2008-02-22 / Sports

Rockaway Outdoors/Tales From The Wheel House

By Captain Vinnie Calabro

It seems like this winter the weather is just so unpredictable. This past week, we had snow, rain, wind, and cold. Great if your training for the Polar Bear Club, not all that great if you're contemplating going offshore.

I spent most of the week in the shipyard, making a checklist of work and maintenance that needed either my attention or that of a professional. The boats in my fleet all had different homes. The custom built Calvin Beal Downeaster "Karen Ann," I had transported to an indoor facility and began preparation for an overall facelift. A much needed cosmetic makeover starting with new top coating for the hull and wheel house.

As of this writing, I'm still in the research mode of this decision. My choices have been narrowed down to Awlgrip Sterling, Gelcoat, and Dupont Imron. Each has own pluses and minuses. When deciding upon a top coat for your boat several questions need to be answered. Let's look at some of these and see if they may fit into any future or present work you may be doing.

Develop a Plan: Include cost, time, condition of boat, results wanted, longevity and future use of the vessel.

Consider your budget; You need to evaluate what you have allowed for the project. This would include transporting or hauling of the boat; your ability to do the work, a time frame in which to complete the work; cost of the materials, and overall goal. Don't forget that there will be many hidden costs as you proceed with your work.

I'll be working indoors so weather won't be that much of a factor, although keep in mind today's top coats are mostly two and, in some cases, threepart materials, depending on temperature for application and curing. Preparation is and always will be the key to any finished job. Proper application relies upon having the right tools for the right job, something to consider.

My hull will need considerable fairing in lieu of the dings and gouges associated with the rigors of commercial and charter fishing. That takes skill and time. De-waxing or sanding the top layer of gelcoat will be next, followed by any additional fairing I might have missed. When a satisfactory base is achieved working with various grades of sandpaper and solvents, I'll be ready to apply my base coat or primer.

Most manufacturers recommend two primers, with a polishing or light sanding in between. Keep in mind the finish you give the base coat dictates the performance of the top coat and finish. With my project I'm going to combine my labor with that of professionals. I'll do some of the semi-skilled work and subcontract or farm out the skilled work. This will enable me to be cost efficient, participate, and control the overall project.

Cosmetics being accounted for, I'll move on to mechanical concerns. A 63 series Volvo is this boat's powerplant. Having purchased maintenance books, I'll follow scheduled repairs and work from these manuals. Last winter I rebuilt the turbo, this winter I'll replace the injectors. I have neither the ability nor the tools to do this, so I'll have this done by an experienced mechanic. Costly but in the long run done right, and the reality being you can't skimp on some things.

Continuing on, I'll inspect obvious things for wear and tear. Bilge pumps, lines, belts, hoses, clamps, motor mounts, fittings and so on down the line. I've decided to steam clean the Imron the engine. This will not only add in the appearance, but will retard rust and give me the ability to see if there are any fluid leaks in the future.

Hopefully I have given you a little insight into my project and it will translate into some ideas for future projects that you may be doing.

Moving right along, I spoke to the group from New Jersey trying to unite fisherman in our area and, eventually, the east coast with regards to the fluke regs. Their ranks are growing daily and you can visit their website at SSFFF.com.

They feel pretty good about the work they're doing and the battle for fishing quotas that will ensue.

Moving along the coast charter captains and friends further south have been fishing out of Virginia. It seems like there's a big body of Stripers, real "cows" at that, being caught, some of the fish in the fifty pound plus category. I am actually contemplating a trip with them, pretty soon at that, and I'll keep you posted.

Further to the south, conversations with "the hawk" basking in the Florida sun didn't seem to uplifting. Winds and snotty sea conditions kept him dockside for most of the week.

The Freeport Sportsman's show last Saturday was a pretty good show. Several of my buddies attended and walked away with newly purchased rods, lures and what have you.

Every day brings us a little closer to the opening of Flounder season and then the usual openings that follow.

Till the next tide, Tight Lines.

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