Costa Rica Entry Cheat Sheet

<<updated April 1, 2022>>

On April 1st some of the restrictions established to counteract the effects of covid-19 were lifted in Costa Rica.

The situation in the country has stabilized, with a significant decrease in the number of infections, hospitalizations and deaths.

1.) The health pass (QR Code) to enter the country for non-nationals is abolished.

2.) Unvaccinated foreigners are no longer be required to pay insurance in order to enter and remain in Costa Rica.

3.) A negative test is still required to return to your home country. Regarding those who tested positive a health order will still be issued, but it will only last seven days from the first day of symptoms.

-from April 1, 2022


Guests at Nosara Paradise Rentals can now schedule their Covid test in house; the nurse will come to you house and perform the tests, then email results in 24 hours.

Our office staff is scheduling the appropriate date for these tests when you check-in.

Cost is $75 ($60 for the test, $15 for convenience)

This is the easiest way to get your Covid test!






These are not currently in effect, but they are maintained here for posterity.

<<updated January 15, 2022>>

Tourists from anywhere in the world can visit Costa Rica, which does not require a negative coronavirus test to enter. Travel medical insurance is necessary for all visitors who are not vaccinated.

These are are the requirements to enter Costa Rica on a commercial flight as a tourist:


Costa Rica does not require a health insurance policy for travelers who have been fully vaccinated against Covid-19.

The measure takes effect starting August 1, 2021. Since that date, minors and those who are fully vaccinated can enter Costa Rica as tourists without purchasing a travel health insurance policy.

In order to qualify, adults must have:

*Received an approved vaccine: Moderna, Pfizer, AstraZeneca, or Johnson & Johnson.

*The last dose of the schedule must have been administered at least 14 days before entering Costa Rica.

*Proof must be demonstrated with a document that includes the person’s full name, date of each dose, formula, and lot number. For U.S. visitors, the Covid-19 vaccination record card meets the requirement.

Everyone entering Costa Rica will continue to be required to complete the online Health Pass, an epidemiological form. This must be filled out during the 72 hours before arriving in Costa Rica.

Costa Rica will continue to mandate insurance for unvaccinated adults who seek to visit the country

1.) Health Insurance (for non-vaccinated travelers)



Grupo INS


Trawick International

This interface is user friendly and operates like a shopping cart on Amazon or eBay. The cost is about $12 per day, and there is a higher cost for travellers over 70 years of age.

2.) Health Form

You are not allowed to fill this out until you are within 72 hours of your flight.

Address: The form asked for your destination address, and here it is:

Nosara Paradise Rentals, Playa Guiones, Guanacaste

You have to fill out the form yourself.



All air passengers — including U.S. citizens and permanent residents — must get tested for Covid within three days of their flight to the U.S.

Why does the Order specify 3 days rather than 72 hours? What is considered 3 days?

The 3-day period is the 3 days before the flight’s departure. The Order uses a 3-day timeframe instead of 72 hours to provide more flexibility to the traveler. By using a 3-day window, test validity does not depend on the time of the flight or the time of day that the test was administered.

For example, if a passenger’s flight is at 1pm on a Friday, the passenger could board with a negative test that was taken any time on the prior Tuesday or after.

Passengers must show written documentation of a negative test result.


UPDATE April 13, 2021

Guests at Nosara Paradise Rentals can now schedule their Covid test in house; the nurse will come to you house and perform the tests, then email results in 24 hours.

Our office staff is scheduling the appropriate date for these tests when you check-in.

Cost is $95 ($65 for the test, $30 for convenience)

It is more expensive, but this is the easiest way to get your Covid test!



Laboratorios Echandi is advertising rapid antigen tests at Daniel Oduber Quirós International Airport (LIR) in Liberia, Guanacaste.

The lab is promising results within an hour for tests taken at the airport.

“Arrive at the airport 4 hours before check-in and receive your Covid-19 antigen test results in less than an hour,” their advertisement reads.

The one-hour antigen test at LIR costs $65. Interested travelers should schedule their test at this link.

“These tests are only authorized for air travel to certain countries, including the United States,” the lab says. “Please have your ticket information and passport ready for verification at the testing site.”

Costa Rica Health Pass cheat sheet:

1.) Your US phone number goes like this: +001 (area code) number…So the phone number (904) 591-2161 would be displayed as +0019045912161

This is also how you will have to dial back home when you are in CR, even though your cell phone will work normally except the dialing part.

2.) They do the day and month in reverse of the US method: dd/mm/yyyy

This means December 8th, 2020 is 08/12/2020 instead of our way which is 12/08/2020

3.) Most Americans only have two names (first and last) but Central Americans have 4 or more. On the forms:

First Surname = Last Name
Second Surname = Leave Blank
First Name = First Name
Second Name = Leave Blank

4.) The Address where you will be staying:

Address line 1: Nosara Paradise Rentals

Address line 2: Playa Guiones, Nicoya, GTE

Address line 3: <leave blank>


Costa Rica’s Vaccine Mandate (CURRENTLY POSTPONED):

This policy was postponed due to pushback from the tourism industry. This post remains in order to provide a complete reference document:

Starting December 1, 2021 Costa Rica will require proof of Covid-19 vaccination to enter some businesses and to participate in large events.

