Little Bear Westsail 32 refit progress #1

Arrrrr, me hearties. We’re starting to get our hands dirty on various refit projects – literally and figuratively.

It made sense to start with the bottom. When I had LB hauled and put on the hard one side of the hull was relatively clean the other side was encrusted in mussels. Observe:

LIttle Bear Westsail 32 before being washed

LIttle Bear Westsail 32 before being washed


I pressure-washed the encrustation off and along with it came great chunks of bottom paint. Behold:

LIttle Bear Westsail 32 after washing

LIttle Bear Westsail 32 after washing

Well I knew that I couldn’t put  LB back in the water in that condition so I did some research and decided upon applying Coppercoat.  Coppercoat is not an anti-foul paint. It is actually copper embedded epoxy. The initial up-front cost is high but the product will last up to 10 years (some customers have it still working at 18). So over time, a huge savings not to mention all the tough dirty work involved in prepping the bottom for paint.

To get the old paint off I decided to use eco-friendly marine paint stripper I used this:

Franmar gel-strip used on Little Bear Westsail 32

Franmar gel-strip used on Little Bear Westsail 32

The gel has to sit for some time in order to soften the paint but because it’s water based, it can dry out. If it dries out it won’t work so the trick is to cover it with plastic. I did just that:


Here is what it looks like after the treatment:

after gel-strip

The result wasn’t quite what I was hoping for but it definitely did the job.  Given the rough shape of the hull, I would have preferred to glass blast the hull.  Way more expensive, but it only takes about 3 hours instead of a couple of weekends, and it gets ALL material off down to the gel-coat. The reason I didn’t blast was primarily because MBYC is in a park and the park rules state that you can’t blast with any sort of media within the park. Odd that you can use chemical stripper, but not dustless blasting.

Once the Gel-Strip sat for a few hours (over-night) a paint scraper took the bottom paint off with minimal effort. It came off in long sticky gooey ribbons that stuck to everything. What a mess!

Along the waterline I suspect a PO was applying multiple coats of bottom paint, because it was very thick, and took about 3 applications of Gel-Strip to get to the gelcoat. Where it was thick like this I used the new Fein Multi-tool. It worked very well and chewed into the gelcoat in a few places. Not good but there’s so many blister holes along the water line that I’m going to have to do some patching / fairing anyway.

Now, if you look closely at the picture the bow, the bottom of the keel, the stern, and the rudder still have a pinkish substance on them. I’m not sure what it is but the bottom paint seems to have merged with it. Franmar Gel-Strip would NOT touch it.  It’s going to take something a bit more aggressive to get that off. I’m going to try my Fein tool with the carbide abrasive on it. That should rip it off.

In the mean time, the weather is beautiful, and life is good.

Fair winds, following seas, and God’s blessing,



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.