Down in Fleet Service, the winter is our time to catch up on preventative maintenance and upgrade the fleet. While California’s ongoing drought is definitely a concern, this year’s dry weather has been great for boat work. Not only is it a pleasure to work outside when it’s 65 and sunny, the weather has allowed us to get a good jump on all that work that requires dry weather, bottom jobs, gelcoat repairs, compounding/waxing, and varnish work. Much of this routine work is somewhat invisible unless you are down here everyday. However, there a few big projects currently underway that might catch your attention. Look for the following upgrades to the fleet the next time you come down to the club…
Catalina 36 W “Loon” – Interior brightwork. Last week we began to prep Loon’s interior for a complete varnish job. A proper varnish job is labor intensive work. You might not notice how much interior wood actually exists on a Catalina 36 until you start sanding it. Every interior piece of wood will get cleaned, sanded, and varnished by members of the service team. Any piece that is easily removable has been taken out of the boat for refinishing at the shop. Then the remaining interior wood gets refinished on board. Those pieces that are still in good condition will get a light sanding followed by one to three coats of varnish. Other areas where the varnish has begun to break down will be completed stripped of old varnish, thoroughly sanded, and then will receive six coats of fresh varnish. In addition to the prep sanding that occurs before the actual varnishing begins, a light sanding is necessary before each additional coat of varnish. Every member of the team will work on some part of the job. It is a big job, but the work is very satisfying and will have a dramatic impact on the general aesthetics of the boat. Depending on weather, this work should be complete by the third or fourth week of February.
J105 S “JGPC” – New Topsides Paint and Cockpit Sole Repair. JGPC is currently in the yard for new topsides paint, as well as fiberglass repairs to the cockpit sole. JGPC was painted once before, a marine topcoat over the original gelcoat, prior to entering OCSC’s fleet. The current owners decided to re-paint again rather than attempt to bring back the finish with wet sanding, compounding, and waxing. The dark blue, and darker colors in general, look great when they are brand new. But they are extremely difficult to maintain as the paint ages. Every scratch and ding will be more obvious than a comparable blemish on a lighter color paint job. And while a compound and wax can bring the finish back pretty well, the paint quickly oxidizes and dulls. Plus, it is more difficult to match dark colors during repairs that will inevitably be necessary during the life of the paint job. In short, a dark hull does not hold up as well as a lighter color, and requires much more attention to keep looking sharp. In addition to the benefits that accrue as the paint ages, the initial paint job is less expensive than the same paint job with a dark color. A white paint will do a much better job of hiding any imperfections in the fairing of the topsides, where as a dark paint freshly applied will highight any miniscule blemishes that exist in the fairing. As a result, for dark color paint jobs, we factor in additional prep time to ensure that the hull is perfectly fair. In light of these considerations, the owners have opted to change to an offwhite hull color with a blue boot stripe along the waterline.
Thus far, OCSC’s service team has sanded and faired the hull from the waterline to the gunnel. The waterline and gunnel were taped off to protect the rest of the boat from overspray. Berkeley Marine Center then sprayed three coats of primer. Once the primer fully set, 24-48 hours, the service staff sanded the primer. Finally, it is time for the topcoats. BMC has sprayed the blue boot stripe, and currently, we are waiting for a good weather day so BMC can spray the “oyster white” to the rest of the topsides. Marine topcoats are pretty sensitive to temperature and humidity, so even on a good winter day, there’s only a three to four hour period where it is feasible to paint.
On the fiberglass repair to the cockpit sole, Berkeley Marine Center is cutting out a section of the floor and rebuilding it. The 105s have a fitting in the sole for a cockpit table. Over time, this fitting has allowed water to penetrate and soften the core in the area surrounding this fitting. This softening caused the cockpit sole to flex and crack. The floor will be cut out from above, leaving the inner fiberglass skin. New core will be bedded to that inner layer of fiberglass. Then the core will be joined to the rest of the floor with fiberglass. Finally, the repaired area will be painted with a nonskid paint to match the surrounding area. The fitting for the cockpit sole will not get reinstalled, eliminating this problem for the future. BMC’s fiberglass specialist is a master at matching paint. See if you can find the repair the next time you sail “JGPC.”
If you’re down at the club this winter and see some work that catches your eye, feel free to ask for an explanation. Members of the service staff are happy to discuss what’s involved in a particular project and show you what goes on behind the scenes to keep the boats up and running. Its one more way to increase your sailing acumen at OCSC!
Fleet Service Manager