I have a 1985 Wellcraft with black bottom paint. I only trailer the boat; it’s never
moored or in a slip. I want to remove the
bottom paint back down to the gelcoat. It
looks like there may only be one layer to
remove. What’s the best way to tackle this?
Can I sand through the bottom paint using
progressively lighter pressure and smoother
grit, getting to the point where I can wet-sand and buff it out? Or are chemical strippers the way to go?
JOHN ADEY: Personally having done
this a number of times, I wouldn’t sand the
bottom. If you want good-looking gelcoat
without wet-sanding and buffing for days
(did I mention most of this is on your back?),
strippers like Peel Away and others do a nice
job, leaving behind the gelcoat. One coat of
bottom paint should not be a hard job to
strip chemically. Make sure you cover your
trailer, as any splashes or drips ruin any finish
(paint, galvanized, or aluminum — trust me,
I have experience on this). You could also
have it “soda blasted” by a marina or auto-body shop. This will “haze” the gelcoat but
nothing like sandpaper. Either way, I hope
you find a clean bottom with no crazing or
air lock (which is very unlikely).
It’s possible that the hose has collapsed
down there, particularly if it’s an older
boat. This would explain the failure of the
methods you’ve used. Sometimes, particu-
larly where there’s a bend in the hose, it will
collapse. Sometimes the inner walls will
separate from the outer walls and collapse,
although the hose looks OK from outside.
Frequently a shower hose will have one or
more bends in it. I’d suggest replacing the
hose. I know this is easier said than done,
but it may be the only thing to do, consider-
ing your efforts already. I don’t know how
tight your hose run is, but usually if you get
a new hose of the same outside diameter,
and couple it to the end of the old hose,
you can pull it through. If you use a plastic
hose barb butt-end coupler, you’ll probably
need to sand off any protruding ridges at the
middle that could hang up in tight areas, and
you wouldn’t want to use hose clamps for
the temporary butt-end connection because
they could also hang up as you pull the hose
through. Have someone feed while you care-
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He’s been one of the most consulted experts on boat care and
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WHEN YOU CAN’T WASH
The shower well on my 42-foot boat doesn’t
drain. The pump and float switch work fine.
I couldn’t open it with a plumber’s snake,
plunger, or by flushing it with a hose. What
would you recommend next? Muriatic acid?
Is that safe for hoses?
TOM NEALE: I wouldn’t recommend
pouring muriatic acid down the drain. We
really don’t know whether it would be safe
for the hose because we don’t know what’s
there, or what the hose is made of. Also,
there could be a leak or a leak developing
that would let it out where it could really do
damage. Muriatic is inherently dangerous if
not used in the right circumstances.
I assume that the plumber’s snake met
with some obstruction and didn’t come out
at the sump end? You need to be sure that
it’s a blockage rather than something like an
He’s maintained, lived aboard, and cruised long distance on boats
with his wife and family for most of his adult life. He can take apart
and fix almost every system aboard a boat, has written two books,
filmed a two-set DVD on East Coast cruising, written for top marine
magazines, and has won nine first-place awards from Boating
Writers International and many awards for his technical writing.
The editor of Seaworthy, the damage avoidance newsletter of
BoatU.S. Marine Insurance, Bob has written hundreds of articles
on safety, loss prevention, and causes of boating accidents. His
2006 book, Seaworthy, Essential Lessons of Things Gone Wrong,
is based on 20 years of real claims files. He’s owned Folkboats to
J-Boats and currently sails a 36-foot sloop.
BoatU.S. Magazine’s new technical editor, Beth Leonard, grew up
powerboating, waterskiing, and fishing on Lake Ontario. Since 1992,
she and her husband have completed two circumnavigations on
two sailboats, doing all maintenance themselves. They also installed
the systems on their 47-foot aluminum sloop. Beth has written The
Voyager’s Handbook, the how-to bible for offshore sailors, and
hundreds of technical articles.
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