About Ed Sherman

Ed Sherman is a regular contributor to boats.com, as well as to Professional Boatbuilder and Cruising World, where he previously was electronics editor. He also is the curriculum director for the American Boat and Yacht Council. Previously, Ed was chairman of the Marine Technology Department at the New England Institute of Technology. Ed’s blog posts appear courtesy of his website, EdsBoatTips.

Nonskid/Gelcoat Redo, Final Outcome

The Silverton nonskid and gelcoat redo is finally complete. The best way to see how this came out is probably to look at some before and after photos. As for the method used, as I said yesterday, the perimeter of the areas to be refinished had been masked off and additional protective covering added beyond the perimeter outlines to prevent any splattering of the new surface onto the original gel coat.

As for the actual application, here’s the good part….No special equipment needed here. Rather than spraying the new surface, it was rolled on with conventional paint rollers. The next trick is that the new surface is actually Awlgrip in a nice off white tan color. The nonskid grit has been thoroughly mixed in with the paint. Since in this case we are primarily trying to end up with a relatively rough surface (non-skid), the final sanding in preparation is not as critical as it would be if we were attempting to create a mirror gloss. For a high gloss, Awlgrip recommends sanding to a 280-400 grit level smoothness. In this case, 150 grit seemed to do the job.

So, first coat is using the recommended primer (Awlquick). This will be followed by two coats of the new color applied in strict accordance with the Awlgrip application instructions. Here the mix of Awlcat #3 brushing converter is quite important. Dry time between the two coats is 16 hours.

The other key factor here to insure long life and the final quality of the finish is the use limits as the multi-part paint slowly comes to full cure. At 77 degrees F and 50% relative humidity, you’re looking at 3 days until light service can be safely expected and up to 14 days for a full cure.

My recommendation is to go to the Awlgrip website (www.awlgrip.com)  and get a look at the product data sheets they provide before you even start a project of this magnitude. That said, this is really quite doable by any handy person. It’s not rocket science, if you can read and follow application directions, you can make this happen on your own boat when the time comes. So, now the before and after photos:

 Cockpit Before

Cockpit After

Deck Near Fuel Fill Before

Deck Around Fuel Fill After

Nonskid/Gelcoat Repair, Part 5

I’ve been on the road for the last several weeks and unable to track our nonskid and gelcoat repair project. But, in my absence, I had some photos taken to track the progress and now I’m back at the yard.

We left off in part 4 with gelcoat Jim sanding away to prep the surface. Once the surface was down to fair and smooth, the boat had to get masked off to identify the new surface perimeter. Here are a couple of shots to see how that looked: (notice the blue masking tape)

Once the preimeter is defined, the whole boat is going to get covered outside the masked off area. Next will be the application of the new non-skid surface. I’ll get that your way tomorrow, so stay tuned.

July 4th Boat Tips

Happy July 4th weekend to all! This weekend is probably one of the busiest boating weekends in the US. Just about everyone that owns a boat is going to give it their best shot to get out on the boat for at least part of the weekend if not the whole weekend. Besides the boating fun, I also regard July 4th, or shortly thereafter as a time when we in the northern states of the US are approaching the midway point of the boating season. That means a little maintenance is also in order.

Several mid-season maintenance routines that I perform religiously can save you both fuel and extra work next spring.

Item one has to do with the bottom of the boat. If you haven’t been using the boat regularly and launched before or right around Memorial Day weekend, odds are good that no matter what anti-fouling paint you used, the bottom is going to need a good cleaning. Growth happens, and it can slow your boat down and add aconsiderable amount of drag that will equate to decreased fuel economy. As the water gets warmer, the growth rate will accelerate. Now’s the time to dive on the boat and give it a good scrubbing. If you’re not into diving on your own, every waterfront community I can think of has folks around that will do it for a fee, usually around $50-$75 dollars depending on the size of the boat. Also, most marinas offer a “quick haul” and wash service where they just lift the boat and give it a pressure wash. That’s going to cost a bit more (charged by the foot typically), but it’ll give you the best job generally. The saving in fuel consumption will really offset this cost.

The other area I take a close look at won’t apply to all boats, but it sure does on mine. If you have any varnished woodwork on the outside of your boat its time to give it an inspection and touch up any spots where wear and tear has nicked the finish down to bare wood. If you don’t seal those nicks now, water will penetrate into the exposed wood and cause the wood to stain and darken. This will mean that you’ll have to sand down the entire stained area next spring to get the wood back to it’s original color. Water stains can really migrate deeply into the wood too, and it can often be quite a job to get the stains completely out of the wood. If your finicky about your brightwork like I am, cover those bare spots now! It’ll keep the wood looking sharp, and save you a lot of effort come spring.

Have a great July 4th and above all, be safe!


