Fairing, Highbuild

Walk the walk.

Posted by Paul

I have been fairing a long time. It seems like years. This time last year I had just ground down the hips at the stern of the boat and had started the fairing of the hull sides. The roof had been done about a year before that. The underwater sections and under bridgedecks were done as I went on the build.

But that’s still about a year of fairing, interspersed with some mechanical fitting such as steering, outboards etc. (My friend Wazza warned me he spent about a year fairing, which was about 20% of his build time). And much of that fairing is purely cosmetic. Has no bearing on how the boat performs or how the view or activities from the boat are enjoyed. About the only direct benefit are in resale value and the kudos from admirers.

And I have long thought the obsession with how our boats look is both unhealthy and unnecessary and have even argued my point on a forum I belong to. I know of 2 builders that could not finish their boats due to ill health. Had we humans not had this obsession with appearance and didnt make judgements based on it, they may have been able to finish before ill health overtook them and who knows how much the benefit of completion and enjoying the actual function rather than the form could have been to their health.

But whilst making this theoretic stand I continued on with the actual fairing job, forever tossing with the equation of when I would be satisfied enough or fed up enough to stop. And I have been told by many builders that in many cases the decision is a very personal one. I was told you may well just click and decide that’s it. Guess what? I clicked.

It happened last week. I casually asked a pro boat builder in my shed (a different one) if he had ever seen the tiger stripes I have in my bog on each hull side (signifying the highs and lows I had before, and to an extent, although lesser than before, I still have). His answer was that I should have stuck to one brand of epoxy, one brand of filler or one type (I have used West, Qcel and premixed Technifil as well as 3 different brands of epoxy) and sanded immediately not bogged sections months before I got to sanding them then applying new bog over it and sanding it as soon as that layer set, which you do when you get to actually fairing rather than preparing glassed surfaces with bog to sand much later rather than using peel ply and bog the entire boat or at least section, then immediately fairing it. When you inevitably sand through the new bog and hit older harder bog you hit these problems.

fairing stripes

The upshot being that the different products, timelines etc resulted in different hardness and consistencies that created less or more resistance to sanding which in turn created the high low high low stripes I have now. But here is the kicker. He reckons the only real way to “fix” it is to start again. Re-bog the entire boat and start again. Otherwise I could be fairing this over and over not really making much progress (as opposed to the time it would take to start again!)

Firstly I want to point out I am not disparaging his advise. It is probably very accurate if not unrealistic for me. But it highlighted a couple of issues for me. I am not, nor have I ever pretended that I am anything but a very amateur builder. In fact I have even surprised myself that I have even got this far. But some people, other amateur builders included expect our results to “look” professional. They can, I have been on some boats that looked much better than any production boat. But my point is, they dont have to and why would they?

Years ago, I went on such a boat, and was told there was 21000 build hours in it (3 guys all worked full time for 7000 hours). Sure it showed. But I have been on others that were more amateur. Sure it showed, but so what, they sailed fine and the fun we had was not in any way diminished, so as long as all of the design specs were met in the construction, so what? That is really all that truly matters. And how would I know either way if the structural integrity was met in either a shiny or plain boat? What justification is there to judge if structure is sound on either from the appearance?

Aesthetics is such a dumb thing. And we all say cliches like dont judge books by covers, or beauty is only skin deep, but we dont live them, we just mouth them. Fashion rules our lives. How else to explain lines around blocks each year when Apple release a new iphone? Most of the buyers have perfectly good phones in their pockets whilst in line.

And in the interest of full disclosure. My phone had really poor reception for me, it seemed to work fine in many places but not my shed or new home. We put up with it since we moved into the new home, we even changed service provider to see if we could improve it. Jo’s iphone worked ok, but the Sony I had didnt. So when we got back from Hawaii her son gave me his old Samsung (when I say old, its a gs5 about 2 years old) which works just fine and he has a shiny new one. Yet I still spent the last week researching a replacement new phone, watching youtube reviews, reading reviews etc. Why? Just because I am as indoctrinated into the consumerism culture as the rest of the community. I think its a sickness. I really hope we take to cruising and learn to forget possessions and reconnect with the really important things. Time for me to walk the walk having spent months talking about how I hate the shiny shiny culture but continuing to fair its time to walk the walk.

So that long winded rant was just my way of saying I have drawn my line in the sand, er, dust. That’s it now. I’m done with caring about fairing (and having a spanking new phone!!).

Having said that, it still caused me an emotional rollercoaster ride this week. Having made that decision last week, Terry and I had a crack at spraying Jotun highbuild onto the hulls. Bit of a farce really, due to me not really having a proper tipped spray gun. Terry mentioned a 2 tip, it think that’s mm but not sure, and my cheap Aldi gun was 1.8 but we had a go anyway. We thinned it quite a bit but the gun kept clogging and spitting and the finish was awful. About half way down the first hull the gun packed it in all together and we couldnt get it apart to clean it. A blessing really.



