Prism's Blog

The First 100 days of Prism’s 2018-2019 Refit

yes! we are filming everything and will be making videos again

 We finally made it back to Prism!  Jon and I had been dreaming and thinking about this day sense we left her back in June of 2017. While we were home we came up with a list of things we wanted to do to Prism once we got back. For starters, the whole reason we sailed to Hurricane Boat Yard in Bayboro North Carolina was for their tent, in which we could use to spray new paint on Prism’s topsides, decks and cabin top. However over the months of thinking and dreaming our list grew longer and longer. So here are 2 list, one is what we planned on doing and the other is the list which keeps growing as we have a HUGE case of  “might as well, while we’re at it”

The Lists:

Original List

  • Remove all personal belongings 
  • Paint headliner
  • Strip and apply new varnish
  • Remove original copper plumbing lines and replace with new hose
  • Re-insulate icebox/ fridge
  • Remove any unused wire
  • Replace pullman mattress
  • Replace galley sink faucet
  • Remove all hardware
  • Remove bow sprit, windvane and pushpit
  • Fill/ Fair blisters
  • Remove and re-bed portlights
  • Spray primer and Awl-grip (top coat) on topsides and cabin top
  • Spray Awl- Wood on all exterior wood
  • Finish decks and prep for new Non-Skid
  • Apply new Non-Skid
  • Replace Boom
  • Remove/ service Samson posts
  • Replace main sail and stay sail
  • Re-place chainplate bolts with bronze bolts
  • Fill/ fair/ prime rudder
  • New bottom paint
  • Replace dodger canvas
  • Replace aft solar panels

While we're at it List

  • Paint (anything that is already white) insides of all cabinets, lockers, drawers,   floor boards
  • Spray all removable floor boards, shelves, and panels ( anything that is already painted white)
  • Scrub the bilge, prep and also paint
  • Remove and replace ALL fresh water plumbing with PEXpro
  • Remove and replace all bilge and scupper hose.
  • Replace all lights and fans connectors
  • Fill in all unused holes 
  • Remove and replace hinges on cabinetry 
  • Replace galley stove (DID NOT SEE THIS COMING)
  • Replace propane hose
  • Inspect and clean water tanks
  • Replace all  AC power outlets
  • Replace galley sink
  • Add metal heat guards to galley stove areas
  •  Replace cockpit scuppers
  • sand blast windless bracket, quadrant, cals.
  • add new longer/ better strike plates on bowsprit
  • replace bowsprit bolts
This list will continue to grow I am sure of it……

Follow us on FaceBook and Instagram for daily updates

Alright let’s get into it!

It has been over 100 days since Jon and I started our refit, in which we only took 2 days off, Thanksgiving and Christmas. We have moved a total of 4 times and have put in about 1500 man hours working on our beloved home. 

We arrived on the night of October 14th around 10 pm, and at 9 am on the 15th we were making our way to see our home (boat) for the first time in over a year. We were pretty much winging it for a place to stay, lucky for us our good family friends let us stay in their home for the first 3 days. This allowed us to get started on Prism and to start forming a plan on what to do next.

October 2018
Oct 15th -16th: 

WE MADE IT! Prism is in the tent as we arranged with the yard so we wasted zero time and jumped right in. We started by removing the weather cover, making a path and started to un-pack/ move everything off Prism. I only made it about 30 seconds inside when I started to notice the web forming around my legs and that the floor was kind of moving. AHH! ABORT! The to do list came to a stop as we changed Priority #1 to: Kill the infestation of spiders located inside Prism. Lucky for us, there is almost no food on board and everything is going to need to be washed anyways. So we threw a bug bomb in the cabin and let it work its magic for the night.

The moment we first saw Prism
Taking a good look
Jon removing the sun cover
Prism with the sun cover removed

Opening her up
Mold and mildew grew on every surface
Spiders and their webs were everywhere
A mold and mildew dust layer cover almost everything

All the while we were working with a rental company to find a place to rent. We set our eyes on renting a tiny home located 2 miles from the boat yard for 1 month. However the renter was looking for long term tenants… and well we ( by we, I mean Jon) were planing on having the refit done by December 1st.  Anyways, I digress.

 The rental was listed for $700/month and the rental agent said the owner would probably rent to us short term but for a higher price. I (Shannon) stupidly told her  the max we could afford $900/month. ( which was less than our actual max, but still stupid on my part).

And guess what happened next…..Yep, they came back with a 2 week rental agreement moving to a week by week after that for $900/ month, but we would have to up keep the lawn. HA! We looked at the agent and said ” um we live on a boat, we have zero furniture let alone a lawn mower” but we had no other options so we negotiated to a total of $950/month including utilities and we did not have to take care of the lawn.

The backyard view of the rental

Oct 17:

 Rental move in day. After eradicating the spiders of all shapes and sizes Jon and I finished unloading and packing. To this day it still amazes us how much stuff we can actually keep and store aboard Prism.  I think we took 2 or 3 trips back and forth from the rental to the yard bringing all the personal belongings and anything that needed to be washed to the house while leaving all the project materials and tools in the tent. 

Some of the can goods didn’t make it
Loading up the truck with our belongings
The rental had no furniture, this is all the stuff from inside Prism

Aft cabin ready to be sanded and painted
Removing the guts out of Prism

Oct 18-25:
With all our personal belongings off the boat, and our work tent all set up, Jon and I went right to work sanding and removing the old white paint inside all of Prism’s interior compartments. Basically if it was not teak then it was getting a new coat of paint.  
The paint which was applied at some point in Prism’s past has been failing for years. Jon and I have bitched about the yellowing flaking paint for years and it was not a simple task getting it prepped. Getting into all the nooks and crannies involved some serious boat yoga and a lot of cuss words. 
sanding the pullman berth storage
boat yoga
more boat yoga

We worked 12 to 14 hour days and felt like we were making real good progress with the interior paint. We also removed all the panels which give us access to all our lockers/ compartments to be prepped and painted. These removable items were brought downstairs and hung up like drying laundry to be spray painted with the new 3M accuspray gun set up we bought. 

all the removable panels

So after days of sanding and back breaking work, the inside compartments were ready to be painted. Jon and I split up sections of the boat to paint and got to work. We applied 3 coats of Rust-Olium, which really made all the areas look so much brighter and not to mention so clean!!! I swear I could look at fresh white painted lockers all day. 

the “laundry”

Jon did 99% of the spraying on the removable panels, I did apply one coat, but he is much faster than me, and well we don’t want to be wasting any time if we are going to be back in the water come December 1.

MMMMM fresh paint
So white and clean

With the first project done we were now ready to move on to the next.

Oct 26- 28th

Next up, the doghouse and the headliner. Both were in dire need of some TLC. To start this project we first needed to remove all the portlights, all 10 of them. This was a project that could have gone one of 2 ways, easy or a complete nightmare. To our astonishment, we lucked out! All the portlights came out with zero problems and nothing broke. Yes, there was the black goop that was sealing the portlights in, which did not want to give up its adhesion, but with a little heated persuasion it gave way to our poking and prodding.