Which venues will require vaccination?

Vaccines will be required to enter: Restaurants and food courts; bars and casinos; stores and commercial centers; museums; gyms; hotels; worship sites; event halls; theaters and cinemas; sporting events.

Vaccines will NOT be required to enter supermarkets, pharmacies, hospitals, banks, and other services deemed essential.

Do tourists need to be vaccinated?

As of December 1, tourists will use their Health Pass (the form used to enter the country) and a copy of their vaccination card to enter businesses. Only those who are fully vaccinated will be able to enter these places.

Effectively, the only change for vaccinated tourists is that they should keep their Health Pass and a copy of their vaccine certificate handy throughout their visit to Costa Rica. The easiest method is to keep a screenshot of the QR code and a photo of your vaccination card on your phone.

-from with assist from Outlier Legal

Off Season Maintenance 2019 – Week 5

It’s been another whirlwind off-season, and once again FishingNosara is locked and loaded for another great season of fishing.

Big changes are afoot all around the Nosara Paradise Rentals campus. The bathrooms in most houses have been completely refit with new tile and countertops throughout.

Casa Tranquilo got the upgraded bathroom and new kitchen counters.

Casa Neptune got a new set of window bars:

Special thanks are due to our world-class crew. Nothing would be possible without the teamwork and positive attitude that our staff exhibits in all of their work.

Harvester WINS Ship of Fools Tournament!

For the fifteenth straight year the Ship of Fools Tournament attracted Costa Rica’s top anglers to Playa Garza; for the second time in three years the FishingNosara team took home the hardware.

Captain Alex Moreno on the 32-foot mega panga Harvester topped the leaderboard with 1700 points (11 Sailfish releases, one Black Marlin release, and one Blue Marlin release) during the two day event.

“Alex is the dude,” exclaimed Captain Patrick Humphrey of Ft. Lauderdale. “He has the best eyes I’ve ever seen and fishes as aggressively as we do in South Florida.”

Captain Humphrey runs trips for Lady Pamela II Sportfishing in Hollywood, FL. He was joined by wife Jennifer, daughter Amelia, and angling legend Patrick Irwin.

The Ship of Fools Tournament is one of the last true billfish release tournaments in Costa Rica. Each scoring fish must be billed and photographed by hand (no snatch-leader releases) which increases the difficultly tremendously.

On the first day of the tournament, eleven boats set out from Playa Garza and set up shop twelve miles offshore in 2100 feet of water.

Captain Alex was first boat to the spot and put three Sailfish releases on the board in the opening hours of the first day. As the rest of the field lagged behind, the mega panga hooked up a Blue Marlin for a two hour fight.

After the photograph and safe release a second Marlin entered the spread, this time a big bad Black. Captain Patrick belted up for the battle of a lifetime, conquering the fish in two-plus hour fight that saw eight leader grabs before the successful release.

“I had a trip planned for Hawaii in the winter to cross Black Marlin off my list,” said Patrick, smiling. “I guess that’s off”

Their total of 1000 points is a single day record for the event, and lost in the shuffle is that they scored the ultra-difficult Billfish Grand Slam.

The second day was just like the first, with the Harvester scoring early and often. They snagged seven more Sailfish release including one at 3:59pm, one minute before lines-out.

The Harvester’s haul is an all-time best for this tournament, eclipsing the winning score of 1200 posted two years ago by FishingNosara teammate the Explorer.

For Captain Alex it is the culmination of perseverance through years of adversity in this event. In 2011 as mate on the Wanderer he recorded 14 Sailfish releases during prefishing only to get zero during the actual event. In 2016 he had the thing won until the camera with all the proof-photos fell overboard late on the second day.

“I’m incredibly proud of what Captain Alex has done with the Harvester,” beamed Craig Sutton, founder of FishingNosara and architect of the mega panga design. “He pushed himself and his boat to the edge during months before this event.” (ed. note: The Harvester ran 47 trips in February and March)

“He has honed his instincts and advanced his craft,” Sutton continued. “Captain Alex has paid the price to reach to top of the mountain.

The FishingNosara team looks forwarded to challenging the Harvester in the 2020 Ship of Fools Tournament next April and to competing with Alex in the 1st Annual FishingNosara Invitational in early August 2019.

If you and your best anglers are ready to compete, the FishingNosara US office can be reached at 9045912161 USA or

Harvester Highlights:


Wanderer Highlights:

Explorer Highlights:

August 21, 2018

The Discoverer welcomed angler Tim Seyda for an offshore trip on August 21. Mr. Seyda has fished out of Garza for almost a decade, however this was his first trip with the big battleship.

Captain Carlos delivered the goods with a multitude of Dorados on deck.

They also added this beefy Yellowfin Tuna.

Excellent work by the battleship Discoverer!

