Editorial July 1, 1999 Issue

Late to Launch

As long-time readers well know, each year we undertake at least one major project upgrade on Viva, our 1975 Tartan 44 test boat.

This past spring the list included rebuilding the rudder, anchoring a deck padeye for an inner forestay, and installing the last section of new teak and holly cabin sole. None of the jobs went smoothly…so what else is new?!

When the yard estimated about $3,000 to open up the rudder, machine and weld a new rudderstock and webbing, seal, fair and foam the inside, I decided this was a job I could do myself. You’ll get the details in a future issue. It was one hell of a lot of work. But it did go as planned…until it came to foaming the inside.

Figuring I wouldn’t need much of it (a rough calculation of the space was 1.3 cubic feet), I was able to get a small quantity of 8-pound foam from Freedom Yachts. Unfortunately, I didn’t get anywhere near enough, probably because the formula for expansion we used was based on 2-pound foam.

I ended up buying 5 gallons of 8-pound from RP Associates in Warren, Rhode Island, a major supplier to the state’s many boatbuilders. Actually, you end up with 10 gallons, because it comes in two parts—A and B.

It’s tricky stuff to work with, kicking at different rates depending on room temperature, amount mixed, and any residual heat from the previous pour. Except for blowing out 6 inches of the trailing edge seam, the job was a success.

For anchoring the inner forestay deck fitting, I designed and had fabricated an athwartships stainless steel angle beam that is through-bolted to the forepeak bulkhead, and extends port and starboard under the hull-deck joint. A “box” is welded to the beam in the middle, which fits under the padeye on deck. The padeye is through-bolted to the box.

The piece didn’t fit the first time so I had to take it back to the metal shop for reworking. And because drilling stainless with a hand drill isn’t easy, I fitted and removed the piece several times to drill the holes on a press.

The most frustrating and dumbfounding job, however, was varnishing the small piece of teak and holly sole in the forward cabin. Because it is directly beneath the forward hatch, and has a tendency to get wet, I decided to clear coat the sole with epoxy before varnishing. After sanding and wiping with acetone, I brushed on the epoxy. The next day, to my horror, the finish was blotchy, ranging from blond to brown. I felt I had no choice but to sand off the epoxy and start over.

The next coat of epoxy came out nicely. Six or eight coats of rubbed effect varnish would take six to eight days.

The day after applying the first coat, I was again horrified to discover that the varnish had alligatored.

I sanded off the varnish and tried again…with the same ugly result.

If all else fails, read the instructions. Well, doggone, the label on the varnish instructs one to mix well. I’d always been taught never to stir up varnish. But rubbed effect is different, owing to the chemical that knocks off the gloss.

Before moving on to the annual maintenance chores of oiling the exterior teak and painting the bottom, we had several PS tests to arrange. I could tell you about all the fun we had applying half a dozen “environmentally friendly” paint strippers (whose labels state “cannot be made non-poisonous”!) and installing a new sonic knotmeter transducer, but you’ll read all about these thrills in upcoming issues.

The bottom line is we didn’t launch Viva until late June, and it’s not like we have a real long sailing season here in New England. Or that I don’t have anything else to do with my “spare” time.

Motto #1: Nothing is easy.

Motto #2: You only do what you can do.

—Dan Spurr

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