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Go Back   SailNet Community > On Board > Gear & Maintenance
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  #1  
Old 10-22-2012
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Why Paint Bowsprit?

I notice on many boats that the bowsprit is painted, while the anchor platform attached to it is either left bare or varnished/cetol'd/oiled.

On my boat, the whole setup had some sort of coating, but over the years the coating peeled off and it was left bare. In the rebuild I've removed the entire bowsprit to inspect for rot and found it to be in good shape. It is a solid piece of hardwood, not laminated.

I had planned on using Cetol Natural Teak with Gloss overcoat on all of my teak caprail, and thought to do the same for the bowsprit. I assume that the bowsprit is not teak, so now I have reservations about using Cetol.

Why are bowsprits usually painted? is it just aesthetics or is there a good reason for it?



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Old 10-22-2012
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Re: Why Paint Bowsprit?

Most bowsprits are made from laminations ... vastly stronger and less vulnerability to 'chunk out' / 'checking' of errant and wavy grain sections; plus a sprit made as a hollow 'box beam' is subtantially less mass - important in keeping weight out of the 'ends' of a boat (for less hobbyhorseing / pitching in a seaway).
The paint/varnish/coating is applied to seal the 'glue lines', etc. and if not 'sealed' by the coating can lead to ROT. The glue lines become 'open' due to constant flexure of the sprit.
The same applies to wooden masts made from laminated 'boards'.
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Old 10-22-2012
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Re: Why Paint Bowsprit?

The bowsprit on Argyle was two types of mahogany, laminated from three or four strips. It was painted white but there was significant rot on one of the types of mahogany so I chose to replace it.

After doing some research, I decided to replace it with Douglas fir. Found a place in the Pacific Northwest that harvested old growth Douglas fir and had an adequate piece dried out over about a year. Had the new sprit cut like the old one and painted it with Awlgrip. Since it was fir, I definitely wanted to paint it. If it were a solid piece of teak or mahogany, I might have considered leaving it bare, but I would have at least sealed it up, as I do my cap-rail. For a laminated piece, I think painting is the best option for the reasons already pointed out.

I use Cetol Natural Teak for the anchor platform. I chose that because it would be somewhat labor intensive to sand between coats when using varnish. It's not an ideal coating since it's rather soft and tends to scrape off from sails, anchor chain, feet, etc. It doesn't come off quickly, it's not THAT soft, but I do have to re-coat every two-three years or so.

On my caprail, I use Semco teak sealer. Too many things bolted to and through the caprail to mess around with a coating, varnish or Cetol, and too much of it in any case. Pretty happy with Semco. I re-apply 1-2 times per year and it takes me less than an hour each time. When it fades away, it leaves the rail kind of a dull brown, which is better than grey with black streaks that you get with just oil.

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Old 10-22-2012
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Re: Why Paint Bowsprit?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Beersmith View Post
Why are bowsprits usually painted? is it just aesthetics or is there a good reason for it?
It's to protect the timber from the effects of UV and salt. Inevitable bangs, gouges and scratches are going to cause damage, so oily timbers (like teak) are used which can be left uncoated - but they still need some kind of maintenance or the timber will crack.

If you're planning to paint the bowsprit, use a varnish/oil or some other kind of clear sealer. Paint marks too easily.
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Old 10-22-2012
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Re: Why Paint Bowsprit?

Many people recommend varnish over paint for wood spars of all kinds (masts, booms, sprits etc.) because any damage, rot etc. is visible whereas under a coat of paint, all sorts of nastiness can happen unobserved.
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Old 10-22-2012
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Re: Why Paint Bowsprit?

Prolly just cause its easier, I met a cruiser with a dreadnaught 32 a few weeks ago and he had just got done painting his bowsprit and brightwork a reddish color. It looked quite nice. He told me cruising in Florida was hell on his varnish. So before it got too bad he cleaned it all up. Applied 2 coats of varnish and the 2 coats of paint. I am not sure if it works but it did look good. I am consodering doing my brightwork this way.
I like sailing way more than vanishing
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Old 10-22-2012
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Re: Why Paint Bowsprit?

I got 20 years out of my first bowsprit (painted) When I cut a replacement 16ft by10 in, I left it standing vertical with a pipe fitting and funnel full of zinc napth for 6 months. I think it will last and it's painted too.
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Old 10-23-2012
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Re: Why Paint Bowsprit?

thanks for the tips everyone, I think I will seal it and paint it for protection.
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