Getting Her Naked – Part 1

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Chance has been out of the water for about 8 years. Her deck still has the original gel coat, but there is widespread crackling and crazing. All of it minor fortunately, and is probably due to age and exposure. Her topside paint (the paint on the hull above the waterline) had about 4 layers of different paints and primers. Some of it cracking, some of it flat out peeling off, some of it hard as nails as impossible to get off. The bottom paint was in the same shape, though oddly enough, I only found two coats.

To bring this old girl back to life, there was only one thing I could – Get her naked. Strip her down, take off her layers of paint and start from scratch. For alternate weekends over the course of two months, K and I went through the P.I.T.A. task of removing all the deck hardware, fixtures, etc. Everything, including the entire toe rail (the wood trim that surrounds the boat deck) was removed.

The cockpit had a lot of teak trimmings, and EVERYTHING on this boat is thru-bolted. Great for security, horrible for removal. So when K wasn’t around, I made a series of clever jigs with wood, vice grips and a mechanics wrench. That way I could unscrew from the top while the jig held the bolt from underneath.

Seafarer 34 Cockpit with original hardware

Jason in Locker

Eventually we were able to get pretty much everything removed. All of the portlights were removed as well. I am glad I removed as much as I did because most of the sealant between the fixtures and the deck we dried out or non-existent – which would have meant leaks! The only things remaining are the mast step and the aft rails. The aft rails only stay because I’m too big to fit in the aft locker and not flexible enough to reach. Waiting to K to return to the boat so I can stuff her down there to give it a shot. 🙂

Seafarer 34 Chance Cockpit Hardware Removed
Dewey helps remove the hardware
Seafarer 34 Chance Toerail removed
Toerail and deck hardware removed

Once we removed all the teak handrails and toe rails I freaked out. It looked like sections of the hull to deck joint (the sandwich that joins the deck’s peanut butter to the hull’s jelly) were rotting out. That would be a huge structural problem, and frankly, I was going to have strong words with my surveyor. After digging several sections out, I was discovered it was purely cosmetic. It looks like Seafarer built up about 1-2 inches of balsa wood on top of the joints to make the rails higher. So the rot was only in the balsa and not in the joints themselves.

Seafarer 34 ChanceTransom and rail repair
Minor rotting of Balsa built up above hull-to-deck joint over the transom
Seafarer 34 Chance Rot Under Toe Rail
A better view of the balsa rot over the hull-to-deck joint. This was over near the starboard running light.

The plan now is to remove all the balsa around between the toerail the deck joints and replace the height with a taller toerail. On one hand, I regret removing the toerail because in the process, I mucked it up and broke it in several sections. On the other hand, I’m glad I found a problem now. I’ll likely be using Mahogany instead of teak and will make the new toe rail 3-4″ higher.

Moral of the story is: I’m glad I discovered a problem I wouldn’t have otherwise noticed. However, it would have been real nice if I didn’t have to figure out how I’m going to flex mahogany 1×4’s around the entire hull. Even as a woodworker, I hate scarfing (the process of creating extreme miters in wood to help shape a curve) because I suck at the math of it all. Lord knows how much material I will burn through in the process -and in turn money.

But now that the deck is stripped I can begin the process of repairing the lone soft spot (to be detailed later), filling in all the holes and prepping the new coat paint and non-skid on deck.

Part 2 – the hull…

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