2009-03-27 / Sports

Rockaway Outdoors/Tales From The Wheelhouse

By Captain Vinnie Calabro

Locally, our area is in transition mode. True the equinox has passed, but last Friday, while on my way out, east snow flakes hit my windshield. The trip was somewhat fish related. I was going to pick up some epoxy and fiberglass materials for one of my skiffs.

Repairing of decks regardless of the boat type — commercial, fishing or pleasure craft — involves considerable thought and preparation. Most decks today are fiberglass or a composite of FRP (fiberglass re-enforced plastic). They are usually molded, or as is the case with many work boats, hand laid. After which a top coat of gel-coat, epoxy, or deck paint is applied. The decks themselves stand up well to use, but over time, they wear and need a top coat or replacement.

If you consider that an average cockpit is less than 100 square feet, and the amount of traffic the small area gets season after season, not to mention the saltwater environment, it's amazing they hold up for so long.

The process is fairly simple: inspect the area, measure, decide which materials satisfy your needs and preparation. It's really not that different from applying epoxy to your garage floor. After inspection and deciding that your deck could use a face lift, you think about which material would be best for you.

If you have a production boat, say a Grady White, you may want to give the parent company a call and pick their brains a bit. They'll be familiar with the existing deck and advise which materials would best suit your needs.

Another place to research your project would be the Marine supply store. Usually they will be knowledgeable of the product lines they sell, and if not, can reach out to the manufacturer. Don't overlook the computer and the many websites that could be of assistance to you.

Preparation is, in my opinion, the most critical step in the process. The surface needs to be thoroughly cleaned and dried. Different materials require different standards of prep. We are not rebuilding the space shuttle here; we are applying a top coat over a deck but it can be tricky. Sometimes a light sanding and primer is recommended. The materials themselves usually are temperature sensitive; as to when they can be applied, most like fifty degrees or above.

Many are two part materials; an activator and the paint itself.

For the most part they have a limited time for use once they are mixed. I roll my decks with a short nap roller. The initial coat light to moderate, then followed by a second coat infused with non-skid sand. The deck is dried and ready for use in about twenty-four hours.

When will the warm days arrive? Your guess is as good as mine.

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