Sole Wars
Episode VI: The Return of the Cockpit

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Back to Home ... s/v Stella Blue home ... Cockpit Page ... Projects

This looks nice. These areas are used more as steps than seats, so the nonskid will really help when climbing back the seats on the stern rail.

Here it is, wet,
after the second coat.

Three coats are recommended for high traffic areas (like boat ramps and loading docks) so I'm going to put three coats down here.

I waited four hours between coats one and two, and then will come back in the morning for the third.


The cockpit is done. It's been a long two years. Of course, nothing is ever completely finished on a boat.

Note the incredibly expensive Edson table. It cost a lot, but works well and is maintenance free. It also can live there on the pedestal, and never gets in the way.

After standing on the new sole barefoot for a while,
and kneeling on it, I decided
to go for cockpit seats.

This is also an experiment, because I might cover my decks with this stuff. Rather than sand the existing non-skid down with 36 grit, I scrubbed it thoroughly with Interlux 202, then washed with Simple Green and lots of water.
I have avoided using any wax for three years, preparing for
this event.

My gelcoat is so porous that a dirty foot leaves a mark that must be scrubbed. So, I figure
it doesn't need to be sanded
to accept an epoxy primer.

I put three coats down, waiting two hours between coats so there would be a chemical bond in the layup.

Then I waited until the next morning to pull the tape. I guess that was a mistake. For the most part, the edges came up clean. But the edge ripped in a few places.

Naturally, this one spot is also the highest traffic area on the entire cockpit. That corner will be stepped on more than any other spot. Arr.

It's not a product problem, it's an application problem. I was worried about pulling the tape up immediately after the last coat, because when I do that I tend to create smears and runs outside of the line. Oh well.

I hope I'm right.

Time will tell.

I put a big pad on the coaming.

This is the most stepped-on place
on the whole boat.

If I screw up,
this will be the first problem area.

The winter light, at this low angle, really shows the texture.

Back to Episode V: The Grinder Strikes Back.

After some measuring and testing,
all the blocks were
epoxied onto the sole.
The locker will also have some turnbuckles holding it in place.
I want it secure enough that the boat can be knocked down
and the propane locker
won't budge a millimeter.

It starts out white and creamy,
but as it cures it gets clear,
(unless it cures in a big block.)
When fully cured, it's
rubbery and flexible.

Here's the leftovers. It took about a pint to cover the cockpit sole.

I guess I didn't need a gallon of it!

Another thing that had to be finished up were the additional cockpit drains forward.

I just figure that more cockpit drains can't hurt, and having one forward will help.

I'm also planning on adding one aft, but it will be hidden under the cockpit seat, so I'm really not worried about how it will look.

Thus, I can move forward
with the nonskid.

In the pic to left, I've scuffed the new sole up really well to prepare for the primer.

This primer is recommended for
the "Tuff Coat" nonskid.

It's a two part
water based
epoxy primer,
and is thin as water.

I think that's because it's a primer for just about any material except metal. So being thin helps it seep into concrete or wood.
In my case it just sealed up all the scratches in the fiberglass.

Here's the primed sole.

I let the primer cure overnight.

Note that I'm going to apply nonskid over the edge of the fiberglass sole, and onto the original sole for about
1/4 inch.

That's because I put a thin fillet of epoxy on the edge of the tan fiberglass sheet, to fill the sharp corner that was collecting dirt.

The new non-skid is made by Ultra Tuff.

It's a one part water based polyurethane coating,
with little bits of rubbery nonskid material mixed in.

I wanted something that would be easy on
bare feet and knees.
If it works out as I expect,
I'll also be covering the cockpit seats with it.

Some of the nonskid coatings I've seen will rip the skin right off one's hands and knees, and that would be a bummer.

These rollers are available from Tuff Coat, too. They're probably available at the hardware store,
but of course I didn't know that until I got a
good look at it.

The foam needs to have big open cells to pick up lots of the nonskid additive.

I bought the 9 inch ones, and cut them in half and put them on a three inch roller.

Whee! I saved $12. I can retire fifteen minutes early.

The edges gave me a bit of trouble when I pulled the tape up. Either I should have done it sooner, or waited until the paint was fully cured.

However, if the third coat chips up along the very edges, I'll live with it. The first two coats are firmly cured to the primer.

November 2007 --

Wow. It's actually been two years since I ripped the cockpit up and recored it. I've been done with the "rebuild everything from the companionway back" phase of my life for over a year.

There came a point when I was just sick and tired of projects.
I could sail the boat without nonskid in the cockpit, so what the heck. I just let it wait until my energy level was back up.
(Also, I suddenly found myself working 100h/wk making money.)

There were some small details to be handled, like building the structure to support the new propane locker.

To the left, you can see how the propane locker is
supported under the cockpit seat. Two 3/8" blocks of prefabricated vinylester FRP from McMaster-Carr.
They're level with the top of the access hatch for the steering cables, will keep the propane locker off of the cabin sole so the area can dry out and won't turn into a moldy mess.

In front, two 3/4" thick shims of G10 fiberglass
(what the heck, it was just sitting there)
will keep the locker from moving forward.

I put three coats down, just like on the sole.
It took me three coats to make the nonskid look uniform. Besides, the application instructions said to put three coats down in heavy traffic areas.

I taped right along the edge of the original nonskid areas.

I don't think this will rip up my knees,
but ask me in a few months!

It's a bit more aggressive than I had expected, but that might be a good thing.

Following the curve of the winch was tricky, but I like the look.

Note that I messed up
when I removed the tape.

I should have spent some time on the phone with the Ultra Tuff folks, getting advice on how to avoid this. But I didn't, and somehow I messed up.

There's a part of me that wishes I had taken the time to paint the rest of the gel coat with a good two part polyurethane.

But, I simply haven't had the time. It would have required a lot of filling, fairing, and sanding to fix 25 years of dings from dropped winch handles. New paint would show every imperfection.

So forget it.

Now that the nonskid is finished, I can clean all the exposed gelcoat really well, and wax it.