Almost ready for paint

Well its been a while since posts, so I though I had better check in with an update of our progress. Its been a physically grueling few months since fabrications were completed prior to Christmas. It’s fair to say I did not anticipate how long it would take to prep our girl for paint. This stage of the build is a real mental a challenge, as the days of tedious sanding seem to be never-ending.

When we started the build were told to buy the best sander we could afford, so we purchased a Festool Rotex 150 with accompanying shop vac. At $1800, the combo was the most expensive tool we have ever purchased, but without question, one of the best choices we have made. Good sanding technique is deceptively tricky, and the Festool has performed faultlessly. To any of our readers who are considering a similar project I would suggest a professional grade sander / vac combo is a must.

Me and our trusty Festool. Dont even consider building a catamaran unless you are willing to endure weeks of this sort of stuff, or have enough money to pay someone else!

So far, across the entire build, I estimate we have consumed around $1000 in sand paper products. That’s actually a lot less than we were told we would use, which I put down to the longevity of the Festool discs, which we purchase in boxes of 100 for $1 each.

To add insult to injury I estimate we have removed around 60 kilos of Qcell/resin in the sanding process. Thus it goes with boatbuilding. You spend weeks trowling on expensive epoxy & microballons, only to turn around and sand half of it off again!

A banana for energy.

Anyway, enough of the grumbling: I’m pleased to say that we are just about ready to paint. All things going well and weather permitting, Tuesday 30th April will our first spray day.

All surfaces have been rendered with Qcell,  a microbaloon filler that’s mixed with epoxy resin to create a sandable, fairing compound. After sanding, this leaves a very durable, smooth surface that fills in the fiberglass weave, and bridges level changes between multiple layers.

Actually we are fighting time at the moment. Epoxy based paint requires temperatures above 10 degrees (celsius), and humidity below 80%. Last year we discovered these figures are sometimes difficult to achieve in wintertime Tassy. Fortunately, so far we have had a beautifully mild autumn, so the push is on to get the hulls, decks and cockpit painted as soon as possible, before the wild westerly gales begin their relentless march through Bass Strait, with their associated rain and cold temps.

Deb became very adept at measuring and trimming fiberglass weave to fit the many horizontal and vertical surfaces on a catamaran.

Before we could “close up” the steering compartments we had to finalise the steering mechanisms. We also welded some aluminium profile for a rain gutter for the hatch.

Setting up the rain gutter.We’ve spent a lot of time ensuring the free flow of rain water, away from any potential nooks and crannies. When it comes to rot, rain water is the enemy, not sea water.
I sacrificed Debs favourite chopping board for bearing washers. It was the perfect thickness. These are mounted under the tillers and protect the rudder bearings.  I also cut some for the aluminium steering connecting bar.
We have purchased a 6M length of 50x50mm aluminium profile to connect the two tillers. These are the access openings. The smaller rounded hole is a drain.
The final assembly with hatch in place.
The plans call for multiple layers of glass to re-enforce the joins of the Targa Bar. We used two layers of 450 double bias cloth, resulting in an incredibly strong fabrication.

The following photos are general shots of the build showing various stages of Qcell application and sanding.

After twelve months, the fore-beam is finally sanded smooth for painting.
Another shot of the Targa Bar, glassed and Qcell applied, ready for sanding. We had been warned by other builders that this is the worst fiberlassing job of the whole build, and they weren’t wrong. It requires a lot of overhead work, while precariously perched on the narrow plank slung between the stern steps. The old adage, one hand for the ship, one for yourself came to play here.
Another job Deb needed to do before painting was applying three coats of resin on all the various edge grain surfaces throughout the whole ship. This included thru-hull cutouts for sink drains and transducers, inspection ports and access hatches, plus the main window cutouts. We made a checklist list, so Deb could keep track of the number of coats applied to each.
Cockpit glassed and Qcelled, waiting to be sanded.
The stern area, ready for sanding.

10 thoughts on “Almost ready for paint

  1. Such a huge job! Good to get your post and see that you are progressing. We were wondering how you were managing. We have had a huge amount of rain up in QLD. It has obviously not been as bad in Tassie.


  2. Hi Pete n Deb
    You’re killin me! Lol. I check every day for updates and am so excited when you post progress. Thank you for that. I don’t think many people know how much work goes into this project. I have my own ways to stay motivated but it would be nice to hear what you tell yourself to keep in the right state of mind.
    The boat is looking great by the way.


  3. Hi Pete & Deb. Thanks for consistently keeping all of us posted on your build. I use your progress as motivation and guidance for my own build (Sarah #40). Talking about motivation, you must really feel energized by finally reaching the painting stage. After this point, everything you install will stay there. I understand what you are saying about sanding, build 2 boats and sand one away! A quick question, I am using using west system and am close to finishing the first 200 liters of epoxy. Peter Snell quotes 300L total. In my case, I think I am going to use more than 300L. How much approximately did you use? Cheers Geoff


    • Hi Geoff. Thanks for your comments. Great to hear from another builder. We have purchased 305L of resin so far, and I recon that’s going to see us through. Just a few small catchup jobs to do. I recon Pete’s estimation is pretty spot on, if building to plan.


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