Ship of Fools Team Package

Are your ready to represent FishingNosara in Garza’s most prestigious tournament?

The 5th Annual Ship of Fools tournament will be held April 8 – 10 in Garza Bay.

In the past,  the US Office fished this tournament with multiple Top 3 finishes and a Top Angler Award for Craig Sutton.

The competition is fierce this year with all of the area boats participating, plus a few ringers are rumored to show up from nearby Playa Carillo and Playa Samara

So we are putting out the call to all you FishingNosara Hall of Famers out there (and future Hall of Famers)…we need you to drop what you are doing and get ready to represent.

This year we want to bring home the hardware!



Check out the video of Craig accepting the 2012 Top Angler Award:

We are offering slots for two teams of up to 4 anglers. Package includes:

*Three Full Days of Fishing on the 31-foot Harvester or two full days fishing on the 28-foot Explorer
*Lodging in Two Bedroom House for 5 nights (April 7 – 11)
*Entry into the Ship of Fools Tournament and all related Captain’s meetings / Fiestas
*Round Trip Liberia Airport Transfers
*Matching FishingNosara Incite Fishing Jerseys for the team

Total Cost: $3850 for Harvester, $2650 for Explorer

(does not include airfare)

We only have two more spots open, so get your crew and call Craig to get your spot!


A look back at previous Ship of Fools Tournaments:


The Ship of Fools Tournament is the annual throw-down between the local boats based out of our home port of Garza, CR.

Twelve boats entered the hotly contested tournament this year and the fish cooperated with a record number of release over the two day affair.

FishingNosara was represented by returning Three-time Hall of Famer Bob Pease and his hard-fishin’ crew from Northeast Georgia.

These guys are sharp anglers and more importantly brought a fun attitude to the competition.

April 16, 2015 – Pre-Fishing

The boys hit town just in time to get a day of pre-fishing in to get reacclimated to the fishery.

They tried to ask this Sailfish where the rest of his friends hang out.

They made it back to shore just in time to catch the Captain’s Meeting at Marlin Bill’s.

April 17, 2015 – Day 1

The Wanderer was fueled, iced, and primed for battle when Bob and the boys came aboard at 6:15am.

Late night rains swept through the area on the night of the 16th, and Captain William knows that this pushes the nutrient-rich blue water offshore. The Master Captain slammed down the throttles and wasted no time getting to the fishing grounds.

First Mate Alex was on his “A” game as the FishingNosara flagship scored 11 Sailfish releases on the first day, bringing the Wanderer‘s total to 1100 points.

April 18, 2015 – Day 2

The pressure to perform was on as the final day of the tournament found the Wanderer in a dead heat for First Place with the Mojito.

Right behind the leaders were Garza stalwarts Sportsman and High Roller.

The blue beauty kept lighting the lamp with five releases in the morning, starting bright and early at 7:45am.

The afternoon brought more good action as the Wanderer pushed the total to 20 Sailfish released.

Bob and the boys were all smiles back on the beach.

Once the scores were tabulated and the photographs verified, the results of the 2015 Ship of Fools Tournament were posted:

Mojito first place. 21 Sailfish

Wanderer second place. 20 Sailfish

High Roller third place.11 Sailfish


Sportsman fourth place. 14  Sailfish


April 19, 2015 – Fiesta

This year’s tournament was the best in recent memory with a dozen paid entrants making the trip.

Playa Garza was lit up for the Sunday night fiesta featuring food, live music, and the awards ceremony.

Great work by the mighty Wanderer to bring home the hardware, and special thanks to the ladies of Fish N Chicks to put on this excellent tournament.

We’ll be back for the 2016 Ship of Fools Tournament!


FishingNosara participated in the 2012 Ship of Fools Tournament held over the weekend of April Fools Day. A record turnout of twelve teams entered this year, each vying for cash prizes and of course bragging rights for the year.

The tournament is held in our home port of Garza, Costa Rica and this small contest among the local Captains always gets attention from some of the highest-dollar fishing teams in the Pacific.

Big boats like Safari and Kingfisher II have been known to monitor the radio and catch locations from the Ship of Fools Tournament as part of their preparation for the IGFA Billfish Cup and Presidential Challenge.

Sure enough this year we spotted the Flamingo near the 14 mile ledge scouting for the upcoming big-money tournaments.

The attention on Garza is not only focused on the water; a major portion of the proceeds from the tournament and raffle go directly to Garza to help improve the conditions of the beach community.

Everyone owes Captain Joe Chatham a big ‘thank you’ for making this tournament happen and for keeping the focus on Garza.

Last year FishingNosara chose the newly-launched Explorer as our weapon of choice and although the team performed well (read last year’s recap) it was clear that we needed to bring bigger guns to this fight.

For the 2012 event we had all hands on deck: The flagship Wanderer with clients Chris and Carolyn Dicola and the bar-room brawler Explorer with Craig, Matty and Captain Jack.