What we did not know, was that the same black goop was going to give us a run for our money when it came to removing it from all the crevices it had called home for the last 15 maybe even 30 years. This task took a verity of tools to complete, including the handy ol’ heat gun, scrapers, picks, dremels, sanders and good ole fashion elbow grease.  All of this black goop had to be removed before we could continue because nothing will stick to it, thus creating perfect voids and problems when it comes to sealing the portlights back in place.  Just let me say: PRISM Crew: 1, Black goop: 0

Now that we were free from the black goop we needed to address the cracks and countless holes in the laminate and headliner. We filled in the cracks and holes with thickened epoxy and west systems and 410 filler. (looking back now, we probably should have just used a filler like bondo to allow more flex, oh well) Once we had solid, smooth surfaces once again we were almost ready to start spraying the new gloss white interior, but first we needed to make some adjustments to the 2 most forward portlights. 

We assume that these 2 portlights have always been problem children as the holes they lived in where way out of shape. So to fill in the void and correct the shape we lubed up our portlights with Vaseline, placed  them into the hole and filled in the voids with thickened epoxy. We let the epoxy cure just enough to the point it was hard, but still soft enough to pull the portlight out leaving a perfect fitting hole. The portlight that lives in in the pullman berth needed the most amount of love, requiring an almost 1″ extension to accommodate the bend in the doghouse.  We are not sure why only 2 out of the 10 portlights needed this kind of adjustment.

Once we had the portlights done and all the cracks filled and fared, we were ready to sand. At first this seemed to go quick, but we soon started to learn the struggles of working with tongue and groove. We must have tried very tool, block, adapter, sticks and even  pieces of spare plastic to act as a block to fit in the groove. You name it, we tried it but nothing would place the sandpaper in the groove enough to remove the old paint. It was not until I was about to call it quits that I realized that the little black west systems epoxy stick was the exact tool I was looking for. That changed everything! Now it was not only easy but the sanding was moving along at a super speed with all the surfaces areas prepped with the perfect amount of tooth for the new coat of paint.

Jon using the west system epoxy stick to sand the grooves

side note:

When we bought prism I remember looking at the previously done paint/ varnish jobs thinking "why did they do it this way? if they had taken just another 10-15 minutes to finish prepping/ taping, the final project would have been amazing!"

Side Note Revelation:


I caught myself thinking:
"this is good enough"
when it comes to prep work

I would have mini pep talks to myself, stating that it is not good enough and I shouldn’t get lazy just because I am tired. Like Jon’s  father always said:

"If it's a job worth doing, it's worth doing right"
- Van Neely

Oct 29 – Nov 4

Painting the headliner and doghouse has been on the to-do-list ever since we bought Prism back in 2013. Jon and I were so excited to have no more unless and ugly holes surrounding us, and to just have clean uniformed gloss white paint. 

What we didn’t realize was that this said paint job was still days away…why was that you ask? What could possibly stand in the way between us and our beautiful white gloss finish? 2 words : Taping and Masking.

Now if we wanted to be simple and just roll on the paint, it would be only one task standing in our way, taping, but Jon really wanted to spray the inside. Not only for a better finish but also for more practice with the 3M accuspray gun. We then spent 2 days completing the most intricate tape and masking job I have ever been part of.  

Taping and masking, it will take longer than you think

Everything was ready, air was clean, paint was shaken and the surfaces were ready for their makeover. Jon suited up, made his way into the boat, hooked up the gun, clicked on the paint hopper then looked at me with a “this is it” excited look. Walking up to the head he lifted the gun and then nothing. Shit.

Jon thought it was going to be the morning which the inside of Prism would start to look like a new boat again, but no. The gun refused to work. No matter what he did the gun did not want to feed when the hopper was upside down, which this gun was pretty much made for….so Jon then had to get out  of his clean suit and went to the office to do some internet research and troubleshoot the gun issues. 

A few hours later we learned the paint had too much viscosity for the amount of pressure he wanted to be using. So he had to increase the pressure which caused a lot more over spray and when in a tight confined space, less air to breath. Yes he was in a full respirator and we had a fan sucking out the bad air, but it almost was not enough. Luckily we figured it out and he was able to breath good air for the remaining of the paint job. 

The next day we went back in, found a few runs in the paint and also a few areas were we did not fill nor fair enough and could see some of the patches we had done. Well that is not going to work, so we sanded and went back to the filling and fairing block. The next morning the imperfections were fixed and we were ready for the next coat. Jon was able to adjust the gun a little more to his liking and applied the next coat with no issues and a mirror gloss finish! 

YESSSS! Is there any greater of a feeling than pealing off the blue tape to reveal a perfect white line!?!? Jon and I have to stop and look at this completed project all the time as it is something that used to REALLY bother us and now it looks perfect and clean!

While Jon was inside spraying I was outside removing the varnish from our cabinet doors. We had been told that using a chemical stripper would be a huge time saver and would make stripping varnish something other than hell. So we gave it a try, we bought the more eco friendly orange stuff sold at hardware stores. Initially we ran a test to see how it would work compared to the usual heat gun and scraper method and it seemed to be all it was made up to be. 

I dove right in and started to use it…. this is how that went:

IT WAS A GOOPY STICKY GOD FORSAKEN MESS OF A NIGHTMARE! NEVER AGAIN WILL I EVER USE THIS STUFF! I should have stopped using it after the 3rd or so cabinet but I was committed and to give it some credit, it did work well in the louvers but was still just so nasty to work with. I guess if you were working with a solid flat surface it might not be such a nightmare, but nothing about Prism is flat. All of the cabinets have louvers, grooves, and all kinds of fancy stuff that I love when I am not stripping varnish. 

I am not even sure if I ended up saving anytime at all by using this product. You apply the stuff and let it sit 15- 30 minutes then scrape it off.  Yes that is it. But do you think it actually “just scrapes off” HELL NO! It scraped off in globs that more or less would just get bunched up, pushed around and pressed into all the fancy little grooves that I love but, I am beginning to hate so much.  

I despise this job and product so much and the worst part is, it is not even complete yet. The stripper removed most of the varnish, but not all of it…more about the rest of this project in the December/ January section of this blog post. 

Onto the next project.

