23 November 2011

Painting Stem-to-Stern

Once upon a time, Zeus had a really bad headache. Zeus didn't make the connection, but his headache started about 9 months after he'd had his way with a dangerously clever goddess named Metis... and swallowed her.

Health insurance being hard to come by, even for the Lord of the Universe, Zeus turned to the wily Prometheus for medical advice. (This was before Zeus had enough of Prometheus's practical jokes and chained him to a rock.)

"Oh, wily Prometheus," Zeus moaned in agony. "Tell me what's wrong with my old head."

Not one to waste time theorizing, Prometheus whacked Zeus's head with the sharp end of an axe, and thus was Athena born, springing from Zeus's forehead with a shout.

This summer, I've also been giving painful 'birth' to an idea, buy whenever I started groaning about my poor over-worked brain, I remembered Zeus. At least it wasn't that bad!

As I think I've mentioned before, I've been working on my first iPhone app. Working 10 hours a day, 6 days a week... (No, I'm not exaggerating, Helena.) Slaving away, in fact... with nary an hour for sailing or boat building.

But I'm finally done! Sent it off to the elves at Apple for what they ominously call a 'Review', and now I'm twiddling my thumbs, waiting to see if they sink it with a list of required revisions, or let it sail through, as it deserves.

A perfect time, in other words, to catch up on my blog.

Not that I've been completely idle in the boat department. The Blue Moon absolutely needed a stem to stern paint job, which I was determined to finish before the snow flew, no matter what.

The last time the Blue Moon had seen a paint brush was back in Steinhatchee, FL, where Bob (previous owner) and Helena and I had given her a pretty good scraping and painting. But a lot of sun has beaten on  her poor decks since then, and cracks had begun to appear.

I had used Interlux Brightside on the BM's topsides and deck -- a mistake I now think. Brightside is a great paint, but I now think it's better suited to stable fiberglass hulls. It's a bit too shiny and brittle for the Blue Moon's 3/4" plywood deck. I thought a more traditional oil-based paint would stay a bit more flexible, and thus crack less, so I decided to try the very traditional Kirby marine paint.

I'd already used Kirby paint on my spars, this spring, and discovered that it took forever to dry in cold, damp weather. So I picked a hot, dry weather window in the middle of summer to paint the deck.

But first I had to scrape and sand, of course. Did I mention I picked a hot, dry week? Luckily, the Ketewomoke Yacht Club has a beer machine with a seemingly inexhaustible supply of ice-cold dollar beers. Something that the snooty yacht club down the harbor doesn't have (ha, ha!)

Of course, once you start picking at little cracks, you somehow always end up with big cracks... And yet another row back to the club for more beer...

little cracks become big cracks...

But eventually I came to the end of the scraping and painting, and if she didn't look as good as new, she sure looked good enough.

side decks painted
The Kirby paint has a nice, rich look to it (compare it to the Brightside on the top of the deckhouse), and Kirby sent me a bag of ground pumice to use for an anti-skid additive. Hard to get more primitive -- I mean traditional -- than that!

I used Brightside again on the more stable topsides because I still had a can left, and by the end of the summer, the good old Blue Moon looked pretty darn good, if I do say so myself.

Why do I never have a good picture, when I need it?
I even found time to give her bottom a couple coats of paint. 

Well, heck, she deserved it...

A lot easier job than the last time!

Today is the day before Thanksgiving. The Blue Moon is still swinging on her mooring in the middle of Huntington Harbor. I'm hoping to get a few more sails in before putting her to bed for the winter. With any luck, in fact, Helena and I will be out tomorrow for a celebratory sail.

What are we celebrating? 

Exactly one year ago tomorrow, my birthday, I sailed into Huntington Harbor, home from my long voyage up the coast. 

Somehow, it seems so long ago... almost part of the mythic, if not very heroic, past...

Where does the time go, Prometheus? Oh... still chained to that rock, eh?

I've got another big summer project to report on... one that really helped me get 'up' in the world. More on that in a couple days. Meanwhile, Happy Thanksgiving!

>>> Next Episode: Getting Up In The World


  1. Great to see you back. Blue moon looking good.

  2. Happy to read your blog again. Have a great weekend.

  3. I've missed your blog, great to see you back! Happy Thanksgiving and Happy sailing.

  4. Great to have you back!

  5. Nice job, John and good to see you back.

  6. That is one sexy boat my friend. I was stoked to see a new post from ya.
    I raise this grog on Thanksgiving to you and wish you good luck on your App!

  7. Beautiful work John! That's the best Blue Moon has ever looked ... at least from this vantage through the little interweb peep hole.

    Two years from now, you're going to really appreciate that Kirby paint. Great stuff!

  8. Thanks for taking the time to blog about your travels on Blue Moon around Florida and up the East Coast. I enjoyed it and found it very instructive. I sail a J22 out of Baltimore, but hope to pick up something along the lines of BM, a Flicka, or a Dana this year. Mind if I give you a shout out on my blog? I have a section called "The Web Worth Reading." Let me know.

  9. Great blog, thanks! I made an earlier comment but it seemed to be swallowed up. I found your account of your trip interesting and instructive. Mind if I give your blog a shout out on my blog? Let me know. Also, I start on my second wooden boat building project this spring. Keep up the good work, and when does the book come out?

  10. Bob: thanks for your kind words. Please shout away. What's the address of your blog? People always ask me about the book... Someday? Maybe? Hard to believe anyone would read it, really.

  11. How did Blue Moon's keel look when you got her out of the water? I know that you ran aground a time or two on the way up from Florida.

    1. Just in mud. The bottom of the keel is lead for most of its length, so no harm done.


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