The roster from the spirited Captain’s meeting at Marlin Bill’s reads like a who’s-who of great Costa Rican Fishing: High Roller, Tek et isi, Reel Deal, Kingfisher, Endless Summer, Aimee Marie, Cowboy, Siempre Algo, and the Sportsman.

“I think we can do alright,” Matty offered after seeing the list.

“I think we’re gonna kick some ass.” Jack countered.

There was reason for the confidence; Chris DiCola had caught multiple Sailfish on two separate trips during the week on the Wanderer, and Captain David had a massive Blue Marlin within 4 feet of the boat that very day.

Day 1 – March 30, 2012

The Explorer blasted out of Garza at 6:30am sharp pumping the traditional tournament fishing anthem (‘Hells Bells’ AC/DC) at maximum volume. The Wanderer caught up around the 10 mile mark, and both slowed to a troll around 15 miles out.

As the boats settled in the radio reported a nice morning bite: The Sportsman released a Sailfish and lost two Marlins, the Reel Deal reported two Sailfish releases, plus every boat was getting bites.

Except the Wanderer and the Explorer.

The Explorer chased some free jumping Sailfish but couldn’t convince them to eat, then has a mysterious billfish whacking the teaser, but no hookup.

Over on the Wanderer it seemed that Chris DiCola’s fishing karma tapped out after the great pre-fishing because they did not get a single nibble for the first half of the day.

Tension grew. Baits were changed, the spread was adjusted. Anxiously the crews watched and waited.

ZING! At 12:30 a line popped off on the Explorer like it was hooked to an anchor. Craig belted up to fight the massive beast but shortly realized that this was no billfish…it was diving deeper instead of shooting to the surface.

After a quick fight this 47lbs. Dorado surfaced alongside the boat and Captain David was strong on the gaff shot. This monster’s head was the entire width of the fishbox and the tail was too long to close the lid.

This fish was a triple-whammy for the Explorer: It broke the ice for the team, scored 25 crucial (and potentially tie-breaking) points, and was certainly in the running for the biggest Dorado Calcutta.

At 2:30 another strike was reported on the Explorer as Craig Sutton efficiently fought this nice Sailfish.

Mate Pipio showed no fear in the billshot, even though a moment of extra time was required for the photo (with the tournament marker in the picture) this fish swam away unstressed and unharmed.

The call came on the radio for lines out of the water at 4:30 and the Explorer and Wanderer fell into formation for the 15 mile journey home. On the strength of Craig’s released Sailfish and Dorado the Explorer had 125 points; the Wanderer was one of six boats with 0 points.

Jack and Matt were thoroughly bummed, and Craig already had his mind on switching over to the Wanderer for the final day of the tourney. Chris DiCola was miserable although he had done nothing wrong; not a single fish touched a bait all day on the Wanderer.

The poor showing hung like a cloud on everyone, except for the indomitable spirits of the FishingNosara crew.

Mate Pipio was joking and jiving on the radio, and Captain David managed to convince Matty to carry the Dorado to shore rather than use the Explorer’s cooler. This created a comic scene on the beach with hombre grande slinging the beast over his back, dragging its head through the sand all the way to the scale.

Things were obviously loose on the Wanderer as Captain William buzzed the Explorer at close range while First Mate Alex faux-paddled the 31’ beast towards Garza.


We took the big Dorado back to the campus where Cumi showed that it’s not just the boat crews who know how to filet a fish. We shared the filets with the guys who were all smiles.

Craig, Matty, and Captain Jack took the cue from the crew and came back the next day in a lighthearted mood and a dedication to enjoy the day no matter the scoreboard.

With the pressure off, it was time to just go fishing.

Day 2 – March 31, 2012

Matty and Captain Jack were the first team out of Garza on the Explorer, but it was Craig Sutton over on the Wanderer who made the first big splash. The big blue beauty reported her first Sailfish release of the day (and the tournament) at 8:15am.

Craig was just getting started as another Sailfish came in hot at 9:30am. This behemoth was also no match for the Wanderer and was cleanly released after a 15 minute fight.

The bite cooled off around noon and the radio chatter told many sobering tales: lots of Sailfish spitting out the hooks and Marlins breaking the lines, also mechanical troubles befell both Reel Deal and Cowboy.

On the Explorer Matty pulled the hook from a bucking Sailfish while it’s hunting buddy was also hooked up. Both hunters escaped and this error cost the barroom brawler two 100 point fish.

Craig donned the lucky sunhat hoping to stimulate a big bite, and sure enough the fish of the tournament came calling at 12:45 over on the Explorer.

A 350lbs. Blue Marlin came tearing through the spread laterally from underneath the boat. It grabbed the short line bait and after a mighty 15 foot leap it pulled off almost 200 yards of line in a flash.

Captain David slammed the throttles down and backtracked this Marlin like a bloodhound, moving the Explorer so quickly that water began bubbling over the transom. Jack dug into the gunwales and began winning line back from the monster.

Captain Jack showed his years of angling experience as he fought this world-class creature on a TLD 30 with only 100lbs. test line. How these fish can tell which bait is on the smaller reels I will never understand.

