Hull Stripped Down to Bare Wood

Over the weekend the good folks at LS Blasting came out and stripped all of the paint off of the 46’ Chris Craft Constellation from the deck, down. She looks really beautiful in bare wood. I’m thinking about the possibility of just varnishing above the waterline and not painting over the wood. I’m curious if that will be harder to maintain and I also wonder if I’ll need to remove all the putty on the screw heads and replace with wood plugs or color them somehow.

A varnished hull is not an original look for 1963; the Chris Crafts in this size and from this year were all painted as far as I can tell (with the exception of the stern planks), although earlier decades in this same size and model had varnished wood hulls. They look amazing. I need to read up on whether or not they used stain and what type of varnish was used. My thinking is a gel coat paint on the porthole line around the boat as well as the belt line, just above the water. Probably black or green. The bottom hull (water line down) will be painted red with something like Durabak rubberized paint, and then the rest of the hull will be the varnished wood. We’ll see.

The blasting did remove some of the wood material. Probably equivalent of sanding with a 40 or 60 grit paper. I’ll be sanding the whole boat with 120 and then 220, applying Smith’s CPES to hydrate and protect the wood, and filling in the few spots of dry rot before I have to think too much about paint or varnish.

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