Yep. We painted our new rubber dinghy. We may be crazy, and it may be a huge mistake – but we won’t know about the mistake part for a few months or years. You’ll have to decide whether or not we’re crazy.
Weeks before we went to Farjardo for the Big Shopping Trip, EW worked to put our order together for West Marine, and I measured and planned sewing projects for the shopping stop at Almacenes Fabrics, an excellent fabric store in Fajardo. They sell Sunbrella at great prices. They are my new favorite fabric store.
Back in Grenada, when we were dreaming and scheming on a new dinghy, EW was dreaming and scheming on “chaps”, a custom canvas and vinyl cover that would protect our future dinghy from the relentless sun in the islands. I took photos of chaps, and talked with cruisers who had made or purchased chaps. EW really liked the ones that had an extra layer of contrasting vinyl fabric over the canvas at strategic locations.
Years ago, I made a dodger for La Luna. It was not a good experience. If fact, that project turned on my salty language button and I’ve still not successfully turned off that button. I was not looking forward to making chaps. One of the best set of chaps we saw in Grenada had been made by a fellow cruiser who planned to supplement his cruising kitty by making custom chaps for others – for $3000.00. That’s more than our new dinghy cost. If we were going to have chaps, I was going to make them. I saw two to three weeks of constant cutting, measuring and sewing and a messy boat in my future. Here’s a nearly perfect set of chaps. H. E. Double Hockey Sticks. This does not look easy.
A cruising friend said, “Why don’t you just paint it?
“The new dinghy.”
“You can’t be serious!”
“Sure. We did that,” she said.
Hmmmm. “Tell me about it.”
“Well, they have paint for Hypalon dinghies. People usually use it to paint an older dinghy. The paint will seal small holes and protect the boat from further sun damage. It costs a lot less than buying fabric and takes just a day to apply.”
I visualized the two tasks and decided to try to convince EW to paint his (our) brand new dinghy.
This didn’t take as long as I thought it would. (I admit, I did remind him of the dodger experience, and that helped.) We talked with some folks, thought it over, coming to the following conclusions:
- This wouldn’t harm the dinghy, and it would provide UV protection on the most vulnerable areas
- The up side was huge in terms of saving time and money
- The worst that could happen is that the paint would crack and look ugly after a few months or years and I’d have to make a set of chaps, then.
We ordered the paint. In red.
Why red? Well – it matches La Luna’s boot stripe and bottom paint, and it presents a unique “This is MY dinghy” message to the boating community. Dinghies are stolen by one of two groups, dishonest locals who want a motor (usually a 15 horsepower one), or dishonest cruisers (yes, they exist) who need a new dinghy. If some steals the dinghy to take the motor, they frequently leave the dinghy ashore someplace. Since there’s an active cruising net on the SSB and on Facebook, it helps to let people know you’ve lost your dinghy, but if you’re dinghy is stolen and it’s just another ten foot West Marine dinghy, it’s hard to spot and identify. I assure you, Lunah Landah is now unique.
EW spent part of Friday hauling Luna Landah and applying the keel guard. We both spent Saturday “painting” the dinghy. Those of you who’ve done an painting or varnishing know that we spent most of Saturday preparing to paint, as that’s the most important part. As per the instructions on the can:
- we first scrubbed the areas to be painted with laundry detergent
- then we sanded those areas
- then we wiped it down with acetone – making sure we pressed hard and thoroughly cleaned the boat
- then we spent hours taping the areas
- finally we painted, waited three hours and then applied a second coat.
Step #5 took less than four hours, including the three hour wait. The painting project, including the three hour wait, removing the tape, and cleaning up took eight hours for two people – 16 man-hours. Costs were for Keel Guard, paint and tape. We already had brushes, acetone, laundry detergent, and rags. Total time including hauling the dingy and applying the Keel Guard and breaks waiting out rain squalls was 5 hours.
Total hours on the project over two days, with two people: 21
Costs: West Marine Inflatable Boat Top Coating $43.99
Keel Guard, 8 Foot Roll: $167.99
Two rolls 1” tape (we didn’t use all of the rolls) 11.98
TOTAL Cost: $223.96
NOTE: The bulk of that cost was for the Keel Guard. Sunbrella. It cost less than $60.00 to paint the boat.
How’s it look? Tune in next time for those photos and to find out where we found a “dinghy work deck”. That will be a tale of cruising friends and dinghy swaps.