Boat repair update
Friday night we pulled Black Magic out of the water. Despite the fading light and the occasional gust of crosswind, that operation went wonderfully smoothly. The new trailer has proved its worth, with its keel guide and side ladders that not only allow easy access to the boat when it’s on the trailer but also help to align the boat with the keel guide. The Etchells may never have been designed to be trailerable (or at least ramp-launchable), but Dumbledore’s trailer design is a winner.
Saturday, we began to grind through all of the layers of inept patches at the spot where the hull had cracked. Under the paint was a substance that looked suspiciously like carpenters’ wood filler; below that was a big blob of resin, two to three inches in diameter, the edge of which shows as the vertical component of the crack in the pictures in the earlier post. Below that blob, there was a larger, thinner puddle of resin, about six inches in diameter. Finally, beneath that, was something that looked like a more competent patch job of resin-saturated fiberglass cloth.
By the time we got to that layer, we had drained the batteries for our cordless drill that we were using with a sanding wheel. We worked for a while sanding by hand until we got tired, and then we took a break to put the batteries on the charger and then hung out at the marina pavilion to cook our supper on the grill there and socialize with fellow sailors. There was a good crowd this weekend, more than I’ve seen there in several years. Although there certainly weren’t as many people as in the club’s heyday before the drought, people are beginning to discover that the lake does have a good lot of water in it, and the sailing is still good.
Sunday, we returned to Black Magic and continued to sand out the old patches. The big blob of resin continued to be our biggest problem – I’ll bet the stuff is about 8 on the Mohs scale. Once again we drained our drill’s batteries; then we borrowed the sailing club’s drill from the marina dockhouse to finish the job. While Pat was fetching the drill, we did some more work on the outside of the boat, using epoxy putty (the stuff that comes in tubs, not the stuff you get in a hardware store that looks like modeling clay) to smooth out the big patch and also the front edge of the bow of the boat, which had been scraped about quite a bit.
Once we had ground out all of the old patch material and some of the boat’s original hull, we used resin-soaked fiberglass roving to fill gaps and cloth to make a solid surface. We also used resin-soaked cloth to finish the inside of the big patch at the bow of the boat. We ended the day by using epoxy-based paint to touch up various scratches and scrapes in the boat’s topsides.
Still to be done: finishing and smoothing the inside patches, and sanding and painting the outside patch and the epoxy putty on the front edge of the bow. Ideally we get those things done Monday, and then Tuesday everything’s cured and the boat can go back into the water. This is important, because we then need to use the trailer for our other boat, Syzygy, which normally rides on a very low trailer because of its swing centerboard. Said centerboard needs repairs, and one way to make that easy is to put the boat on a high keelboat trailer so the centerboard can hang down and we can reach it easily. That makes a lot more sense than taking down the mast, using $100 worth of fuel driving the boat to a boatyard with a sling, paying the boatyard $100 an hour to do fiberglass work that we now know how to do ourselves, and then using another $100 worth of fuel to drive the boat back to the lake, and re-rigging.
But the trailer’s work still might not be done. There’s an Etchells in San Diego whose owner is in El Paso and wants to bring it to the Butte, thus assisting Zorro’s dream of building a New Mexico/West Texas Etchells fleet. Zorro’s original plan was to use his trailer and Dino’s truck to retrieve the boat, but Dino’s time has been occupied by business matters lately. If the Etchells’ owner pays our expenses, we can take our truck and the best Etchells trailer in North America to pick up his boat.
Oh, and then we also plan to use the trailer to take Black Magic to the Dillon Open Regatta in Colorado. We’ve heard that the racing itself is crazy, and the parties are also pretty good. We’d still like to get an experienced racer on the crew, and we have extra space in the condo we’ve reserved, so anyone who’s interested should drop us a line.
One thing we’ve noticed while we’ve been in the parking lot above the boat ramp, doing these repairs: Black Magic gets a lot of admirers. Everybody who drove past stopped to ooh and ahh. Some just recognized the gracefulness of the boat’s lines, but a few who knew sailboats stopped a while to chat. There was one couple who had loads of sailing experience out East – the husband recognized the lines of the boat as being those of a 12-Meter because he has a relative who has a 1930s 12-Meter that sails out of Rhode Island. There was another couple that has had considerable experience racing off Southern California, but they’re now more into comfortable sailing, including having sleeping, eating, and sanitary facilities on the boat. That kind of rules out the Etchells.
It’s interesting … even when the boat is just sitting on the trailer getting repairs, it still gets noticed. Everybody, even if they don’t know anything about sailing, comments about how it must be a very fast boat. Come to think of it, it probably is the fastest boat on Heron, where boats using motors must stay at trolling speed, or about 5 miles per hour. Under sail, Black Magic easily exceeds that.