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COVID-19 Quarantine Journey

The Yacht America has enjoyed a makeover the past year. In March, Captain Troy lead the way for a huge project: varnishing the cockpit, table, main boom, fore boom, and three doghouses with a completely different technique designed by Awlgrip. It was not an easy task, but the Yacht America now looks absolutely stunning with her new makeover. In order to put fresh paint on the wood, pre-existing varnish had to be stripped off using a variety of techniques. Over the course of two months, Captain Troy went through four electric sanders simply because they gave out.


Sails removed from boom, ready for sanding

The main boom and fore boom needed to be accessible, so the first step was to remove the main sail and fore sail. Once the sails were stowed, sanding could take place. The size of the boom is deceiving because it is circular. There is a lot more surface area than you expect, so it took a considerable amount of time to sand and paint. In addition, Captain Troy had to sand upside down while also minding the curvature of the boom.



Old Varnished Wood and Sanded Wood


Once the booms were sanded to grit 120, a stain was applied. The color of this stain is completely custom as you can tint it yellow or red. Captain Troy played with the ratios until he found a color that he felt brought out the grain in the wood. The stain was applied to the freshly sanded wood using paint brushes and rollers. Pro tip: you can use an old rag to get a smooth stain after you apply the stain via brushes!

Stained Wood vs. Sanded Wood

Rolling Stain on Boom

Rolling Stain on Main Boom





After the stain was applied, a clear coat was applied followed by six more clear coats. There is a special time window between clear coats, so Captain Troy was painting at all hours of the day and night. After the 7th coat was applied, the booms were sanded again using grit 120 and a final clear coat was applied. The sails were put back on results are incredible.

First mate Fathom made some new best friends during quarantine: a heat gun and two metal scrapers of different sizes. She scraped the varnish off of three doghouses and all twenty-eight hatches with these two little tools. Once the varnish was mostly scraped off, she used an electric sander to sand the wood smooth. If you have been aboard the Yacht America, you will notice that there are some nooks and crannies that are too small for an electric sander. We call these special spots “detail work” and they can only be sanded by hand with good old-fashioned sheets of sandpaper.

The doghouses and hatches were sanded to grit 120 and they were ready for the Awlgrip process. Captain Troy and Fathom split the work and painted the stain and seven clear coats over the course of several days.

a wooden box

Side panel of doghouse: old varnish vs. stripped wood

a wooden box

Corner of doghouse 4, stripped with corner ready for hand sanding


Portion of sanded hatches, ready for Awlgrip process


a wooden table

Seven coats of Awlgrip on doghouse 3

Doghouse 3 with seven coats


With the booms, doghouses, hatches, table, and cockpit complete, we sailed eagerly into the summer of 2020.

The pandemic has lasted longer than anyone anticipated. Can you believe that it has almost been a year since it hit the United States?

Despite these slow times, we have not skipped a beat. Since the summer of 2020, we have continued to varnish every part of the Yacht America. As crew were hired back, we have had incredible help. The collars on the masts have been newly varnished and painted with the help of Conner and Ryan. The cap rail finally has an 8th coat after being sanded down with 320 by Ashley and Fathom.

Captain Troy decided to conquer the bowsprit and sanded it down to bare wood. With the help of Ashley and Fathom, the bowsprit has now been stained with several new clear coats.

We are getting to the last final bits of varnish work on the Yacht America. It seemed impossible, but here we are putting the final 8th coat on all the surfaces that need it. Fathom spent an entire day sanding the table in the cockpit with 320, making sure it was as flat as could be. Troy, Ashley, and Fathom have been working together sanding down the doghouses and hatches with 320 to get out all the bumps. Ashley sanded doghouse 3 and 4 all by herself!

Last but not least, we are down to the blocks. We worked together to get these blocks sanded. Captain Troy is varnishing them as we speak. Check back in a few days for the after photos!

Sanded block

We don’t know when this pandemic will end, but the Yacht America has truly enjoyed her time makeover! We can’t wait to show you when all the work is complete.

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