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Old 01-18-2008, 04:28 PM   #1
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Hello Everyone –

It's been awhile since my last post.

I'm generally just a lurker and sponge for information. As such, I rarely post unless I feel I have a specific question or feel I can add something positive rather than my usually very opinionated views. I do love to read the "lively" discussions though.

Update from my previous posts: We did finally choose a boat for ourselves - a Pearson 32. Other than money, the main considerations for our first boat were getting a good balance of safety/stability/forgiveness while still getting some kind of performance. The Pearson 32 seems to be really good fit. Though, she does have a fairly deep draft for only 32 feet LOA (6"draft) but in Lake Michigan that really isn't an issue.

We got her for a good deal mostly because she needs a really, really good deep cleaning and some minor repairs. Fortunately, the previous owner, while not paying much attention to cleanliness or minor maintenance, was religious about sail, rigging and engine maintenance.

My goals this spring, before launch, are many fold and lead me to a question(s) for everyone.

The bilges and stowage areas are a wreck. Literally there is a ¼-½ inch layer of dirt and mud in most of them. Cobwebs everywhere also. This includes the keel bilge where the bolts are nearly hidden in the filth. So, after thoroughly cleaning everywhere, I want to paint the bilges.

I am a somewhat cheap kind of guy so I'm thinking I'm just going to paint everything (inside cabinets, bilges, stowage boxes, etc.) with a light grey, semi-gloss (or gloss) floor paint. Semi-gloss or gloss because of ease of future cleaning and just regular grey floor paint because it is cheap and generally sticks to any surface (fiberglass and plywood).

Does anyone have any comments or recommendations they can provide? Is using this kind paint un-recommended? Words of encouragement? Words of warning?

Thanks – and only 11 more days until the Chicago Sailboat Show –Yipee!!!
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Old 01-18-2008, 05:26 PM   #2
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Steve,

Go to McMaster-Carr

http://www.mcmaster.com/

Part # 7828T3

This is a general purpose high solids epoxy paint. It will stick to and protect anything from anything. I use this in bilge and sub-flooring, inside cabinets. The stuff is extremely volatile and toxic when being applied. You will need big fans to provide fresh air to area when being applied. Also, you need to make sure you follow the mixing directions precisely, otherwise it will not harden properly.

Enjoy,

Ken
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Old 01-18-2008, 10:38 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SteveWest View Post
The bilges and stowage areas are a wreck. Literally there is a ¼-½ inch layer of dirt and mud in most of them. Cobwebs everywhere also. This includes the keel bilge where the bolts are nearly hidden in the filth. So, after thoroughly cleaning everywhere, I want to paint the bilges.

Thanks – and only 11 more days until the Chicago Sailboat Show –Yipee!!!
Just the discipline of scheduled cleaning the bilges is good ! How may boats have sunk because bilge pumps failed as a result of dirt, hair, saw dust etc in the impeller chamber ?

Don't forget the limber holes!

Any gloss paint is better than no paint - especially if the hull surface is rough enabling dust to stick easily.

As Ken mentions, Epoxy paint is toxic (highly allergenic) therefore good face-mask, gloves. Fans allow paint to thoroughly dry. 2 part polyurethane also good.

A boat-show in a Chicago winter - I hope it is indoors and serving Hot Clove and Nutmeg Mulled Wine : Ingredients :-

* 3 bottles of Cabernet Sauvignon

* 1 cup orange juice

* 1/2 tsp nutmeg

* 1/2 tsp cinnamon

* 1/2 tsp powdered clove

* 2 Tbsp whole cloves

* 1 Tbsp honey

* 2 Tbsp brown sugar
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Old 01-19-2008, 06:50 AM   #4
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Following on from MMNETSEA's comments, my advice would be to paint the bilges white irrespective of what type of paint you choose. White bilges are great because the dirt is more easily seen and can be removed before it causes problems.

I am a bit of an anally retentive bilge rat, I suppose, because my two main reasons for concern regarding the hull of a boat are the bilges and the through-hulls. As we read in the preceding comments, many a boat has been lost due to dirty bilges. I, many years ago, was called out to a boat in distress. They were taking in water and the bilge pump had stopped working. We turned up on the scene and rigged an ejector pump. (Ejector pumps, working on the same principal as a carburettor, are great for salvage work as they have no moving parts and can suck a lot of dirt and small objects). As the ejector pump did its magic we saw, in its wake, lots of small grayish-white matter. When the boat was almost dry I stuck my head into the bilges and lo and behold the good people had stored a bale of toilet paper there. Of course, it got wet and bits were floating everywhere. It had not taken many seconds for it to clog the bilge pump.