November 2018
After the back breaking work of painting the cabinets and headliner my back was out of wack. I’m sure that living in a house with no furniture and sitting on the ground with no back support for all meals was not helping. Anyways one of the mornings I woke up with the normal lower back pain but along with it was a very sharp stabbing pain in my ribs which was making it nearly impossible to breath.
Thinking I must have really just slept on it wrong, I stretched, took a pain pill and put on my TENs unit. After and hour the pain and breathing were no better and I was starting to get dizzy from the lack of, I suppose, not being able to take a deep full breath. I guessed that I had a “rib out”. If you have heard of this then you know that some people say there is no such thing, and others, most who have had it, say it is such a thing. No matter what it was, I was in pain and couldn’t breath, so I had to do something. Sadly the chiropractor office just 3 minutes away was booked for the day but they have a sister office in New Bern. Off I went.
I met with the Doctor and he sure enough felt that I in fact had a rib out, but to fix it is a hit or miss the first time. So he gave me an adjustment and told me it may or may not stay in place and to just let him know.  I was still feeling sore but I could take a deeper breath, but still not a full deep breath if that makes any sense…

I woke up the next morning with no pain in the ribs and able to breath normally, thank goodness! My lower back however ( which is nothing new) was acting up to its full drama self and after 2 days of walking like a grandma Jon told me to go get another adjustment. Lucky for me this time the doctor in town was there. This was a much smaller office and the doctor seemed way more interested in actually solving the issue and pain rather than turning tables and making a profit. So after one of the most aggressive adjustments of my life, where the Doc literately said  “Oh wow, um, that was a bit hard are you alright?”  I laid on the table for a minute not to sure if I was, but when I moved to get up the back pain was less. They set me up on a TENs unit with heating pads and let me soak in the therapy for 30 minutes.  That night I slept like the dead and awoke the next morning for the first time in probably 13 years with virtually no back pain.  YESSSSSS!!!!!!!!! Back to boat work.

Nov 5th: 

We removed the fiddles off the galley counter today. This took a lot of patience and many different tools. Mostly using the multi tool with the skinny cutting blade and some heat we were able to remove the teak pieces, shockingly only shattering the corner section into  6 different pieces… we will have to fix that at a different time. Now it was time to remove the old stained and yellowed laminate. After heating the surface with a heat gun we were able to pry and pop off the laminate.  Next is to sand the surface in preparation to fill in the holes which were no longer need.

——>errkkk: Well shoot, we received the news today that the owner of our rental has accepted a long term lease and we have to be out on the 11th. Great. We knew this was bound to happen but we hoped we would have been further along in our project. But we did use the crap out of the washer dryer set at that rental which made it all worth it. We washed everything and I do mean everything that was left aboard Prism during our time away. Oh funny fact, the house we rented was so small and on such high pillars that when the washer was on spin mode, the whole house would shake. HA.

Prism is in no way ready to be lived on so Jon and I were back to the drawing board of where to live. I was fine with just camping, I mean we have a nice tent, air mattress, lots of blankets, there is a bathroom right outside the big tent and I can camp cook just fine. But Jon wanted to be more comfortable as we were working 12 to 14 hour days.  Men, so high maintenance. 

Nov 6th : 

We received our new boom! Let me jump back to why we needed a new boom…. remember when we lowered our own mast back in June 2017. Well, we kinda messed up on our geometry or is it physics?…anyways….. yea well we ended up cracking our boom end when it came crashing down.  With a little online research we found that to replace that part was going to be around $1600!! You’re kidding right?! Nope.

It did not take long for Jon and I to come to the conclusion that buying a whole new boom would be the better option. Plus the new boom would give us the option to have 3 reef points in our new main sail!  We contacted pretty much all the spar companies in the US to find a boom that would fit and would not completely break the bank. After just a few minutes on the phone with the owner of US Spars( Z-Spar) out of FL , Jon and the owner came to the deal for us to buy an old new stock boom that has one scratch on it for $600 + $200 shipping and we would have it  with in the week. WHAT!?!? um okay were do we sign.  

When the boom arrived it was delivered by the owners son who was very helpful and kind. The boom we got is just a little longer and will need to be cut down, but this is a project we will work on as we get closer to putting the boat back into the water.

Nov 7th -9th:

With the inside white paint being done , Jon and I started to focus on removing all the varnish on the interior. Let me just start this section off with what Jon told me on this day:

I can remove all the interior varnish in one day, i’m really fast with a heat gun and scraper”- Jon

( It is now March 4th as I am writing this, and we are still working on varnish. )

Okay , now that we know Jon is no longer in charge of time management we can move forward.  Jon started in the galley, made it about half way and then moved on to a different section of the boat. This process of him jumping from section to section before the first section is finished continued for the entire job and no, I never got the hang of it, nor the logic. While he was jumping from section to section I was working on the navigation station and the pullman. 

attacking the varnish removal in the pullman

 Scrapping varnish is a very dull and non stimulating task, not to mention how upset you can get when your scrapper jumps off the wood and into the piece next to it leaving noticeable evidence that you were not 100% paying attention. Thus leads to Jon, who will see it and then give you the “look” and or a few words about “paying attention”  yea yea yea

Nov 10th:

 Varnish or Oil? That is the question. While Jon and I were going mad dealing with all the scraping we kept going back and forth of what to apply once all the prep was done. I was 100% always for varnish, I love everything about varnish besides, you know taking it back down to bear wood and starting over. Jon was looking for easier options and was leaning more towards oil. I told him that oil was lazy Jons idea and that when we were all done sitting in an anchorage somewhere he was going to hate himself looking at oiled interior teak rather than beautiful amber gloss spar varnish.  The discussion continued for another few days.

So that we would not go completely mad, we would take breaks from scraping varnish. Jon would work on installing our new large single sink.  The new sink is just as long as the old double sink, but it is a bit wider, or something like that. So we had to make some modifications to the wood so the sink would be secure and strong when we do the full install. 

Tomorrow we move, and while we were packing the last of our things we received an e-mail from Mr. Scott. His house at River Dunes (the same one we stayed in June 2017) has opened up and we were more than welcome to use it. WELL SH*T. The timing could not be better! BAH MR. SCOTT TO THE RESCUE!  THANK YOU MR. SCOTT!!!!

Nov 11th: 

Moving day. We are going back to River Dunes!  It took about 3 trips with both our little car and Dan’s truck to move our stuff from the rental to River Dunes. Just as we were finishing our last load our new friend Bill arrived.

Bill is also a HC33 owner who had contacted us and asked if he could come down and help.  When we told him ” um sure, but we are just scrapping varnish” he responded with ” I love scraping varnish, when can I come?”

After our introductions, the refit briefing and a debrief of our day so far, we could tell Bill was really ready to start working. Jon and I however were beat. Moving is exhausting! We didn’t have to twist Bills arm to much to calling it a day and heading back to River Dunes for dinner. It was time to get to know each other and get a good nights sleep for a strong start in the morning.

Nov 12th- 14th:  

 After a great nights sleep in the fully furnished luxe River Dunes house, we were ready to take on the world. Bill said he wanted to tackle the varnish scraping in the head so he could get a feel for it when it comes time to do his own. I kept on scraping varnish else were in the boat and Jon suited up to start grinding the decks. This went on for 3 days. Bill made a huge dent in the head varnish, I made a little more of a dent in the varnish in the saloon and Jon did major work on the decks.  Originally Bill was only going to stay 2 nights, but he said he didn’t get as far as he wanted in the head, plus wanted to stick around for BOGO Pizza night at Silos. So he stuck around for a few more days and completed 99% of the head.

