C'est la Vie is a 1966 Charlie Morgan 34.

Her home port is Everglades City, FL. Our typical cruising area is Southwest Florida, the Florida Keys, the Southeastern Atlantic Seaboard, and the Bahamas. We are C'est la Vie's third owners and purchased her in 2005. We continue to maintain and update this classic vessel. Please post any questions or comments about C'est la Vie or our travels via the comment links below.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

the day the resin died

Sunday morning Anne and I headed out to the boatyard eager to apply the final 5 coats of fiberglass mat to the deck mast step.  Anne jumped directly into prepping the mast step for the new epoxy - wash down the area, dry the area, sand the area, wipe down area with acetone, tape off the area around the step, spread out drop cloths on deck, and align all the materials and tools.  While Anne progressed thru the preparation, I focus on installing the locker doors in the vee berth area.

When Anne called the all ready, I joined her on deck.  25 layers of mat into the construction of the new deck step we have developed a system for the application.  Anne mixes the two part West Systems epoxy.  The epoxy containers have hand pumps so measuring out the correct ratio is simply a matter of counting out equal numbers of pumps.  For this project we use 4 pumps of resin and 4 pumps of hardener.  Once the epoxy is mixed together Anne pours the mixture over the precut dry fiberglass mat.  Anne purchased a large turkey basting pan that fits our mat sections perfectly so we use this vessel for saturating the mat.  The mat transforms from white to translucent when it fully saturates with the epoxy.  The process now becomes a two person job.  One of us holds the cloth in the pan while the other uses a plastic squeegee to remove surplus epoxy from the cloth.  I then apply the saturated mat to the mast step.  Once the mat is in place I work out all the bubbles and wrinkles to ensure a solid buildup.  Meanwhile Anne begins mixing up the next round of epoxy.   As the epoxy cures is gives off heat, an exothermic reaction.  A massing too many layers on a sunny day can generate enough heat to compromising the strength of the assembly or even ignite a fire.  Dependent on conditions we are limited to applying 4 to 7 layers at during a session.  Since the entire process is sticky hands on work (we do wear gloves), there are no clean hands to take pictures.

Back to Sunday morning,  we are two layers into our final round of 5 layers and the epoxy resin pump rudely belches air.  Anne tries again and gets a mixture of air and resin.  Damn!  I knew we were getting low, but we are out?  In the middle of our final layup?  I finish working layer two onto the wet mast step and then make hasty lap through our section of the yard in an attempt to "borrow" some resin.  No luck.  Anne continues to use the epoxy remaining in the pan and her last mixture to wet out layer three.  By the time I return to C'est la Vie empty handed Anne has successfully wetted out the next layer of mat.  I apply the mat while Anne rigs a cardboard box as a sunshade in an effort to slow the curing.  We deglove and jump in the car.  Our mad dash to the Beaufort Ace Hardware is on.  We need to return with new resin before our currently layup cures beyond the point of being tacky.  Otherwise we must wait for the layup to fully cure and then go through the entire prepation process again.

We did not even question weather Ace would carry West epoxy.  This is a coastal town with heavy commercial and recreational boat traffic.  Quick survey of the glue isle - no.  Quick survey of the paint section - no.  Quick search for anyone wearing a red Ace Hardware vest - yes.  Bad news - our local Ace Hardware does not carry West Systems products.  Closest alternative?  West Marine Morehead City.  Our next course of action? Head home and enjoy a turkey sandwich over a game of Spite and Malice.

After being defeated, again, in Spite and Malice, I return to C'est la Vie in the afternoon.  I clean up the remnants of our morning epoxy session and then make good progress on plumbing the head.

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