Plugging away at the cockpit sole

4 May

It has been a distracting week what with friends visiting from out of town and new flooring in my house but I still got out to the boat a couple days. The end of the fiberglass work is in sight and it’s an exciting prospect. I definitely won’t be shedding any tears when I discard this uniform!

Mainly I’ve been working on finishing up the cockpit sole, which means lots of fairing. Here’s what it looked like after my last post:

That’s the new plywood sole sealed in place with plenty of epoxy. There was a seriously low spot in the forward starboard corner due to the fiberglass in that area being particularly messed up so before glassing over the ply I did a little fairing to even things out:

Once this set I cut and dry fit piece of heavy bi-axial fiberglass cloth to go over the top:

The area was cleaned with acetone, sanded, and wet out with neat West System epoxy before I laid the cloth down and saturated it:

Then, with the cloth dried, I cleaned and sanded again and prepped for the first fairing. The heavy fiberglass cloth has quite a deep texture so it needs a lot of fairing work just to smooth it out.

In retrospect I should have taped the area around the repair with painter’s tape to make clean-up easier.

By now I’ve figured out the hard way that the trick with fairing is to slowly build layers so I’m tackling this a little at a time.

Fairing begins

After two batches the entire surface is coated. I found the easiest way to get an even coat was to trowel the fairing mix on (West Epoxy thickened with fairing filler) using parallel strokes to the weave of the fabric.

With two coats the texture of the fiberglass is diminishing but it’s still quite visible.
You can also see where I stepped on the repair with (foolishly) bare feet. Oops!

 I think two more rounds of fairing ought to finish this up. Unlike my deck repair I calculated right this time and made sure that the repair was slightly lower than the surrounding glass so that I only have to build up with fairing filler and don’t need to do any sanding down. Yet another seemingly obvious thing I insisted on learning the hard way…

By the end of the day my boat was floating in a little sea of discarded nitrile gloves!

They’re almost the same color as Caribbean seas, right?

This article was syndicated from Safe At Harbour But Meant For The Sea: DIY Sailing with Paul Calder


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