When buying a used trawler or motor yacht, it’s very easy to be turned off by the cosmetics of the yacht. Of course, I’m not suggesting that it be overlooked. I tell boat buyers to judge how well the used trawler or motor yachts been maintained by how she presents herself. If the gel coats all beat up and the brightwork is in terrible condition, I normally find the rest of the boat the same way. It’s simply an indicator.
But a dull exterior isn’t a terrible thing either. The gel coat on a used trawler or motor yacht is there for one reason, to make the yacht look beautiful. It has no other purpose. The gel coats worst foe is the ultraviolet rays of the sun. After 5-10 years exposed to in the Florida sun, most gel coats begin to dull and chalk up. Not even extreme buffing will bring the gel coat back to the luster when it was brand new. So when you find a used trawler or motor yacht that has a lack luster exterior but the rest of the boat is up to par, there is a way to bring her back to her factory-fresh appearance with a little work. How you ask, by painting her?
Hatteras and Huckins are but two boats that are painted at the factory. When we bought our trawler the Patricia Ann, she was in very good shape, but her gel coat was pale and there were a few minor fiberglass nicks here and there. Professional painting of a used trawler or motor yacht is no inexpensive task. You can plan on about $1000 a foot to have it professionally done so that was out of the question.
I began to explore the procedure of doing the painting myself and learn as much as I could about what paint to choose and how to do it. At the Ft. Lauderdale Boat Show, I talked with representatives from Interlux. The rep told me that both the Interlux make of topside paints and the Awlgrip brand are very similar in preparation and practical application. Interlux, even so, is developed for the do-it-yourselfer. So my choice was made, Interlux Perfection, 2 part paint was the way to go.
Without going into detail about what the directions state, I’ll just say that although working with two-part paints looks frustrating, it’s actually very simple to do. Just stick to the directions supplied with each container and you’ll get the technique immediately.
I selected the roll and tip method of practical application as spraying in a marina was out of the question. It’s easy to do once you practice. I practiced on a scrap piece of glass until I had it perfect. Directions are supplied by Interlux.
Here are a few tips.
Begin your project by dividing the used trawler or motor yacht into manageable sections; that way the project will not overcome you. I selected the starboard bow pulpit on the Patricia Ann to start my plan.
Preparing the painting surface takes about 3/4 of the time you will expend on your project. A terrible surface will create a bad paint job. Begin by wiping the gel coat with thinner. This will rid the surface of any wax that may have been used that will cause your paint to lift after its been applied.
The next step, take a small hammer and check out the entire area to be painted, taping lightly to find any voids below the gel coat. When you locate them and you will, grind them out with a Dremel tool. You do not want to spend the money and time to do a nice paint job and have voids crack later on.
I utilized the West System epoxy resin with the fairing filler to repair the voids I found. Stick to the directions provided to make the resin easy to use. Sand them flat after the restored spots have cured. Wash the dust off with fresh water.
Are you ready to give up yet?
Now we must tape the area that’s going to be painted and remove any hardware to cause it go easier. I applied the 14 day painter’s tape in stock at Lowe’s or Home Depot for masking.
Now it’s time to paint. I like to use a 4″ foam roller and a 2″ brush, also available at Lowe’s. Mix up only enough paint that you can apply in 2 hours, for me its 1/2 quart. The paint is expensive, about $85.00 a quart and you don’t want to be throwing any away.
Only apply paint when the outside humidity is 75% or lower. Be sure there is no chance of rainfall.
The paint needs about 5 hrs. to fully harden. Be careful to complete your paint application no later than noon to allow complete drying. If dew settles on your paint, the moisture will convert the high gloss to a dull finish. I use a window between 10 AM and noon to paint.
When it was over, it took at least 600 hours to prepare and paint the Patricia Ann. We utilized about 1 gallon of West System resin and 12 quarts of Interlux Perfection to paint two coats on her.
Was it worthwhile?
Absolutely! She looks great!
If you have been contemplating the painting of your used trawler or motor yacht and would like to ask me some specific questions, feel free to ask.
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