Bill, working hard to remove all the varnish in the head
Bill. BILL. BILL! We can not say it enough, THANK YOU!

When it comes to the decks, Jon discovered that even though we have solid glass decks, we still have a lot of delamination. We are lucky though that because they are solid glass we do not have to worry about  rotten core as well. More on this later.

It’s all about the small wins people.

"We need to start focusing on the topsides, we have 15 days till we are going back into the water"- Jon

Nov 15th- 16th:

 Okay so a change in direction.  Originally we were going full speed ahead on the interior of Prism because 1) Jon didn’t think it would take this long and 2) we didn’t want to rent a house for that long. But now with a rent free beautiful home to stay in he wanted to start focusing on the topside paint before the weather started to get too cold. 

The first step was to fix and or stop the leak at the top of the tent. During heavy rain storms the tear would let a good amount of water in and then fall onto our decks. Not ideal. The yard attempted to fix the problem by sending a man up on a ladder using the forklift with some cardboard and duck tape…

Um yea, our thoughts exactly. So when that failed literally the next day, Jon and I asked the yard if they could fix it in a different way. Sure, sure they said. A week later, still leaking we asked if WE could fix it. I think they were sick of us coming into the office every five minutes so they said “sure”. 

20 minutes later Jon was on one side of the tent with a large socket, some twine and a $7 tarp. He tied the twine to the socket and threw it up and over. It took a few tires and he had to stand on top of the deck of a power boat, but he made it with the messenger lines and we were ready to attached the tarp and hoist it up.  Done and Done. ( It is now the beginning of March and the tarp is still holding)

Nov 17th-18th: 

Building the scaffolding to surround Prism. It took a few trips to the local lumber yard and some rummaging in the yards junk yard, but we made a solid work platform that was only slightly terrifying. As we were finishing, Jon hopped up on the aft section board which we had found in the yard, was covered in mud and moss and was not tied down to the structure yet. It was not 2 seconds into me saying ” we need to secure that board” that the board slid off the sawhorse right from under Jon’s feet.  Ouch. Jon fell the almost 5 feet to the ground using his wrist to break the fall and missed the mattress that was on the ground by a foot.  Well that’s going to put a damper in his sanding capabilities. Lucky he did not break anything, but he did bang his wrist up well enough to buy a brace.

The home built scaffolding did a full circle around Prism
Nov 19th -21st: 

Blister BUSTERS!  Where do I even begin with the blisters. I am not going to go into great detail of how we repaired the blisters as I think that will be a DIY Blog post all in its own.

For 3 days all we did was sand, grind, find more, heat, grind, clean, fill, fair, sand, fill, find, grind, heat, clean, fill and fair blisters. We had more than 700 blisters on Prism’s topsides.  Most were the size of dimes and some were the size of my palm. The more difficult part was when a blister bisected a section of the hull were the “lapstrake” lines run. So we would fill the blister and then have to reshape the line into the hull. These “lines” took up a lot of our time, as we tried to find the perfect sanding block to fit. We ended up making one using a router and one of our Dura Blocks. It worked 90% of the time, for the other areas we would just fold or roll the sand paper till it made the right shape. 

We also removed the name, which shockingly came off pretty darn easy with the help of a heat gun and sharp scraper. We just cant get away from the heat gun and scraper!

Nov 22nd:

OUR FIRST DAY OFF aka Thanksgiving. Jon and I were delighted when our friends Dan and Liza asked if we wanted to spend Thanksgiving with them. We then offered if they would like to have it at the River Dunes House, which they did. So we split up the food responsibilities and aimed to eat at 3pm.  We were joined by Georgia, Dan and Liza’s Daughter ( home from ECU) and Liza’s mom.  Liza and I must have thought we were cooking for a party of 15, as there was TOO much food. We all ate as much as we could till it hurt, then decompressed and chatted and drank till the wine was gone. It was a perfect Thanksgiving and a much needed day off.

45 days in and still smiling

Nov 23rd-25th:

 Back at it.  The blisters have been filled, now we just have to make sure they are flat and smooth. We filled the blisters for strength with West Systems epoxy and 406 filler. Now for the final fairing we are using epoxy and 410 filler which is much easier to sand.  In order to avoid Amine blush, which is a wax substance that forms on top of the epoxy when there is to much humidity in the air along with cold temps. That wax has to be removed before you can continue with your project or it can cause much further issues. So we use a product called peel-ply which has many other attributes other than stopping amine blush as well. The product simply gets laid on top of the curing epoxy, it can be used to press out air bubbles and leaves the cured epoxy with a toothed surface completely prepped  for the next layer.

Before we could move onto the next step of applying the barrier coat to the topsides we first had to address the areas were our hawser cleats come through the hull. There were many voids in the fiberglass of these areas causing the perfect scenario for future leaks. In order to get the perfect fit we needed to make the cleats themselves into molds. So we lubed them up with Vaseline and used a syringe to fill the voids with thickened epoxy. We let the epoxy cure just to the point where it was not soft but not yet very hard. We removed the cleats with ease and were left with perfect void-less slots.

During the times of curing epoxy we would find ourselves once again scraping varnish. We did however answer one question we had been debating, Varnish or Oil? Varnish won, but only to develop a whole new question, Spar or Poly?

Nov 26th-28th: 

The Bubble, will it or will it not work. 

The weather is not only deteriorating but is completely sporadic and utterly unpredictable.  Not the most ideal conditions for spraying your topsides with expensive and picky paints. 

The Issues

  • Too Cold 50°F or below
  • Too Humid 
  • When it’s hot outside, the tent condensates and creates rain and humidity inside 
  • Lots of dust and dirt

Solutions and their issues

  1. Rent a big ass electric heater
    1. No 220V outlet near tent
  2.  Rent big propane heater
    1. propane produces wet and dirty heat
  3. Rent a big diesel heater
    1. creates residue which can ruin finishes
  4. Make bubble to surround topsides and use little electric heaters to heat
    1.  lots of plastic waste

We opted to go with solution #4 which in the end was our only option. Jon and I headed over to the local ACE which is also the Pamlico Home Builders yard and picked up the supplies we would need to build the PVC pipe structure that would engulf our boat. 

top view of bubble

It only took a few minutes to come up with a design that we thought would work and then we went to work. We created frame work which had supports shooting outwards from Prism’s decks to give us the working space we were going to need. Trying to be as optimistic as possible when it came to using the painters plastic, we hoped we would not have to rebuild the bubble more than once.  

In order to make the bubble heat tight we connected 2 sheets of plastic under the scaffolding. This made our bubble more like a tight tunnel on the inside with just enough room to walk and work. However, the white milky coloring of the plastic was confusing to the eyes making it hard to walk on the scaffolding.  Which I found out first hand as we were celebrating the completion and functionality of the bubble and I literally walked off the scaffolding and fell  4 feet to the ground. Lucky for me, my butt broke my fall and I was able to get up and walk away laughing at myself. I did however have to fix the giant hole in the plastic I created and then look at it as a reminder everyday. I am very, very lucky I did not get hurt.

