…And now our hull is red

Relying on local labor or materials is a recipe for delays in the Hiva Oa boatyard. There are two exceptions: paint and resin, which can’t be transported by airplane due to their flammable nature.


(A few examples of delays: To rebuild their broken rudder, the Danes needed a stainless piece fabricated in Tahiti which took 6 weeks. To fix each piece of their broken centerboard, a French couple had been in the boatyard 9 months. The Chilean catamaran that broke its mast was in Atuona for more than a year.)

So among my first questions to the boatyard owner Vincent was about resin and paint. “Yes we have 5 gallons of bottom paint for you,” he said. “But only in red. Will that do?”

Just like that, Aldebaran’s hull color changed from blue to red.

This was a little shocking at first but it reminds us of the red stripe at the bottom of the Californian flag. Some folks say that red might make the boat go faster, since that’s the color of all Ferraris. Incidentally, red was also the hull color when the previous owners Bob and Jackie owned the boat. (Aldebaran’s name in the 80s and 90s was “Picante”, as Jackie was a culinary writer and loved to cook aboard the boat… go figure! we are continuing that tradition)

Here was our overall repair schedule:

Days 1-4: cut off delaminated fiberglass, grind sharp edges, sand the boat Days 5-7: deal with the Gremlins
Days 8-10: fiberglass the repairs
Day 11: apply primer to all the repair areas
Day 12: apply bottom paint (red!)
Day 13: apply white topside paint (to everything but the boat’s deck) Day 14: request one extra day, and continue to paint topside and bottom
Day 15: continue to apply bottom paint until 10 minutes before entering the water

For anyone that has seen Aldebaran out of the water, you realize there is a LOT to paint. We woke up on Day 12 and called our friend Mu: “We need your help! We’ll pay you with rum!”

Mu brought his friend Soso and the two of them tackled the bottom paint with us for a whole afternoon, and left with a bottle of rum each. ‘Tis truly the currency of the South Pacific…

Photo: Soso painting Aldebaran’s new red hull. Besides having awesome tatoos, he is a wood carver, and I commissioned him to carve a relationship tiki as a surprise to Sabrina, in celebration of our four year anniversary 🙂

5 thoughts on “…And now our hull is red

  1. That’s an amazing schedule. So fast! You are heros to me for this undertaking! We also have matchy matchy hulls now, which I like 🙂

  2. You did it in 15 days! Congratulations! I like the red hulls. It will make Aldebaran even more distinctive as most hulls are white with occasionally dark blue, black, green and even beige. Red will undoubtably make her go faster a la Ferrari.

  3. Oh I loved the red hull!
    But what I love most and always is your writing. I panic, I laugh, I wiggle, I love each one of your ‘stories’

  4. Been really cool to follow this dry-dock adventure. Congrats to everyone for your tenacity. The red hull is hot! Happy sailing.

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