I set to work to fix the part of the hull that had cracked around the cutlass bearing. I ground off the paint, and opened up the crack with my dremel tool. To my dismay, as I ground down the length of the crack, it just kept going. Finally I sanded the paint off of the entire back of the keel and found that there were big cracks all the way down it’s 4 foot length. I had no choice but to open them all up, let them dry out, and then re-glass the entire length of it. As I did, water poured out of where it had been trapped inside. I let this area dry out, and I ground down and sanded the thru-hulls that needed glassing and a few other holes that needed patching in the meantime. Between the patchwork and the messy grinding job I’d done along the waterline, Swell looked pretty sad.
So over a week, I prepped all the places that I saw would need new glass, including the rudder which also spewed out water when I drilled a hole in a soft spot that I found. Eventually, I filled and faired these spots and the back of the keel and glassed them like my friend, Cesar, had taught me when he’d helped me glass the cracked skeg. With no help from the tradewinds trying to blow away the glass patches before I could soak them with enough resin to make them stick, the first round of patchwork was sealed. Next came the blisters.
While taking the paint off the waterline, I noticed lots of little cracks and bumps in the fiberglass. As I lightly sanded over Swell’s entire hull, too, I found more and more places where small cracks in the paint had allowed water to seep into the fiberglass over the years, making little raised spots in the hull where the glass layers have parted within and swollen. Upon showing Taputu, he took the grinder and skillfully swept it over one of the bumps to demonstrate what I’d need to do to get the water out and begin to patch them.
So I was off and running with the grinder, the somewhat frightening duo that we are, grinding each of the little bumps open. Fully covered in my marshmellow grinding suit, protective goggles that Cesar lent me, and my respirator, I worked my way slowly around the boat over a few days, gouging at least a hundred dents into poor Swell, making her look more much like a junk yard car than a sea going explorer. Next I had to sand each hole smooth and then fill them with epoxy filler to make them flat again. The filling took almost a week, as it’s impossible to fill them perfectly on the first go, and with so many to fill, I’d always find a spot I’d missed and have to mix a new batch and fill and squeegee again.
I became so absorbed in my filling and faring work that it began to possess me…One evening after dinner at a friend’s house, I found myself fixated on a few little dents in a wall, fading from the conversation and instead longing for my palette and squeegee to level them out!? I decided to take the next day off and go surfing for the preservation of my sanity…