Nov 29th- 31st:

With the 600 blisters filled and the bubble doing its job of keeping the heat in and the moisture out, we set our selves on doing the final sanding of the topsides.

Every time we thought we had gotten it all we would find something new, including blisters! Those sneaky little bastards, we must have found at least 6 more even after we had said ” okay I think we got them all”.  I asked Jon what his true feelings were about prepping a boat for topside paint and he responded:

“this is hard work, I see why you pay a lot of money for someone else to do it”
 We kept thanking ourselves that we bought a 33 foot boat not a 40 foot boat. Honestly cannot imagine doing this amount of work on a bigger boat! 

December 2018

Dec 1st- 2nd:

Well, we have reached our “launch date” and we are nowhere even close to being ready to be put back into the water. Jon was not happy about this and quickly stated “Okay well, we will be in the water for sure by January 1st”…..yea, I knew better.

Once we were sure we had found all the blisters and imperfections on the topsides we moved onto fixing the bow section where the bowsprit comes through the boat. While sanding Jon had found a few blisters on this piece and set out to remove all the “bad” glass so we could fill and fair. 

Well the more he dug the more he found, the entire section needed love. There were huge voids in the glass which we are pretty sure are original from when she was built. So we ground out and down till we found solid glass then filled and laid down 2 new layers of 1708. Not gonna lie, it came out looking great, as in you can not tell we did a huge repair there. WINNING!


While the epoxy was drying on these items I continued the varnish removal inside while Jon removed the samson posts. The samson posts were one of the items which while we were cruising we chose to believe they were in perfect shape and never looked further into it. We had seen, heard and read about other 33’s whos’ posts had rotten out from the bottom and caused huge headaches for the owners. We needed to remove them in order to paint the forepeak anyways, so Jon set out to get these bad boys out. 

Using a car jack we keep aboard, Jon attempted to use upward pressure to pop the posts out. The single jack did not budge the post a single millimeter, so he got the one out of our car, 2 jacks here we go. Nothing. Okay, he grabbed a third from Dan’s truck. 3 jacks, total lifting power of 7000 thousand pounds. BOOM! It sounded like a gun went off when the snapping sound of epoxy gave up and released its hold on the posts. A startled Jon removed the posts from their slots and was happily surprised when he found the posts to be in perfect condition! Minus the failing white paint.

Jon always loves to start new projects even though we already have 10 million projects going. So while we are doing all of this stuff Jon also started getting into the bowsprit and fridge doors. The scarf on the bowsprit had let go once again and the fridge doors needed insulation upgrading.

Dec 3rd:

Today is the day, for real this time. We are really ready to spray on the epoxy barrier coat!  To really seal up our hull and hopefully never have to deal with blisters again, we decided to apply Sea Hawks Tuff Stuff epoxy primer to our topsides first. 

We used this product when we took our bottom paint down to glass before we left Berkeley back in 2014 and have been very happy with it. We rolled it on then and now we are spraying which is a completely different animal.  

The paint has to be mixed with the certain ratio and then has an induction period of 10 minutes. I was the mix master and Jon was the spray master. We were so excited to start putting actual paint on the hull that we did not pause and really look at what was actually being laid down. Okay we did notice that the paint was spraying like Spackle, but we were hopeful that that was just how it was and it would smooth out as it cured. Yea no.

We have no idea why we kept going, but in fact we did, Jon completed 2 full coats of the hard epoxy primer and then called it a night. 

On a happy note, we did receive our new sails from the UK that day! We  now have a brand new 9 oz tanbark, no roach, batten-less, 3 reef point main and a 9oz tanbark staysail.

December 4th-9th:

The next morning we were excited to have Prism all one color again but we had no idea how much work we had created for ourselves because of the Spackle mistake.

Using our new Flexi Sander, (which is a fancy flexible long board) Jon and I spent the next 3 days sanding down all the high spots from our mistake. While we were at it, we took the time to do any additional fairing on any of the blister repairs that we noticed that were, well, noticeable.

In order to get the hull smooth once again we had sanded through most of the paint we just laid down. Heart breaking, I know. After a few hours of research we were pretty sure we figured out our problem.

Yes the bubble was doing its job keeping the temp above 45°F , but the hose and compressor were out in the freezing cold. By the time the air met up with the paint and sprayed it out of the gun it was very cold product. So we heated the paint, as in we kept it in a box with a heater, letting the paint sit in a temp around 130°F 

Heat, I swear it cures everything.. Getting the paint warm enough to flow through the gun and keep it warm all the way till it was laying down on the hull was the key to a smooth and flat finish. THANK GOD! We were able to get 2 more full coats and a 3rd around the water line before we ran out of paint.

Dec 10th:

R.I.P Mariner by Dickinson Range

Yep, I did not see this coming and I am still not happy about it. Sure having a new stove will be great, but there was nothing wrong with my range when we left Prism back in June 2017. NOTHING, it worked perfectly! I could run everything all at the same time, both burners, the broiler and the oven! ALL OF IT! Nothing on the market now allows that, you have to pick one or the other when it comes to the broiler or oven. BOOOOO!

the stove had seen better days

Our range was called a Mariner by Dickinson, Made in New Zealand. When we called Dickinson we asked if they had any parts for it so we could just fix her up and be on our way. Dickinson replied with ” That is not a Dickinson Marine Range, it is a knock off, they copied our design and put our name on it with out our consent” 


^ and clearly still very upset about what happened over 30 years ago.

 “So that’s a no on parts?……”

The next question, do we go with a new Dickinson Marine stove or with Force10. We went back and forth, back and forth, even asking people of the internet what they had, the pros and cons and what not. When we put it to a vote on Instagram, this was the outcome:

Dickinson Marine

We went with a new Dickinson Caribbean. Why? Clearly the internet likes Force10 more. Well about 80% of those votes came from people who have the older Force10 ranges made in Canada, before they were bought out and now made in China (apparently). People who had bought a new Force10 in the last 5 years have had some serious issues with them. The Dickinson however has very few issues, but it cost about 40% more. 

We bought our new stove through Fisheries Supply, pretty much where we buy everything.  But it is on back order, so now we wait


Our morning debrief meeting with Oliver
Dec 11th – 13th:

Once the Tuff stuff was sanded smooth we were ready to spray on the next coat for our topside paint.  The temp however was in the low 30’s, so we had to order some Cold Cure additive for the Awlgrip 545 Epoxy Primer. 

The cold cure additive was a life saver, so not only did we use the additive we also kept the paint very warm in the hot box we created for the Tuff stuff paint.

Awlgrip wants you to apply this primer before spraying your final top coat, offering the best  chemical bond between the two layers. 

I have seen Awlgrip applied to boats which used Proline Primer rather than the Awlgrip 545 and could see no difference, even over time. But Jon and I were not going to take that chance, we are doing this by the book. 

