The Surface of the Moon

Categories Maintenance Log

When asked about walking on the surface of the moon, Buzz Aldrin said, “It’s like one big rock plus some dust. It ruined my pizza. Waist of money.”

Wait, no, that’s an online review of canned Parmesan cheese. No one ever misspells “waste” in speech. But given the cheese-like nature of the moon, I think we can all extrapolate.

Fortuitous before painting with old stained blue bottom paint.

Jenn and I went to the shore to slap some bottom paint on Fortuitous. It was more of a slapping affair than usual. Last year, we were informed that because of environmental regulations, we were no longer allowed to sand bottom paint in the boat yard. We used to be able to put down tarps and catch it (which was, admittedly, futile), but now it’s entirely forbidden. In some ways, I was actually looking forward to this, since preparing the surface is often the most annoying part of painting anything. Unfortunately, it’s also the part that makes the paint work correctly.

In the absence of prep, I also changed paints. I’ve always used the same blue ablative paint on Fortuitous, because it seems to work, is forgiving to apply, and isn’t terribly expensive as far as bottom paints go. Most ablative paint is only good for one season—once you take it out of the water, its ability to prohibit marine growth is minimized, so it requires a fresh coat every year. There are hard paints that last multiple seasons, but I have historically tried to avoid hard paints under the impression that they build up and eventually require heroic efforts to remove (although in retrospect, if I could get two or three years out one, I could probably go a decade or two without it becoming an actual problem). This year, the marina told me about a multiyear ablative paint that they’ve been having success with, and I decided to switch. To be able to see where it’s wearing off in case it requires a touch up, I also switched colors.

In-progress shot of rolling on black paint

Like the album cover for Spın̈al Tap’s Smell the Glove, it’s so black that it’s like “How much more black could this be?” And the answer is none: none more black.

I actually like the look. At least from a distance.

Fortuitous with black bottom paint, starboard side

I go back and forth about the lack of a white space below the bootstripe. There’s supposed to be a line of unpainted white hull between the blue stripe near the waterline and the start of the bottom paint, but a previous owner took the bottom paint all the way up. Once the gelcoat gets stained, there are few practical ways to get it back. On the other hand, that part of the hull is usually pretty difficult to keep clean, and with our iron-laden cedar water, it often turns brown and winds up standing out like a single dead tooth. Ultimately, I’m sure no one is paying attention. It’s barely visible, and if I really cared about the boat’s aesthetics, I’d do something with the teak.

What I mostly care about is that this paint doesn’t flake off in sheets, and I’m not exactly certain that it won’t. It took me a long time, but I have come to accept the most important part of any paint job is the prep, and with no prep, this came out pretty bad. In parts, the roller was picking off flakes of the old paint and then gluing them back down. They’re black now, but I doubt they’re really adhered that well. Like canned Parmesan, it’s a lot like the surface of the moon.

Fortuitous with surface of the moon black bottom paint, port side

I don’t know what the alternative would have been given the parameters, so I guess we’ll see what happens. It was a much quicker job without having to sand, scrape, and clean off the dust with a solvent, and Jenn and I got it done in short order. We should be launching this week.

"Prepare to fend off the bridge abutment."