Of all the boat projects we’ve done so far, this is probably our biggest: a brand spankin’ new bottom job. New… literally allll the way down to the bottom—to gelcoat—that is. After getting rid of close to a dozen layers of antifouling and barrier coats, we uncover the real condition of our hull.

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Lauren & Kirk

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Episode Dialogue

Yeah, that’s way better. I’m glad I did these tests.

We’ve got Coppercoat.

[Kirk] I think that’s like 30 pounds.

I could do like maybe four of those.

[Kirk] Maybe it’s 25. Nothing like laying on gravel. And our boat still looks like that. We’ve got some work to do here. Now that works way better. That’s what I’m doing going forward.

[Lauren] What’s that? And so it begins, a brand new boat project. A big one.

I sprayed a little bit of water on it, rather than Saran Wrap, yeah.

[Lauren] This paint raining down is years of built up ablative antifouling, along with a handful of layers of brown and gray barrier coat. The white you see is our gel coat. The finish put on over the fiberglass at the factory over 40 years ago. Soulianis has needed a new bottom job for awhile. We had two options to get it done, the quick easy fix, or the long arduous slog. Here’s the thing. The quick easy fix would be to throw on another layer or two of ablative. This is the type that prevents growth by slowly sloughing off as the water moves past your hull. But this needs to be reapplied pretty much every year. We decided instead to go with a hard bottom paint, specifically Coppercoat, which can last up to 10 years or more without needing to be reapplied. All we need to do to keep growth down is to hop in the water with a scouring pad every once in awhile. This brings us however, to the long, arduous slog. To switch from ablative to hard paint means you’ve got to scrape off every layer of antifouling and start from the bottom up.

Yeah that’s way better. I’m glad I did these tests.

[Lauren] And so, step one, figure out the optimal application of Blue Bear paint stripper.

There right now I’m putting this soy based paint stripper on here. This is what is making the paint come off relatively easily. For my first test, I tried out a recommendation from a forum post to cover the paint stripper in plastic wrap. Which turned into a bit of a mess. The idea was to keep the paint stripper moist while it worked its magic. So I figured I’d try spraying it down with water instead. And then I wetted it again right before I came to scrape it, and so now it’s less dusty. And it’s coming off better. Smarter, not harder. Ah, I hate that sound though.

I guess I can turn the air off now. I think it’s colder outside than it is inside. Usually in the afternoon I’m sitting on my laptop. It’ll bleed into early evening, and I’ll look out the port light and I’ll see pink, and I know there’s a beautiful sunset outside.

It’s pretty nice.

[Lauren] Are you done?

No I just put on two more strips. I was gonna grab the work light from you.

Oh. Wow, look at that! Like cotton candy. All right, back into the hole.

[Lauren] Hey love?

[Kirk] Yeah.

[Lauren] Here you go.

You taking care of business all up top.

[Lauren] Yeah.

Up on the roof?

[Lauren] Upstairs.

You ready?

[Lauren] What’re you doing?

I am about to start sanding with our vacuum sander that I had to hack together because it won’t, long story. Anyhow, here we go. It’s just going slow.



You just did that portion in like 10 minutes.

No, ’cause I did it before too when you were in the van.

Oh, so 20 minutes?

At least.

Oh. Well it looks great.

Yeah, it’s white.

[Lauren] Kirk carried on by himself for another day, then it was time for me to join the fun. Well they’re better than the glasses.

[Kirk] When you get to stuff like this where it’s thicker, or this stuff where it’s gray, you’re not gonna be able to sand that off. We’ll use 60 grit on this, so just go around it. Just do light circles. That’s probably good right there. You probably don’t have to do anything more than that.

[Lauren] Oh that’s cool. Mm, Kirk how many pounds do you think that box of chips weighs?

[Kirk] I bet that’s up to almost 50 now. It’s really hard to pick up.

[Lauren] Scrape sand, scrape and sand. All in all it took us around two weeks to finish, working partial days in between Kirk’s remote job, and video editing. But hey, see these people on our boat? Kirk’s parents came from Michigan to visit us for a week. We immediately put them to work polishing the stainless. Oh, and we showed them around town too. We also took to watching the daily commute of the resident tortoise from his burrow to the canal. Hey Mr. Tortoise. Okay, good to go. I’m hoping to get all that done underneath there. It’s gonna be tough because I’m gonna be overhead the entire time. That’s why I haven’t done it yet. And then maybe get in some of that.

