Painting the Boat, Part MCIXVIII

September 12th, 2006 by: cheyenne

Outer ama hulls painted. I repeat: outer ama hulls painted. This is a good thing. We grounded the boat twice in order for this feat of amazing productivity to be accomplished.

* Hull sides painted: 2; (sides remaining: 4 [motherfucker!])
* Problems beaching the boat using ingenious scavenged stick method (see photos): none!
* Trips to San Salvador required since we started with the beaching: Zee-ro. Zip. Null. None. Nada. (Trips to San Salvador in our near future because we ran out of goddamned paint: 1)
* Times we had to jury-rig something: 4
* Times I burst out sobbing during the procedure: 1
* How it looks: um, okay I guess.

Basically, with thinner, the two-part epoxy paint is mostly manageable. It still dries in about eight seconds, leaving you frenzied and panicked as you paint out of fear that A) it will drip; B) it will dry before you can smooth it in; C) it will drip, then dry before you can smooth it down; D) all of the above plus ugly cobwebs of sticky epoxy paint will go flying through the air. D is the winner here, if you hadn’t guessed but I’ve come up with a marvelous coping mechanism, which is promising myself that we will go to the hotel and have steakburgers (a major splurge) after we finish, even if it is uneven, drippy, and I have epoxy cobwebs in my eyelashes. Worked out okay. The steakburgers were pretty darned good.

Two-part epoxy paint is such a major pain in the ass I really can’t shut up about it. Once it is on the boat it seems pretty bomber—it is incredibly sticky, that’s for sure; sticky enough to last another decade I hope. But mixing the stuff. Argh. First you must mix the cans individually (well, one of them), then scoop equal parts of each—the paint/color and the catalyst/hardener. This part sucks because both parts are very thick—the hardener is the consistency of cold honey but much, much stickier and stringier and one puff of wind and it flies all over the place. What doesn’t go flying about the cockpit in the wind drips all over the side of the paint can and mix-paint receptacle and plastic throw. The hardener is colorless (like honey) and magically spreads itself all over everything; and it is toxic, therefore requiring even more toxic solvents to clean it up. Did I mention that many people, like Joshua, have a poison oak-like reaction to epoxy hardener? This makes it so much fun. Then you have to mix the two parts thoroughly or else it, god forbid, might not work properly (and I would cry). Then it must sit for half of an hour while it does *something*. Then you must mix in the thinner chemical (and mix it well) or else the paint behaves atrociously. A lot of bloody work for just some paint and we haven’t even gotten to the part where you pour it into your paint tray, trying not to let the wind blow the lightweight mostly-empty tray all around while the paint drips all over hell and gone. Oh, and by the way, the paint tends to dissolve all those nice neat foam brushes and rollers that happen to be my preferred painting implement. You have to have some special rollers that aren’t affected by the chemical and we haven’t tried yet, but I daresay they aren’t available in all of El Salvador. Hopefully the few we brought with us from the States hold out. All of the above issues are enhanced by the fact that it is windy and about twelve thousand degrees over the sandbar (this sand is dark gray and can get really hot). And did I mention that two-part epoxy paint with added epoxy thinner makes you high?

So. Tomorrow’s plan was to beach the boat again (we have about three more days of good tidal timing), ready the insides of the amas for painting and sand/scrape as much of the main hull as possible. Except, the generator just stopped working. Again. So, I guess we’ll be taking apart the generator tomorrow. Maybe try to get in a trip to San Salvador.

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Cheyenne Weil, Joshua Coxwell