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2007-03-31

Rust never sleeps on a steel boat


...but I knew that going in, didn't I? Although this shot was taken in November, 2006, the boat looks about the same now that winter is largely past, save for the sub-zero nights. Launch is May 7th, which means we have about five weeks to tend to certain jobs that fall under the heading of "periodical maintenance". A steel boat is a wonderful thing, and is more dynamic that you might expect something so seemingly inert to be. Part of that dynamism is expressed via corrosion: steel boats want to rust, and the only way to fight the rust is to attack it directly via grinding and removal, chemically via special primer paints and epoxy barrier coats, and protectively via bottom paints that act as much to protect the barrier coat as much as to keep the boat from being an increasingly sluggish mobile home for barnacles, weed and terribly misguided remoras.

There are small, orange rust bubbles on certain spots on the hull. My friend and in a way my sailing mentor Capt. Matt, who also has a steel boat and a usually well-informed opinion on such matters, is suggesting that it's a "gas bubble" caused by a chemical reaction of the zinc-based galvanizing of the bare steel. The solution is to grind the coatings off, to reprime and to recoat with epoxy, essentially sealing the surface in a sort of plastic coating. You lay the barnacle-discouraging paint atop this epoxy coat.

I had planned to repaint the anti-fouling this year anyway, but now is as good a time as any to get on with what will be the price one pays with a steel boat: keeping on top of the rust.

Suggestions and techniques and secret recipes are welcome. I probably won't get at it for another week or so until the daytime temperature favour the "kicking" of the barrier coat.