It's been….a difficult time. The adrenalin rush of seeing the boat get painted in three hours was followed by several weeks of frustrating problems. The non-skid areas-- where the paint is rolled on, the grains sprinkled on in a smooth layer and then rolled with paint again -- should have been so easy. They day they finally got to it, Don was called off to help with a big water maker problem on the catamaran Quantum Leap. It really was the last thing Don needed on his plate right then: watermaker work on someone else's boat. At least they came here to vuda, because it ended up taking two days of his time and a way too much of his overtaxed attention.
Here in Fiji (and most tropical places) boat painting takes place in the late afternoon so that any moisture from overnight dew is well dried and so that the painters themselves don't expire in the heat! I climbed the ladder to see how they were progressing, only to find that although they were halfway down the side of the boat, they were painting the non-skid white white, not oyster white like the boat! I could hardly bear to alert Don. Not only was the day lost, but the whole can of expensive two-part paint.
Our next paint issue was the re-spray of the hardtop. This was on Willie, as he had accidentally missed a spot with the final coat on the first go round. Since he was having to re-spray, we took the opportunity to correct two things: the color, which had come out darker than we wanted (the color of a nice creamy latte to match all our canvas!) and the texture which was supposed to have had a matte, orange-peel texture to look like canvas rather than gloss. When the paint was delivered we did a test, and the color was still too dark. Willie got the paint company reps out to see the boat, to see what we wanted both color and texture-wise. We got the remixed paint several days later, and this time Willie got a good shot done with just the right texture. Unfortunately, the color was still darker than we'd have liked, but we figured…"Hey, them's the breaks!"
In the middle of the night I woke up and said to Don, "You know, I bet he mixed all the latte paint to have the matte texture like the hardtop. We don't want THAT on the wood trim!" Well, …sh-t.
The saga of our wood trim could be a parable for the importance of communication and forethought. I have always joked that what we needed to do was just dip the whole boat in paint, so we proposed to Willie early on, that since our caprails were painted, perhaps it would just be easier to shoot them with two-part paint. This would save them having to tape out the wood trim when spraying. Made sense to Willie at the time, but one afternoon early on Don came up to find the guys stripping the old paint and undercoat of varnish off the wood! Yikes. That wasn't the idea. Seems Willie had got to considering that we had painted the wood trim with one-part paint in Mexico, and that two-part doesn't go over one-part. Well, fine, but talk to us first! We would have just gone back to the original plan to tape out the wood (or timber as they call it here) and do it by hand afterward with one part paint.
But now we were committed, and Willie's guys stripped the timber (caprails, trim and handrails), sealed them with a two-part wood sealer, filled and faired them as if they were fiberglass (!?!?!?), and then Willie primed and painted them with the topsides and deck.
Now, mind you, the result was gorgeous! Smooth, sealed and very fair. And if we'd had any sense, we'd have stopped there and left them white (oyster white, remember) like the rest of the boat. But no, everyone insisted we needed some sort of definition. So now the guys sanded the timber and started trying to paint the color. We went through two remixes AFTER the realization that the hardtop matte wasn't right for the timber. The paint company kept sending us darker and darker paint when we wanted lighter and lighter. Even Willie was disgusted. We had an eight-foot deck board we use for securing fuel jugs in the original (desired) color on which we tested each paint as if came. It lay there halfway coated in a sequence of bands as mute testimony to our frustrations and delays.
Once we settled (compromised?) on a paint color, our troubles were not over. The paint did not brush on well. Willie's team is used to spraying topcoat and rolling bottom paint, so all comes to a stop and in comes Baobab's "varnish specialist." Willie's team is all Fijian, whereas most of his partner Brian's guys are Indian. Sylvin (sp?) was a dark, slim, handsome young man, who painted at a snail's pace. It about drove Don crazy, who was itching to knock him out of the way and do it himself. In the end, Sylvin came through by changing out to a tiny roller, and the final finish looks as good as…well…how it looked white before we started messing with the damn color!
Meanwhile, Willie's guys were back working on the bottom. Can you imagine a more tedious job? Sanding, fairing, sanding, fairing, sanding fairing. I find it tedious to write about, so I will just say that the project of drying out the boat was quite successful, the bottom is probably smoother than it was when the boat was new, and with three coats of epoxy, four of barrier coat and three of the green Altec bottom paint we had shipped in from New Zealand (after all this work we wanted the bottom back GREEN!), it looks superb.
This all took several weeks and it was not the happiest of times. Don as project manager had a tremendous lot on his plate, because while all this was going on outside, he had dozens of projects inside. Over the course of our time here we have removed and replaced most of the deck hardware, redrilled and repositioned all the hatch hinges and springs, cleaned or replaced most of the stainless fittings, re-fiberglassed inside tabs, painted the aft bulkhead and all the lockers, varnished the aft cabin, the galley, and half the main salon. Don has replaced the ancient bronze thru-hulls and seacocks with new Marlon ones (always scary working with new and different materials) along with several of their backing plates, all of which unfortunately necessitated some dismantling, re-plumbing and refitting since they were not the same size and shape as the originals. We've cleaned every nook and cranny of the boat (and everything stowed in those nooks and crannies multiple times throughout the multiple stages of sanding fiberglass and paint. And, we've had the life raft serviced, the fire extinguishers serviced, the dive gear serviced, canvas restitched, a sail remodeled (reef points added to the staysail), and new cockpit instruments hooked up. And as the day for launching drew near, there was the engine to get going and piles of stuff to put away since the salon table and nav station were buried in baggies and containers of nuts, bolts and parts.
We moved back aboard during the week before the Fourth of July. We had been eating on board for a couple of weeks, but all the drawn-out painting on deck kept postponing our final checkout from the hotel. At last we said farewell to air-conditioning, flush toilets, hot showers and hot cooked breakfasts and moved on board with night buckets, mozzie (mosquito) screens, and the clatter of black plastic in the wind.
This e-mail was delivered via satellite phone using GMN's XGate software.
Please be kind and keep your replies short.