Awlgrip however is a pro coating which really does not have a friendly how to guide. The Manual is huge and includes all the products, not to mention that fact that you have to jump from section to section to just get the stuff you need all together. Lets just say we spend sometime on the phone getting to know the guys at Awlgrip.

Once we were sure everything was ready, we had read the manual over and over, double checked our ratios and calculations, it was go time.

Jon suited up and I began the first batch, eeek here we go!

For the next 4 hours we worked as a team, communicating the entire time. As soon as his hopper started to get low, I would start the next batch so by the time its induction period was over Jon was out of paint and we could do the refill before he lots his wet edge. TEAMWORK BABY!

2 full coats of silky dark grey primer covered Prisms topsides and she looked good, like really good. Jon and I were already so impressed with our work, you could not see one blister repair!

Dec 14th- 17th:

With the 545 primer curing, Jon and I turned our attention to installing our new galley sink and new counter top laminate. 

The sink we bought is a “under mount” style which we inlaid into the galley counter top wood before we laid down the new laminate. The sink was just as wide as our old double sink, but not as long… or something like that. We had to fill in the holes where the old faucets came through as well. 

With a clean slate we installed our sink  and began to make the template for the laminate. The rumor on the street is that laminate can be hard to work with, I did not find that to be the case at all. We took our time, measured and re measured then stuck the landing, We used a router to cut the edges off for a perfect fit. Once the fiddles are back on it is going to look real slick! Now the question is, where do we put the new faucet?

While the epoxy and glue were drying in the galley we started to sand the 545 primer.  First we took down the plastic bubble as we were going to have to re-drape it before the final topcoat, but it gave us a real good look at Prism from afar and not gonna lie, the dark grey was a very cool look on our boat. If we were not planning on sailing in the tropics so much, I think I would have loved to have her that color. But dark hulls are hot, show every scratch and are hard to keep clean ( like a black car vs a white car).

Sanding the 545 primer went much faster than the Tuff stuff by Sea Hawk, thank goodness. Another cool thing out the 545 Primer by Awlgrip is that it goes on a dark matte grey and sands to a light grey, revealing any spots you may have missed while sanding and also any high or low spots. Jon and I were able to sand the topsides until everything was a perfect light grey.

Dec 18th:
” Did you read the manual again? Are you sure you know the correct ratios, mix times and induction times?” Jon asked me while he is suiting up in the white suite and 3M full face respirator. “Yes babe, I am sure….but I’ll read it once more, just in case…” 

I don’t think I have paid this much attention to a manual since IDC ( Instructor Development Course; PADI).

Today, I was extremely nervous, but I was trying to keep my cool in order not to stress Jon out. He is the one who is actually spraying the stuff, but I am the mixer and if I get something wrong, well it will not matter if he goes a good job or not. If I don’t put in enough part 2 to the part 1 then it will never cure. If I add to much X98 accelerator then it can cure to fast and it will be a waste of paint. 

AH! I screamed in my head…. okay well it’s now or never. I know the amounts, I did the math, I have everything laid out and ready to go. I mix the first batch and let it sit for its induction period as I help Jon tuck in his hair to his suit. This makes me laugh as its like helping a student diver get into a wet suit with a hood and mask. Making sure there is nothing to compromise the seal of the mask allowing unwanted substances into your eyes.

Awlgrip Oyster White—-> Ratio 1:1, 25% thinned (max) 

Our hoppers were: 8oz Part 1 : 8oz Part 2 : 3oz Spray thinner : 1ml X98 accel.

12:48 PM Hopper #1 Jon starts spraying

1:06PM Start mixing hopper #2

1:18PM start spray hopper #2

1:26 PM First coat done.

1:40PM Start mix hopper #3

…….so on and so on till

3:03 PM Mix hopper #7 ( small batch)

3:15PM DONE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

We walked away thinking YES! We did it! Flawless glass mirror finish, MY GOD PRISM LOOKS SEXY! We went out to BOGO pizza with friends John and Heather (who own a Panda 40 which they have sailed around the world for the last 12+ years) to celebrate! After dinner we came back to the boat to show them the paint job.

From 3 feet back she looked so good, BUT, yes there is a but. When Jon and I hopped up on to the scaffolding to take a closer look at our new topsides we found our worst fears had come true.

 Runs? Damn it! There are RUNS! 

This would not have been the end of the world if we had used Awlgrip’s Awlcraft 2000, which you can wet sand the runs, then buff it out. Awlgrip however….no go, no sanding or buffing to make it all better. We went to bed knowing we were going to have to sand it and start again.

Oliver gives us daily cat love and entertainment
Dec 19th-24th:
After getting almost no sleep as we were pretty upset with ourselves about the runs, we headed back to Prism in the morning to take a closer look at our mistakes. Upon further inspection, not only did we have runs, but we also had what looked like fish eyes. Fish eyes are normally a result of a chemical imbalance, dirty paint, dirty air, or not allowing enough time for the solvents to evaporate before laying down the paint. Jon and I were so confused as we did everything by the book. We called BMC and sent them photos looking for advice from Julio, the spray master. He said from the photos it looked like fish eyes. Jon and I could not think of anything that would have caused these damn little holes to call our topside paint home. NO, we did not do any of the things that cause the standard fish eyes. So we called Awlgrip, and explained our step by step process the day before and what theses little monsters looked like. They agreed, it didn’t sound like fish eyes. Still they said we should sand it all back down and start over. Wait, WHAT?!?!

Jon, quick on his feet decided that it was because we did not get the Tuff Stuff as smooth as we thought. So we called a few more people with awlgrip spraying experience and they agreed with us, once we told them about our Spackle job with the Tuff Stuff. That mistake was still haunting us.  Jon had a plan, we would clean the areas where the pin holes were and then carefully, with a small art brush, fill the holes with paint. Worst case scenario it didn’t work and we would have to sand it all back down and start over. Best case it would fill in the pin holes allowing us to sand the topsides just enough to give it a tooth and apply new coats on top. So we went for it, wished for it to work and went home.
The next morning we were amazed, the pin holes filled and you could barley see them at all! SWEET! Now it was back to sanding. At this point Jon’s and my arms are getting tried and our shoulders are starting to  “click” as we repeat the back and forth motion with the sanding blocks. I swear if Jon was not 6’5″ this job would have taken twice as long. He has no problem reaching every surface from the scaffolding. I however would have to make sketchy step stools to reach the higher up spots, which after I almost ate it, I quit attempting to help with the higher places and left those all for Jon. Thanks and sorry babe 🙂 

After sanding the runs and some orange peel patches smooth again we gave the entire surface a good tooth. Now we were ready to vacuum, wipe and re-drape the plastic bubble.

slight orange peel which needed to be sanded down

Round 2 here we go. This time however Jon was a little gun shy as he really did not want to have to do this again. So he dialed back the pressure of the gun and said ” I am going to do light, thinner coats”. Okay, I agreed and got to work. We repeated the same mix ratios and finished around the same time as the first round.

