Simply messing about in a boat

To quote Ratty, “There is nothing – absolutely nothing – half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats.” Which may be true, but to find out, one needs a working boat. And mine is definitely not working.

Unfortunately, like most wooden boats, Petit Rouge is in need of some maintenance after being laid up for the winter. Unfortunately in this case, when I started looking at some simple cracks in the anti-slip paint on the cockpit floor, the maintenance turned rapidly into renovation.

Water had got under the non-slip paint on the cockpit floor, and spread everywhere. As I stripped back the paint to allow the wood to dry out, I discovered that the taped seams that hold the hull to the front and back panels of the cockpit were lifting. Ultimately this would compromise the structure of the boat, so had to be fixed.

So I stripped back even more of the floor paint, and cut out the damaged sections of the seams, and then sanded back the wood to ensure that when I replaced the seams, they would make a good bond to the underlying wood.

Sadly this revealed that a lot of the varnish was also in a pretty poor condition; it didn’t so much sand off, as fall off. Not good.

So, rather than progress from maintenance to renovation to restoration, I’ve decided to do the minimum to get the boat back on the water now, so we can enjoy some sailing, and then aim to do something longer-term over the coming winter.

To that end, I’ve filled some gaps with a filler made from epoxy resin, and remade the taped seams with new glass fibre tape and epoxy resin. The next job is going to be to lightly sand all the interior of the boat, and apply at least one or two coats of varnish, and then to reapply the non-slip floor coating to the cockpit.

Hopefully we should have a temporarily repaired Petit Rouge back on the water by the end of the coming week. The only question is, how much work am I storing up for the winter?

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