Teri and I have years of experience in painting.
My business for many years was doing Custom Painting of race cars, drag boats, show cars and bikes as well as many vintage car restorations. I have always had a sign business along with these other ventures.
Teri has been mostly involved in yacht refinishing using AwlGrip paints almost exclusively.
While most of my experience is in spray finishes, hers is in "roil and tip" applications.
She is amazing and can roll and tip a finish as smooth as I can spray it.

 Flying Cloud's paint


Although this project took over a year to complete, we did not spend a year on just the paint job..
Flying Cloud spent a number of years in Mazatlan with her second owners. During that time she had been painted with some sort of epoxy paint. Then there were many touch-ups and of coarse the quality of the preparation was far from satisfactory.
Preparation is the most important part of any paint job. That also includes re-gel coating a boat.
If I looked down the hull Flying Cloud had one huge dimple after another. This is usually caused by someone with a sander that doesn't know anything about what they are doing. They dig huge holes or flat spots in the surface. Then they simply prime and paint. Once the gloss finish is on, these flat spots become very evident.
So our goal was to first remove all the old paint and get back to the gel coat surface. Of coarse in doing this we too added to the problem of these waving spots in her topsides.
We had no idea of  what the existing paint was or how well it had been prepped. So taking the safe route, we took all of it off and started fresh from the original base.
Once this was accomplished (after many weeks with a sander) we were in a position to choose whether we wanted to Gel coat her or paint her.
Gel Coat is by far the best way to go on any boat. It is extremely durable and only had one draw back for us. With the hull in such poor shape we were faced with a lot of 'block sanding' or 'fairing' as it is sometimes called.
If we decided on gel coat this fairing process would be at least three times the work of doing an Awlgrip paint job.
The next issue was that Awlgrip has some short comings with regard to the abuse a cruising yacht may encounter.. While it is a gorgeous finish, it is not recommended below the water line. If immersed in water, it CAN blister and peel off. My concern was with making passages and having the rail down for days on end.

As usual everything is a trade-off. Gel coat was too much work for the project at hand. It would have been the better long term route, but since we know Awlgrip so well, we can always fix it anywhere in the world.
Awlgrip offered some fantastic primers and surfacers that would allow me to really fair the boat the way I wanted.

So I started with the various primer/fillers and hand sanded each coat in an effort to get the hull fair and straight.

It would take one day to spray on the primers and upwards of nine days to hand fair each coat with a 2 1/2 inch by 17 inch board. This process was done seven times before the paint was applied.
So to say it took a year to paint the boat is a bit miss-leading. I would work four or five days at a time. Re-apply more filler. Let that cure and then come back when I had recovered from the previous sanding. I'm getting too old for this crap!
In the end I am very happy with the outcome. But this is NOT something the armature should attempt without qualified guidance every step of the way.

So given all this, I'll present the photos of the project with captions where needed. You can "click" on most of the pics to see a larger view. You can also 'right click' on the large photo and download it if you want.

Flying Cloud arrives in Rockport, Texas after her land journey from San Carlos, Mexico.

Teri sanding off the old paint finish on the topsides and transom

Realizing that between the rigging issues, the blister problems and the paint work, we decide to have her moved to a piece of property away from the boat yard. In the long run this will save money by reducing our monthly boat yard fees.
Here she is completely sanded and her bottom has been sandblasted and some repairs are under way.

After a year and a half in this location, we have (between boat painting jobs) been able to strip her bottom and make full repairs and get the first coat of Awlgrip 545 primer applied to the hull and much of the deck.
By now we are totally frustrated with the slow pace
we are having to take. We drive 15 miles each
way from the little house we rented, up to Rockport to work on the boat. With this situation she will never get finished.

Now at the two year mark we decide that the only way this is going to happen is to move Flying Cloud into our back yard.
We have now taken on the Manager positions at a local boat and RV storage facility.
I have a 30 x 45 foot complete workshop just 50 feet from my back door and Flying Cloud is just outside the kitchen window. She now has the second coat of 545 primer applied. This was done in order to protect the sanded gelcoat and fiberglass that was exposed after sanding. Really had nothing to do with paint prep.

Here I have sprayed five coats of Awlgrip epoxy filler in red oxide. This was applied over the sanded 545 primer that was white.
When I start sanding this coat I will be able to see the white primer come thru. This is my guide that shows where the high and low spots are.

First 'block sanding'. This generally took me five days to get all the way around the boat.

The larger version of this photo will show how the two different colors of filler work to guide me thru the fairing job.
Here I have sanded nearly all of the previous coats of filler off the surface. You can see that in some areas I am back to gel coat. All of the gelcoat colors indicate high spots. Where ever the red filler remains, are low spots that need more filling.

This pick shows all the high and low spots. At this point in time I have completed this prime and sand chore four times.

In this pick I am applying yet another five coats of filler/primer but in a gray color. I know I will have to fair these coats just as the previous. But I am working toward my final coats of filler/primer that will be white. Since the boat will be painted white, I want to use a white primer under that.

Between all the sanding and priming on the topsides, we are starting the same process on the cabin house and decks. Block sanding will not be as important on the decks since they will get Awlgrip non-skid.

Now the final white primer has been applied and I begin to install the rubrail and portlights. I am doing this now because I don't want any surface pressure on the Awlg rip final coats. Anything bolted on top of Awlgrip will cause the paint to squeeze out and eventually crack.

Portlights being installed

Ready for Cloud White Awlgrip

Spraying the first coats. Here is where most people get into trouble when painting. You can go at it with the spay-can attitude that you are going to keep spaying until all the paint is gone.
Awlgrip is one of the finest paints in the world. But the secret in either spraying or roll & tip is to apply very thin coats. Then be patient and wait for the previous coats to reach the proper cure-state before applying more. That may mean waiting until the next day.

As recommended by Awlgrip, we waited three days for it to cure enough to accept tape without damage. This three day window also means that you can still apply the trim colors and Awlgrip will still make a 'chemical bond' with the previous coats. here I taped out a large top band and a two color boot stripe.

Just before rolling on my personal color mix, I laid out the name and some Dolphins in paint mask film so that once the paint was on and the masking removed, the graphic would show thru in the original white.

A very handsome transom with new paint and opening ports. But there is more.......

I couldn't resist giving her a 22k Turned Gold Leaf name with a little Dolphin companion. I had to wait at least 21 days before doing this since it takes Awlgrip that long to fully cure. It is interesting to watch the finish during that cure time because everyday the paint finish gets glossier.

Thanksgiving day 2011. She finally looks presentable!!

Note the two dolphins and the name on the bow
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