Incidentaly, they were taking in water because a cooling water hose had been connected to the through hull using just one jubilee clip and that was not stainless steel but had rusted through and dropped off after which the hose had worked its way loose. For all connections use two jubilee clips facing opposite directions and make sure they are stainless steel!

Modern boats have very little in the way of a bilge. A traditional wine-glass shaped vessel (in cross section) has cavernous bilges. Bilges are there to collect any water finding its way into a boat and should therefore, in my opinion, be of the cavernous type. They should be spottlessly clean and should not be used as stowage spaces for more than the minimum of objects as the more that is put into them the more the bilge volume is reduced.

Good luck with the painting.

Aye // Stephen
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Old 01-19-2008, 02:42 PM   #5
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This is not my area of competence, but I do have experience in trying to sink our boat and in cleaning the bilges, so here goes my stab at the situation.

1. Glossy White is definitely worth doing. You want to see how dirty it is, what the color of stuff being deposited into the bilge is, and you want to make it as easy as possible to clean. Usually the bilge finish is roughly finished, and it shreds sponges, adding that debris to the dirty bilge as well. The only bilge I ever saw that was perfect was the bilge of an O'Day 40 (made from the Jeanneau Sun Fizz mold). It was owned by the president of O'Day and he could have anything he wanted, of course, and he had the plant finish the bilge with gelcoat! Jim kept that boat immaculate.

2. Disinfecting everything is a worthwhile exercise. Use lots of ventilation and work up to the strong stuff. Lysol concentrate (that brown stuff) has a soap in it, and it is potent! I have to use rubber gloves with it because it will peel the skin right off my hands otherwise. I also like a dilute solution of caustic soda (I expect howls of outrage at this, though). Rinse really, really well (if you have a wet/dry vacuum cleaner you can use for this project you will be very happy - it will do the best job of picking up water and solids and you can really flood the area over and over again without serious backaches.

3. Epoxy is wonderful stuff, but my experience frightened me - the allergy I developed from exposure to the stuff had symptoms of a serious urinary tract infection. All I can suggest is to wear gloves and keep exposure to the fumes to a minimum. There are masks you can wear, and I would heartily recommend it! The colder the air temp is while working with the stuff and the colder the two parts of the epoxy, the slower the cure and the fewer fumes developed.

Lastly, my opinion of bilge depth. We were sailing in the Caribbean (one rarely uses the engine because the winds are so reliable), everybody in the cockpit just reveling in the beautiful day. Just before we were to enter the harbor in St. Thomas I went below to get ready to start the engine and take the helm, and found that the floor boards were barely awash. Opening up the engine compartment, there was a fountain of water coming in. Turns out the prop shaft had come loose and slipped out of its coupling. The shaft zince stopped it from slipping back far enough to interfere with the rudder or leave the boat entirely, but just enough to leave that 1-1/4" hole spouting water!

A rag in the hole stopped the water until Peter could go over the side to shove the shaft back in. The cleanup was a lot of work, getting all that water out. Watermelon has a shallow bilge, I can't imagine how much more work it would have taken had there been as much water as a deep bilge would have collected before we noticed the problem.

It was easier to clean that shallow bilge, and the other advantage is that it's pretty hard to store stuff in a shallow bilge. About the only "stuff" kept in the bilge was the chain for our spare anchor, intentionally stored there in order to keep all that weight as low and close to the center of the boat as possible.

My two cents.
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Old 01-19-2008, 02:49 PM   #6
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Steve,

If you decide to use white, don't buy the epoxy system that I recommended. It is best in Grey. The white version isn't white after the hardener is added.

Cheers,

Ken
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Old 01-19-2008, 03:29 PM   #7
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Thanks Everyone for your responses.

White does make really good sense since that makes it easy to see dirt, debris, oil, etc. much better. I only thought of light grey due my overwhelming psychosis of wanting some color other than white on white on white.

Regardless of color, it appears that glossy is the way to go for ease of later cleaning.

JeanneP - The cleaning is the part I least looking forward to. Thanks for the advice on products.

Trim - Thanks for the link. I do have a respirator laying around from my floor refinishing project - seems that'll come in handy.

MMNETSEA - Yep the boat show is thankfully indoors. The water is a little solid today, especially since as I write this it is -2F (-19celsius for you evolved folks). A little hot toddy of some sort will be nice indeed. All the boats will be in the convention hall at Navy Pier - sans masts. Nice to look the boats, but I'm mostly interested in the seminars so I can sponge up some more knowledge.

