SV Pilgrim - 1979 Morgan 382 - Homeport: Beaufort, NC

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Preparations for Removing Pilgrim’s Bottom Paint

In summer of 2014 we repaired a couple areas of delamination and numerous blisters below the waterline on Pilgrim's hull. The damage addressed was discovered via a thorough visual inspection by Anne & I. Our efforts from last summer are documented in earlier blog posts and in our Hull Damage & Blister Repairs Photo Album.

Based on our findings from the summer 2014 repairs, and the fact that approximately 1/3 of the hull’s bottom paint was removed during the repairs. We decided to go all the way and give Pilgrim a full bottom job. For readers unfamiliar with nautical lingo: No, a bottom job has nothing to do with a proctologist. A bottom job for fiberglass, sea going sailing vessel consists of…

  1. Removing all existing layers of anti-fouling (bottom) paint. 
  2. Repairing any hull damage, water intrusion, or blisters discovered on the exposed hull. 
  3. Applying a barrier coat. Barrier coat is a thick, multi-layer application of epoxy primer designed to prohibit water from reaching the fiberglass hull. 
  4. Applying new bottom paint. Bottom paint, also referred to as anti-fouling paint, inhibits the buildup of marine growth on the hull. 
Toward the conclusion of summer 2014 hull repairs the boat yard informed us that any further bottom paint removal would require tenting the hull. On January 18, 2015, while Pilgrim was lifted for the removal of her rudder; I placed a roll of 6 mil plastic under the blocks that support her keel. The plastic sheeting sat idle as we waited for winter to loosen her grasp on the southeast. Finally on March 6th, buoyed by warmer weather and inspired by forecast that promised little wind and no precipitation, I spread out the plastic beneath Pilgrim.

Rolling out 6 mil plastic sheeting under Pilgrim.

To reduce the weight of the tent walls and to save money I purchased 4 mil plastic sheeting for the side walls. The top edge of the side walls were spot taped to the hull using 3M 8979 Performance Plus duct tape. The 3M 8979 tape far exceeds the holding power of standard, masking style painters tape, but will pull cleanly away if removed within a few months. The tape is also UV stable.

Once an entire side wall was held in place with short sections of the duct tape, I sealed off the top edge with a full length run of 2” painter’s masking tape.

The lower edge of the tent wall was then stretched out to meet the outer edge of the 6 mil sheeting on the ground. I then placed a piece of lumber, typically a 8' long 2” X 4” atop the two layers of sheeting and rolled the entire assembly towards the hull. If additional weight was required to hold the wall away from the hull then I placed additional scrap lumber atop the roll.
Pilgrim with a plastic skirt.

To prevent pressure differentials, typically caused by breezes, from exerting too much force on the tent and to allow for some fresh air flow within the tent I installed vents. 
Standard household A/C filter employed as a vent in the tent wall.

The vents are standard household air-conditioning filters taped over holes in the tent side walls.    Three of vents were installed on various sides of the tent.
Two vents at the bow.

Starboard side, mid-ship I cut a hole, approximately 36” tall by 18” wide, for egress. 
Door cut in  tent along starboard, mid-ships.

The corners of the hole were re-enforced the duct tape. Then a flap was taped over the hole.
Corners of access opening re-enforced with duct tape and a flap taped over opening.

Working solo, tenting Pilgrim took about 8 hours spread over two days.  The time was fairly evenly split between rolling out the floor plastic under all the jack stands and constructing the side walls.  Choosing a day(s) with little wind saved a great deal of time and frustration.
Tent complete.  Ready to start the dirty job of bottom paint removal.

After lunch on day 2 it was time to suit up and begin the dirty work.

For more images and notes from this project check out our Bottom Job Photo Album.


  1. On the barrier coat. At the advice of a old salt, we put 5 full coats on our Westsail and two additional coats on the water line, down about 18 inches. We used 2000/2001 West Systems. Water line wear seems to increase on the water line. Ken

  2. Thanks for the advice Ken. We plan to apply 5 to 7 coats of Interlux 2000. We used this product on past boats with good results.