Saint Clair Shores News

Gel coat issues and insight. by Trevor

While doing some research, I came a cross a few interesting tidbits on gel coat and some of the problems with it:


Ferretti is the only company that I know of that applies its gel coat with a brush. Why? Simply because when gel coat is sprayed on millions of miniscule air bubbles are trapped between the gel coat and the mold, leaving a microscopic pits in the boat’s surface. That pit will quickly fill with dirt. Once the boat is waxed a time or two that dirt cannot be removed and the boat will lose its high-gloss shine. Also, when gel coat is sprayed on more styrene or solvent must be mixed in to make it flow through the spray gun. According to the company styrene is an element that reacts unfavorably to ultraviolet rays, turning the gel coat yellow in time.

After the gel coat, Ferretti uses vinylester resin in the first four layers of its laminate to reduce the chance of blistering and to retard water migration. Also, this resin – which costs twice as much as orthophalic resin – shrinks less when curing and is less likely to display “pattern show-thru.” Ferretti uses numerous layers of glass cloth with Kevlar or a similar aramidic fiber woven in. This ads stiffness and strength and reduces weight. The company claims that their laminates are 25% lighter than conventional all-glass construction. Ferretti uses only PVC foam in its sandwich construction above the waterline in hull sides and decks. No balsa core.

And, some forums have some explanation as to why there are certain problem areas escpecially around curves.

You're correct in thinking its the styrene reacting from UV rays.

This is very common on a radius because these areas can be more difficult to spray and the gel coat will tend to be thicker. Thick gel coat can have a higher level of styrene and/or resin near the mold surface which will yellow sooner than thinner areas. Sometimes sanding the surface will remove the yellowed layer and it won't come back, but other times the layer is deep enough that it yellows again.

The areas with striations are typically from spraying the gel coat at an angle and it being blown across the surface, this can allow the pigments and fillers to separate slightly from the resin and styrene. Plus if there are several pigments used to make the color, the difference in weight between them will make them separate.

While the quality of the gel coat will help prevent these problems, it comes down to how well it was applied.

On some molds the design can make it almost impossible to spray it correctly, so it doesn’t always mean it was the gel coaters fault.

We hear a lot of boat companies talking about how they use a superior gelcoat than others. It would certainly be interesting to see any manufacturers (ahem, West) post some comparisons, or any of the magazines (DIY boat).

Also, certain boats have issues that are inherent with their construction, such as a reverse transom, or some exaggerated curves and arches. these shapes are difficult to mold. A lot of overhangs can make it difficult to mold a shape for example.

Also, yellowing is a problem, but not as much as fading. Fading is a big issue that keeps us in a job. The inevitable 'clouds' that appear when a boat is not maintained are a huge headache for boaters (who don't have our number!).

Black Friday Discount at Mike's Marine! by admin

We just got an email from Mike's Marine Suppy informing us that on Black Friday they will be having a 25% discount on 1 item per customer on almost everything in their store (no electronics or inflatables!)  If you live around Saint Clair Shores, sounds like a great time to go pick up a gift, or supplies for next season, so you have even more money to pay your favorite detailer.

Kismet by Trevor


Just north of the 17th st bridge lays Kismet. This beautiful boat has me rushing to post even before I can get any high quality pictures. Pacing back and forth, I cannot find an imperfection in design or finish. Every part of the layout makes more ad more sense the longer I look at it. The lower companionway, seeming open but in fact glassed in, makes perfect sense. Forward of that, an (owner's?) Balcony has tall windows and a fitting balcony. Portholes abound, along with overbuilt hawsepipes, capable of handling lines larger than 2". The arc, which is a common design in the profile, is not considered so important so as to overpower the necessity of the layout, but is still obvious. Some boats pick a line, whether circles, arcs, parabolas, and make the boat fit, leading to awkward layouts.

The gray hull and standard red boot is simple, and, works,  without another trace of red on the boat.

To reiterate and to pay respect to Lurssen, I cannot find a flaw on this boat. Evry line, every hatch, is perfect. The door to the gangway has the standard 'euro' hinge (internal hinge hiddne when closed allowing 180* opening), but it also appears to be hydraulically assisted, or at least dampened. The tender garage is seamless. Truly amazing.

