I have a couple areas of rot in Calypso’s bulwarks that I need to repair this winter. So far, I know I need to replace 2 bulwark stanchions and the blocking at one of the beam hawse holes. There will likely be more…
Calypso’s bulwarks are mahogany, but we Awlgripped them when all the wood was replaced in 1992. I plan on refinishing them all this winter - including the new repaired sections. I am planning on a CPES (or equivalent) base, then LPU primer, then LPU (likely Interlux Perfection).
Given I plan on painting it all again, I am considering composites for the repairs, as once painted, you can’t tell what the material is anyway. For the replacement bulwark stanchions, I am considering phenolic sheet material (e.g. Garolite and the like). See link below. Assembly would be the same with 1/2” SS all thread through the deck and a plug at the top of the stanchion.
For the hawse hole blocking I plan on laminating some pieces of MDO ply to achieve the desired thickness. And then shape it and epoxy seal it.
Install everything with 5200 between all parts.
Does anyone have experience with phenolic material in the marine environment? Wondering about moisture resistance, freezing, delamination risks, etc.
I like your thinking, composites can enhance and protect. On wooden boats we would inlay a traditional phenolic bakelite into the high wear areas of toe rails. When the varnish wore through, it didn’t matter. To my eye, it looked great, looked like wood but is extraordinarily durable.
This is an opinion - I’m not a fan of 2 part paints on wood, especially if the wood flexes. Bulwarks take a beating so a one part paint is much easier to touch up. I reserve the 2 part paints to fiberglass and materials that don’t breathe, like steel. I’ve had really good luck with one part polyurethanes that dry rather then catalyze. My thought is that catalyzing paints (2 part) don’t breathe because they don’t develop the billions of microscopic holes from vapors escaping. I like CPES even though it is a 2 part because it breathes and use it anywhere I’m not sure the paint or varnish will bet a good tooth, weathered wood for example.
Please take this with a grain of salt. I’ve always had varnished spars and not a blue water sailor.
Hi Rich - We’ve had pretty good service from the LPU on Calypso’s bulwarks, bowsprit, and boomkin. We’ve done some touch-ups, whale strake, and bulwark inset with one part polyurethane paints (Interlux Brightside). It’s less fuss to apply single part finishes, but the surface hardness and durability is markedly less that the two part systems. Given the investment in time of surface prep, I’m aiming for longevity.
We refinished the bowsprit and boomkin this spring using Interlux Perfection. We rolled with a high density roller and did not tip. And used a polyfoam brush for nooks and crannies that the roller could not get to. That worked pretty well and yielded a finish that certainly passes the 5-foot critique. We use syringes to meter small batches of 2-part paint systems. It’s still a “chemistry experiment” every time, but we’ve gotten comfortable with it.
Hello Guys, I am facing similar issues with the bulwarks here in Dubai. Our problem here is the hideously strong UV and 120 F in the summers. The winters are beautiful here!
I’m trying to decide what colour scheme to go with. At the moment the bulwarks and stanchions are stillbare. I used Deks Olje - a total of 16 coats total when I brought Adventure here from California, and it all burned off in one season. Miserable… Where is the best gallery of BCC images nowadays, to check what others have done ? I think the old SamLMorse BCC gallery isn’t there any more - is it?
Hi Jeremy, thanks again for all your work on the site, this is so much easier to use.
