Saturday, May 13, 2017

A job we never wanted to do.

Initial Sanding to the Yellow Primer
For almost the past 2 months we have been sanding the antifouling paint off the hulls.  It has been the most miserable and dirty job we have ever done.  The paint was thick and hard but we couldn't be too aggressive and sand through to the epoxy hull and damage it.  A yellow primer was used in Grenada and now, when we were sanding, that primer coat was our indication that we were almost through the paint.

Wet Sanding to the Yellow Primer

20 Grit Sanding Disc got dull way too quickly


The Tyvek Taliban
We went through a stack of Tyvek Suits, hundreds of sanding discs, and hundreds of sheets of sandpaper.  The dirt under the boat turned blue from the river of paint slurry that the drained off the hulls.

There was even Blue under the Yellow
Blue Slurry Sludge
Most of the hull was easily accessible and you could usually sit on something.  Down lower, you were sitting on boards on the ground but the worst position was sanding the very bottom.  The sander was usually overhead and the slurry was spraying off the disc at Booker and draining onto my head.  The face shield helped but would get so dirty, it was impossible to tell if I was approaching the yellow layer.
All Sanded and Ready for Paint

I remember applying every layer of antifouling paint over the past 10 years.  Over the past 2 months, I got to see every one of those layers again. 
Never again will I let the paint build up this thick.

Spray Painting the Epoxy Primer (Jotun 87)

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Out of the House

Mike and Pom

We have been house sharing a nice 5 bedroom house with Mike from FYNE SPIRIT since last January.  Mike has finished his refit and is getting ready to cruise Thailand with his Thai girlfriend, Pom.

Pangkor Island Marina and Lumut.
Booker and I don't need an entire house for ourselves.  We spend our days at the boatyard and just need an air conditioned place to sleep.  So we have rented an apartment in Lumut.  There are at least 5 other cruisers also renting at the Lumut Valley Resort Condominiums. 

Lumut is a ferry port for Pangkor Island and located just outside the Lumut Navy Base.  There are only a handful of restaurants but lots of shops that sell tourist junk.

Royal Malaysian Naval Base, Lumut
View toward town. monkeys in trees below
For $225/month, we have a one bedroom apartment on the 11th floor with a view of the river to the north.  

From our deck, we can see the Navy base piers to our left and town is to our right.   

 Yesterday we watched monkeys jumping between the trees 30 feet below us.

The house was nice, but this is great.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Wet & Wild Sanding

Most antifouling sanding is done with electric or air grinders.  This makes lots of toxic dust which is unhealthy to breathe and also gets deposited and tracked all over our boat and neighboring boats.  It also clogs the sandpaper rapidly.   

I have had good luck in the past with water sanding.  The water washes the paint off the sandpaper and keeps everything cooler so the paint doesn't melt and clump up.  In Mexico, I strapped the hose to the grinder head, made a fiberglass cover for it, and it worked well.  In Australia, Booker sprayed water on the sanding disc while I sanded.  The big problem when using water and an electric sander is the potential of getting shocked.  

Hutchinson Sander
To solve this problem, I bought a Hutchins 7544 Random Orbital Sander.  This is a pneumatic sander with water injection.  Once arranging for the use of an air compressor, we found out that 'Random Orbital" actually means "vibrating".  There is no "orbital" whatsoever.  It just didn't have the guts to sand thick antifouling even with 30 grit sandpaper.  So we need to find a plan "B".

Malaysia is a 240 volt country.  I can't use their electricity to run my power tools.  I have to use the onboard AC inverter.  This makes 110 volts from the boat's batteries and I have discovered that it acts surprisingly like an isolation transformer.  

The best way to explain this is that after doing it's work at the motor, the electricity only has one path to return to the battery, which is through the power cord.  Since there is no path to earth, it can't travel through your body and out your feet giving you a shock.  This is called a Floating Ground.   

***Please do not try this at home or tell my Mom.

Here we are doing the wet sanding.  Booker is doing the spraying and I am doing the sanding.  The green tint is from the sun shade cloth. 

Unfortunately the water sprays everywhere so we are wearing Tyvek suits and hoods.  It is about 100 degrees and we are always trying to work in the shade.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Cheap Labor is Not So Cheap

I contracted with some guys in the boatyard here in Malaysia to remove the antifouling paint.  The daily rate for a worker is about $45. That may sound cheap but when the skills that we normally take for granted are not accompanying that labor, inefficiencies result.  

I can sand with 20 grit (very course) sandpaper on a grinding disc and stop at just about any layer of paint that I want.  An unskilled Malaysian will oversand and destroy the bottom of the boat with gouges when using 20 grit sandpaper so I have to give them 80 grit.  The sander with finer sandpaper takes 4-5 times longer and also uses up that much more sandpaper.  Our Malaysian worker was able to sand one and a half square meters per day.  At that rate, it would take 60 days to remove the antifouling paint at a cost of around $2700 plus sandpaper plus I would have to add my time to supervise.  Almost the same price as I was quoted in Australia for removal via abrasive blasting.

If you're doing anything more complicated than ditch digging, cheap labor may not be the way to go.