On two occasions Mate Carlos had his hand on the leader knot and twice the mighty glowing fish pull away.

On the third attempt and with the 100lbs. monofilament leader tight as a guitar string, both Captain David and Mate Carlos seized upon the bill of the mighty beast and held on for the ride.

Mate Pipio was fearless in the handling of this leviathan and got him back in the water safely.

This is Captain Jack’s first ever Marlin (he caught his first ever sailfish in the 2011 Ship of Fools Tournament) and the 300 points that came with it propelled the Explorer back into contention.

The Wanderer was nearby and just a few minutes after Jack’s Marlin release Craig hooked up his third Sailfish of the day at 1:40pm.

Almost immediately after the release another mighty Sailfish challenged the Wanderer and was also subdued by Craig and First Mate Alex. It was released after a quick fight at 2:11pm.

Craig had put 400 points up for the Wanderer. The Explorer sat in 5th place with 425 points on the strength of Craig’s Sailfish and Dorado from day one and Jack’s Marlin release. Siempre Algo and Sportsman were in the lead with 550 points.

The Wanderer and Explorer stayed together for the final two hours of the tournament, crisscrossing a stretch of ocean in a figure-8 pattern hoping to land the fish that would put FishingNosara in the money.

Destiny came calling at 4:05 with less than a half hour to go in the tournament’s final day.

The long shotgun line on the Wanderer screamed off as a mystery billfish got hooked up. Despite the crew’s best effort this fish was too big to catch and escaped without rearing its head.

Craig and Alex agree that was certainly a Marlin and would have been the tourney-winning fish.

Simultaneously the Explorer was mugged by a high-flying Sailfish and it was up to Matty to redeem himself by not letting this one escape.

With the money on the line Matty found his footing and slowly but methodically brought her alongside for the release.

This photo is time-stamped at 4:22 pm, eight minutes before the deadline. With 525 points, the indefatigable Explorer was in the money. Also, Matty won’t have to spend the next 11 months having nightmares about losing the two Sailfish earlier in the day.

The Wanderer and Explorer returned to Garza with triumphant full-speed approaches and were the final boats to return to the bay.

The party raged on shore and everyone gathered to welcome the crews home. Garza was brimming with excitement, as evidenced by the raging fiesta the next night.

Captain David accepted the Third Place prize and Craig accepted the Top Angler award for his quintet of Sailfish releases.


In whole it was a great weekend for the whole team. We were humbled by uncharacteristically bad performances on the first day, found our stride on the second day, and ended up catching the most important fish with just minutes to spare after most of the boats had called it a day.

The team’s performance in the 2012 Ship of Fools Tournament lays a foundation for future tournament success; these guys are the hardest fishing guys in Garza and their collective experience level is fast approaching that of some of the legendary Captains in the region.

That experience combined with a ‘Never Surrender’ attitude and a true appreciation for the craft of sportfishing means there is clearly a bright future for the FishingNosara team.




FishingNosara made a great splash at the Ship of Fools Tournament held in our home port of Garza, CR. This tournament focuses on Marlins and Sailfish and features some of the best captains in the area plus attracts big money fishing teams from around the world.

With bragging rights on the line, we decided to up the ante by enlisting Captain David and the Explorer which put us on the smallest boat in the field. The more conventional choice would have been Captain William and the 32′ Wanderer, but the blue beauty was already booked by clients Kenny, Woods, Morgan, and Dave.

Jumping Sailfish Costa Rica

The Explorer roared out of Garza with authority on the morning of March 26 with fresh lines, new baits, and AC/DC’s “Hells Bells” blasting from the newly-installed stereo system.

The awkward glances from the other boats turned into admiration as the 26′ Super Panga lit up the scorecard with this Sailfish release, the first of the tournament.

Sailfish Costa Rica

By midday several other boats were reporting billfish releases and the Explorer slipped down the standings a bit. However, the boat reporting the most billfish releases was not one of the other tournament boats…it was the Wanderer!

Costa Rica Fishing

We took this shot from the Explorer while Alex, William, and the boys on the Wanderer were reeling in a Marlin fresh after releasing a sailfish. By the end of the first day, the Explorer was in the middle of the pack and the Wanderer would have been winning (if they had been entered in the tournament, that is).

The second day was similar to the first. We had a nice Sailfish release early in the morning, then missed on a few nice fish. The Explorer caught a nice Roosterfish but unfortunately this tournament did not offer any points for that species.

In the end, the Explorer finished in fourth place with 200 points. The Wanderer would have unofficially come in second with 825 points over the two days.

Most importantly was that all the boats and crews came to respect a 26′ Super Panga capable of catching monster fish over 20 miles offshore. We have been saying that this boat has the capabilities of a 40+ foot craft since the beginning, and the Ship of Fools Tournament was  our chance to prove it.

Captain David

Great work by Captain David and the whole FishingNosara family.



The Harvester Project

November 13, 2014 – Day 1

After the empowering experience of The Discoverer Project, the FishingNosara Build Team has set on yet another course to redefine Costa Rica sportfishing.