This time we walked away knowing there were no runs and no pin holes. We also agreed that what it was, is what it was going to be. We didn’t have time nor the money to have to go another round, plus it’s a cruising boat! As long as it looks good from 50ft and keeps the water out we will be happy, ish.

Merry Christmas! 

This is our 2nd day off from working on Prism. Jon and I spent Christmas just the 2 of us. I made an excellent breakfast of home made eggs Benedict and mimosas. We opened the gifts that friends and family had sent us and spent the day doing a dock walk of the River Dunes Marina. It was a perfect Christmas and very restful. We went to bed early ready to get back to work in the morning.

The condensation on Prism's keel in the morning was always cool to look at
Dec 26th-31st:
The topside are done! I am 100% so happy with the finish, Jon however is a little less than happy. The final coat has a slight orange peel to it, which you can only see when you are 1 foot away. He says it’s because he used less pressure in the gun and that he has learned from his mistakes and the cabin top WILL be flawless.

With that said, I moved back to scraping varnish on the inside and Jon set out to finish the preparation to lay down new glass on the decks. While he was spending so much time on his hands and knees looking at the glass that is our decks, he found a few areas where water had made its way in and caused deeper delamination.

fiberglass dust covered every inch of Prism and the tent

On the inside I was getting closer and closer to having all of the varnish removed. Have I mentioned how much teak a HC33 has? It’s a lot. Stripping the varnish has taken so much longer than either of us thought and we are not even bothering with the aft cabin yet. (sorry guest) 

Once Jon had finished sanding the decks and removed the bad glass he found, he wanted the decks to dry out for a few days to really make sure there was no more water in them before we started. Because of the deeper delamination we also needed to order more 1708, so Jon joined me inside. While I was finishing the bulkheads, Jon started on the cabin sole. 

OMG, our cabin sole was in rougher shape than we thought. As he started to sand back the old, scratched, dented finish we realized just how dark and gross it was. After it was all sanded away we filled some of the larger dents and nicks on our cabin sole with teak tented epoxy.  

We prepped all the vertical teak that touched the cabin sole as well, including in the aft cabin. As we did not want to risk our sanders or anything messing up the cabin sole finish when we do the rest of the varnish job. 

Originally we were going to use Awlwood on every piece of teak we have aboard, but the cost of this stuff, even with our account at fisheries, is atrocious. So we decided to do the cabin sole and the exterior stuff with this very durable clear coating. 

We had everything prepped and while the epoxy was curing, I dragged Jon into helping me continue with the sanding of all the cabinet doors. Yes, back to that horrible irritating project that just makes my blood boil thinking about it. (and no, it’s still not 100% done and its the middle of March now)

Using Awlwood which is made by Awlgrip, is a very time sensitive project. The product itself is also extremely sensitive to temp and humidity. Jon and I had to make sure the inside of Prism was as hot and as humid as we would make it. Of course this is also happening during a cold dry spell here in NC, which NEVER HAPPENS! The temps outside were around 25°F to 30°F and the humidity was down to 20%. WHAT?! Okay so we set out to buy more heaters and get this, a humidifier. 

Oliver got into the chicken coop next door..... lets just say he does not wonder over there anymore.

HAPPY NEW YEAR! January 2019

Jan 1st-11th:

Well we got the email, the one we knew was going to happen sooner rather than later and bring our too good to be true housing situation to an end. Our time in River Dunes was coming to an end. Mr. Scott needed the house for family guest coming in on the 4th. 

Okay that gives us 4 days to get the floors done, as living aboard while applying Awlwood is not an option unless we wanted to die. We are working way to hard to enjoy this boat in beautiful places to die while sleeping as our new cabin sole off gasses. Nope not an option. So we must hustle.

We thought we were ready, just a little more prep turned into anther full day of prep. Because of the time sensitivities of the product we had to make sure our applying and drying times lined up with working hours. Awlgrip wants you to apply the first coat of Awlwood gloss on top of the primer within 18 hours, 12 hours of which are drying.

This time it was my turn to get suited up. Jon did the final vacuum and wipe down while I started to mix the primer and allow 10 minutes for the product to decanter.  Using a roller and a foam brush, I rolled and tipped the Awlwood primer on our cabin sole, working from the head backwards towards the galley where I could/ would climb out without touching the floor. Good thing I am kind of a monkey.  I finished the coat with perfect timing.  The next morning we would be within the 18 hours with enough time to sand and prep for the next layer. 

Well shit, when I was vacuuming in preparation for the 2nd gloss coat, I caused a floor board to fall off the table and crash into the cabin sole. Yep, it left not only 1 huge dent but 2. Well fack. They needed to be filled, so while we were at it we took the time to fill all of the dents. This is something that we should have done in the first place but started to get lazy. I think Van, Jon’s dad knocked the board off the table just so we would do the job correctly in the first place. So we mixed up some 5 minute epoxy this time leaving it clear and filled in all the imperfections we had left behind from our first time around. Once it was dry we spot primed, waited for it to cure then applied the next coat of Awlwood.

Apply, wait, sand, vacuum, wipe, apply, wait, etc….. we repeated this for the next 2 days. So in a perfect world with perfect weather conditions after the first 2 gloss coats, you could do the next 4 as hot coats. A hot coat means as soon as the surface is dry enough you can apply the next coat without sanding. This would have worked I think if we didn’t have to stand on the surface its self. We tried/ tested after a few hours of dry time with no luck. My full body weight was too much to stand on the surface without leaving an impression on the previous layer.

Now its moving day again and somehow the housing gods are really looking after us. Friends of ours have a friend who has a rental house that is open till the 12th. We can use it and just need to pay for the cleaning fee once we leave. PERFECT!!!!!!!! Thank you Sue!!! So we packed up all our stuff once again, bringing most of it back to the boat to live in boxes on pallets till we can move back aboard then made our way to our new home for the next week. 

Such a cute rental right on the Neuse River
Beautiful sunrise view from the little rental

We continued with the Awlwood pattern till 7 coats of gloss were laid down.  On the 8th day we were ready for the final satin top coat. Normally satin is very forgiving and helps hide imperfections with normal varnish. With Awlwood however, the satin finish warns that it will do the opposite, it will show and enhance very imperfection, joy. 

We sanded with p600, vacuumed everything, gave all the vertical teak a warm water wipe down to not only remove any dust that might had been sitting in the grooves but also to maybe help bring up the humidity. We did the final wipe down, I suited up and got to work. for some reason I decided to try a different type of roller this time and that was a mistake. A few minutes in I noticed the roller was disintegrating and leaving a fuzzy fury trail in my satin finish. NOOOOO!!! I quickly grabbed the Awlwood thinner and a rag and wipe the surface clean. I crossed my fingers that I didn’t just royally mess it up. I waited a few minutes for the solvent to evaporate, changed my roller back to the type I had used for the first 7 coats, cleaned out my tray and started again. That mistake made me sick to my stomach and I truly hoped it would be okay.

