Polishing Hack

By David Salter

Editor’s note: We have a hard time relating to David’s story. We’ve a 40-year-old boat and it’s difficult to imagine ever polishing her hull and losing track of where we finished off. Perhaps our incredulity is simply jealousy.

As our boat is 40 years old, she’s not free of blemishes but so far there is no indication of chalking on the gelcoat. Accordingly, every year when my wife, Eileen, and I polish the hull of our good old Mariner 28, Day by Day, we have the same problem: locating the area we just covered so that we don’t laboriously re-do parts of the hull twice over. We have made sporadic attempts to indicate the polished sections but nothing systematic. This year was going to be different!

We first wash the hull thoroughly to give the best base for the polish. Day by Day is stored under a long tarpaulin during the winter and this protects most of her hull from serious dirt. However, there are usually areas of abrasion or marking from the lifting straps used at haul out. We treat these with a damp cloth and Vim cream. Marks that need more aggressive treatment usually respond to rubbing compound. When we finally open the Turtle Wax (Super Hard Shell Paste Wax), we’re working on a very clean surface.

At this point we stopped and applied short pieces of masking tape, one piece on the antifouling just below the waterline, and the other directly above, on the slotted cap rail. We applied these tape pairs every 18 inches along the length of the boat, to mark working sections. We also labelled each piece, from A to P in our case, to help us track completed areas.

We apply the wax with the sponge applicator over an 18 x 18-inch area, smooth it out with cheese cloth, and let it dry to a haze before coming back to complete the polishing, either by hand or with an electric buffer.

I usually work from the ground and try to apply polish from the waterline up to about half the depth of the hull. My wife stands on the scaffolding trolley and covers the upper cove stripe down to half way. Hopefully, have an overlap! We move the scaffolding trolley along as needed and it has proved to be a big help compared to working off a ladder.

The final job is to remove all the masking tape, then stand back and admire the shine.

David Salter and his wife, Eileen, have fitted out a series of cruising boats, beginning with a steel-hulled HO28 (a Dutch design), graduating to a Corbin 39 and, most recently to Day by Day, a Mariner 28. They sail on Lake Ontario from their dock outside the back door as soon as the ice has gone out. Woodworking has always been David’s hobby and he has been fortunate to find local craftsmen to fabricate the stainless-steel fittings he designs.

 

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