Doing the ol’ two-step with Sal

You know the one…?  Two steps forward, one step back?  Like the cha-cha-cha only instead of music, it is the work-at-hand?

Sal and I went down on a beautiful day yesterday (about 8 degrees C) and went to work on patching the hole in her boat.  We ground, we sanded and we did what one is supposed to do in preparation for a f’glass repair.  We think.

“You ever done fibreglass repairs before?” she asked.

I’m not stupid.  I know what that question really means in fem-speak.  It means; íf you haven’t ever done it before and I haven’t ever done it before, I am taking over.  And furthermore, the first step is to stop everything and go look up the instructions on the Internet.

This question is very similar to the driving-in-an-unfamiliar-place question, “Do you know how to get there?  Do you have the directions?  Do you have a map?”

Like most guys, I drive by ‘feel’.  And fiberglassing is exactly the same.

“Yeah.  ‘Course I done it before.  Been there lots of times.  Plenty.” (adding ‘plenty’ was a verbal mistake.  I should have stayed with a simple, terse “Yes”.  She senses weakness if I use too many words)

“Yeah, right!  Like when?”

Well there was a time long ago – long before I met you – when an old girlfriend and I did some fiberglassing.”

“That’s not true!  You and I discovered boats after we had been together.  You didn’t know the pointy end from the blunt one back then.”

This was not going well.  She was getting stronger.  I could see the next few hours slipping away getting advice from HOW-TO sites on the net.

“Well, there was that time I watched Bill S make his deck box.  And I helped him do it.”

“Doing what?  Cracking stupid jokes?”

“Well, it was pretty funny.  You shoulda been there.  Everything got stuck.  Ha ha.  But then there was the time Brian and I did the old boat decks”. 

“What did you do?”

“Lots.  Really.  I did lots.”

“OK, then. What do we do next?”

That conversational change of pace almost tripped me up but I am pretty quick on my feet with fem-speak and I had a fall-back position, a fail-safe thought-in-waiting at my fingertips.  It is my go-to answer when she gets me off-balance like that.  “Well, we start by cleaning.  Gotta clean away all the dust.  Then we gotta clean it some more.  And then again with xylene and do that a whole bunch.  Clean, clean, clean.”

Sal’s a sucker for the cleaning, fall-back tactic.  Deep down she is a clean-up-after-every-step-and-sometimes-in-the-middle-of-the-step kind of person.  When in doubt about what to do next, I just say ‘we hafta clean’ and that usually buys me enough time to make up the next step.

So, Sally cleaned and wiped and cleaned and wiped while I, in the meantime, read up on the mix ratios of resin to catalyst.  I also read:  Don’t do it if the temperature is less than 10 degrees C.  But we were too far into it to bother with that right now!

The guys who wrote those instructions are geniuses.  Seems I was to use 5 ml or 15 drops per ounce.  Think about that!  One measurement is in metric (milliliters) and the other is in Imperial (oz).  And the third is in ‘drops’ for Gawd’s sake!  I figured to do 60 drops in four ounces and asked Sal to check it.  I handed her the bottle.

She stared at it.  And then stared at it some more.  I helped with the math. I said, “60 drops in four ounces.  Waddya think?”

“Not using milliliters?

“Too hard to measure 5 mls.  Like that is just 60 drops, ya know?  Waddya use?  A mini-thimble? 

“You sure this is right?”

“That is the way I read it.  You read it any different?”


Ok.  Let’s do this thing!”

And so we did.  But the stuff ‘kicked off’ pretty quick.  Say, in under an hour or so.  So much for the temperature restrictions.  Made me think maybe 30 drops would have been enough.  So that is what I’ll try tomorrow when we do it again.

That’s right – do it again!  You see, we somehow let a bubble get trapped in the goo and so I will have an air pocket about the size of a Ritz cracker to grind out when it is set up enough.  And then I’ll do that part again.

Two steps forward, one step back.  I hope.


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