The genesis of The Harvester Project was in the success of our 26-foot Super Panga Explorer.

The combination of a big-bow panga hull with a single Yamaha motor has proven unbeatable for fishing in our stretch of ocean.

As her legend grew, we began to wonder what the Explorerwould be like if it was just as big as the Wanderer and Discoverer.

We searched far and wide for the best panga hull manufacturer in the Western Hemisphere and, after a few mis-steps and dead ends we found the clear choice: Eduardono Boats based in Columbia.

The 32-foot Corvina hull is exactly what we are looking for: strong, light, and proven to last in rough conditions.

Like all panga hulls she is big-nosed, narrow in the waist, and flat on the bottom; these factors make it so that a single motor can get this boat up on plane and therefore saves a ton of fuel.

We placed our order with Eduardo a few months ago, and Craig got to work sketching out his dreams for the ultimate ‘Mega Panga”.

As the days crawled by we were left to salivate over this single picture:

Finally on November 3, 2014 she arrived to her new home in our Jacksonville, FL shops. Getting it out of the container was a little dicey:

Once settled we got her out of the box and hanging on chain hoists, we had to construct a cradle so the boat would sit level on the ground.

We won’t be getting a trailer for this boat until later in the project, so it is critical that our saddle be at perfect level so that when we start laying out the floor and consoles things don’t get off-square.

It took most of a day, but the Harvester is settled, level, and ready for us to sink our teeth into this meaty project.

The Harvester Project is officially underway and we are stoked to bring you regular updates live-as-it-happens on the Florida Sportsman Boat Build Forum.

Don’t forget that this signals the start of the 2nd Florida Sportsman Dream Boat Build Contest!

Last years winner Captain Charlie Phillips ( – FSForum Handle: Blewitupsir) had a blast on his trip to Nosara and we hope that one of you out there can succeed him as the next winner of the Dream Boat Contest.

November 18, 2014 – Day 6

We’re already catching a groove here on The Harvester Project.

Craig, Brian, Alejandro, and I wasted no time to lay out the positions of the consoles, seats, and coolers. We also referenced the diagrams from Eduardono to determine the midpoint and weight bias so that the ice-filled coolers and gas tanks don’t weigh down the back end of the boat.

We are going to build a small cabin with a toilet in the nose of the boat, so the first major piece we’ve built is this cabin bulkhead:
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We use Coosa 26lb. Bluewater ‘wood’ for this piece, 3/4 inch thick. Coosa wood is really cool stuff; lighter and stronger than wood, easy to sand/shape, and fiberglass matte grabs onto it like Velcro.

The drawback? $300+ per sheet!

So for this complicated piece we first fabricated it out of cheap press-board, then transferred the pattern over to the expensive Coosa wood.

Despite the high cost, we are going to use Coosa exclusively throughout the boat for all the major construction, including the floor. We are going to try and get away with only one motor so weight will be a big factor in the HP decision. Also, in Costa Rica the gasoline costs $8 a gallon so fuel efficiency will also be a huge concern.

We may break the bank buying Coosa now, but it will pay for itself in fuel savings over time.

Here are our consoles, also made out of Coosa:

We want split consoles (like our other panga the Explorer) because the long walkway down the center is a big boost for client comfort.

On virtually all production boats the consoles (center or split) affix to the top of the floor. On the Explorer we found that consoles created a lot of flex in the sides of the hull.

We saw the telltale cracks around the floor after the first season of fishing and had to add a piece of holding wood to tie the consoles to the side of the hull.

That repair was a real pain-in-the-ear so we are taking this opportunity to build the consoles into the boat all the way to the stringers.

Check out this force-sharing arrangement between the stringers and the consoles:

Once we glass these bad boys into place they will literally become part of the hull.

We’ll be moving on to the rear coolers and tackle boxes next week.

November 22, 2014 – Day 10

The construction rolls on as the team struggles to lay up a lot of fiberglass in the face of gusty winds and low temperatures.

We have been patient in waiting on the thermometer to climb north of 50 degrees before working, and are using 2% catalyzer to make sure this glass kicks off properly.

Meanwhile, Brian has completed both of the large cockpit boxes; these installations will function as seats, coolers, and leaning post/fighting chairs. Like the consoles they are designed to attached directly to the stringers and will be installed before the floor.

Wonder where the consoles are? Over in Matty’s gelcoat spraying booth, that’s where!

The weather should warm up this week and we hope that means more progress on The Harvester Project!

December 10. 2014 – Day 28

Two big jobs underway right now. First up are the pair of consoles:

We wrapped the final layer of chop strand with wax paper to create a nice flat surface.

Then a lot of time on the level board sander before hitting it with 3 coats of gelcoat.


Meanwhile, Brian has created a wicked-cool system for creating progressive curves on the faces of the coolers:

We are excited to see how this thing sets up once we lay-up some glass on it. Until then we are confident enough to start with the livewell:

December 15, 2015 – Day 32

So we’ve spent the last month building the consoles, seats, and coolers into the hull of the Harvester, and now everything has been pulled out so that we can make these pieces into permanent, water-proof, fiberglass-wrapped boat parts.

