Protect that composite! Here is the sanded boat, white with resin-dust, ready to be washed and receive the first coat of varnish. One needs to protect the composite matrix with a layer of 100% UV (ultra-violet) inhibiting varnish; aka., a good marine-grade "spar" varnish, readily available at your local boat dealer, but for less money at your local hardware or mega-hardware emporium. Some builders place a lot of time and care in their sanding and varnishing regimen. One can sand and re-varnish, coat after coat and really end up with a work of art. Or... one can sand the boat and roll or spray on two or three coats of varnish for UV inhibition and go hit the water. I tend to fall in the later camp. I first carefully sand the boat with the random orbit sander and 80-grit discs to remove any drips or globs of thickened epoxy "glue," with careful attention NOT to sand into the glass cloth, but also to feather the edges of glass tape onto the sorrounding surfaces. (Catch any rough spots or sharp edges on the inside of the boat with the 80-grit and the R-O sander, then later seal any exposed or roughed-up glass weave with varnish.) I then switch to 150-grit and hit the entire boat with that abrasive, as well as some careful hand sanding around the deck fittings. DO NOT OVERSAND... ---you will continue to fill and sand throughout the varnish steps, so don't go hog wild with the sanding, remember, the resin and glass are important structural components. (Again... ---Remember: Wear respiratory protection whenever sanding wood, resin, or glass; or whenever using sovents or coatings with volatile components! If you can, work outside or in a well ventillated space.) The boat is then washed down with dishwashing detergent and a lot of rinse coats and allowed to dry.
The first coat of varnish (stern toward bow view). At this point the finish is still pretty uneven. One usually sands-out
two to four coats. They are best applied and smoothed by using a foam brush. I don't
fool around with fairing boards (long sanding boards) or wet-sanding the varnish
coats by hand, although those procedures will give you a fantastic finish.
More varnish (bow view). Soon we will rig the boat with the cockpit and deck hardware. Your beautiful boat now is ready for a few photos before getting the first real abuse on a rocky beach or concrete boat ramp! Remember, if you get bored, or abuse the hell out of it on a wilderness trip, you can always sand and varnish the thing as many times as you want, any time that the mood strikes you. Of course, instead of more varnishing, one could always go paddling or start another boat project!
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