Thanks again everyone.
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Old 01-19-2008, 03:32 PM   #8
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Quote:
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Watermelon has a shallow bilge, I can't imagine how much more work it would have taken had there been as much water as a deep bilge would have collected before we noticed the problem.
If you have a bilge alarm which goes off when the bilge water level reaches a preset depth then the volume of water in a deep bilge would be less than in a wide, flat-ish bilge at the same sounding. Also, unless heeled about 50 degrees plus, the water would collect in the bottom of the bilge and not out at the sides as in a flat, shallow bilge. All of this would mean less clean up!

As for storing stuff under the floorboards, I keep an extra anchor and chain there as well as a few cans of beer maintaining cellar temperature. The bilge in Nausikaa is quite cleverly done as just forward of the engine there is a deep well in which water collects leaving the rest of the bilge dry. This means that with a bilge high-level alarm placed half way up the well I get an audio alarm with just a small amount of water aboard. Not space technology by a long way but good, solid common sense on the part of the designer.

Aye // Stephen
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Old 01-19-2008, 05:50 PM   #9
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Oh! Oh! I ALWAYS forget something! Thank you Stephen for your follow-up.

The reason the floorboards were awash before we knew we were SINKING was because our bilge alarm wasn't working. It had been working the year before, but we never thought of testing it before the easy trip to St. Thomas (subsequent memo to self - test the bilge alarm before setting off on a passage).

As far as keeping beer cool in a bilge, Stephen has the advantage over us. He sails in the COLD waters of the Baltic, we rarely find water colder than 65 or 70 deg. F.
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Old 01-19-2008, 06:50 PM   #10
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As far as keeping beer cool in a bilge, Stephen has the advantage over us. He sails in the COLD waters of the Baltic, we rarely find water colder than 65 or 70 deg. F.
Thanks Jeanne,

I am not sure that I have previously heard sailing in the Baltic being described as advantageous. Anyone like to swap a boat in the Baltic (no fridge needed) for a few weeks cruising in the Andaman Sea or Caribbean?

Actually, I could give a lot of good reasons to sail in the Baltic - but they will be found in the WIKI. Just give me time

Aye / Stephen
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Old 01-20-2008, 05:25 PM   #11
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All sound and worthy advice above.

The only thought I'll add... is the fact that a good paint job always requires great preparation.

It may require several weeks to remove all of the grunge and de-grease the bilge areas in preparation of painting.

And I'm sure you'll NEVER want to do it again.

So - I would not skimp and try to save a few dollars on a kind of paint that might do a good job. Best to go for the highest quality, two part, specifically formulated bilge coating available. There's little value gained by coating a superior preperation job with an inferior paint.

I've seen inferior bilge paint "lift" and / or turn to goo after prolonged contact with oily bilge water which resulted in paint chips & chemical sludge threatening to foul the pumps... and requiring the job to be redone.

So - do it right, take your time, rent a pressure washer (if need be) and scrub the bilge areas several times with grease cutting soapy water followed by one or more thorough wipe-downs with solvents to ensure all traces of contaminates are gone before thinking about mixing the paint.

Be sure to ask someone to keep an eye on you while working with chemicals inside the boat, have plenty of forced air and extraction fans in addition to the best resperator and other personal protection you can afford, make sure ALL sources of ignition are off while using solvents & paints in confined spaces and remove any piles of rags to eliminate the risk of spontaneous chemical combustion*.

I concur that gloss white is best for all reasons written above and will add it reflects light well enough to help illuminate dark corners in bilge areas and cabinets.

Clean bilges not only increase the seaworthiness of your vessel - but increases the value and sale-ability, as well.

Have Fun! It's a hard job but one to be proud of.

To Life!

Kirk

* perhaps we can discuss Spontaneous HUMAN Combustion on another thread.
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Old 01-21-2008, 04:12 PM   #12
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Lots of valuable information has been given.

A light colour in a glossy finish is best indeed.

And as we are talking about fibreglass as a hull material, you might think of drying the cleaned bilge first for a good amount of time, using an electric heater - if possible for weeks - to be sure to get ALL moisture out of the fibreglass structure before you cover the surface again.

And after the job is done and the bilge is like new, it is best to keep it as dry as possible. Of corse, you get water into it every time you are using the boat - the worse the conditions, the more.

But we are cleaning and drying the bilge everytime we leave the boat and it still looks like new after we restored our bilge two years ago and we just measured the amount of moisture in the grp-structure in the bilge area and it was gladly very low.

A dry, clean bilge has three positive side effects:

- the whole boat is and feels dryer inside, no odors, no mold.

- you instantly notice if there are even small amounts af water finding its way into the bilge.

- you really know what is going on down there, because you check it more often as when the floor panels are screwed down to the floor beams.

Cheers

Uwe

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