[Kirk] What have we here?

Can you imagine how many kits you would need to actually paint a boat like that? We’ve got Coppercoat! We got eight kits of Coppercoat bottom paint. So this is the fun part. This is the actual copper. It’s so heavy.

[Kirk] How much does that way?

Oh man, I don’t know, like 20 pounds.

[Kirk] No, that’s more than that I think.


Yeah. I think that’s like 30 pounds.

I could do like maybe four of those.

[Kirk] Maybe it’s 25.

99.7% copper. How many pennies do you think this is?

[Kirk] If someone can correctly guess the number of pennies in this Coppercoat–

Spoiler aler, we have no idea how many pennies there are. So we’ve got two of these. Eight of these guys, the resin. Eight of the hardener, and eight packages of copper.

[Kirk] And our boat still looks like that.

Yeah, we’re not ready to do this at all.

[Kirk] So we’ve got some work to do here.

We’ve got what, probably at least three days of work? Four days maybe, to finish scraping, sanding, and figuring out what the heck we’re gonna do with our boot stripe, because our waterline is not right, We’re too bow heavy.

[Kirk] We need an arch.

Yeah we do. We need a dinghy hanging off the back of our boat to balance it out.

[Kirk] Or we just need to put more heavy stuff in the stern.

Yeah, we already have batteries all the way back there.

[Kirk] Which we don’t really want weight in the bottom of the stern anyways. We want it in the center.


[Kirk] But, gotta have chain.

Yes, gotta have chain.

[Kirk] For that cruise life. I don’t know, what have you been doing the last few days?

So you did this the last couple of days. You scraped all of this.

[Kirk] Si.

Si. Been doing a little research on what we need to do with our prop. Poor thing needs to be cleaned up. It still has barnacles all over it, needs new zinc. And new O rings, right?

[Kirk] Yep.

You scraped all of this. And I sanded most of the starboard side of the hull. We got a little bit of help from Kirk’s dad, actually. Sanding a little bit of these here. So that was cool, Thanks Kevin.

Thanks Pops.

Yeah and now Kirk’s going back and putting paint stripper along the waterline. We weren’t’ really sure how the stripper was gonna work, and so we were a little worried about getting it too close to the boot stripe. What we were gonna do with the boot stripe, but now we’re gonna paint it anyway. So we’ve gotta put stripper back up here, get that scraped off, get that sanded. Yeah, and then we’ll be ready to do the bottom paint. Although before we do that, we’ve gotta wash it down, acetone, and all that crap too.

[Kirk] Yeehaw!

Yeehaw, we gotta lot of work.

Let’s do it! Also our bottom is in pretty good condition. We found–

[Lauren] Yeah.

No blisters, yes. But we did find a few voids in the glass that I’ve kind of ground out here. I’ve got maybe, I don’t know, six or eight of these. The worst one is actually down here on the keel. And then you’ve got ’em pretty good void in there that we’re gonna fill in with some epoxy. And other than that.

It’s a beautiful day for sanding. It’s a little windy, but it’s like 70 degrees. And yeah.

[Kirk] The sun just came out.

The sun just came out, but we’re gonna be on the other side, so we should be pretty comfortable.

[Kirk] Yeah let’s do it.

Time to move. Can only do that overhead stuff for so long. So I’m gonna stand now and do the rudder.

For the most part our hull is in pretty good shape. There’s a couple of spots where the gel coat has a little bit of air behind it, a little bit of voids where the resin didn’t get all the way down in and wet the glass all the way out. They’re just little spaces like this where I’ve ground out a few spots. So I don’t know if those things are called blisters or not, but the worst thing about this bottom is that somebody applied this gray two part epoxy barrier coat over the top of this blue ablative paint in a whole bunch of spots. So we’ve got all sorts of stuff happening. And the worst of it is right down here, this void. It looks like somebody backed the boat into something and took a chunk out of the keel, more likely because over on this side we have the blue ablative underneath some sort of filler underneath like three layers of the barrier coat and some other green primer or something else here. So we scraped off as much as we could and sanded the rest until we felt confident that we had removed all of the antifouling bottom paint.

