By Joel Penkala
The duck boat more or less fell into my lap, and I will chalk up that to the old “sometimes is who you know….” adage. Or even in this case, who the guy I knew, knew. A good friend lives down the shore points, and is an avid duck hunter in the coastal marshes in New Jersey. Or at least as much as a full life, including wife, 3 kids and job will allow. A fellow Woodsbum in his own right, he was gifted an 18′ duck boat, outfitted as such with blind and accessories. Once the new boat found a place in his yard, his “old duck boat” needed to find a new home (a decree passed down from the fare lady of the house). The end result of these circumstances which were completely out of my control, was that a quite servicable boat ended up in my yard.
The boat was solid and nearly ready for use, save for a few minor issues. A drain plug was needed. The tires on the trailer needed replacement. And a new middle seat was in order. All minor projects, addressed one at a time. The main issue was that my friend had started the task of stripping the aluminum boat so that it could be painted and pushed into service on the duck marsh. He had done the major labor intensive task of sanding off the old paint, stickers, and years of grime. The photo below shows an inprogress photo of the boat, being primed with self-etching primer.
I elected to go with a self-etching primer after a brief search online. Seems most paints have a tough time sticking well to aluminum, so the primer would provide a base coat to which some duck boat- appropriate colors would stick. The primer coat went on relatively easily. I sprayed outside on a sunny, relatively wind free day, and with a resperator. The etching primers are pretty nasty stuff that you would rather not inhale, or get on a car that happens to be downwind.
I started with the exterior of the boat, working from bow to stern, then realized I should finish the interior before I couldn’t easily climb in and out because of the wet paint. Started again at the bow, and worked to the stern on the interior. I hopped out and finished the last of the inside, standing on the ground, then started to work around the rest of the outside. I planned for two coats of primer, and then a coat of duck boat paint, so I laid the primer on lightly to avoid drips.