I remember being this awestruck paddling up to OCTOPUS,  but that was different, sheer size rather than finesse.

Finally, as a nod to the crew, other than some rust by the anchor (must be a bear to stay up on), and a few spots on a window, the boat looks perfect. If I saw anything in the last 45 minutes standing here, id say it.

Truly inspiring.

More media to come

Demo Day at West Marine in Grand Haven by admin

The crew at the Grand Haven West Marine have opened their doors to all sorts of boating related businesses today. There is a Raymarine rep with a display set up, the sheriff's department has their boat in the parking lot, and there are a few TowBoatUS guys here as well. First Mate crew is handing out some food and drink, along with a chance to win a free boat wash!

Introducing "Featured Articles" by Trevor

Every so often we come across something that we cannot contain in a post, and that we do not want to get lost in the blog timeline. You can expect Featured Articles to have longer write-ups, more media, and occasionally more opinionated posts.

Take a look at our first page in the section, an in depth look at the Hell's Bay factory!

Nautical Mile Fun Day Recap! by admin

The Nautical Mile Merchant Association (NMMA, but not the NMMA) Open House was this weekend.  Many of the businesses between 9 & 10 Mile on Jefferson opened their doors this weekend in an effort to kick start the summer boating season.  There were hot dogs at a few locations (Emerald City and Harbor 9 I believe), and even a few dogs at Emerald City.

Donna, of Gifts Afloat, took a few minutes to fill me on most of the events taking place this past Saturday (video below), which included many of the businesses raffling off prizes (I'm still waiting for all of my winning phone calls).

I'm waiting until it gets warmer until I start downing the ice cream.  It is hard to go wrong with dogs, hot dogs, and boats!

Sunsation Powerboats 2010 Open House by admin

This weekend the Algonac, Michigan based company Sunsation Powerboats hosted their 2nd annual open house. Even if you have no interest in boats, the event is worth stopping at for the food and other toys sitting around the building. The highlight of the event was showing off their new 36' Dominator SSR, which Sunsation has already sold half a dozen of.


Vice President and Owner of Sunsation Powerboats, Joe Schaldenbrand, took a few minutes to take us through a few of the features on the 36'.

Sunsation certainly did a great job of adding finishing touches on the 36' (and all their other models). An in house CNC machine gives them great flexibility to design great custom touches on everything they do. From the mirrors above the engines, to battery covers, they make most of it in house.

I would recommend anyone interested in buying any type of boat try visiting the factory prior to purchasing a boat. It gives you a chance to see the amount of time and detail the manufacturers put into their products. Similar to Hell's Bay, it is obvious after spending five minutes in the Sunsation factory they have a lot of passion for powerboating, and have a great amount of pride in the work they do. All of this manifests itself in a great end product which will serve any customer well.

Esthec Teak Alternative by Trevor

MegaYacht News has a story on a teak alternative that is becoming more popular with some young designers. The Company is Esthec, and some of there demo installs on their site are beautiful. the world of teak obviously has its issues, with property rights issues, a deforestation, its natural scarcity, and installation issues of being a natural substance. Also the 'green' movement has cast a negative stigma on some exotic woods.  I certainly enjoy teak, and think it is a level of elegance that is hard to match. Esthec themselves have a great line about teak:

Teak is the best that Mother Nature has to offer in this area. So we stuck to it. The fact that it splits, breaks, splinters, cracks and creaks, we call charm. The fact that it’s starting to become unaffordable and unpredictable pricewise, we call luxurious. The fact that it demands constant attention and maintenance, well, it keeps us busy. And the fact that it is becoming increasingly rare, we ignore. Because there is no alternative. It’s Mother Nature’s breathtaking best. Breathtaking indeed…

I have yet to see Esthec in person, but will be looking for it. The idea of lots of ways to customize, and the promise of less maintainence would be desireable. The patterns that are shown on the site are unique and unavailable with teak. I still can't imagine it matching the beauty and feel on your feet of teak, but I am optimistic about teak alternatives getting better and better. I believe that Royal Huisman recently did a refit with Esthec (possibly Xanadu?), which is quite an endorsement.

MegaYacht News previously did a podcast interview with Esthec.