The cabin interior done, bar the new boards for the electrics, it was time to start on the exterior. Firstly, the cabin top and decks.

After stripping the cabin roof and deck of all fittings (stanchions, lifelines, grab rails etc) the sanding started. One of the difficulties in being in the carport was the low height of the wooden beams across the carport. I can’t remember how many times I hit my head on the beams, cursing at every event. Jenni kindly placed some pool noodle foam on the beams at various points, but of course I only ever collided with the exposed parts of the beams, despite the strategic placement of the foam!  Fortunately, the cabin roof and the deck itself were in fairly good condition. There were just a few hairline cracks to be drilled and filled. Much of the deck had been molded in a non-slip texture, which could only be lightly sanded, or scrubbed, then re-painted in new Kiwi-grip, the only brand of non-slip coating we could access. The deck had been mostly white, but we thought an all-white cabin and decking would be too much, too glary when on the water, so we opted for a light grey on the non-slip areas. Much easier to see where to tread. And it came up a treat.

A word about the paint. For the white cockpit/decking paint, we opted for Northane paint, from Boat Warehouse. Off the shelf, it’s readily available and is a two-pack, (paint and hardener). There were very specific instructions for mixing, adding thinner etc and specific time frames for the application and curing or drying. These are also dependent on the temperature. Another benefit of being in the carport was the shielding from the sun. Even then we had limited time in which to work, and I don’t know how it would have worked out in the daylight. This came up a treat, and as a readily available product can be bought again for touching up if and when necessary. As I say, the cabin came up well, with only a perfectionist not entirely happy with the result. On this subject, I read one person’s online comments, “There is a lot of sailing to be done, and the purpose of redoing the boat was to make it enjoyable and comfortable, not to create a perfect product. Life is too short.” Try telling that to my wife!

In the whole process of restoring the boat we linked in with a Facebook forum, for all things Investigator 563. This has proved to be a really useful place to share concerns and ask questions. Peter Thow, the group expert, has a vast knowledge of the boat and the restoration process. Others too have shared their insights on everything from painting to adding fixtures, to sourcing new materials etc. Not that we felt we had to do what everyone else was doing, but it certainly was helpful. We also made a lot of use of Youtube. There are so many videos made by people in the process of restoring boats, some of them professionals, such as Andy’s Boatworks. Andy talks a lot about the products he uses and the benefits. Not all are available in Australia, but handy to know all the same. Other videos focus on one specific task, such as painting methods. For the cabin top we decided to use a roller, and despite being told not to use foam (as apparently they disintegrate) we found these worked better than the mohair ones. Undercoat, sand, topcoat, sand, topcoat. The cabin came up well, but not perfectly. There was still a slight mottled effect, and not as a result of the foam rollers. The only way to overcome this would have been to spray paint. But, not having a booth, this was not an option for us. And again, perfection was not really the aim.

Regarding holes, where screws and bolts had been, the best option we found was to drill them larger, fill with resin, then drill a new hole for the new bolt. This way the hole would be cleaner and sharper, and the screw/bolt would have a nice tight fit. We did this with most of the holes in the cabin roof, leaving small holes as guides for the new screws and placement of travellers etc.

Next came the cockpit. We removed the cockpit locker covers and the anchor locker cover, the main hatch and sliding hatch. All had to be thoroughly sanded and proved a lot of work. For some reason the main hatch cover had been painted dark blue. We didn’t know why. To prevent glare? I don’t know, although I have seen others like it, but not many. We wanted it white with grey, non-slip to match the deck. Again, it took a lot of paint remover to clean up the underside of the hatch, and a lot of sanding to clean off the dark blue. Eventually we managed it, and Jenni did a sterling job of painting the hatches. Crisp and white, with the light grey nonslip parts, they did look good. But it wasn’t just a case of painting. The sliding hatch had many hairline cracks which had to be drilled and filled. It also needed some additional manufacturing. To keep it on the sliding rails, the hatch cover had small limbs that protruded, but three of these had broken off. Jenni cleverly made some more, using resin. If we don’t mistreat the hatch, they should last okay. The end result was that the hatch looks pretty swish. The cockpit locker covers were another issue. One was newly mended but painted with beige kiwi grip. It also had a hole for the self steering pin. We hadn’t yet made a decision about self steering methods, but figured we could always add it later. The hole needed to be filled and the two lockers painted to match.

The cockpit floor was a more difficult and obvious area of concern. Due to the curves in the cockpit floor, there were quite a few hairline cracks that needed fixing. But these were soon done as Jenni was fast becoming an expert. The cockpit floor was manufactured with stripes of non-slip texture. These were useful of course, and not really noticeable when the whole thing was painted white. But as we were going for a light grey non-slip zone, we thought grey stripes might look a bit odd, so we opted for a block of non-slip in the cockpit, and this proved to be a more practical solution, being a heavy traffic area. noticeably.

The lockers themselves needed some work inside and out. Some heavy wooden ‘duckboards’ had been made and screwed into the locker floor. On these sat the battery on one side and petrol tanks etc on the other. These were a good idea and at first, we tried re-painting these in a kind of waterproofing paint, but it was the wrong kind of paint and they wouldn’t dry. We imagined that when it was very hot, the paint would melt and make a huge mess of the lockers and everything that would be stored there. Then there was the weight. The duckboards weren’t for standing on, so why have so much additional weight? So, we bought some lighter wood and made new versions, oiling them to prevent them rotting. They would also serve to strap down the battery box and fuel tanks, preventing them from moving during transit.

The other more complex issue in the cockpit was the large round hole left by the removal of the speedometer. It was large and circular and too big for the compass we intended to place there. However, ever resourceful, Jenni was able to make the hole smaller by adding extra resin to the bulkhead, leaving a smaller hole for the dome of the compass. This worked out well.

The boat was coming along.