The Beginnings of Our Shower

Friday November 13, 2015

Jessica sanding

I remember when I thought the head would be a breeze to get through.  Throw up a few walls, add some cabinets, slap on a little paint and we’d be finished.  The hardest part would be the plumbing, and since that falls to Matt, all I would have to do for that project was be his gopher and that was fine by me.  I think he knows that day is coming though and has decided to punish me in advance.

True to form, this project did start with all Matt.  He looked at the space, figured out the best way to utilize it, and began taking the measurements to fit in the necessary pieces.  The head and cabinet would be in the forward part of the head and the sink and shower would be in it’s aft area.  That is the area we are throwing all of our focus right now.  It began the usual way of taking epoxied furring strips and mounting them to the aluminum frame attached to the hull, and making templates which were traced on to Eurolite boards and cut out.  These never fit exactly right the first time, so after 3 or 4 more trips out to the jigsaw for me, they were ready to mount.  Then it was supposed to be Matt’s turn.

And it was, for awhile.  He had the dull and tedious job of cutting out 6oz woven fiberglass cloth and then using epoxy to adhere it to the boards, making sure to feather out all air bubbles for a smooth finish.  I did my job of mixing the epoxy for him and then stood back while he did the work.  The next step after it had a few coats and ample time to dry was to fill in all the gaps between the boards.  Not only to keep water leaking in anywhere, since it is our shower, but also to give the boards added strength so they don’t flex and break.  My job was more or less the same, only this time I added filler to the epoxy. Day one of filler was colloidal silica.  And this is where the story gets ugly.  This is about the time I began to lose my sanity.

Not just for having to add it to the epoxy, no, that part is fine.  Aside from the fact of needing to wear a face mask because fine powders waft up in the air and into your nose and mouth if given the chance, it’s actually an easy and sometimes fun project.  We use food groups to base the consistency, usually aiming for either mayonnaise or peanut butter. The mental breakdowns began when it was time to start sanding off the excess.  And that is where I come in to the picture.  Not the brains of any of these projects, but just the brawn. The mindless, endless work that Matt can’t stand yet I am oh so good at.  Sometimes, you should just hide your talents.

So it fell on me that every time a filler would be added to any of these spaces, I would be sent in to smooth things out.  I spent 6 hours doing it the first day.  Sometimes standing, sometimes, squatting, but usually trying to keep my balance against the sloped wall behind me and not always succeeding. There were a few times I rode that thing like a slide, right into the casing for the centerboard three feet in front of me. Also, Florida decided never to let fall come in for it’s yearly visit, so temperatures inside the boat have been hovering around 90 degrees everyday.  That’s with the air conditioner on high.  I had to take to wearing sports bras and shorts just to survive the heat, and then suffer through the itch of having wedged myself against fiberglass all day.

The second day was slightly better as we moved from using colloidal silica as our filler, which makes surfaces rock hard and almost impossible to put a dent in while hand sanding, to using Q cells which are smaller glass bubbles and are much easier to work with.  Usually as a finishing faring compound where you don’t need the same strength you receive with colloidal silica, but mostly need to fill gaps.  It only took me 4 hours of work on this second day, and I thought I was out of the dog house.  That my punishment had been finished and we could now begin painting and maybe even throw up a pretty little vase.

No. We had two more rounds of filler with the Q cells.  Half way through the third day I questioned why I ever agreed to rebuild this boat.  By the fourth day I was ready to burn it down.  My only saving grace was a well deserved ice cold beer at the end of the day.  Which, coupled with all my labor through the day, had me ready to crawl in to bed each night by 8 pm.  I thought I could put this ugly business behind me when the filler was done after 4 days and we were ready to paint.  Usually a task that I handle, but as Matt began prepping all the brushes and rollers, he forgot that he was supposed to hand this project over to me and instead began right on it himself.  I did not feel a need to remind him.

Unbeknownst to me, this was another project that required sanding.  For every coat of primer and paint that went on (except the last one), the previous coat needed to be sanded down to a smooth finish so that we would not have the ripple effect leftover from the roller. And guess who got to do it every day?  This girl!!  But we have just put the last coat of paint on today and now I can happily go back to being Matt’s gopher.  I won’t even complain when he sends me up and down the steps 4 times in 10 minutes because he forgot something either inside the boat or out of it.  I swear!  I’ve seen the worst there is!

Did I have it coming?  Of course I did.  I’ve been working the cushy jobs for way too long while Matt labors away, both mentally and physically, while I just carry this or that around during the day, and occasionally pop my head up from the blog or Instagram to say “What?” while he’s doing all of the planning and research in our evening hours.  I hear this type of thing will happen again.  I hear this will not be the last time. And I know this project will once again fall to me. But I have survived it once, and I know I can do it again.  Probably once. Any more than that though, and this effing boat is getting burned down.

building boat shower

adding filler to cracks

sanding colloidal silica

Jessica sanding colloidal silica

painted shower

*That is only our first coat of primer…trust me, that’s not near finished!

** I love the fact that I posted a photo of me doing this terrible job of sanding on Facebook, and one of you awesome readers turned it into a black and white photo and said that it looks like a sad National Geographic photo!

sanding bw

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