What is the best way to remove bottom
paint? I’d like it off because I don’t keep the
boat in water. Russel Solgot
DON CASEY: There’s no good way to
completely remove bottom paint. Every
method risks damaging the underlying gelcoat. Sanding works until you reach the
fiberglass, then you’re sanding the gelcoat,
which you don’t want to do unless you are
repainting. Chemical strippers are worse.
The kind you find in paint and home-supply
stores cannot tell the difference between
paint resin and polyester resin, so when they
get through the paint, they will literally start
dissolving your boat. So-called fiberglass-safe
strippers can work, but are only safe if you’re
meticulous in how long you leave them on,
which is often insufficient to fully remove the
paint. That brings you back to sandpaper.
Boatyard staff may recommend sandblasting,
but sandblasting fiberglass boats damages
them, no ifs, ands, or buts. Blasting with a
softer medium, such as baking soda, is probably the gentlest removal option, but you’re
going to have to find someone who does
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this and it will not be cheap.
That typically leads me to recommend
not removing the bottom paint just because
you no longer need it. If the color bothers
you, then prep the bottom and paint it with
white bottom paint (Pettit Vivid). This will
be undetectable except by close inspection,
can actually make the bottom easier to keep
clean, and could be beneficial if you use your
boat for vacations where it stays in the water
for days rather than hours.
I am planning our first trip to the Jupiter Inlet
and lack local knowledge. Any advice would
be welcome. Yvan Girardin
Pompano Beach, FL
TOM NEALE: You ask about a specific
A SCREW LOOSE?
inlet, but your question has important impli-
cations for all inlets. Inlets can be treacherous;
for example, if the current is running out into
an onshore sea, it can break all across. If the
inlet is shallow, onshore waves can hump up
and break as you go in or even before you
reach the sea buoys. This may not be every
wave, but the wave that gets you is the wave
that counts. Shoaling is frequently a problem,
though less so if the inlet is maintained for
large shipping. However, be especially careful
of large ships. They can’t “move over” for us.
If you’re not familiar with an inlet, get a
thorough briefing by someone with current
local knowledge. Local TowBoatU.S. opera-
tors are always willing to offer assistance.
Don’t try it the first time (and hopefully
not anytime) when conditions aren’t ideal.
Be familiar with handling characteristics of
your boat, particularly as they relate to the
individual issues of that inlet. If possible, visit
the beach and study the inlet, or hang out in
your boat and observe it for awhile, looking
for wave patterns and other issues. Study your
charts before running the inlet. You may not
have time to do this once you’re committed.
How do I repair a stripped screw that fastens
a small bracket to the fiberglass on the topside of my Sea Ray? Dan Kennedy
DON CASEY: If there’s no core material
involved, just solid fiberglass laminate, and if
the load on the bracket doesn’t exceed the
strength of threads in glass composite, sim-