Each piece starts with 4″ wide fiberglass tape in the corners. This helps round out the 90 degree corners so that they can accept woven fabric. Also the corners will carry the most stress, so the more glass the better.

Then each piece gets a layer of biaxial/matte weave for strength.

The last layer is 1.5oz chopped strand mat (which in the old days was called finishing mat) which allows for us to sand the outer layer to a perfectly flat surface.

These pieces have a top and a bottom; that is, on side will be facing the inside of the boat where people can see it and the other will be forever out of view. We wrap the visible pieces in wax paper after the chopped strand to give us a leg-up on sanding them flat.

This work is time intensive, dirty/sticky, and quite frankly not any fun at all. The process of applying glass and resin only to sand it off reminds me of Oscar Wilde’s writing method: “I spend the morning inserting a comma, then spend the afternoon removing it”

However as these pieces take shape we get fleeting glimpses at the finished product. Check out the progress on the livewell:

We’re looking forward to good weather this week and that means more progress on The Harvester Project!

December 23, 2015 – Day 40

This weekend we are focusing on the livewell, which in addition to validating our fiberglass/gelcoating process will also be the first step in plumbing the Harvester.

Brian and Craig have drilled out holes in the lower hull for scuppers to pick up seawater.

It is crucial to wrap these holes with new fiberglass and a thin layer of epoxy, rather than rely solely on 5200 to keep the water out of the hull.

Also we have made the blow-out hole on the starboard side. Of course you need this hole to be lower that than the intake hole so that the livewell drains properly.

Cosmetically we are taking extra care in the surface prep of the livewell and the livewell lid; since this element is visible it is important to make the finish as smooth as possible so it matches the rest of the hull.

The lid will be stopped by these shelf pieces which have been epoxied into place. The lips themselves are made of 5 layers of biaxial weave, pressed together with resin between two pieces of wax paper.

Meanwhile we are continuing to prepare the rest of the large pieces for gelcoat and eventual installation into the Harvester.

We got a lot going on, but progress is in the air and we are jamming away on The Harvester Project!

December 31, 2015 – Day 48

While the rest of y’all are eating pig-in-a-blanket and watching football we are still jamming on The Harvester Project.

It was neat to mock-fit the consoles and seats…starting to get a feeling of how it will feel in the cockpit once we are finished.

For now the reason the big pieces are in place is so that we can run the two stringers that will support the floor of the boat. We are going to mate these stringers to the consoles in order to add strength to both.

Craig and Brian used a chalk line and level to establish a common depth between the two stringers. As long as they are level to each other than the irregularities of the main ribs will be eliminated.

Meanwhile, we can’t decide on a high-quality line of hatches so we are going to build our own. You can see here that several of the hatches have been cut and we are currently milling and fitting the doors so they fit snug.

It’s fun on New Years Eve to think back to the last few NYE’s and where you were/what you were doing. Here’s a peek back at what was going on in the boat shop on:

December 31, 2013

December 31, 2012

December 31, 2011

Happy New Year!

January 5, 2015 – Day 53

Last post we got the main floor stringers in place and cut to the proper height. This week we have built all the ribs that will support the floor.

The back end was a little tricky because the braces the abut the hull wall needed to be custom cut on one edge and flat cut on the other.

Of course we will use epoxy and fiberglass to correct any minor imperfections, but according to our level and place-holder 2×4 we seem to be right on the money.

The front of the stringers attached to the cabin bulkhead, which also requires a precisely cut cap piece:

Also the slow process of building custom hatches into what we thought were already finished pieces continues. See here that we also added a shelf to each box, which means more fiberglass to tie the shelf into the piece.

Nice thing about building your own boat #37: Change orders don’t cost money, just time

January 14, 2015 – Day 62

The subfloor stringers have been our principal focus this week and we are pumped at how the progress is going.

Brian has taken the lead on this, test fitting all of the horizontal supports and creating a pathway for a 2″ PVC pipe that will carry all of the battery cables, steering lines, and other utilities from the consoles to the motors.

Also he has created a pair of custom ribs to cap the front and rear of this floor system. This took a lot of cutting and fitting to make them snug up just right.

Meanwhile, Matt has continued to prep the major pieces for gelcoat. We are ready to spray, just waiting for the cold weather and fog to pass Jacksonville.

We anticipate having these pieces sprayed by this weekend at the latest.

Kind of boring work, but these are the details that are required if you want a boat you can be proud of. We are definately looking forward to the next phase when we start final assembly of these pieces and the floor.

January 29, 2015 – Day 77


Thank god that the cold weather went back North where it belongs so we can climb the mountain of fiberglass and gelcoat on The Harvester Project.

Inside the boat the stringer system is solidly in place, so Brian and Craig are working to double-wrap all the corners in fiberglass biaxial weave.

8 compartments x 4 corners each x 8 edges each = a *****load of fiberglass

Once this is done we can start laying out our wire runs and plumbing, then start constructing the floor.

