Captain’s Log 6 – Fiery Conflagration

Monday November 27, 2017 (Morning.): Just spent an hour, sitting in the Barn with my respirator on, blowing hot air on the boat with a hairdryer. Quite a ridiculous situation. Fourth time’s the charm, I hope, with this resin. Now that I’ve got the ratio of resin to hardener mixed correctly, it should set up. But I wonder if it is simply not warm enough for the catalyst to work. It was 83 degrees in there last time I checked, but then, the thermometer is near the stove. The stern end of the boat is about fifteen feet away from the fire, and is cool to the touch. The gallon jug of resin is also cool to the touch. I moved it closer to the woodstove-end of the Barn, and will keep the fire stoked. Good thing I have lots of huge chunks of wood to burn!

I can’t believe what a challenge this project has been to my patience. Every coat of material applied to the boat has to have enough time to dry or harden before the next one can be done. Mistakes slow down the process. I keep hearing the voice of my tenth grade chemistry teacher, Mr. Robinette, in my head: before every exam he’d say, “Flail away!” That’s kind of what this feels like.

And the stress is amplified because of the time constraint. Walt is coming home in five days, and it would nice if I could vacate his Barn by then. I’m beginning to realize that that’s probably impossible. And I have my departure date for Florida in two weeks, (or maybe even earlier if I sail to Homer with the French), at which time the project has to be completely finished and moved out of the Barn.

Monday November 27, 2017 (Evening.): Tried sanding, and even though the resin seems to be setting up fine, it’s still a bit gummy, especially toward the stern. The sandpaper actually got stuck to the resin in a few spots, which tore the paper. Stoked up the fire and went back to the Shack for a while. Read the safety data sheets for epoxy primer and (like acetone) it is very flammable with a low flash point. They say no open flames should be nearby. Vapors can collect along the floor, ignite, and flash back to the source. The source, in this case, would be a yogurt container, held tenderly in my hands. This would be very BAD BAD BAD. My current plan is to let the resin cure overnight with a hot fire in the stove. Let the fire go out by morning, sand, and then do the epoxy with no fire in the woodstove. Air the place out, and then rebuild the fire. I had not foreseen this situation, of using highly flammable materials inside a wooden Barn heated by actual fire. The bow of the boat is only a couple of feet away from the flames. I brought the fire extinguisher over from the Shack, just in case.

I’ve also been doing a little online research regarding application for the epoxy primer (since there were no actual instructions included with the stuff, except “4 parts A to 1 part B”). I learned that there is an induction, or “sweat in” period, in which you have to let the chemical reaction work for 15 minutes before applying. Also, it’s best applied by “airless spray” – and I only have .99-cent chip brushes, of course. It will take 10 hours to dry to touch at 10 degrees C, and 24 hours for a hard dry. Ten to 18 hours are needed to dry between re-coating. Oh, and in a high humidity environment it will take even longer. There is so much humidity in Walt’s Barn right now, water is streaming down the windows and collecting in puddles. Seems, at this point, with all the time it takes to build fires and let them die so I don’t blow the place up, and the extended dry times, and the time required between coats, it’s nearly impossible to get this done by the deadline. It’ll be a big challenge, anyway.

Tuesday November 28, 2017: Got up super early today, so I could be out in the Barn sanding the keel by 6:45 AM. Wiped it down with acetone, and mixed up my first batch of epoxy primer. Painted that on and was done by 12:30 PM.


First coat of epoxy primer applied to the keel. Now we’re getting somewhere!

Cecile, Jean Luc, and I flipped boat over in the evening. It’s time to repair the damaged port side rail! We put a block of wood up under the rail where the damaged area is, then a second piece of wood as a brace (unattached, underneath). We clamped the brace to the rail, which pushed the hidden block of wood up under the damaged part. Three bronze screws now hold the damaged inner rail to the hidden block, which will forever become a part of Chuuchki. Jean Luc mixed up resin, sawdust, and little shredded bits of fiberglass to make what he called “pasta.” It was interesting to see him making the pasta; like watching someone cook. There was no real recipe for the mix — he just did it by instinct, like any good chef. He spread the “pasta” into the big hole, where we will let it cure overnight. Pretty neat. Finally having some fun with this project!


Two blocks of wood, two clamps, three screws, and an old quilt — that should shore her up.


Jean Luc’s “Pasta” recipe: Sawdust from the table saw, mixed with fiberglass fabric bits, resin, and hardener.


Applying the Pasta. This is fun!

This entry was posted in Alaska, Boats, Seldovia, Uncategorized and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Captain’s Log 6 – Fiery Conflagration

  1. Beth Stewart says:

    Epoxy needs consistent temps to cure so I think you’re doing a remarkable job considering the environment. It looks good. Good for you for attempting the repairs!

    Liked by 1 person

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