My Bottom is Black and Shiny

Moonrise is back in the water after having her bottom painted. What a difference a fresh coat of bottom paint makes! But let’s start from the beginning.

For our readers that are not hip to the intricacies of boat ownership, boats left in the water year round must have special paint applied to the bottom of their hulls to inhibit growth of the many critters that want to live there. In the Puget Sound, barnacles are the main culprit. The paint we use contains copper which leeches out over time. We last painted Moonrise in October of 2009 and so, thirty months later, we have pulled her out for a fresh coat of paint and to repair a scrape to the keel.

We are hoping that a freshly painted bottom will help Moonrise sell since it is a considerable expense and a lot of work. We also really enjoy sailing her with a clean bottom. So, before we sell her, we benefit from our labors.

The first step is to get Moonrise out of the water.  In Tacoma, we use the Hylebos Boatyard. Even though it is a lot of work, we both enjoy the yard. You get to oogle other boats in various states of undress and the yard boss, Shaun, is friendly and helpful.

Want to see her being pulled from the water?

After being hauled out, Moonrise gets a pressure wash to remove the soft algae and other easy to remove critters. It also tends to take off some of the old paint.

Moonrise after having her bottom pressure washed

Melissa and I were quite happy with the state of the bottom. There was very little hard growth and it looked like a very easy job to to lightly sand and repair a gouge on the keel. We bumped into a rock in Barkley Sound a year and half ago which took a divot out of the keel in two places.

Moonrise ready for a light sanding and paint

After getting the boat secured with jack stands we sanded the bottom to remove any remaining hard growth and to rough up the bottom for the fresh paint. We have to rent a sander which is attached to a industrial sized shop vacuum to keep the bottom paint dust from contaminating the air and water. The boat yard is pretty meticulous about keeping the area clean since the EPA can fine them (and us) for polluting the waterway.

View of damage to bottom of keel after pressure washing

This damage was a source of some embarrassment for us. Fortunately, it was easy to fix. After sanding the damage out, I applied a coat of epoxy to the area and then filled the gouge with thickened epoxy. The next day, I sanded everything fair.

Epoxy with filler applied to keel. Just need to sand everything fair now.

Repaired keel before painting

And this is what the area looked like after painting

The finished product. Epoxy is a wonderful thing

With two of us working to paint, it only takes a couple of hours per coat. It isn’t terribly hard work but you do have paint upside down and in other awkward positions.

God, I love that woman

For the second time since we have owned Moonrise, we used the Interlux Bottom Coat ACT with Irgarol. This paint is relatively inexpensive as bottom paints go ($140 a gallon at West Marine) and had done a great job for the last 30 months.

Et Voila! Fresh bottom paint and a waxed hull to boot.

Happiness is a clean, freshly painted bottom

Just before re-launching the boat, we have to paint the area where the keel rests on the ground. Shaun, the yard boss lifts the boat up a few inches to remove the jack stands and prepare the boat for the journey back to the water. While he works, I slip in to slap a last few bits of paint on the bottom of the keel. It is a little weird being under the boat just suspended by two nylon straps, large though they may be.

Here is Moonrise being lowered back into the water.

It had been a rainy day and Melissa and I were not looking forward to sailing her back to our moorage across the bay in a downpour. The gods smiled upon us and the rain stopped just as we left the yard. The effects of having a clean, fresh bottom on the performance of a sailboat are amazing. We had perhaps ten knots of wind gusting to 13 as we flew across the bay with just the headsail at nearly six knots. It was a beautiful reward for all our labors.



5 thoughts on “My Bottom is Black and Shiny

    • Don’t get us started. We keep having that conversation, and after the beautiful sail back to her moorage it seems all the more sensible to keep her.

      But while we have her, we will be sure to enjoy sailing on that shiny black bottom.

  1. Oh no, we’re never sure while we’re sailing her. We’re only sure when we think about sailing her to Hawaii with three people aboard. But we’ve thrown this part of the plan out to the universe to decide what’s best. If we don’t sell her in a reasonable amount of time and for a reasonable amount of money, plans may change. What’s that saying about going in the boat you have…? Sometimes we think about what it would take to refit her to our liking for a long voyage. Then we go back to the idea that we must sell her.

  2. Very inspiring as a metaphor for renewal and rebirth! I think you will come to the right decision when the time comes. She’s a beauty, all cleaned up and painted like that!

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