Best Buy Ramping Up For Marine Business

Last week I was in Kansas City at the Skills USA National Championship contest, this week I’m here in Minnesota at Best Buy’s Geek Squad University training about 30 members of the Geek Squad team in the nuances of marine electrical systems. One of the mandates Best Buy has put in place as they slowly expand their marine electronics business is that all of the Geek Squad technicians that are going to be working on boats must be certified by the American Boat and Yacht Council, (ABYC) in marine electrics. Additionally they will also be required to become National Marine Electronics Association (NMEA) certified. This week we have students from all over the country in the group as Best Buy begins the roll out of their newest venture.

I have to say it, this company is doing it right! The techs I’m working with have already been highly trained in many areas of electronics such as home theater installations and calibrations, automotive audio system instalations and electrical fundamentals. Many of the techs have already been working on boats and now they are going to get the chance to expand their work even further. Each of the technicians I’m working with has been hand picked by their respective store managers to go through this training and I just can’t say enough good about the level of professionalism and expertise I’m seeing. These folks are sharp! Within a matter of weeks we’re going to see more Best Buy stores coming online with truly qualified marine electronics installation specialists. The company is carefully selecting traditional marine electronics vendors to provide product. Companies like Garmin, Raymarine, ICOM, Lowrance, Fusion are already on board, and more are going to be coming into the mix over the next few months.

One of the things Best Buy Marine is offering that is unique is flat rate installation pricing for their customers. Most electronics installers work on a “time and materials” pricing format, which means when the tech leaves the shop to come to your boat the meter starts running. When they are done, the meter shuts off. You pay for every minute, no matter how long it takes to do the install. Sometimes this can turn into a real horror show and statistically, I’ll tell you that in a time and materials format, you are almost always going to end up paying more than the price you get quoted as an “approximate” estimate. At Best Buy, the price you get quoted is what you’ll pay, not a penny more. I love the concept!

So, next time you’re looking for on board audio, video, or traditional marine electronic navigation and communication gear, give Best Buy a try. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

Yamaha Motors and The Gulf Oil Spill

Yesterday Yamaha Motors came out with some really sound advice regarding running their engines in the Gulf of Mexico, more specifically what to do if you find yourself running through an oil slick. As far as I’m concerned, their advice will work for just about any makers engine. Here’s the official Yamaha take on it:

“In the weeks following the BP/Transocean’s Deepwater Horizon’s oil spill Yamaha has received many calls from many concerned consumers who wish to learn more about the operation of Yamahaa outboard motors in crude oil contaminated waters. The conditions that currently exist in portions of the Gulf of Mexico are are unique and unusual. There is very little data to support any assertions for how the product might react when exposed to them.

While Yamaha does not recommend deliberate operation of it’s outboards in oil contaminated water, we realize the outboards will be used in these conditions.

Yamaha takes some pride in the fact that so many Yamaha-powered boats are being used in support of clean-up efforts in the Gulf, and we have been monitoring dealer and consumer comments regarding the performance of these outboards. To date, few difficulties have been reported as a direct result of oil contamination.

For outboards that are used in crude oil contaminated water, Yamaha has the following general recommendations:

  • Operators should use extreme vigilance in monitoring water pressure and temperature conditions of the outboard.
  • Frequently clean the outboard lower unit, using a mixture of liquid dish detergent and water.
  • Frequently clear debris from the cooling water intake intakes using a stiff brush.

Consumer questions regarding use in oil contaminated waters should be directed to Yamaha Consumer Relations at: (866)894-1626.

This all seems like sensible sound advice to me and again, my view is that this is good advice for all outboard motors running around the Gulf these days.

Skills USA, Future Boat Techs

Today we completed the hands-on portion of the USA National Championship competition. The photo below shows one of the contestants totally engrossed in troubleshooting an electrical problem with a Suzuki outboard engine ignition component. Keep in mind that this was only one of 5 test stations as a part of the hands-on side of the competition. It was a long day as we had 27 finalists this year at the competition.


 One of the other stations in the competition had the contestants going through a predelivery inspection checklist on a new Cobalt bow rider. That’s shown here:

So you may be asking yourself what’s the boat tip here? That’s an easy one for me to answer. These are the sort of young people we need to both foster and support in any way that we can. They represent the future of boat service at the highest level. Ask your boat service people if they have ever hired a Skills USA champion. That’s today’s tip. Again, if you are not familiar with Skills USA, go to www.skillsusa.org to learn more.

The future of boat service, Skills USA Nationals

I’m in Kansas City, MO this week at the Skills USA National Championship competition to determine the best and brightest in the service industry not just for marine techs, but virtually any area of service you can think of, from airplanes to pastry chefs to medical assistants. Most people outside of the service industry are not familiar with Skills USA and I encourage you to go to their website to learn more about what they do and how it can impact your life whenever you need to get something repaired or built. Go to www.skillsusa.org to find out more about this group.

The participants come from schools all over the US and most of the competitors have already proven themselves by winning state or regional contests. So, for me this is an opportunity to not only meet with the instructors, but students that have really worked hard to become the best that they can be in their respective interest areas. As a judge for the contest I get to see these young people demonstrate their skills first hand. These are the newest and best that the marine service sector will see. These are the people you want to be servicing your boat!

