Alella Gunwales, varnish and deck paint

The capping strips and trims seemed so insignificant but they took an inordinate amount of time to fit and router and sand to shape but at least the result looked good.

It was now time to fit the gunwales, a simple task or so I thought. It all got off to a great start with the aft ones on both sides glued and screwed in no time and very easy. Then came the bow sections. What I had thought was a gentle curve was anything but for the wood I was using. Disaster the port one cracked and broke. It was obvious that I was trying to get it too bend too much. So after carefully re-glueing the broken section together, I thought lets steam it.

A quick trip to the hire shop let me acquire a steam wallpaper stripping machine. It was easy to remove the steam plate so that the pipe could be inserted into the end of a drain pipe. A little Heath Robinson but looked like it might work. The timber was inserted and the steam started. A point of advice the plastic drain pipe goes soft so put it on the floor to stop it bending. It did a great job and the timber was much easier to bend, but even with the aid of a rope windlass at the bow it would still not bend and twist to the right shape. The only way forward was to spilt the gunwale in half and laminate it in place. I split the two pieces on the bandsaw and started the steaming again. This time success, as it all pulled up beautifully even if a lot of force from the rope windlass at the bow was still required. A little sanding and it was difficult to spot the problems that had beset this job which was a great relief. I had been worried that I might to have to source new timber.

A small capping was made for the bow, why I am not sure of because, if my memory is correct, this was the first bit that got knocked off when we as inexperienced sailors did not quite stop before hitting piers and things. Anyway it looks good to start with.


With Alella now looking pretty good, it was time for its protection. This was done with three or four coats of epoxy resin followed by four coats of two pack polyurethane varnish on the exposed woodwork. The deck areas also had a 50 gram glass cloth sheath and the deck to cabin joint some 200 gram strips of glass cloth as strengthening.  If I have to repair it I will be surprised.


At this stage my camera was suffering from the dust that had been around while I had been preparing to varnish.

As to the deck surface some form of non slip was needed. In the past I have always done this with a little sand in the paint but this is quite abrasive. One day whilst idly surfing the web I found Protecta-Kote which has rubber granules in the polyurethane paint. These give a non slip surface whilst not being abrasive and can easily be over painted. So an order was sent off and the paint was delivered promptly, great service from New Venture Products Limited check them out at

The most difficult part of the deck painting was the masking to prevent any splashes onto the newly varnished wooden surfaces. This took a little time as I wanted to get the edges really sharp and true. Once this was done it was time to get the roller out and get the paint on. Nearly a disaster with a drill mounted stirrer which wanted to spray the paint across the shop, a tip keep it on a very slow speed or stir it by hand. The paint was quick and easy to apply and went off well despite the cold conditions.

In use, after two seasons use, the Protecta-Kote paint has done everything I wanted, its non-slip even when wet, its been hard wearing so far, not needing any touching up and looks really great.






The result looked stunning. Alella now looked almost identical to my memories of the boat when it first went out to Ireland in the early 60’s.  I could’t wait to get her back on the water and sailing again. I got a lot of ribbing from Steve and the lads in the next door unit as to whether she would actually float, but even they were impressed now especially as they had though me totally deluded when I started on the project.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.