I looked back over the half sprayed hull and immediately regretted promising myself I wouldnt be doing any more fairing. The uneven spray made the hull look so lumpy. But then I started rollering on the rest of the hull and it immediately looked fair again. The even gloss of the wet paint looked fine. What a relief that was. I had consigned myself to living with it the way it was but it turned out not quite as bad as it might have been. You see, even still I am afflicted with this sickness. If I truly didnt care, then the poor initial result and the better later result should have registered the same. The underlying boat did not change, just the way I was seeing it. Dumb.


Not sure how I can prove or account for this but rollering seemed to lay a much thicker coat down whilst at the same time using less paint. We used 5 liters of paint on Tuesday and sprayed about half the starboard hull before I went over to roller and had enough to redo some of the sprayed surface again but not all so about a third of the hull is the original sprayed surface the rest rollered. And it took both of us all day. On Thursday I rollered the entire port hull, plus the entire decks from the nose to the daggerboard both sides with 5 litres in about 2 hours.



I used foam rollers so I dont have the stipple I got on the microsurfacer, just an orange peel effect. So I much prefer rolling high build to spraying it.


I will be getting my brother to spray the hulls and on that note, having decided I would not be “refairing” my hulls it helped me make up my mind on which topcoat to buy. The better quality but more expensive paint from the guy having his boat repaired in my shed or the cheaper Jotun Imperite that many have good reports on. What would be the point of spending more money if the fairing is only just ok rather than perfect, and its money I dont have so problem solved.


Jotun claims 14 sqm per litre so a 4 litre kit should get 50 sq meters. The hull sides are going to be grey, the rest white. The entire boat is about 180 sqm. The hull sides that will be grey are 1.5 meters tall by 12.5 meters long = 18.75 x 2 hulls = 37.5  x 2 coats minimum = 75 sqm. (3 coats is 112 sqm). I bought 2 kits of grey so I theoretically have 100 sqm. If 2 coats looks fine then I may take the grey around the bows and onto the inside of each hull under the tramps, each side being about 5 sqm meters adding about another 20 square meters on top of the 75 which would use up all of the grey.


I also bought 3 x 4 litre kits of white for the rest of the boat. If the entire boat is 180 sq meters minus about half that for the grey then the 3 kits of white should be plenty and will probably be enough to make non slip too. Colored paint is somewhat more expensive than white. The white is $106 per 4 litre (a little cheaper again for 20 litres its $504) and the color is $170 4 litres and $660 for the 20l size. All up, including a 5 litre thinners and delivery I paid $730. Not bad at all. About a third the price of the other paint I was considering. I bought online via www.pmabrasives.com.au and recommend them.

So the hulls have what I believe will be the final layer of highbuild. I will spray a guide coat of black paint thinned down to nearly nothing before sanding, just to get an idea if the repairs left are minor (if they are I will apply more highbuild to repair the areas) or if they are major, then I am just keying the highbuild to take the topcoat.

So after sanding the hull sides for what could be the final time (I also have not yet rounded the sharp chine off on each side), I will start on the rear steps and cockpit and fix the areas on the deck and topsides (mostly around the sheeting points) that need some fairing repair before they too will get the final seal coat of highbuild ready for topcoat.

And whilst doing the cockpit I will also be cutting in the stanchions and daggerboard hardware mounts that needed the hull sides faired before fitting them. This will mean grinding away the fairing to glue and glass the stanchions in before fairing them back into the faired surface around them. More of this damn fairing. This I will do.

I know I have some issues with the join where the tops of the side panels are joined to the curved hull sides. I know this because this is where the bog and highbuild sands through to the glassing underneath in places. I intend to disguise this with the pinstripe through the middle of the portlights signifying the color change, grey below white above.

So that pretty much covers it for now. My brother had indicated that he would be free to come up to paint during the next school holidays that start next week. I was feeling I would not make it, but having it in the final layer of highbuild means I probably could meet that timeline for the hullsides but not the cockpit or rear steps, but it turns out he is coming up this way in November anyway so would prefer to only come up once. Great. I should be ready for topcoating the entire boat then.

I feel I might still be on sched to launch this year. Besides time, I am constrained by budget. Buying the paint this week cleaned me out again. I still have to pay the outboard guy to finish tuning and fitting the motors and pay a hydraulic guy to make and fit hoses to make the steering work. I also have to register the boat, that’s near on another thousand. Then the second to last major purchase is the windscreens for the cabin. That’s a big one. I am hoping I can keep it under 3 grand but am not confident. Then finally launch costs of about another 3 or 4 thousand. (and another grand for an anchor and chain and ropes and fenders…..) But I can at least start counting the items on one hand.

You May Also Like


3 thoughts on “Walk the walk.

  1. Greg

    Wow, what a project. I admire you perseverance, I’ll bet you boat will look fantastic. I am getting so anxious to see a pic of it in the water. What is the latest plan with the carbon masts. Good luck, Greg.

  2. jim Long

    Paul, Looks smooth as glass. Can’t wait to see it with paint. Great work dude, you should be really proud, know I would be. Jim

  3. Jonathan


    Thanks for share.
    I see, fairing is the most hard work in some cases.
    Maybe the best solution is pay for a good car painter for some days and learn the best method of fairing.

    Courage and strength.

Comments are closed.