Painting New Boots and Cove Stripes for Bijou

Feb/March 2003

Above: The finished boot stripe and cover stripe in Jade Green AwlGrip. The hull shined up beautifully; treated with PolyGlow sealant after acid washing it to remove stains and compounding it to remove chalking.

The OEM gelcoated bootstripe on my 1977 Catalina 27 made the boat look like she was squatting horribly in the water. It was 6" above the waterline at the bow, and 1" below the water line at the stern. And it curved erratically up and downward as it travelled from bow to stern, and didn't have a consisent apparent width in the bow as in the middle or in the stern.. In some places it looked wider than others.

The purpose of the boot stripe on a boat with as much freeboard as a C27 is to make it look less boxy. The stripes make her look lower to the water, sleeker and faster.

True confessions...

A matter of color coordination...

I gotta admit the truth. The crooked boot stripe didn't look all THAT bad, though it did bug me that the boat looked like she was way out of trim... I hated the "C27 squat". It looked like she had way too much weight in her stern. And it was kind of a pain to have algae growing on the underside of the transom....

But I could haved lived with it like that if I weren't such a damned perfectionist...

The real reason for repainting the stipes was the way the royal blue stripes clashed with the new green dodger. The new dodger and mainsail cover was hemlock green, the new name graphics were jade green with gold leah... and the blue stripes looked crappy with all that pretty new green and gold . It was a classic example of the "I betcha can't eat just one" boat upgrade syndrome.

Two-Part vs. One-part Polyurethane Paint

There's a lot of labor involved in repainting the stripes, so I decided to do them AwlGrip's two-part linear polyurethane paint, because it would look great for the next 15 years. LPU is hard as nails, and doesn't chip and scratch half as easily as one part paints.

I repainted a whole boat once in one-part Brightsides, and it didn't look very good after a couple of years. I donated the boat to the local non-profit summer sailing camp on SF Bay, so I didn't feel to bad about the cosmetics. But I wouldn't use one-part polyurethane again if I intended to keep the boat longer than 5 years.

LPU paint is very expensive (it cost me about $380 for topcoat and primer), but it is worth it to me to not have to repaint it in five or 6 years. I could have saved about $200 dollars by using one-part polyurethane. But my free time is valuable to me, so I'd rather pay more and do the job just once.

Before painting... the blue stripe looks crummy with the green dodger.

Raising the bootstripe so it matches the water line of the 1977 Catalina 27 inboard model. With the original OEM bootstripe sprayed into the mold, the bootstripe was underwater at the stern. Without bottom paint, it was growing all kinds of crap.

A view of the correct waterline.

Starting at the widest part of the beam, the original bootstripe curved towards the water.

Labor and materials


1.50 hour. Re-taping boot strip (so that it was level and visually staight, dammit!!!) and cove stripe, top and bottom. It took me longer than 1.5 hours to do it. It's damned hard to get it looking right.

1.50 hours Sanding - first sanding of gelcoat so primer will adhere.

3.00 hours Filling pinholes/gouges/dings with fairing compound, sanding, 2nd fairing to get better: (and it was far from perfect, but passed the "5 foot test").

1.00 hours Masking bottom and topsides with plastic (all the way up to the lifelines).

1.50 hours. Spraying 1st coat high built primer: Work consisted of wiping with Awlprep, Mixing primer/catalyst/accelerator/reducer, inducing 20 for 20 minutes, setting up equipment to spray, spraying primer (that only took 15 mintues!), cleaning equipment.

1.00 hour. Sanding 1st coat primer

1.50 hours Spraying second coat primer, etc.

0.75 hour Sanding 2nd primer

1.50 hours. Spraying first topcoat/catalyst/accelerator/reducer, etc

0.75 hour. Sanding first topcoat

1.50 hours. Spraying 2nd top coat/etc

0.50 hours. Cleaning up tape and plastic masking:

Total labor for boot stripe and cove stripe painting: 17.00 hours over three or four days.

