The Naiad Voyages

Mark Austen

2021.02.25 - Hanging the Spars and Varnishing

Today dawned bright, cold and sunny and the condensation on the underside of the Hay Barn roof had frozen due to the clear sky overnight. I went out before breakfast to continue the work I started last yesterday on the spars so that I can begin the varnishing later in the day.

One of the tasks on my list is to check the spars for damage and repair where necessary and then to add more coats of varnish to that which I applied two or three years ago. The spars are in very good condition considering that they were out in all weathers for three years and mostly unprotected at that.

Yesterday I brought them out of the barn where I had stored them last year and hung them where I can easily get to them to apply varnish. I also scrapped off the old damaged varnish where necessary and gave all the spars a wash down to remove the dirt and dust and then a light sanding to prepare the surface for varnish once they had dried.

This morning I continued the preparations by arranging the hanging of the mast and boom so that they can easily be turned over to varnish the underside easily. The gaff is so small and light that this is not required for this spar. All the blocks and other fittings that had been left on the spares were then removed and put aside, I'll check those over and clean them later.

Here are the spars hung in their new locations as I left them last night.

The mast needed to be brought out into the bay that is usually reserved for our car but has been used to shelter Hope whilst her fore-hooves are recovering from a spot of laminitis.

The smallest spar, the gaff, is right at the back of the barn but still accessible.

This afternoon, once I have finished work, I shall come back out to the barn and apply a coat of varnish. I think that three or four coats should be sufficient, perhaps more on the areas that have been scraped back to bare wood. Fortunately, applying a coat to each spar doesn't take that long, less than an hour, so I may well put more varnish on the interior of the cockpit once I'm done.

Later in the afternoon...

Despite the occasional rain, the spars are now clean and dry so the varnishing proceeded.

The first coat always make such a difference. Prior to this the old varnish is dull where it has weathered and where it has been sanded.

Now the finish is bright and shiny and it looks really good.

However, the primary purpose of paint and varnish on a wooden boat is not to make it look nice. The real reason for paint and varnish is to protect the wood. Now, you could only paint and varnish when it needs it but boat owners do this every off season and there's a very good reason for that. Whilst you wash, dry, scrape and sand the boat you are looking for damaged areas that need to be repaired.

Like this. The pad upon which the horse is mounted has started to delaminate. I probably would not have noticed this had I not been cleaning the deck,. Or not until the boat was back in the water.

This is a piece of marine plywood and shows you what I mean when I say that marine plywood is not impervious to water damage, just that the glue is waterproof. The water has seeped into the wooden layers and allowed them to split. The reason is probably that I didn't think to treat the edges of the pads with a waterproof layer, such as epoxy before I mounted them.

The one on the port side has also started to delaminate. Whilst Naiad is in the hay barn it is a simple job to repair this and one that I will do at the weekend. If Naiad has been in the water then this would not be simple at all.