On to varnish, I’ve come up with a rule, if you touch it, then go with a natural varnish, just feels right. I spent some time in Florida where one coat of spar varnish would last a month in the sun. It just took too long to build up something like 12 coats of varnish to protect a spar so I tried a 2 part polyurethane varnish. It lasted well but I had problems with glue joints delaminating which I theorize was caused by trapped moisture and the wood not being able to breathe. One part finishes create millions of small holes when they cure instead of catalyzing like 2 part. My BCC has spruce spars so I’m going to try something different, Coelans, a one part polyurethane. It cures so the wood can breathe but has the durability of a 2 part poly. The final coat will be a matt finish and super slippery because of added glass fiber. Having a gaff rig, this is important, as the finish will have to deal with lines holding the mainsail. Coelans isn’t an easy finish to apply, it uses a lot of thinner so you want to apply outside but it doesn’t like direct sun. It also doesn’t like heat, I’ve had good luck at about 70 degrees otherwise it cures too fast. My goal is to be kind to the next owner, last time the mast was refinished was 1993 according to the coins under the step. Hopefully the finish will last 30 years. I’ve got 6 coats on right now and I plan to put on another 4 in the spring.
This might be a finish that can hold up to the Dubai sun too. I applied it on another boat to a set of leeboards that take a real beating and it appears to last at least 5 years before you have to add a refresher coat. After 25 years, they still look very nice. The traditional varnish in the cockpit of this boat pealed off from age.
We had a spruce mast on Calypso up until this summer when we replaced it with a Selden aluminum spar. Over the years, we tried various finishes with the wood spar - traditional varnish (Interlux Schooner), Cetol “clear” (hateful staff), Epifanes Clear Gloss (lovely stuff), and Epifanes PP (2-part, quick build, hard as nails). We’ve had the boat almost 30 years - generally in harsh UV environments (Texas, Caribbean, Virginia). That has required an annual maintenance coat on the mast in order to keep up with degradation - applied from a chair, Pardey style - sand on the way up, varnish on the way down. Even so, we stripped it back to bare wood 3 times. We replaced the wood spars with aluminum as we were concerned about the ultimate life of the wood joints (1976 build), and, our bodies being older now, the annual chore of hauling oneself up the mast was no longer trivial or without concern for safety.
Coelan “Marine Coating gloss finish” sounds like amazing stuff. Is your 25-year reference in Oregon? Oregon is certainly a less harsh UV environment, but still - 25 years is amazing service. Obviously not another Cetol. We had a horrible experience with Cetol clear - in that it appears to permit moisture through the finish into the spruce… not good! That was a short experiment for us.
On another tack, my bulwark rot repair has had some scope creep. Unfortunately, the rot extended into the bulwark planks and the covering board. I’ll need to scarf in replacement segments into the boards… while mounted (to other stanchions). Not looking forward to that - but not willing to remove the boards fully either. I’ll be templating the replacement covering board section tomorrow.
I have not poked extensively at the SB side beam hawse hole yet, but I suspect I’ll need to replace at least the blocking over there.
You can see splits and plug issues in the bulwark stanchion in the first photo. several of my bulwark stanchions are like this. I plan on opening up the cracks with an oscillating tool blade and injecting epoxy - bottom up. Then refinishing the whole thing with CPES or equivalent, then paint.
I plan on extended cruising in tropical climes ahead - so I think bright finishes are generally out - unless they live under protective canvas.
Calypso and Vixen are two of the very early builds, before they had the mould for a fiberglass deck. We have “composite” boats, basically wooden boats with fiberglass hulls. I love wood but being on the Columbia (fresh water) made me look for something fiberglass. We have similar repairs, I finished up repairs on the cover boards by grafting in a dutchman (inlay) and it was much easier and faster than I thought.
Your bulwark repairs are similar to what I want to do. I have some previous repairs to reinforce the mid ship hawse pipe. Calypso has a long spread between stantions and it looks like it would benefit from some reinforcement. On Vixen, this is where the planks meet so it isn’t the best area to put a hawse pipe in. The sheet rock screws didn’t hold the reinforcement well either. I’ll get some photos this week so we can compare notes,
My previous experience with Coelans is on an old Dutch sailing barge. Traditionally they have a lot of bright work. Last time I varnished, Epifanes delivered their paint and varnish in a company truck I needed so much. The leeboards on the sides take a real beating from sailing but mostly from docking and the stone walls from locks. The yard I was working in years ago recommended Coelans for this application. It is a love - hate thing, it is very fussy to put on, temperature and humidity has to be just right. The thinner and all smell nasty so you want to apply outdoors but they recommend being indoors.
