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Sanding begins!

One of the three major projects I wanted to accomplish while Lorilee was on the hard was to repaint and refit her mast.  In my initial research, I was shocked by some of the estimates I was seeing for yards just to repaint the mast.  Some figures were as high as $10k.   Now that I’m over a month into the project, I can kinda see why.

The removal of all the hardware and fittings took two weekends alone, and I still didn’t get everything off due to galvanic corrosion. Once all of the hardware was removed, I started to research painting options.  There is very little information out there regarding properly painting sailboat masts, but I started with a video by Drake Roberts on his Westsail 42 Paragon.  His video details the process he used for repainting the mast which involved, sanding, acid etching, then painting with Awlgrip and Awlcraft paints.   I had a hard time finding the prep materials, and it was going to be very expensive.

IMG_4104Alex recommended a company called BLP Mobile Paint.  I reached out to them describing my project, and they had a chemist give me the proper path forward.  For less than $200, I got the acid wash, a gallon of two-part epoxy primer, a gallon two-part polyurethane topcoat, thinners, brushes, and mixing cups.  I hear their paint is a very good commercial-grade marine quality, and their customer service was amazing.  Definitely recommended!!!

With crap weather for the last few weeks, I finally had a weather window to do the job this last weekend.  On Friday, I stayed up until about midnight sanding all of the old paint off the mast. Saturday morning, I got up early and finished sanding the spots I missed (sanding in the dark sucks).  The day proceeded as follows:

  • Finished sanding
  • Pressure washed
  • Scrubbed with industrial cleaner/degreaser
  • Pressure washed
  • Acid washed with RPI’s LumiBrite (phosphoric acid base)
  • Pressure washed
  • After drying, masked off the mainsail and trysail tracks with blue tape
  • Rolled/Tipped 2-Part Epoxy Primer called MoPoxy. Two coats.

First coat of Mothane complete

Sunday morning I applied the two part polyurethane called Mothane.  The salesman at BLP warned me that the paint was designed to be sprayed, not rolled.  With the constant wind, proximity of some nice boats around, and a parking lot full of expensive trucks across the driveway, spraying was not in the cards.  So what did I do? Rolled.  The finish ended up peppered with lent from the roller and got too sticky to use a brush for smoothing.  The end result was indeed functional, but it’s quite uneven and not quite as smooth as I would like (I’m a bit of a perfectionist when it comes to stuff like this).  So, this coming weekend, I’ll probably do a once-over wet sand with 400-grit, and apply a thinned second coat with a microfoam roller instead of a cloth one.  At that point, I’ll be down to just enough paint to cover the boom and spreaders, so it’ll have to do.

I also bought a bunch of goodies for the mast.  Aside from some new hardware from Lefiell (mast manufacturer), I am rewiring and relighting the entire mast with LED’s.  I think that many of the marine-grade lights out there are priced according to the West Marine mentality – “We can charge whatever we want because it’s for a boat!”.   So my search on eBay and Amazon began.  I think I have found a pretty good stock of lights that will work just fine.

All of these items had great reviews.  I’m especially proud of the ATV light I intend to use for the deck light.  I hooked it up the other night and it is BRIGHT.  As it is designed for heavy-duty offroad use, I think it will do just fine 30 feet up the mast. And it will light up the entire boat. Even if I have to replace it once a year, it’s ten times cheaper than the cheapest deck light on West Marine.
I still haven’t sorted out the mast wiring and terminals, but I do want to replace all of it.  The old wiring isn’t tinned, and it’s over forty years old.
In other news, I have ordered all of the lumber to repair the termite-damaged deck beams.  I went with African Teak (aka Iroko).  I will detail this project in another blog.
Looks like I’ll be going offshore again next weekend to help my friend take his boat back to Galveston. Though I know I need to focus on Lorilee,  I also think that gaining experience is very important right now.
And here’s the obligatory sailing blog sunrise picture :)
– Ryan


Published in Ryan Bradfield
Updated: March 18, 2015 — 13:39


  1. RyAn, did they hook you up with a slow brushing thinner/reducer? Try and Pick up a little interlux brushing liquid at WM (I believe it’s 333?)and try it with the mothane, I bet it would work fine.

