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The Art of Long Boarding

No, I am not referring to surfing in Hawaii!

Click for the Movie
Longboarding- AVI (779K) or Real Player (556K) Film Clip

The art and science of producing a top quality paint job on a yacht involves many steps. The part that everyone sees is the final, smooth, high gloss finish coat. I do not want to reduce the importance of the challenge of getting this final coat to a yacht level of finish, but it is just a small part of an over all process and one of the shortest sections in terms of time.

The application of the under coats and then the full fairing of all of the surfaces is by far the most time intensive section and has as much to do with the final quality of the paint work as the spraying of the last coat. In order for a paint finish to look good the faring work under it must be to a high level of smoothness over the total area.

There are a number of steps to this process but the final and most important on large surface areas is the use of the LONG BOARD.

Boards come in many sizes and styles and are very simple in design. They are literally a piece of board with handles mounted on one side and sand paper on the other. The short boards are used by one person on small and sharply curved areas. The LONG BOARD is used on larger expanses of flat or moderately curved areas. A small or sharply curved area does not allow the eye to see small deflections in the surface. Large expanses increase these same imperfections. One of the reasons so many yards build WHITE yachts is that the lighter the color the less you can see the imperfections in the smoothness of the fairing. If you paint a yacht a dark color like BLUE or GREEN you have to factor in at least a 25% increase in the time and materials to reach the same visual level of perfection as a white hull.

The way to reach this high level of perfection does not rely on high tech gear and special systems. It takes good training and a great deal of time and brute force.

The long board you see in use in the film clip has four people on it; they start at two and on very large projects can go to eight. The most people I have seen using the long board at INACE SHIPYARD is six.

A little narrative of what you see in the AVI or Real Player Film Clip-

You will note that there are white patches on a semi-dark background. The reason for this is as follows; the fairing surface is sprayed with a light coat of black spray paint. The same stuff you see on walls and buildings but for a different outcome. The spray paint acts as a high-lighter. As the board is passed over the surface the paint remains on any of the low spots. The high spots are sanded down until the general surface is clear of most of the black. Then a light coating of fairing is applied to the whole area building up the hollows. The complete area is sanded down again and this process is repeated until there is a uniform reduction of the black coating.

What makes it most challenging is the fact that the areas being smoothed must be over lapped to create a uniform surface of the entire hull area.

So the process will start with the smaller long boards working up to larger and larger boards. Each board spans larger areas showing move deviations and correcting them. To achieve a high level of finish, the “PAINT JOB” will start as soon as most of the hot work is completed, about 1/3 of the way into the build and will be one of the last elements in the building of the vessel.

This is a very simple and short explanation of a complex and difficult part of yacht building.

So next time you walk by a vessel painted in a light or especially a dark color, note the sun reflecting off of the hull showing the dock lines in the reflections as running straight and true. You will know that workers spent a LOT of time and effort on a LONG BOARD. The challenge to reach perfection is as great as standing on a board in the surf in the islands but not nearly as much fun.

As always I look forward to receiving your questions and comments. If there is a professional paint out there who would like to add more details or insight I look forward to posting your comments.

Warmest regards,
John DeCaro

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Broker John DeCaro
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33316 USA
Telephone: 954-646-1411

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