Captain's Log

Part 2 Breathing New Life into my 2007 Beavertail Skiff


Sanding Tools

De Rigging Evinrude Etec
Checking Platform Clearance
On Friday I arrived to Johnson Custom Boats and slid the Beavertail into the "clean bay". It was time to de rig my Evinrude Etec from the hull which allowed me to access the last bit of rub rail tucked inside the sponson edges for removal. This allowed me to have greater access to the areas I would be sanding and Beau would be painting. Before removing the motor I took the time to turn the engine hard to port and starboard and scribe lines on my deck to give my welder a visual of the limitations of our new poling platform and the rear leg position.

Dremel Smooths out nicks for new gel coat
The motor removal was a cinch and thanks to Beau and a little muscle from the CAT forklift we had the motor safely stored in the back of the shop and the hull was ready to go into the sanding tent where I would spend the entire weekend sanding off the original diamond tread nonskid and slick sections as well as console and cockpit in preparation for paint.

Beau and CAT move Beavertail to sanding bay
Once in the sanding bay I suited up and began removing all of the original diamond tread nonskid with a large polisher fitted with 36grit. You have to be careful here and float the pad, or you'll gouge the deck with the polisher and make more work after in faring low spots out of the deck. I was able to clean all of the non skid off in 4 hrs of gentle work with the polisher set on about 2.5. Now the more finesse sanding began.

Orig B2 Non skid
Starboard sanded with Polisher Port untouched orig non skid
Pencil makes a great Poor Man's Guide coat for sanding
Using a Dual Action sander and 80 grit I resanded the areas I just removed the nonskid from in order to clean up any deeper grooves made by the coarser 36 grit and polisher. This takes time and cannot be rushed or you'll burn your sanding papers too fast or worse heat up the areas you're sanding and burn through the gel coat and into the primer. This phase took me about 3 hours and while tedious it preps the Awlgrip Nonskid surface with a coarse grain on the deck that makes for a better bond after primer. The next step was to sand off the top coat of original gel coat in all of the slick portions of the deck's cap with the Dual Action sander and 150grit. This sanding phase gets the boat ready for primer before paint. While I didn't have nearly as much slick surface area on the deck it's fragile work as I am now sanding very precisely next to the non skid areas and I don't want to smooth out those 80 grit textures in my nonskid with the finer grit 150 paper. The toughest part of any boat to sand comes down to the radii or "rounds" around the interior hatch gutters, hatches, console edges and the inner and outer flanges of the cap and cockpit. These I did by hand using a hard block and 150 grit paper, there's a technique to this as it is not simple sanding like you do with the direction of a wood grain. We actually 45 the radius with the hard block in two opposing directions. This allows the shape to remain true on the radius and yet you get good scoring with the paper. Alot of patience and some long hours of good music to keep morale high as I worked till midnight Fri-Sun nights to get the boat ready for final prep for paint on Monday afternoon.

Console and Radius on Cap

In the times between sanding I drank a lot of coffee, kept fresh gum in my mouth for my own sanity while wearing a respirator 10 hours a day and added fresh gel coat in thick applications to some of the numerous dents and dings my deck had endured through the past seven seasons of guide duty. Carsten industries who made all of the original Beavertail skiffs has their own gel coat shop and online service and I was able to make contact with Scotty there and procure some fresh white gel coat for my deck and a couple of quarts of Seafoam for my hull where I removed the power pole and for future dent and ding repair. The method we use for gel coat repair is tried and true. After dremeling out the hard edges on any nicks we acetone the area clean for prep so that the new gel coat forms a tight bond. When pulling gel coat thick we use the gel coat, MEKP catalyst and a product called cavasil which is an inert thickening agent that turns a seemingly sprayable gel coat mix into a peanut butter consistency without adding any weight to your spread. This makes pulling your freshly prepped dings a little easier as you can fill the repair high, as gel coat shrinks during the life of the product, and then sand it down fare in prep for either gel coat spraying or hand blocking or painting applications.
Knowing I had gel coat areas to patch and repair I decided to wait until I was in the shop before I removed the Power Pole bracket from the port sponson. I wanted to finesse this off and keep damage to either the gel coat/skiff and bracket to a minimum. My method was a pain but simple I used a blade to remove as much of the 5200 marine adhesive as possible. FOR ALL OF YOU OUT THERE 5200 marine adhesive is overkill unless you need a permanent bond! IE it will pull gel coat and fiberglass off with it if you try to remove said part from boat with brute force. Next time you need to caulk something on your boat try 4000/4200! So I used a blade around the perimeter of the bracket and then I used a tool made for plumbers to cut pipe in tight spaces, don't know the name but it looks like a weapon the henchmen used on James Bond to cut his throat. It's a stainless aircraft wire with two loops crimped in the ends with surgical tubing encased over the loops so your hands can hold it and not get cut while you saw on something. Kinda like a camp saw with no teeth!  While sawing on the 5200 between the hull and bracket I kept hammering small wood shims in place from the bottom to keep the bracket separating from the caulk.

As this progressed I decided to try a little gravity experiment. With a floor jack and a block of wood placed under the lower arm of the Power Pole Bracket I was able to gently elevate the stern of the skiff off the trailer bunks with the jack and let the forces of gravity do the rest. Ten minutes passed before I heard the hull make contact with the bunks again and a little more knife work and the bracket was off. Small victories are a big deal around here! While the 5200 pulled a small area of gel coat it was nothing I couldn't fix so I made up some thick and spread it on to let it cure before I would come back to it and sand it out fare again. Later we'll revisit how to properly install the new Power Pole in this thread.

Since I was already busy with the DA sanding out non skid and slicks I decided that I'd add some non skid surface area to the aft sponsons as none of the Beavertails had any non skid aft of the poling platform. With the aid of a scribe/compass I was able to follow the original area of nonskid aft and around the sponson and close the line behind the bench seat to offer more non skid area, which is of course more durable than slicks and provides better traction as well.

New nonskid penciled/unsanded radius on hatch
 Now I simply needed to work the sander thoroughly over these new perimeters on the inside with 80 grit and on the outside with 150. This also was a good opportunity to fill my old poling platform holes, since we will be redesigning the platform, with a product from Evercoat called kitty hair. Kitty Hair is a two part fiberglass filling compound that is strong and paintable, you can see it in the background of the pictures here, green stuff looks like trash on the deck. You leave it high so it may be sanded down once it cures. Here's a rough view of how that non skid and new slick line will appear after it's been painted and hit with Awlgrip non skid. It's worth the time when you tackle a project like this to do it right and I cannot repeat enough times how important it has been that I learn all of this from Beau's immense data bank of boat building knowledge and have him check my work and forward progression.

By the end of Monday afternoon I had completely sanded the entire cap, console, bilge and cockpit to specs and we were ready to look at it in the daylight. I rinsed the entire boat and trailer free of dust and dried it off so it could be prepped for primer. All in all it was a long and solitary weekend and while the work was tedious I was privileged to have the music to keep me going thanks to Rober Earl Keen, Jerry Jeff Walker, David Ramirez, The Stones, Otis Redding and more! If you're thinking about undertaking a project like this please consult a professional for your own health/sanity. I was wearing full protective gear and ear protection as well as a respirator. This type of work is hard on the body. I thoroughly enjoyed the labor and will be happy to see the finished painted product some time later this week. I'll keep you all posted here and on my Facebook/Twitter and Instagram feeds with live updates of the progression of my B2 Restoration.

All the Best,
Captain Seth Vernon