One of my personal volunteer projects over the last several years has been to work with the people at Skills in the development of a new competency exam for these or any Skills USA member in the marine service technology area. One of the mandates set forth by Skills was that the exam be Standards Based. Most of you reading this probably have no real idea what that means, so let me explain. Virtually any industry has a “code” or set of standards that are followed in the workplace to act as a guiding light for work perfomed. Household electricians are mandated to follow the National Electric Code as an example. Well, since I work for the Standards writing body for the recreational marine industry, the American Boat & Yacht Council (ABYC) I was a logical choice to create a Standards Based test for the marine industry. This is a whole new approach for the marine sector, as well as many of the other service sectors represented here at this contest. The other interesting thing about this exam is that it is the first of its type within the marine industry and it utilizes some new approaches to standardized test taking.

Readers need to understand that most service people in the world have a very definable set of learning styles. Visual and hands-on learning are the keys to their successful training. To that end, this exam employs many visuals as well as interactive drag and drop diagrams. Yes, it is a multiple choice exam, but it is the first attempt at integrating some of the known learning styles and methods into a generic, industry wide competency exam. Further its all online, so the new generation of service workers are at a computer taking the exam. Computers are a way of life in the new service sector, so why not adopt them for competency testing purposes. Its also an instant gratifiaction society at this point in history, so the online system gives the students a score immediately, which is recorded in a database.

So, today was the “written” portion of the contest, and all of our marine contestants have taken the online test. Tomorrow is the hands-on portion of the contest and the contestants will work their way through 5 work stations demonstrating their skills in boat and trailer preparation, precision measurement, electrical troubleshooting and systems diagnostics. I’ll get you some more photos tomorrow. Below you see our first group online working their way through the new exam. Remember folks, these young technicians are the future for your boat repairs, and with people like these working on your boat your future looks good! 

Gel Coat and Non-Skid Repair, Part 4

The on-going rebuild of the 1977 Silverton is continuing and this morning Gel-Coat Jim began preparing some of the nicks in the original gel coat surface for recoating. With a small grinder he removed all of the loose gel-coat around each of the nicks in the surface. Its important to remember here that a small nick will often require grinding back a significantly larger area around the preimeter of the nick. The photos below show the three areas on the boat’s hull that are going to be recoated.

After grinding as shown, you need to be extremely careful not to get any wax or other contaminates onto the ground down surface. It’s a good idea to wash the area with acetone to clean out the area and remove any loose grinding particles. The remaining surface is comparatively porous so if the gel coating is not going to be done immediately its also a good idea to cover the area to keep it clean.

Hopefully Jim will be applying the gel-coat tomorrow morning so we can get a look at that part of the process. I’ll be checking in before I fly to Kansas City, MO in late morning.

You may be wondering why I’ll be in Kansas City. Not much water out there. Well, I’ll be acting as a judge at the Skills USA national championship in the Marine Service Technology area. This is a trip I make every year and the contest is really a chance to get a first hand look at the best and the brightest students from marine tech programs from around the US. The future of boat repair is competing head to head to see who comes out the winner in a challenging contest that is comprised of both written and hands-on skills related to boat repair. I’ll be reporting live from the Kansas City Convention Center beginning on Wednesday.

Non-Skid/Gelcoat Repair, Part 3

Well I was wrong, the project non-skid / gelcoat repair project hit a speed bump yesterday and they are not ready to begin masking off the deck to begin the refinish process. The hold-up was the cockpit sole. Here it is again:

It turns out that when the original owner installed the carpeting in the cockpit, they used some adhesive that was nearly impossible to remove. The tan colored residue you see above was relatively easy to get out with liberal washing down with acetone and a lot of scrubbing. The dark grey streaks were a different compound and the acetone barely touched it. Vigorous scraping finally got it off, but the whole process took an entire afternoon. The sole now looks like this:

The glass man ran out of time yesterday and today he’s coming back to sand the non-skid down to what will be its new surface in preperation for the re-coat. We’ll follow-up after the weekend because it looks like they are going to need some extra time on this before any new surfaces are applied.


Non-Skid/GelCoat Repair, Part 2

The fiberglass man finished prepping the 1977 Silverton yesterday so that he can now begin the process of getting ready for new non-skid surfacing on deck. He’s still sanding away in the photo below:


 When all is said and done, the 36 grit did a great job here, but some interesting things did show up that were not really a surprise, and that you should understand.

In a few places all of the original gel coat did get sanded through. This is common when doing a job like this, especially at corner edges. This is because when boats are built and the gel-coat is being sprayed into the mold, the thickness of the gel-coat is often a bit thinner at corners than the flat surfaces. The dark spots in the photo below show some of the sanded through spots. Also, what you see as some light brown areas are just some of the left over non-skid material. It’s been sanded thoroughly, so a new coating will adhere right over this new surface.

These thin spots that are now showing glass through will disappear as long as the thickness of the new coating is adequate.

Today, the detail of proper masking off should follow. We’ll get a look at that tomorrow.