Classic sailing boat maintenance. How is it done?

In the Foundation’s Maintenance Division, the work performed on classic vessels is taken very seriously. It is a slow process that requires a lot of patience from the professionals who are in charge of restoration work. To return long-lasting splendour to a classic boat, there are four essential steps.

Below is a step-by-step description of the process.

Step one:

Clean the surface.

When the boat leaves the water, it is important to remove all remains of previous products or paint, as well as remove any organisms embedded in the hull.

Before sanding, it is necessary to remove any grease, to prevent dirt from penetrating the boat while it is being sanded.

This step is the KEY to success when painting a boat.

The Maintenance Division sanding Gipsy’s deck.

Step two:

Applying the primer.

The first coat is applied to the hull after it has been cleaned. A suitable product must be used to ensure the material of each boat is protected. It is the base coat for the remaining layers of paint.

Its benefits? (1) It protects the boat’s substrate. (2) it prevents the appearance of any defects from previous paint. (3) It improves the final result.

There are two kinds of primers: one-component (synthetic) and two-component (polyurethane or epoxy). The former is easier to apply. Although the latter is more difficult to apply, it is more resistant and withstands time.

The next step is to perform an exhaustive inspection of the hull, to check for holes and seal them. The sealing process is extremely important to stop water from getting in. There are several sealants in the market, although in the case of classic wooden boats, we need to remember that it has to be a resistant material, such as polyurethane or an epoxy filler. In the case of classic boats, the wood often deteriorates. It turns grey and becomes dry, and cracks tend to appear as a result of the water and exposure to sunlight.

Special attention must be paid to common osmosis, which occurs when the resin decomposes due to the fact that the water absorption causes the hull to lose its uniformity. However, there is some good news: osmosis can be prevented and specific treatment exists if a boat is affected.

The Maintenance Division of the FVCE applying filler to Gipsy.

Step three:


When it’s time to paint, each area of the hull requires a specific coat. When applying the paint, there must be no obstacles; any part of the boat that gets in the way must be covered with protective tape.

When applying the coats, we need to differentiate two parts of the hull: the bottom (the submerged area) and the dead work (above the load waterline). When painting the former, the movement of the water needs to be considered and the paint used for the latter must protect against the effects of the wind and sun. Each part must be painted with the product that best suits the conditions.

Step four:

Drying + Maintenance.

Once the first three stages have been completed, it is necessary to wait for the applied coats to dry. When fully sealed, it is advisable to use soap to keep the boat clean, cover her with tarpaulins and request regular supervision for possible damage.

Maintenance Division of the FVCE performing maintenance work on Gipsy’s masts.