Monday, May 19, 2008

Sheathing the Starboard Hull

My plans for attending the Florida Wharram rendezvous changed when I decided that my truck would likely not be capable of trailering home the trimaran I was going to Florida to bring back here for a repainting job. I decided to pass that job on to my friend, David, and his crew at Boatsmith. So, with the cost of fuel being what is is, driving almost 2,000 miles to Islamorada was less appealing. Instead, if they have a summer rendezvous there this time next year, I plan to sail there on Element II.

Staying home had it's benefits, as the weather was perfect for fiberglassing. I got one side of the starboard hull sheathed yesterday and will do the other side today. As with the port hull, I found it easier to do this with the hull suspended and laid over on one side, so that I'm not fighting epoxy runs as I work alone wetting out this fairly large area.

Lots of sanding was required first, smoothing out the fairing compound I used at the transition of the keel and stem and skeg where I added extra layers of fiberglass a few days ago.

Here the dry cloth is draped on the hull in one piece. I bought 18 yards of this 50-inch wide cloth just for this purpose when I visited the Raka Epoxy warehouse in Florida last month.

Wetting out the cloth went smoothly and was easy to keep in control, as I worked from the bow back, pushing out trapped air and smoothing the cloth with a rubber squee-gee. I used slow hardener for this, again since I'm working alone and need the extra time.

After the cloth was saturated, I waited a couple hours and applied a second coat of epoxy (not shown) using a mix of phenolic microballoons and silica to slightly thicken it and fill the weave. This coat was done with a medium fast hardener, and by evening yesterday it was cured. Today I'll trim the excess cloth on the edges and sand the transitions, then roll the hull over in the slings and do the same for the other side. Other work that has been going on while waiting on epoxy to cure includes gluing on teak sheer doublers at the beam locations on the port hull and making the lashing pads. I've also applied another coat of paint in the forward hold of the port hull and a coat of varnish in the forward part of the cabin under the foredeck.

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