Last month we got down to some serious hull cleaning and repairing so we’ll move on to the do’s and don’ts of reviving the upper structure.
It’s best to stick a deck on top of all the open watertight compartments in the hull. You have a choice of a few materials, the fi rst of which – if you’ve used an expanding foam fill – being a layer of fibreglass over the foam and bulkheads. Although, unless you’ve managed to get a perfectly smooth, level and even surface throughout, it will look awful. The best options are then either marine grade plywood or a synthetic honeycombed product known as Nidacore. On Jabulani, I lifted the original ply deck and, as I wanted to raise it in order to drain the water away quickly when at anchor or drifting, I laid a sheet of 40 mm thick Nidacore. It was so quick and easy and resulted in the perfect, level finish.
An advantage of using Nidacore is that it’s available in various widths so it’s suitable for any job on your boat, from deck coverings to bulkhead and cupboard construction. Simply apply fi breglass to both sides and it’s as strong as anything – with built-in buoyancy, how’s that for a bonus! To apply it to an existing fibreglass surface you just make a mix of resin and filler (aerothane), spread it like peanut butter and press your Nidacore firmly onto it, wait for it to set and fibreglass the top, done.
Remember that when you glass cover your deck, whether its ply or Nidacore, you must take the cloth at least 3” up the sides. This secures the deck to the hull and prevents water fi nding its way into the flotation. Once cured, it’s time to paint or carpet the entire deck. This serves two main purposes, firstly it provides a non-slip grip and secondly, it protects the resins and cloth from exposure to the elements which will degrade it.
Next we move on to the gunwales, they’re the edges that run around the boat and give you that nice flat surface for rod holders, drink holders, etc. If you look into the space under the gunwales you’ll see where the top deck joins the hull; the two should have been joined together with a strip or two of fibreglass cloth. Check that none of this cloth has deteriorated and that it still forms a secure bond around the entire boat, if not, clean off the damaged area and apply new material. All the interior panels, boxes or bulkheads above the deck should be firmly secured to the deck itself, well they should be if you’ve just redone the deck.
Now you need to build or modify any hatches, boxes, cabins, etc, and although this can be laborious when you just want to get your boat wet, it is what will make your boat look great and admired by neighbours, friends and all those other boaters out there. So take your time, plan exactly what you want to do, cut your construction materials neatly and work towards a perfect finish, no matter how long it may take. Any structural modifications can be carried out using either marine grade plywood or Nidacore. I chose to use 10 and 13 mm Nidacore for its strength and light weight. It’s best to manufacture everything off the boat if possible, and only when satisfied that it all fits and looks good should you fix it in permanently. There may be some tasks that need to be carried out in position, here again prepare what you can off the boat and ensure it all fits correctly first.
Once all the construction and modifications have been completed it’s time to make your boat look good. But before you even consider applying the paint, make sure that you are satisfied that you have filled all those little holes, repaired every little crack and smoothed down the surface to a mirror finish or you will not achieve a good end result.