Tag Archives: Ski Nautique

Working with gelcoat

After removing the carpet I started to fix things. The first area I attacked was the gelcoat issues. I was not concerned about making the boat look perfect, but I did want to fix the chips and gashes in the hull. There is a company based in Kent, WA that is called Spectrum Color. They make gelcoat for many of the boat manufacturers. They are a great resource to find perfectly matching gel for the original colors of Correct Craft boats. Gelcoat is bizarre stuff. It goes on like thick paint and then dries to the consistency of a really hard wood, or even more hard than that. It is hard to describe, but it’s not just paint. The first few pictures here show some of the progress. The process is to prep the area, mix up some gelcoat with a hardening agent and then quickly paint it on. You have about 3 minutes before the gelcoat becomes too stiff to work with. It ruins your paintbrush instantly and nothing can clean it off. Luckily there are cheap paintbrushes made for this type of work. I’ve gone through about 10 of them.

Susie was a great help because I needed stir sticks to mix up the gelcoat. She went out and purchased caramel candy that has the sticks in it to make caramel apples. We snacked on the caramel and I used the sticks to mix up gelcoat. Yum! I love my wife.

After painting you have to sand the gelcoat to get it smooth and to match the hull. In other words, you purposefully put on too much gelcoat and then sand it down to match. You have to use wet sandpaper. I don’t know why, but you do and it takes a lot of elbow grease. A lot. You start out with heavy grit and work your way up to really fine grit sandpaper. It gets rather boring rather quickly, but the end result is beautiful. It isn’t hard at all, it just takes time and patience. And it has to be warm. The can of gelcoat said it likes to dry above 70 degrees F. It doesn’t get that warm in our garage often, so I had to do this in the heat of the summer. I worked up a good sweat.

I am not going to bore you with pictures of all the areas I’ve fixed with the gelcoat. The nose is the easiest place to see the differences. I’ve only sanded this with the 1000 grit (very fine) sandpaper. Later I’ll polish the entire hull and this will shine like paint on a car.

What needs to be fixed

So, back to my boat. After the initial clean-up I set about figuring out what needed to be fixed. It might be easier to list what didn’t need to be fixed, but since I’m blogging here I can just post pictures. 🙂 First off, the hull, while structurally sound, was rough around the edges. The outside of any fiberglass boat made since the early 80’s or so is a material called gelcoat. Gelcoat is crazy stuff to work with. More on that later. Some images of problem gelcoat areas on my boat:

The poor boat's nose was damaged

Some nasty gashes on the side

More chips and scrapes

Note how the hull basically looks OK, even glossy, but the edges are damaged

And, the most ugly scar of all was this spot where the nose must have been repeatedly rubbed on a dock, or a beach or something. It wore through the gelcoat and even through the first layer of fiberglass. It is somewhat interesting to look at the pattern of the weave on the fiberglass and see how the boat is constructed. Happily, the only damage here is to the the outer layer of fiberglass which is more of a filler type of material, but the woven stuff underneath is still solid as a rock.

The ugly part on the bow
I still wonder how this happened

So, that’s the outside. The inside wasn’t a whole lot better. That’s next.