Sunday, 22 September 2013

Old Westerly Nomad

With summer guests and visitors gone, a good load of logs cut and stored for the winter and plenty of
produce from the vegetable garden, I was able to make real progress on the restoration of this little vessel. I was quite frustrated a few weeks ago because all my efforts had been focussed on the cockpit. I had obtained good results but as the boat is on a trailer no-one could see or appreciate the fruits of my labour. I have been working to the early advice given by my good friend John (the unlikely Boat Builder). His advice was to concentrate on those things that would get her launched – interior comforts and decoration could wait. It’s a logical argument supported by the fact that working on the outside of the boat when the days are dry and inside when they are wet means that I have no excuse for failing to do something most days.

While we had guests and visitors I was able to work on bits of the boat I could detach and bring home.

To date however, in the boatyard I had little obvious to show and, perhaps even worse, the beautiful painted hull was beginning to look as bad as the rest of the boat due to my sanding efforts above it.

So, last week I embarked on a slight deviation in strategy without compromising the over-riding philosophy. I took a long hard look at the boat and decided the single biggest effort I could make that would make a noticeable change would be to clean up the cabin sides and polish the green hull. For the cabin sides, it took five days of full time effort. Starting with a wash and degrease then a P50 sanding disks, followed by a P120, then a P190 attached to a Bosch detail sander, then hand sanding with P340 and finally a P600 grade paper. Some advice suggested that I should continue down to P1000 and then P2000 (wet). I couldn’t source these final two grades and so I can only hope I have gone far enough. Following the sanding I used a heavy and then a light grade rubbing compound. At this stage I washed the hull paintwork and then applied two coats of marine polish (with Tefal in it!). The overall effect was outstanding and the result was well within the standard 100ft test. In fact she even looked good from 10ft away - a real boost to my morale.

The disc and detail sanders ran off my Honda suitcase generator – an item I would not be without (thanks Peter for selling it to me at such a reasonable price!) When it came to compounding and polishing however, I found the electric polisher to be far too heavy to work with especially on the cabin sides which were above my head. Instead I used rechargeable drills fitted with wool bonnets. The first is a Black and Decker which has proved to be remarkably good. The second is a recent purchase from my local builder’s merchant (the 'Man Shop' as Susan calls it) It’s an 'Energer' and it came with a set of screwdriver tips and drill bits of assorted sizes all for 29 Euros – best of all it has two batteries. It’s not as fast as the Black and Decker but for compounding and polishing it's fine. The advice is never to use a mains driven drill for polishing unless it is variable speed because they turn too fast and can burn the gel-coat. So two rechargeable drills and three batteries, charged overnight, provided all the power I needed to complete the job.