IT WAS OKAY! The cabin sole came out just as we had hoped. The satin finish gave a kind of hazy look to the gloss that was there before. The surface is beautiful and the repairs/ fills we did are super trippy to look at as they look like there is a dent but when you touch it, its smooth and flat. 

THE CABIN SOLE IS DONE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Now we get to move on to complete the rest of the interior Varnish.

Jan 12th-21st:

Once again it’s moving day and the housing gods are still on our side. We finished the cabin sole but have moved into finishing all the interior varnish which also has some serious VOC’s, making it unsafe to live aboard while coating. So you can imagine our excitement and surprise when a friend of ours offered up his Panda 38′  for us to stay in. He was going out of town for the next few weeks and it was docked here at HBY ( Hurricane Boat Yard). Holy cow, if that is not perfect timing and just so convenient, I don’t know what is.

Inside our friends Panda 38′

Weeks ago we had been debating what type of varnish to use, well we chose to go with a Spar varnish. Then it was time to choose which brand…. this is like asking someone what kind of anchor they prefer. Overwhelmed with so many different types, we choose to go with Helmsmen spar varnish, but while we were at our local ACE Hardward there was a can of ACE Spar Varnish sitting on the shelf next to the helmsmen and get this, it was $37, a gallon. We promptly asked the clerk if she knew anything about the varnish, where it was made and how. We were pleased to find out that the ACE brand spar varnish is a fully phenolic spar varnish similar to Epifanes. SOLD!

With another place to live, Jon and I set into full varnish mode. Before we could start applying the ACE spar we needed to address a few of the larger holes in our bulkheads and what not. So using some of the teak off of “Black Tie” aka US DIVE BOAT #1 which was about to be scrapped in the next few days, Jon was able to match up the grain and set in perfect fills. The next task would be the difficult part, routing out the grooves that make up our tongue and groove interior. Jon did this all free hand. With the router he took his time and routed out each groove matching up perfectly. 

US Dive Boat #1 “Black Tie”

Jon also had taken the time to scarf in new teak pieces in the galley where during some point in Prism’s history someone took what looks like a hack saw to the teak trim to install god knows what. They have been eye sores since the day we bought Prism. 

With everything filled and all the teak sanded to a beautiful blonde we were ready. First up was the pullman as we wanted it to have the most amount of time to cure so we could start sleeping in there.

The varnish calls for at least 2 coats for interior finishes, but we wanted to try a new way of applying varnish. Its called the French Polish. Basically you thin the varnish 50% then simply wipe it on the wood with drenched cheese cloth. I used this technique for the first 5 coats, reducing the thinner amount by 15% ish each coat. There was no hot coating this type of varnish, it was a single coat a day type with sanding between each coat. The 6th and final coat I switched to rolling and tipping, which left the varnish looking like glass. Perfect! 

While I was applying coats on the interior Jon was working outside getting our rudder back into ship shape. When we left Prism back in 2017 we once again drilled holes into the rudder to hopefully dry it out. We did the same thing when we left her in Guaymas back in 2015, but the rudder filled with water again during our cruise through central america and up the east coast. After sitting here for 13 months the rudder was once again dry and needed more attention than we had given to it before. We cut out all the delaminated glass, laid up new 2 layers of 1708 along the bottom ledge and inside edges and then some.

Back inside, with the pullman done, Jon joined me to help do the first coat on the rest of the interior using the wipe on method. This took us over 8 hours, working well into the wee hours of the night, but it had to get done.  For the next 3 days we kept up this routine with a few variations. 

After the first coat we switched to full strength coats applying with a roller and then tipped. We did not use fancy badger brushes or special varnish brushes, we used brushes that cost no more than $8 bought at Walmart and our local hardware store. Each morning was spend sanding with p400 followed by vacuuming, wiping down with mineral spirits then ran over with a tack cloth before we set off in different corners of the boat working our way towards each other. Once we started to apply the varnish it would take us both 6 hours to finish our sections.  We had tried taking turns working together as one rolled and the other tipped but this process took double the amount of time. We would stay up rolling and tipping till 3 in the morning, knowing that while we were sleeping the coat would dry and when we woke up, we could start the process all over again. 

3 full completed coats done in the galley and dinette areas and 2 full coats done in the hallway/ hanging locker area and sattee.  

January 22nd:

We were out of time. Jon wanted to work into the wee hours once again to get another coat on before we had to catch our flight back to California at 5 am on the 23rd. He wanted to pull an all nighter, who needs sleep he said. I told him no way, we still had to pack and put the tent together as we were going to be gone for 3 weeks.

It’s well below freezing and we have been living out of bags so this is what packing looks like.

And that is what we did. Even doing just those 2 things, packing and picking up the tent took us till about 1am. We brought our new mattress up to the pullman, set up our bed and slept in our home for the first time in 13 months. We had to be up in 2 hours in order to drive to New Bern and catch our 5 am flight. 

Our new custom made mattress by Tochta

Beautiful sunrise on the Bay River

100 days in and starting to go a little crazy

Refit completed as of January 23, 2019

2 thoughts on “The First 100 days of Prism’s 2018-2019 Refit

  1. Hi Guys,

    I just finished reading your blog. Woaw, you have worked your ass off !!!!! We are right behind you on Wahkuna. I am inspired by what you have done but also making notes trying to learn from your mistake. Well, one thing that I will not be doing is gel coating the boat. We have decided to hire Andy, who is the go to guys for gel coat. Robert has finished working on the bilge pump system ( 2 bilge pumps with automatic switch), all new exhaust system, a reviewed motor, installed a heating system. We are now working on the head and one the deck depending on the weather. At the moment, we have finished tiling the head ( the shower and the toilet). We will by a new head, new taps. I am now attacking the varnish in the head and learning what works and what does not work. I have scraped the old paint out as well and I am wining the battle. We have taken all our pot holes out and are going to reseal them. We also have taken out our butterfly hatch and Robert will be working on fixing them. As well we had leaks in the galley of the deck and we have found out of three.
    Our main issue now is that the weather is changing for the worse ( not that it is ever great in these parts of the world) and unlike you, we do not have a tent above Wahkuna. There is no marina in NI that offers this type of facilities. Only one marine has a wee crane, which could not handle our girl’s weight. So we have Wahkuna on a massive trailer, in a yard. We will have to work with what we have.
    We are admiring your varnish work and from the pictures that you have posted, I now know what Wahkuna wood needs to look like. I have tried the heat gun and the varnish chemical stripper, but nothing works better than a sander. However, as you mentioned you have to be careful not to damage the wood, it is going to take a while.
    Guys, thank you again for posting this wonderful blog, it gives me hope and inspire me and gives us ideas and solution for our girls. Keep it up. We will be waiting for you somewhere in the Med when you are ready to cross. Big hugs and kisses from the both of us to you two.

    Delphine and Robert

Leave a Reply