Foul bottom

The kids have been bitching the boat is running weird when they drag each other around on a tube (we used water skiis) and claimed engine trouble. I knew what the problem was — barnacles on the bottom because I had been too impetuous in launching in March without repainting with antifouling paint.

Cotuit Skiffs on the run before the wind
Cotuit Skiffs on the run before the wind

The barnacles cause a lot of friction, are disgusting to look at, are a hazard if you try to climb aboard from the water, and make the propellor cavitate — or lose its bite in the water — because they disrupt the flow into the prop. So, out of the water came the boat, into the backyard, out came the pressure washer, and for an hour I whittled away at a pervasive mass of univalve parasites.

“Did you know barnacles have the longest penis of any organism on earth, relative to their size?” Asked number one son. (That makes two references to the male organ in one week on this blog, damning it to some netnanny filter for eternity).

Did he ask to help? Did he get down and dirty with the scraper? Did he smell like barnacle guts as the sun set in the west and my favorite question: “What’s for dinner?” was asked by number two son.

This morning I woke early, dragged the de-barnacled hull over the grass, and started looking for a can of green bottom paint. I really don’t want to drive to Hyannis this time of year — bad things happen there involving drivers from Quebec and lefthand turns. I found a can of green Woolsey copper paint — a relic from the 1950s that would definitely get the EPA and people in hazmat suits here if they knew I owned it. This was the real deal — stuff from my grandfather’s era, when smoking was good for you and exercise was bad because it enlarged your heart.

On it went, a gorgeous hue of green and then I discovered the keelson under the bow was severely worn down from too many groundings on the beach, so back into the shop I went to mix up a pot of WEST System epoxy. That went on, was smoothed down with wax paper and tacked into place while I finished the paint job by moving onto the boottop (see earlier post on waterlines and boot tops).

By this point its 90 degrees out, I am covered in green and red paint, have it in my hair, am sweating into my eyes which makes them ren, and up drives my step-sister with some Chinese VIPs.  After a hearty round of introductions and vague promises to go on a boat ride, I went back to Project Nautical, finished up, and by noon was ready for my workout. I sponged myself off with a rag soaked in paint thinner and set out in my garage gym/boat shop to row 10,000 meters on the erg. Wrong. The man/air moisture transfer equilibrium was waaaay out of whack and I easily dropped a gallon of sweat in the first 2,500 meters, and being sicked by the fumes and the smell of the bottom paint, I bagged it, came in side, showered and discovered one can actually continue to perspire in the shower.

Boat was launched, brief ride, but I was too fried to go to the beach, so I went to the grocery store with the other senior citizens and walked around in the air conditioning for an hour.

So ends a summer Saturday.

Author: David Churbuck

Cape Codder with an itch to write

0 thoughts on “Foul bottom”

  1. Come west and work on my boat. Oh, did you know that running 50 hp or less four strokes with low batteries will fry their little thousand dollar microprocessor controllers? My mechanic told me that gleefully just after he mentyioned that his eldest daughter is going to Stanford. Caught a bunch of strange fish this weekend. So ugly that I really would have preferred to just cut the line rather than get them off the hook. Actually one of the things wasn;t a fish it was an evil mantis shrimp about the size of medium-spiney lobster. Although ugly, my cat and I enjoyed eating it.

    Sail on David,


  2. Chinese VIPs? In Cotuit?! They must have journied all this way for a round of golf at the fabled Cotuit Highgrounds. I hope they stopped at the Dottridge Homestead for a memento, perhaps a sweatshirt, before they left.

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