The leeboards were quite beat up when I got the boat so the Coelans had to adhere to a degraded Oak. It expands and contracts with the wood well and I’ve only had to repair a couple small sections and topcoat once since 1998 when I applied it. I pamper the boat now but she spent years outside. I had the boat under a cover, while the leeboards were exposed to Dutch winters, the Epifanes peeled off from age even under the cover. I still far prefer Epifanes to Coelans.
Calypso actually has the SLM fiberglass deck. I’m not sure when SLM started selling those. Calypso was molded August 1976. The wide bulwark stanchion spacing you see in my photos in the previous post are because I have already removed 2 rotted stanchions in the vicinity of the beam hawse hole. The wood blocking for the hawse hole was also rotted and also already removed. This repair will require:
Replacing a section of the covering board
Replacing 2 bulwark stanchions
Replacing the beam hawsehole blocking
Scarfing replacement segments for areas of bulwark planking that have rot
The Dutch sailing barge is neat! It’s like a hobbit home on water .
Got it, I see the large holes in the coverboards to bolt down the stanchions. That is a nice system, you don’t have to worry about rot traveling down like on wooden boats. This area takes a beating because of mooring lines and exposure to fresh water. Your repairs look to be quite straightforward, but the scarfing might be tricky.
I’m a big fan of MDO plywood but I use it for backing. Any wood exposed to weather I think solid wood is best as long as the end grain is protected. Phenolic would hold up really well. I’ve seen it inlayed in areas where wood would wear and it is brilliant. Looks like wood, wears like steel. CEPS is great, I know it is a little controversial but it stabilizes worn wood well. I like to use Oxalic Acid before it to kill any mold spores. If I’m bonding to rotten wood, not recommended, then I’ll soak the area well with alcohol to displace residual absorbed water. Then the CEPS will do its magic, it needs something solid to key into.
This is a picture of Vixen’s laid decks. The stantions go right through the coverboards and through-bolted to the hull, like a wooden boat. The advantage is that it is brutally strong but a lot more areas to watch for degradation. Vixen was crafted before SLM completed the deck mould. The builder worked with Lyle Hess, and was an expert in traditional boat building. The coverboards and bulwarks are painted white as I understand is the tradition for this sort of boat. I’m doing a 50 year refit so all finishes come off and everything is checked, inspected and replaced if there is any degradation. One thing that I’ve found true, the old ways are sometimes the best ways. Some of the old concoctions we think of as being quaint like Dolphinite, are remarkable. Bronze is remarkable. This has been a great education. If wood construction is thoughtfully done with the right materials it will hold up remarkably well.
Calypso was originally built with the bulwark stanchions going through the fiberglass deck and through bolted to the fiberglass hull. I think several of the first boats were built with bulwark stanchions bolted to the hull this way. It might have been Lyle’s recommendation. Anyway, the previous owner, who replaced the bulwarks, covering boards, etc. around 1991, right before we acquired her, reconstructed the bulwarks using the latter practice, of through bolting the bulwark stanchions to just the deck using 1/2" all thread. He plugged all the holes int he fiberglass deck. So now she’s like the latter-spec BCCs, with lots of plugged holes .
Calypso has bronze chainplates and lots of bronze fasteners. They’ve held up well. I wire-brush and reuse all bronze fasteners. Put them right back into service. Amazing stuff. no crevice corrosion to worry about. I don’t know what the eventual failure mode is. Maybe corroding to dust . Finding new ones is getting more difficult. You used to be able to order arbitrary small quantities from Jamestown Distributors, but now they generally only do box quantities… Grrr !
Thanks for the hints on dealing with rot. I’m removing most of it. Sometimes its questionable where the actual margin is. I’ll follow your advice on oxalic acid, denatured alcohol, and CPES!