Estimated labor for boot stripe painting (if I had used one-part polyurethanet: 12 hours

Estimated labor for boot stripe painting (without cove stripe) using 1 part poly: 10 hours


-- I estimate that doing just the boot stripe would have elinmated perhaps 4 or 5 hours of labor: 1.50 hours of fairing/sanding, 1.50 hours of sanding between coats, and 1.00 hour of taping. It's the prep work that takes forever. Spraying the cove stripe only takes 5 minutes. The material cost for the paint would have been the same, since I did it all with two quarts

(That's the minimum you can buy of LPY, because you mix a quart of paint with a quart of converter. I think I would have needed more than one quart each of single-part primer and topcoat.)

-- Uisng a one-part polyurethane paint would have been about almost the same amount of labor, saving only perhaps a max of 2 hours for induction time. Painting AwlGrip with a brush is much more labor intensive than spraying, and increases sanding time between coats. I actually did the primer with a brush, but it took much more time for both applying the paint and sanding it smooth than it would have with a spray gun. It took me hours to sand out the brush marks -- more time than I cited above.

-- I did all the prep work and work through the second coat of primer, but I wasn't pleased well enough with my results after the first topcoat, so decided to hire a pro to do the topcoat. Quite frankly, after doing two coats of primer with a brush and sanding, I was totally fed up. Mypaint stripes had brush marks and uneven coverage. It was pretty clear that if I did the top coat, it wouldn't even pass the "15 foot test". I decided to hire a professional boat painter to spray the topcoat. The labor charge included time for re-masking my boat wiht plastic and putting tarps on adjacent boats, and to sand lightly between the topcoats. . His work came out beautiful -- the stripes were shiney, glossy and smooth, with no drips. His work would pass a "three foot test"

-- LPU isn't easy to work with. Maybe I might have achieved smooth, even coverage if the temperature had been the recommended 75F or if I were more skilled... but I'm not the world's most experienced painter when it comes to LPU. It takes practice to get good at working with any new material. I was experiementing for the first time with how much accelerator and converter to mix in for a given temperature. And

-- When you hire a yard to spray paint your boat, you pay for a lot of stuff besides just painit -- like covering up your boat and the boats next to you. I guess they didn't like the job I had done masking my boat (I hadn't covered enough of the deck for their standards. so they redid it and charged me for an hour's time. . I guess that's so they could be sure they wouldn't mess up my boat. I can't blame them for that -- I'd be pissed if they got paint on the stanchions and deck and dodger. In addition, you have to pay for them to cover the the adjacent boats to protect them from overspray),

-- Normally, you only need two coats of topcoat. But Bijou needed three. If the weather had been warmer and dryer, we probably could have gotten a good gloss with just two coats. But it was about 55 degrees in February and the fog caused the second coat to lose it's gloss, so it needed to be sprayed a third time. We waited a week for a day that was warm enough and dry enough to get a good glossy finish. So I paid for three topcoats, not two. It took the pro about 7 hours to spray (and sanding lightly between coats) three top coats..

-- The actual spraying only took about 15 each time. However, masking with plastic, mixing the paint, setting up the equipment and cleaning the equipment afterwards was hours to the job.


$45 1 Qt High Build Epoxy primer
$45 1 Qt Epoxy primer converter
$25 1 Qt Reducer T006 for epoxy primer (thinner for spraying)
$10 accelerator for primer (for temps below 75F)

$85 1 qt Awlrip topcoat Jade Mist
$75 1 qt topcoat converter Awl-Cat #2
$25 1 Qt Reducer T003 for topcoat(thinner for spraying)
$10 Accelerator for topcoat (for temps below 75F)

Subtotal for Awlgrip specific supplies - $320

$15 1 qt awlprep plus wax and grease remover
$10 sandpaper
$6 blue tape
$10 plastic skirt
$8 tack rags
$4 nitrile gloves
$5 mixing sticks, mixing pots
$5 acetone
$10 fairing compound (which I already owned)
$10 tyvek spray suit
$15 Respirator cartridge for organic poisons (for my full face respirator - LPU is extremely toxic)
Plus some stuff I've probably forgotten about!

Subtotal for miscellaneous supplies: $93

Total for materials: $413
Estimated cost for materials using one part poly: $213


I estimate that I could have saved at least $200 by using a one part polyurethane (one quart of primer, two quarts of topcoat), such as Petit EasyPoxy, but I'd have to redo the job in about 5 years. Awlgrip should last 15 years and stay looking great.



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