Eric's Boston Whaler Project

My buddy Lucas on 'Rover'  

My buddy Lucas on 'Rover'
 

I recently bought an 11' 1984 Boston Whaler. It was in need of some TLC and I decided I'd like to try to fix her up. Below is a little play-by-play of how it went. 

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Here it is back in my garage. The hull was in solid shape. Two of us were able to carry it easy enough (so I do not think she took in water into the foam core) and after drilling out a couple rubber plugs put in by a previous owner and standing her up on end for about a week there was no water leaking from the interior foam, which was good to see. The original owner filled in older screw holes and lifting bracket holes with a rubber caulking which seemed to be in decent shape but looked ugly. I drilled them all out to later fill with a harder putty.

The original owner's handywork from below.

The original owner's handywork from below.

Drilled out and cleaned up a bit.

Drilled out and cleaned up a bit.

I drilled out the ones on the transom and a few more around the boat. I think the original owner used a bimini and made a dozen screw holes around the rails also.
The boat had been repainted and was showing signs of cracking and peeling inside and out. I sanded the bottom and sides of the hull with 60 grit on an orbital sander. I took off a lot of bottom paint and I think I got it to the first coat of paint. I didn't sand off all the bottom paint yet, and may not ever because I want to preserve the correct paint lines for the water line. Either way, removing a dozen or more layers of paint is always nice. 

Here you can see a close up of some bubbling in the paint.

Here you can see a close up of some bubbling in the paint.

After I sanded the hull I flipped the boat over and decided I would get the deck done before I did the fishing work on the hull. A close inspection of the deck showed the same bubbling of the repaint and some flaking of paint in the non-skid area. Other than this, there were no big problems. 

I filled all the screw holes with a marine putty from Defender.com. Once dry and rock solid, I took the sander to the interior of the boat. The non-skid areas flaked off quite a bit and I was able to get off a lot of the paint to the original gelcoat below. Unfortunately, my skill level is nowhere near restoring this boat to the original whaler tan gelcoat it once had. I have decided to go with a repaint of my own, but hopefully done with more care than whoever did this one. 

The deck sanded, dusted, cleaned and ready for a new coat.

The deck sanded, dusted, cleaned and ready for a new coat.

Here is where I stopped for about two weeks of deliberation. After talking with a few people and reading a ton of information inline, I decided I would go with a paint called Durabak-18. Durabak is a non-slip rubberized coating used originally as a truck bed liner. Herculiner and Line-X are both similar but Durabak makes a UV protected coating specifically for boats. After reading literally hundreds of posts and threads on forums like The Hull Truth and Continuous Wave and I decided this is the way for me to go. I wanted a coating that could take some fishing abuse, clean easily, and be safe for a couple people to stand on when wet. 

After one coat of Durabak non-skid on the flat sections of the deck. The first coat, according to the company, goes on very thin and doesn't cover well by design. The second and third coats go on much more uniform and clean.

A few hours later I opened up a quart of Durabak smooth. I didn't want the non-skid to be too rough and felt one coat of rough and one or two coats of smooth over it would even a lot of the roughness out. I think I was right. Here it is after the smooth first coat.

The wood anchor locker covers, rails and seats were all in pretty rough shape. Years of varnish over varnish over varnish have taken their toll. I got to work on them with a belt sander with 60 grit, then with 120 grit, then with a detail sander with 180 grit. then hand sanded with 200 grit. They came out awesome if I do say so myself.

Unfortunately the bow locker cover was cracked beyond a safe repair. Luckily my friend had some nice 3/4" hardwood from his old boat he was kind enough to cut and give to me. It is not the same wood as the other four pieces, but it looks as nice and once varnished it is difficult to tell them apart.

The main bench seat before sanding and the starboard rail all sanded down.

The main bench seat before sanding and the starboard rail all sanded down.

Same pieces as above all sanded and ready to be varnished.

Same pieces as above all sanded and ready to be varnished.

Following a ridiculously detailed how-to on the Hull Truth, I picked up some Interlux Schooner Varnish and some 333 brushing liquid. For the first coat of the wood I mixed the 333 into a small amount of varnish for a mixture of 25% varnish and 75% 333 liquid. This, as you can assume, applied very easily and went on almost like a stain. The second coat about 5 hours later was a 50-50 mix. I let this and all other coats from there on set for at least 18 hours.

Coats three and four were each a mix of about 80 varnish and 20 333 liquid. Coat five and beyond was all varnish. After the third coat I block sanded with 220 grit paper to take out any drips, dust etc. I lost count of the coats, but it had to have been at least 13. I used a quart of varnish and I had these boards hanging in my garage for about three weeks. 

Main bench seat with first coat. Other wood hanging from small hooks about to get varnished.

Main bench seat with first coat. Other wood hanging from small hooks about to get varnished.

The main bench seat after a half dozen coats of varnish.

The main bench seat after a half dozen coats of varnish.

Below is a picture of the boat after all the durabak was put on it. In this picture it has one coat of rough on all the flat surfaces, and three coats of smooth on all vertical areas and drainage grooves on the deck. The inside of the two lockers are smooth but the Durabak seems to be flexible and rubbery so I am hoping it decreases noise and vibration of anything rolling around in there.

I flipped the boat over to let the new paint cure and start my work on the hull.

With the boat flipped over and before sanding.

With the boat flipped over and before sanding.

I taped the original water line and the rub rail and, after sanding and fairing I painted two coats of PreKote Primer.

I taped the original water line and the rub rail and, after sanding and fairing I painted two coats of PreKote Primer.

I hand sanded each primer coat when dry with 320 grit paper on a block. This paint filled a lot of very small imperfections and went on pretty easy. One quart easily covered two coats for this 11' boat. The primer is pretty thick and very toxic. Wear a mask when using this stuff. 

Below is a picture of the first coat of Brightsides finish paint. This paint goes on very thin, is extremely stinky and makes your eyes water. Again, good ventilation and a good respirator can not be recommended enough here. 

Here she is with three coats of the Brightsides. The paint is very soft and slow curing and reading forums online I have decided to let it sit, untouched for about ten days to harden.

Once the Brightsides cured up I put the Whaler logo back on. I was not going to bother, but the guy that sold it to me is an official Whaler dealer and took the time to cut out a nice shiny new logo for me when I bought her. So, why not?

The thumbnail above and this are pretty much the final product. Hours of sanding, two coats of primer, more sanding, three coats of finish coat mixed in with more sanding, and finally, two coats of black bottom paint.

The finished product. A shiny 'new' Boston Whaler. Overall I am very happy with the results.

A nice panoramic of Salem harbor the night the boat was put in.

A nice panoramic of Salem harbor the night the boat was put in.