From the 1980-81 Bulletin

Tony Peck and John Riding’s start of their circumnavigation, and its halt in the Galapagos islands, has been written up elsewhere.
After abandoning their circumnavigation AKU was passed to a local hotelier who then passed her to his son.

The previous owner, J Anthony Peck, who was too ill to continue his voyage and went to England, signed ‘AKU’ over to my father, who signed it over to me. ‘AKU’ had sat on our beach for a dozen years: that the boat could be saved at all after so many years in a mangrove swamp is testimonial to the excellence of the basic structure. The lichen was 3 inches thick on the topsides and a hole in the bottom admitted high tides and small crabs. Based on the decay I found, I make the following recommendations to Atalanta owners, particularly if your boat is fibreglass sheathed:

  • Make as few holes in the GRP as possible. Each little screwhole is inviting rot or worm.
  • Especially important on a GRP sheathed boat is not to put any kind of metal skid strips screwed onto the false keel. Far better to make sure the fibreglass is extra thick there. ‘AKU’ had iron strips along the keel and I had to chop off the whole false keel and  stem and  rebuild  with lots of fibreglass . . . .  I found  that the edges of the plywood hull pieces were neither butted on the centerline of a v bottomed keelson, nor planed flush with the bottom of the keelson. They were left projecting and thefalse keel screwed on to cover the fair-planed edges, leaving a void. If one was built that way, at least a few others must have been
Void in the keel construction between keelson and false (or sand) keel.

But how to put toe strips on the whale-backed darling without screws? Well, if you can’t give up the aesthetics of a varnished submarine, that’s that.  But  if  your Atalanta is fibreglassed or painted, I can think  of  several  solutions  to  the slippery deck problem. I don’t like sand or ground walnut  shells in the  paint as they are both  very abrasive to clothing and knees. On other boats I have used fine  sawdust  patted  into the first coat of paint, then swept and vacuumed  before  subsequent  coats. The same treatment might work in the last finish coat of resin in a ‘glas job. Or you could stick a synthetic rope or cord in glass mat with plenty of resin to make a toe rail or anti-skid batten.

Borden ‘Arabol’ – Wonder-paint

My solution  is ‘Arabol’. That  is probably  the  best  known tradename for a thick white latex based paint-type stickum. Mine was manufactured by Borden and is very good. It will not stick to greasy or oily surfaces  and will soften and come off  if left in standing water too long. Here’s the  whole  procedure. 

  • Brush  on  a prime coat thinned with a little water.
  • Let it cure a few days.
  • Wash the sizing out of enough burlap to cover  the  deck. The dry burlap should then be thoroughly saturated in a pail of Arabol, then squeezed out and applied wet on top of a fresh wet coat of Arabol.
  • Your burlap should be precut a  little  larger than necessary so that you can work quickly and get it all stuck down before it goes tacky. Make sure  to  get  all bubbles out.
  • Paint on more Arabol on top of the burlap as you work.
  • Judicious stretching and slitting of the burlap will allow you to fit almost any corner or com­ pound curve. The thoroughly saturated burlap becomes very flexible.  Do  not  use canvas or anything like it as it is not flexible enough and too hard to saturate.
  • If the burlap goes too tacky before you get it  stuck  down,  re-saturate  it  with  the  brush.
  • After you have it all in place, go over everything again and prod the hardening fabric into the corners again to force out any excess Arabol.
  • Any areas that don’t look thoroughly saturated should have more Arabol brushed in.
  • The  idea  is  to  have the fabric completely filled with Arabol, but without  any  thick  puddles  between  tl1e deck and the  fabric. It is easiest  to  cut  off excess fabric with a  very sharp knife after  it hardens up some, but  sometimes while applying it you  need to  cut  the burlap just   so for a good fit in a tight spot. Use scissors kept in a pot of water.
  • Let the Arabol­ burlap cure for a day or two, then put on two more daily coats.
  • Let it cure four moredays before painting.

I covered the deck, cockpit, and hatches this way and 5 years of equatorial weather have not affected it at all. (We are 45′ south.) I removed all fittings from the deck and gouged out all the rot then plugged all the holes before starting with the Arabol. It goes right down to the rubbing strake. It looks sort of tweedy close up, but it’s a great non-skid non-glare surface and very easy to maintain or patch. Cleanup of tools, brushes, and yourself is with hot water and detergent. One boat came through here that had had  Arabol on deck and cabin for 15 years of cruising. The skipper  (a real old shellback singlehander) said he had never seen anything better for decks. 

Just remembered…

I   think   Arabol  is a   type   of   airconditioning  duct  lagging cement.
And ‘Burlap’ is the New World version of hessian or sackcloth.

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