PS Advisor March 2006 Issue

PS Advisor: 03/06

Mystery Line
I bought for a song some very fancy double braid from a consignment shop to make a new halyard for the old, wood Raven I just bought. The old halyard was very frayed. The new stuff is supposed to have very low stretch, which I guess is desirable. However, I can’t seem to cut it, let alone apply a good splice for the shackle. Can’t even do it with a hot knife. What to do?

Don Byers

First of all, all line is color-coded and, if patient, you can find out what it is by poking through catalogs like those from West Marine and BoatU.S. You’ve obviously bought some line made entirely — core and cover — of one of the synthetics like Spectra or Dyneema. You can cut any line, but it’s hard work. Riggers tape where they want to cut, put one end in a vice, hold on to the other end to provide tension, and use an old knife. Sharpen the knife (you may have to do it several times) and saw away on the line. We’ve been tempted to invent a hinged box with grooved, replaceable wood inserts of different sizes and a slot for a hacksaw, but the idea hasn’t worked its way up the priority list. It probably would be something like you’d see in a medieval torture dungeon. And that Raven! In the hands of an athletic, four-man crew, it used to be the world’s fastest single-hull one design.


Painting Lead Keels
I suspect that many boat owners share this problem: For the last several years, the bottom paint has been power sprayed off the lead portion of the keel during the decommissioning of my Tartan 31. The paint on the fiberglass portion of the bottom has been fine. I have tried several primers and application methods to no avail. How do I treat the lead to take and hold antifouling paint?

Frank Pryzbylynsky

The seventh heaviest element (after neptunium, thorium, protactinium, actinium, radium, and bismuth), lead is a sort of soft, greasy metal. That’s why it’s used in gasoline, to provide some lubrication. So, getting paint to stick to lead often is a pain in the keel. Bottom paint tends to flake off in spots, especially when multiple coats pile up. (It happens, too, to iron keels and fiberglass hulls with ballast encapsulated.) It’s not surprising, considering the alternate soaking and drying that bottom paint undergoes. We’ve had good luck with scraping off the flaky clusters, washing, and rinsing thoroughly with soap and water (or clean with acetone), a light sanding, another wash down and, after a good drying, a single application of West System epoxy or, if you prefer, several coats of Interlux’s Interprotect 2000E, which is an epoxy, too. The latter goes on easily because it’s thin and dries quickly. Both are stickier than paint, and sticky is what you’re after. Next, with 80-grit paper, lightly but thoroughly scratch up the epoxy or 2000E, to provide good “tooth” for the bottom paint of your choice. Just do the spots. (For his first boat, a friend once bought a beautiful used Folkboat, built by Bill Abbot in Sarnia, Ontario. In just a few half-dollar-sized places, the paint had flaked off the keel. We caught him at the boatyard, just starting the terribly laborious job of removing all bottom paint — from the keel and part of the lapstrake hull. “Stop!” we pleaded. “Just do the spots. It’s hard enough to get paint to adhere. Don’t take it off if it’s smooth.”)

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