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Narrow Path....Rich                Return to Narrow Path's Homepage

Narrow (Matthew 7:13) Path gets her bottom fixed!

I had been thinking about, and kind of dreading, hauling out since I hit those rocks a while back. Rocks you ask? Yes Rocks! I was motoring along at 6 knots one day and cut inside a mark that I had cut inside a few times before. The only problem was, it was lower tide than I thought and I hit them full on. (I don’t cut marks anymore!) Lucky for me, I was able to back off them, check to make sure I was not taking on water, and get back to the dock to check on damage. I borrowed BJ’s Hookah, which is a compressor hooked up to hose and a regulator so I could dive under my boat. Sure enough, I had acquired the “Catalina Smile”. This is a condition that happens on hard groundings on Catalina’s. You get a large crack in the hull to keel joint, on the front and back of the keel. I dove on the boat and used some underwater epoxy to seal it until I could haul out and do a proper repair.


The time was now, so off to the Port of Port Townsend to haul out and see how bad it was… Looked pretty bad! I had it pressure washed and let it dry, then with the borrowed grinder (thanks again BJ!) I went after it. I decided to go as far as was needed to get to dry material. As you can see in the pictures, it was pretty far! Now for the good news… the hull to keel joint was still solid and had no water weeping out of it at all!


I have to say, for a relatively inexpensive production boat, it took a hard hit and stayed solid! It gave me a lot more confidence in it for longer trips and tougher conditions.


Back to the repair- After I ground it down, then, I sanded any little area that had a small “pin hole” in it which indicated a possible blister or hollow void under the bottom paint. When I was done with the keel, I did the rest of the hull. It looked like Narrow Path had the measles! I then washed down the areas with acetone and started refilling where needed. I used West Systems epoxy and filler. I used the 404 filler for strength and adhesion in the voids. After it had cured, I sanded the area, then, acetoned it again. I then used West Systems barrier coat filler to cover all the areas I sanded, to ward off future blisters. When this was all done, another quick sand on all the barrier coated fixes and I was ready to apply bottom paint.


I used West Marine Epoxy Bottom Paint Plus. I used it before with good results, and with my West Marine discount, the price is right! It is great for stopping all hard growth, and good on soft growth/slime. It lasted for about 2 ˝ years, and when I sanded it off to apply new, it was definitely time for new paint!


After applying the bottom paint, she looked as good as new! My fairing came out great and she had a sleek bottom again! I also raised my waterline bay about an inch higher than before.

     Other repairs or fixes included-

     *A new boot stripe

     *Removed the prop and had the tips redone and the prop balanced.

     *Dropped the shaft and cleaned it.

     *Repacked the stuffing box with Teflon coated packing material and packing grease.

     *New shaft zinc’s

     *Painted the shaft and prop with spray bottom paint made for outdrives

     *Cleaned the hull

     *Cleaned out the rudder shaft tube, repaired an area around the base with epoxy, then greased it

     *Dropped the rudder and repaired it.


The rudder repair was interesting. I ground out the top where the stainless steel shaft enters it. I also ground out the bottom and let it drain water inside it and then dry for five days until I felt it was ready to be repaired. Note: most rudders leak around the shaft area where the stainless steel shaft and the rudder material come together. It is just a hard place to seal… I used West Systems again with filler and filled the voids, top and bottom. I then sealed it with West Systems barrier coat and after it was dry, reinstalled it, and bottom painted it. It came out great also!


This summer, my only goal was to repaint the hull itself, because the gelcoat isn’t just tired, it’s dead!  Time did not allow for it though. Next year I plan on putting Narrow Path back on the hard, and painting the hull and put on another coat of bottom paint on as long as it is out of the water.


No one likes to admit a nautical mistake like a grounding, but it happens. All you can do is fix it and pass on advice to others! Hope this information helps others and I’m glad this “lesson” didn’t hurt too bad!


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