A Hull Lot of Scraping Going On

I finally started work on the hull yesterday, a bit of procrastination and a lot of I don’t know what to do led to the delay starting. I have done some body work on (metal) cars, but I’ve never had anything to do with fibreglass before, and I’ve felt a bit intimidated by the fact that if I screw this up, it being the hull I’m working on there’s a good chance that we’d sink. The other thing that put me off was Google, it’s a great tool for learning how to do stuff but oh man I wish everyone would agree, four out of five people say DO NOT use a sander on a fibreglass hull, this is a big no no as you could destroy the gel coat that is really quite important in keeping the ever present water out.

Caught caterwauling to the Rolling Stones.

Caught caterwauling to the Rolling Stones.

Okay, so what about a scraper then, two out of five say DO NOT use a scraper, you could damage the gel coat. So Google, what is the best way to clean a hull? Sand blast or chemicals is the answer, both are very bad for finances and the latter is just very bad imo unless they are environment friendly. So, I’m scraping, very carefully. I’m marking with tape all the areas that I’ll have to come back to and will have to fill later, (with all the bits of tape every where it looks like the hull has had a bad shaving day). Looking ahead to when I do start painting I wondered how I can key the hull so the paint adheres, Google? A sander?¿!

We were looking through “the box” of Adventurer’s history the other day and found an invoice for the last paint job she’d had done, just short of 4000€, that was for the whole boat but nonetheless, Holy Crap! The antifouling paint is 40€ – wait for it – a litre, and we’re gonna need 10 of those litres (please let that chandler’s estimate be right). Of course there has  been some conflicting information here as well, most of the hull is flat and so won’t be getting any sunlight, so according to one school of thought it won’t need antifouling paint as nothing will grow without sunlight, the flat bottom of a British narrowboat doesn’t get painted, although they’re made of steel, big difference. The local chandler says it does need antifouling, but of course they would when they sell the paint at 40€ a litre. We did read somewhere that for the un-sunlit areas, normal water-proof household paint would do, that sounds a bit dodgy to me and besides I can’t find that information again, so scrub that. Then there’s the osmosis (where the fibreglass has started to take on water, this is a  simplified definition) to contend with, we only have some small areas, nothing to worry about…. yet. We started going around in circles and banging our heads against this wall of information, until we realised that she is our home and needs to be given the best care we can give, there’s no quibbles about it, paint the whole hull below the water line and a little bit above. We are definitely looking into getting the paint from a cheaper source though, it’s about half the price in the UK, but I haven’t got around to  finding a company that ships to France (and what their shipping charges are) yet, watch this space.

“Anyone can buy a boat, that’s the easy part, it’s what happens after that’s terrifying”
Vanessa Barns, earlier this week.

While we’re on stilts in the boat yard, we’re quite far away from the marina and so don’t get to see and talk to a lot of people, but every Wednesday morning there is a “get together” for the boating community where you can ask questions (we have thousands), and get information from the people that are in the know. One thing we did find out is that H2O are renowned for grabbing a bit extra from new boat owners, apparently every boat bought from them needs a new rudder, cutlass bearings and drive shaft, so yes, we were shafted, but nothing can be done now, learn from the (expensive) mistakes and move on.

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Talking of mistakes, I said (very quietly) the other day the we had a problem with the inverter, well some idiot, me, switched off the battery charger, I thought because we are on shore power that that would bypass the batteries and so wasn’t needed, what a dick. Any way we went on about our business, charging Kindles/mobiles, the fridge was on 24/7 and listening to the stereo (oh sweet happiness that we have a lead that connects the iPod to the stereo), etc and didn’t realise that despite being “plugged in” we were running down the batteries. At four o’clock the other morning the inverter started beeping, I know where it is now, but fuzzy four am mind couldn’t find the source of the alarm, it’s under the bed, at the time I didn’t know there was an under the bed except for the two drawers. All sorted now and the batteries, thanks to the solar cells and the shore line are back up to 100%. Total newbie, but we did find out that we have four days of power before we get into trouble with low power, handy information for the winter months. Although it’s not recommended to run the batteries down, this mistake has made me more aware of the power that we use and how much energy the two solar cells collect. Eventually I’d like the Adventurer to be self-sufficient in terms of power, and this mistake has gone a long way to proving that this is possible. We would have to run the engine whenever we use the washing machine which isn’t ideal, and I still haven’t sussed out the heating system yet, but things look good for a rent free (away from marinas, “on the cut”), winter?¿! The only issue with this idea is water, we only have a 250 litre tank, that’s not a lot of water, so for the now I’m leaving that for “future” Spike and Vanessa to deal with.

The cats have now been on the boat for a week, this was one of the big worries for us, with their indoor living space more than halved, and for the first few weeks not being able to go out side, it was a concern. I am so happy to say that all is good, there have been a few grumbles, Heidi has never got on with Felix and of course they are more in each other’s faces now with the limited space, but they’ve divided the boat in half amongst themselves, Heidi has the front and Felix and Lara (bff) have the back*. Because we were so busy downsizing and packing in the last weeks in the run up to the move, unfortunately the kids got neglected a little and we failed to spot that Felix had contracted gingivitis, along with the stress of his move it became quite bad and so the next day after they joined us I had to take him along to the vets (with no more than please, thank you and good day in my French at the time, that was quite daunting). Now, Vanessa says that our cats know that a trip to the vets will make them feel better when they’re poorly (?¿!), but the pet courier had cuts all along his arm from a run in with Felix (I didn’t ask how or why, ignorance is bliss), so I thought that this little excursion was going to be a nightmare, wrong again monsieur Spike, Felix was a charm and the vet was brilliant. A week later, with all the pills easily taken (thank you Felix), he is back in the land of healthy, eating and winding up Heidi like nothing had happened. So all is good, for the now they are getting used to the boat, making it their home, which means that as soon as we get on the water, they should be able to go outside which I gotta say will be a relief (think litter trays and confined space).

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From top to bottom, Felix, Heidi, and Lara

*Yeah yeah I know, bow and stern, I haven’t quite got these into my vocabulary yet.

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5 thoughts on “A Hull Lot of Scraping Going On

  1. I had a fright when I saw the photo of the underside of the boat, I thought our cats had got out & Spike hadn’t said! It turns out that was a passing dog, who just happened to look like two cats from that direction!
    & I do stand by my words about how terrifying it can be after you have your boat. Between us we know nothing! I expected the boat to be quiet but there are alarms under the bed, on the solar chargers, even the fridge has an alarm. The fridge doesn’t shrill luckily but you have to look up in a book how many times the light flashes to find out what it’s trying to tell you is wrong. If Spike is ever out & alarms start going off, I am either just going to pull out the plug to switch the boat off, or go off for a walk & say innocently, it was alright when I left!

  2. Love reading about your boating adventures so far! Are you actually living on Adventurer while it is up on stilts? 😘😘

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