    Don’t worry about the finish so much, especially 10′ off the deck. Remember a “shrimp boat” finish will protect you from theft as you travel, you don’t want to be the shiny boat in the anchorage :)

    Really proud of you brother!

    1. I did buy a brushing thinner for both the primer and the topcoat. It does not specify how much to use though. When I do the second coat, I’ll then a little bit more to see if that will give me a nicer finish.

  2. Ask them how much, they will know and a proper mixture makes all the difference. Also you need to use proper foam rollers that don’t fall apart from the thinner, check at WM, the foam rollers I get here are black.

  3. Once you get good at rolling and tipping 2-part poly you will have another marketable skill to make money as you travel.

  4. If it says “Marine” or you buy it in a marine store, it’ll automatically cost more.

    I work for a company that does land development. We have almost every size machine imaginable. Of course those machines need maintenance like everything else. That “marine” filter is made by the same people who make my filters for my machinery. A quick example. An old friend had a power boat with a Crusader powertrain. I think they were twin 351 Windsor’s. Old ford V-8 used a Fram PH8a oil filters. Didn’t matter what it was in, it was a PH8a. We sold them all day long for like $7.99. He was insisting that Fram made different ones for marine applications. Nope. Same filter. One day my Fram rep was in the shop, and in walks my buddy. He’d been paying 15 bucks per filter for three years. Fram rep looks at him and just laughed.

    So when you will be needing parts check around. You will almost always find stuff cheaper. With filters and such, write down all your filter numbers, and keep those handy.

    1. Great advice! Thanks :)

  5. I will second the advice from Bogey on the topic of servicable parts for the engine/things that seem like they should cross over to non- “marine”. I had a Universal brand diesel in my Sabre 28′ and I replaced the glow plugs with NGK from Amazon for very cheap money. Also did the alternator, belt etc with parts from Ebay (Marine Mando brand Alternator) and belt from NAPA auto parts.
    All of this makes good sense for purchase of such parts; however Alex makes a solid point about some things being worth buying labeled “marine”: like the roller covers for your paint. Heavy solvents in polyurethane and acrylic urethane paints will eat up the rollers from Home Depot or Lowes in pretty short order. You need solvent resistant roller covers. I always splurge on the Redtree brand from West when I need to do a fancy paint job and I hand purge all the fuzzy junk out from the dry cover before I do anything. The paint is expensive enough. Its gotta look spiffy! Brushes however are a different story. I do use brushes and paint cups from Home Depot. Just read labels and buy a “Purdy” or other quality brush.

    Most of this knowledge is learned for us boat-folk the hard way (education is never free)… You’re on the right track. Keep up the good work!

    1. Thanks BWalsh. Progress is slow but steady. For the last month, we’ve had a low pressure wave hit right on the weekends, providing a TON of rain. Normally, I’d be rejoicing at the much-needed rain, but not right now. I have work to do. We got 8 inches of rain on Saturday, so I was cramped under my Walmart Bimini, working in the engine room. I’ll post updates when the mast/boom/spreaders are done being painted. I CANNOT WAIT to get this done!

  6. Ryan,are you at Indian town? I will be sailing past there and stoping there around April 21/22/23? I would like to meet and greet. I have known Alex since he stared his journey. Alex: if you read this I will be in the Abacos around the first of May.
    I would like to hook up if you pass thru,let me know

    1. No ‘sir. Lorilee is over at a yard in Rockport, TX. I live about 3hrs North of there. If I ever find myself in Florida, I’d definitely like to meet up.

  7. Alex is right about adding “333” . Try painting early AM before its to hot. I am re painting my cockpit befor leaving for the “Bahamas”

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