Friday, February 1, 2013

When you get weary of spending money...

The dinghy that came with our boat was given to the previous owner by his friend. It basically washed up on shore and sat outside the friend's condo, deflated and partially submerged, for something like 4 years. The sun and salt water caused the Hypalon coating to wear away in many spots, which is the death knell for dinghies. Everyone thought it was mold and would give us suggestions on cleaning it. Also, it had been previously painted with paint that was wearing away and leaving a chalky residue on anything that touched it.

When we bought the boat, we had planned to replace the dinghy. A month and countless dollars later, we're less inclined to pay thousands for a new (to us) dinghy. Also, dinghy theft seems to be the most common cruiser-related crime in the Carribean, so we're in no hurry to dump a ton of money into something that is such a desirable target.

We found this product called Tuff-Coat that we used to try to get some more life out of Grin. It has a base layer that is supposed to bond to the Hypalon and then a top coat of paint. It's a rubbery Xylene-based space aged polymer looking substance that kind of billows away instead of falling to the ground. A quart of base coat and a quart of paint was under $200 with shipping. Here are some pictures of the process, which took a couple of days (including drying time).

The first step was to wash it thoroughly. We used Oxyclean and 3M abrasive pads. That got most of the previous paint off. It looked way worse after that--it really brought out the bare patches.

Here's the dinghy (after taping off the rubber parts) with the base coat. It is slightly deflated because of a few pin holes. We thinned it with Xylene and it went on pretty smoothly. If we had to do it again (and we may very well), we would have put another base coat on because our dinghy was so far gone in some areas. But we didn't want to wait for another shipment and didn't get word back about local distributers.
Here's the finished product after the final paint job. Some of the Tuff-Coat came off around the edges of the tape. It probably would have been better to take the tape off while the coats were still wet and then re-tape, but taping was such a pain we didn't feel it was worth it.  
It looks a lot better than when we started and should last a bit longer than it would have otherwise. Time will tell.

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