little exhausted.
But it was so worth it.

Cool Change was ready for an exciting new year of sailing.
Blue Skies had her water fix for a bit.
And we learned a little more about sailboat ownership:
      1. I look good with blue highlights in my hair.
      2. Alcohol plus paint dust = permenant blue paint on your hands.
      3. Eagles get a kick out of watching people attempting to get their photograph and instead coming about in a complete circle. Twice.
Nest and Eagle

Fuzzy as it's from my phone. We have seen this guy out and about early in the morning.
Can't believe he lives so nearby!
Next time the boat hull needs painting we will opt for the professional Bottom Job.
But only after they buy us dinner first.

*As it so happens, this is a possibility. I just got an email from the Ozark Yacht Club offering Dine and Detail – you order up your boat work and your dinner from the Lakeside Cafe. You have a lovely waterfront meal and the boatyard does the work!

You had me at Torpedo Tacos...


  1. The fulfillment you felt and then off to sail, wonderful. The idea of doing all that work again, I get it. No!

    1. It was really fun but if the crew had done it we could have had the fixer upper in the water!

  2. That is a lot of work, well done, ENJOY!!

  3. I hope you get a LOT of enjoyment out of that boat. As for me...I would have immediately opted for the Bottom Job. Well done; maybe you can get a published short story out of it....Alana

    1. Ooo!! The short story possibilities are endless!!

  4. IT's amazing what a coat of paint can do. Or hide!
    Dinner and a Bottom Job. Out here, it would be something totally different! ;)


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