[Lauren] Hey.

[Kirk] Hey.

[Lauren] What are you up to?

I just put a light coat of thin epoxy on all these little spots that I’m going to do some faring on. So I ground into the epoxy in a few spots where we had, they weren’t really blisters, but they were manufacturing defects, little voids in between the gel coat and the glass underneath, but no liquid came out, there was no acid. There was nothing, they were totally dry. That was the problem, they were just totally dry bits of glass with no fiberglass resin in it. And so I’ve just gone in and ground them out a little bit, and now I’ve got bare glass.

So I’m putting on a thin coat of epoxy and then I’m gonna go back with some faring compound over the top of that once this gets a little tacky. All right. Nothing like laying on gravel. I’m faring out this section here where the rudder pintle attaches to the rudder. It had a little divot in here where it looks like someone had replaced it and ground into the glass, and I’m just making sure it’s nice and smooth. We’re doing this because with Coppercoat, we really need a very smooth bottom, because after we apply the Coppercoat we have to sand off the top layer of it so that we expose the copper to the water, and so the smoother you can get things, the easier it’s gonna be to expose that copper.

Hey there buddy.

All right we need to get all of this stuff in that we need to get in. I guess we’re not taping this off. Look at that band spinning.

[Lauren] That is nuts.

[Kirk] All right, come on.

It’s been awhile since I’ve been–

[Kirk] Playing hot lava?

Yeah. Is this a thing? Ooh this is like a raft. Ooh we’ll use that. Okay now this is the tricky one isn’t it?

[Kirk] Yeah.


[Kirk] The tide went out Lauren.

Or did the tide come in.

[Kirk] Yeah something like that.

Oh no, now what?

[Kirk] I know that’s what I said.


[Kirk] You’re gonna have to get your feet wet.

Good thing I’ve got my sweat pants on. We have a little happy hour. It’s not a very pretty one this time ’cause I didn’t get any fruits or vegetables. I just kind of half-assed it with this orange.

Just setting an orange out. This was the one place on the hull that I couldn’t really sand very well. And we had this bulbous kind of torpedo shaped. It’s a depth transducer. We have two others right here, and one right next to it, and it was just sort of sticking out of the hull with like a hydrodynamic foil built up around it, and this one has been unplugged. The wires were cut off probably 20 years ago just sitting in this boat waiting to fail, and we’re about to do our bottom here and this was the one thing that was kind of nerve wracking for me. I started sanding around it, and a big old chunk fell out if it. Yeah look at this thing. I’m really glad that I did, this thing just like fell right out basically.

[Lauren] Seriously. Where’s like the case?

[Kirk] I mean I cut through a lot of it. It was done after the hull was made.

Yeah, okay, gotcha. So it was just glass.

Yeah, I wanted to pull this thing out, and I was debating whether or no I should, because it’s a hole through the hull of the boat, and if it was this big around I’d have to dish out the glass quite a bit, but I was betting that it was only the tiny little wire part that went through the hull. So I’ve got a very small hole through the hull here that I should be able to ground out enough to get enough glass and epoxy in to make a pretty solid plug. But I was really uncertain of whether or not I should do this, and I’m really glad I did because it had completely rotted through all the way, and probably would’ve been an issue for me at some point. I’ve been debating how much to go, ’cause you’re supposed to dish it out so that when you put glass in there that it can be smooth so that you don’t sand through the layers of glass that you just put on there, but I don’t wanna go too close to this thing. I don’t know I think that’s enough, and then you do the same thing on the inside. I mean ideally I would’ve done one like this big, probably twice this big, but it’s a pretty small hole.

[Lauren] Yeah. I think Kirk’s adding another layer on there.

[Kirk] Hey.

[Lauren] Hey.

I got good adhesion with no bubbles.

[Lauren] So are you just gonna peel that plastic off after it dries.

Yep. Nice and solid. We have to get four coats of Coppercoat on today.

And the race is on.

Shit we didn’t thin it.

So I made my first mistake. It’s definitely a big learning curve.