Thursday, May 21, 2015

Alberg 30 Refit: Bottom paint removal

And I've already run into an issue. I started working on the bottom, beginning with the nasty job of removing bottom paint. When I got Sal out of the water I realized she has between 5-6 layers of paint. This being the dirtiest job, I decided to tackle it first. Upon inspection of the hull I noticed some weird coloring where the paint had chipped or cracked away. I decided to start where I noticed this weird coloring.

That small white area is where I started. Small pin holes and the funny looking pattern immediately had me concerned.

Sanded a small area, the odd pattern and pin holes seemed to be wide spread. Can of worms opened! 

As I began to remove the paint I quickly realized that this was going to be way more nasty than I ever imagined. Blue dust was everywhere. I did have a respirator but that was not nearly enough. A few days later with a the proper PPE I decided to investigate that area more. I began sanding with a 6 inch disc sander. Very good tool for the job. Within an hour I had removed about a 4' x 3' area and the odd pattern just kept going. I was looking for the original gelcoat and it was nowhere to found. The gelcoat is the outer protective layer of fiberglass boats, that seals and protects the fiberglass. My immediate thought was that the boat had suffered some damage in the area. I was starting to get worried.

This is the area I sanded. Almost 2 hours of nasty work. 

This is a close-up of what I found

I decided to stop because I was getting pretty discouraged with how widespread the affected area was. I sent a few pictures of it to people I consider "Plastic Classic" (old fiberglass boat) gurus. After a few days of emails and a few calls the general consensus was that the boat was not damaged and I was just seeing crazed/cracked, thinned gelcoat. These pin holes were voids in the layup between the gelcoat and the fiberglass. It seems as though somewhere in Sal's past someone sanded way into the gelcoat. At this point I am still weighing options about how to address the issues I found, but in the meantime I have to finish sanding the hull. I hope to have it completed soon. I believe I can do it in a week if I just buckle down.
Stepped back a bit to get a better view, have a lot of work ahead of me!

I have been pretty busy away from the boat with everyday life. I picked up quite a few extra hours captaining the ferry to get some money into the refit fund. I also had a milestone birthday (40!) and we had some special family members come for visits. I will blog about that in coming days.

Take care~

Saturday, April 4, 2015

(Boat) Traffic Everywhere

A look down the Elizabeth River. 
Most times you won't see anything at all when passing by it in a car, but working out on the river is a different story. Tugs, tankers and pleasure craft seem to be everywhere. The ferry I pilot on the weekends is not very nimble, nor is it very fast and I try to stay out of the way because these work boats are even less maneuverable.
 Below are some pics of the river traffic I encounter.

These pics are just a few examples of what it looks like when working out on the river. When a boat is close by, I'll keep the ferry at the dock and let them pass. This removes any guess-work for both myself and the other pilots. And besides, I enjoy watching these boats.

Not much happening in the way of sailboat refitting. I did begin the process of getting Sal ready. I washed her decks down and vacuumed all the nooks and crannies. She got quite dirty last fall; every leaf that fell from our willow trees made its way onto her decks. I tried to keep up with cleaning them off but was quickly overcome. I gave up until her shelter was in place then went to work. Here are a few pictures of what she looks like today:

I have also rigged a lighting system within the tent, to illuminate the workspace during nighttime work. 
Now she is just waiting for us to get started. I am formulating a plan. 

Thank you for following and stay tuned!

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Repowering our Old Alberg 30?

During our refit I have given some thought to perhaps repowering our Alberg 30 with a new propulsion system. It's not that the one we have is not adequate, it is just old. Why not replace Sal's Atomic 4 while she's here at the house?

Here is a picture of the Atomic 4 that we have now. She is still a very good engine, but it's old technology and uses quite a bit of fuel, not a good option for cruising beyond America. She was rebuilt back in 2008 by A4 gurus at Moyer Marine, and hasn't really been any trouble for us. 

(picture from
Here is what I would like to put into our Alberg 30, a Beta 14 Diesel. This engine uses probably 1/3 the fuel of the Atomic 4, and diesel on a sailboat is safer than gasoline. So why not? Well, the $8,000 price tag. That's about 5000 extra reasons why this will not be at the top of the list.

(picture from
Next consideration is the outboard. While not exactly designed to push a boat of Sal's size, in calm water it does just fine. I have seen several cost-conscious cruisers with boats similar to ours using this option. It frees up space on the inside of the boat and uses about 2/3 the fuel of our current system.
(picture from
Next there is electric power. I really like this option for some reason. No more fuel costs other than batteries (every 5-6 yrs). This system's only draw back is range. The large battery bank needed to supply a decent range is just not practical on a boat of our size. But let's face it, our Alberg is a much should we be motoring anyway?

These are our choices and I am still doing the research on each. Each option has its pros and cons and I will be weighing them out here on the blog during the coming months.
What are your thoughts on powering a sailboat?

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

No Snow on Sal!

So far the shelter has been doing its job! Our Alberg 30 is staying dry. A bit of drifting snow is finding its way onto her decks but for the most part, nice and dry.
I've also added a bit of light for when the weather warms up. I will be able to work into the evening and night time hours, this will really help with refit progress.
Until next time, stay warm! 

Sunday, February 22, 2015

The Fog!

Not sure if you have ever experienced being on a boat in the fog, but if you haven't let me tell you- consider yourself lucky. I have been underway in the fog on many occasions and it has never been fun. I was reminded of that today as we got underway on the ferry. It was eerily quiet, and there was not a breath of wind. I listened closely, and had my deckhand helping as a lookout. Today I had to depend on technology more than I'd like to, using the radar and AIS to ensure the channel was clear. It worked, but there is nothing more accurate than my eyes except, perhaps, the radar in the dense fog. Today's fog only lasted for about an hour before clearing out, but that hour felt like three. Below are a few pics from the wheel house.

Looking north on the Elizabeth River, you can see the fog was really low....only about 30-50 ft off the water.

Looking south on the Elizabeth River, one can barely make out the tops of shipyard boats rising out of the ghostly fog.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

James Baldwin of has been a great help and a very good resource for plastic classic boats and, more specifically, Carl Alberg-designed boats. James has circumnavigated in his own Pearson Triton twice. I came across a video he posted just a few days ago of his refinished interior. It is beautiful, simple and functional. I can only hope my refit comes out half as nice.

Thank you James for sharing. Lots of great ideas!