Sunday, July 27, 2008


"Start sanding with 60 grit, then move up to 80, then 100. You can start varnishing at 120."

"How many coats of varnish?" I asked.


I gasped.

"Ain't none of it fun."

This was our oh-so-quotable friend John Bayliss talking. We were buying teak prep supplies and varnish at Bayliss Boatworks in Wanchese where John builds outrageously beautiful fishing yachts. We ask John's advice a lot, because, well, dude knows what he's talking about. See for yourself.

This day we were quizzing him about refinishing the cap rails.

Sailboat Primer: There's a very short wall that runs around the perimeter of some sailboat decks called a toe rail. We prefer boats that have more rather than less toe rail, which serves to give you a little standing/walking area when the boat is heeled over. Isabella's got a beautiful 8-inch-tall, 6-inch-wide toe rail topped with a plank of teak called the cap rail. That's 32 feet X 2 sides + 8 feet across the stern = um, a lot. That's what we're refinishing.

Our partner, the sun, did a great job of stripping off the old varnish. We just had to knock off the last of it in most spots. Start with 60 grit by hand along the curved edges. The flat top can be knocked down with the palm sander with 60 grit. Then sand with 80 grit by machine, by hand, 100 grit, 120 grit. Clean. Tape everything. Wipe with tack cloth. First coat of varnish cut with 50% mineral spirits. Let dry for 12 hours. Rub down with Scotch Brite pad. Clean. Wipe with tack cloth. Second coat with 25% mineral spirits. Let dry for 12 hours. Rub down. Clean, wipe, varnish. Repeat. Retape after three coats .... you get the idea. Add the v-berth hatch and the large "garage" that covers the main hatch, and we've got miles of teak before we sleep.

Ain't none of it fun.

--23 cds copied to laptop. trying not to think about how many to go.
--engine on Isabella repaired (mostly) at $800*
--first round of toe rail sanding done between rain days
--one file box of old paperwork DONE

*note to us: take a damn diesel repair class.

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