Meanwhile, the bulky console pieces have all been gelcoated on the insides.

This means we can proceed to with a final test fit of all the pieces before we secure the faces on them. Here’s one of the faces already test cut, so you can get the idea of where we are headed on these things:

Lastly, we are hand-shaping all of the opening for our custom hatches. The lids are off being milled so that they will settle snugly into the openings.

We’re plowing along, however with the boat show season about to fire up we are cautious knowing that for the next couple of months we will shorthanded here and there. Still we are feeling good about getting this thing finished before the Kingfish tournaments get started this summer.

February 5, 2015 – Day 83

Let’s take a closer look at all the nuanced fiberglass wraps needed to make the floor stringer system last forever:

Between the waterproof nature of Coosa wood and 3 full layers of fiberglass, we are fairly certain that this floor will never develop soft spots.

There isn’t much visible progress, but believe me that this is a ton of work.

The back area was especially difficult to access:

Previously we were going to go with three 22 gallon tanks however this would make for a complicate system of multiple filler necks and fuel pickups.

We will make the cuts here:

and here:

Then cap off the exposed stringers with lots of fiberglass.

February 18, 2015 – Day 96

It was an arduous couple of weeks but the stringers for the floor are finally complete.

There are 4 total layers of fiberglass holding the new ribs and stringers to the original lateral stringers. Combine with the epoxy at the core, this sandwich should be strong forever.

With this done we can test fit the big pieces and make our final adjustments so they sit level. In the meantime, Brian cut the door to our anchor locker.

Not a big piece of work, but I think that Brian is happy to something other than crouching over pouring fiberglass into tiny little corners.

The Discoverer Project

April 11, 2012 – Day 1

Welcome the newest member of the FishingNosara fleet, the 31-foot Discoverer!

With the success of the Wanderer, the FishingNosara US build team has selected another T-Craft to serve as our next great Costa Rican sportfishing platform. The 2012 season has been a record-breaker at FishingNosara and the demand for an additional large boat is evident.

The team gained experience with T-Craft on the Wanderer so going with the same hull is a natural choice. T-Crafts were originally built just down the road from us in Titusville, FL and though they shut down a few years back the evidence of their strength can still be seen at many marinas around the world.

In these pictures Craig Sutton, Captain Jack, and Craig Jr. are inspecting the currently installed inboard powerplant.

We plan on selling this motor soon and converting this hull for outboard Yamahas.

This boat is in technically sea-worthy, but the soft floors and rusted bolts are a sign that a full refit is in order. Fortunately, the core pieces are in place and the majority of this boat’s needs are time and energy-based rather than costly price-wise.

Craig negotiated a fair price for this boat and we were pumped to throw in a week in Nosara in exchange for a price break. We look forward to getting this boats prior owner Earl Newton down to our little slice of paradise either this year or maybe sometime next year…he may even get to fish on the Discoverer!

April 14, 2012 – Day 4

Shortly after the glow of finding our new project hull wore off, the team had to address some very tangible obstacles. First off, we had no facility to store this boat nor a boat trailer capable of hauling it.

Even if we could haul it, the flying bridge on this boat stands at 26 feet. We will modify the tower to fold down into the cockpit so we can trailer this boat through the narrow winding roads around Nosara, but as she sits today the top is permanently erect.

Here’s what we can surmise about the Slick Cricket as she was purchased. This is a 1982 T-Craft 30 foot hull with a Cummins B Series Diesel inboard powerplant backed by a TwinDisc Transmission; this vessel was formerly flagged as the Miss Jessi until 1994 when this high-end motor/trans combo was installed.

The rod holders, rub rail, and other through hole fittings are secured with wood screws rather than through-bolts. Virtually none of these important fittings have 5200 sealant in place making this hull a potential sponge of water intrusion.

Also all of the marine fabric throughout the boat is mildewed and rotted so there will be significant sewing needs. Lastly there is a ton of layout changes in store from the rod holders to the fuel fillers…everything must go!

Basically this boat feels ‘slapped together’ and presents a different challenge from our last boat build. The Wanderer was a tight vessel when we began the rebuild; conversely the Discoverer must restored to a level of strength and quality that she has never known.

This seems like a good time to discuss the most chronic obstacle we will be facing on this build: We have virtually no money for this project.

The revenue generated by FishingNosara and Nosara Paradise Rentals barely covers the overhead, maintenance, staff and expenses inherit in running a resort in Costa Rica.

The reason we are building another boat is not that we have $100,000 burning a hole in our pockets, but because there were too many times this last season where we had to turn away clients because the Wanderer was already booked. Though we predict that the Discoverer will be a success it will not begin generating money until she is in the water.

Why am I telling you this? Well, if you want to see the perfect way to do boat work in a perfect shop with an unlimited budget and all the right tools then you may want to look elsewhere.

The FishingNosara build team consists of car mechanics, handymen, auto detailers, computer nerds, and other oddball characters and we build boats with hand tools and guts.

Over the last 5 years we’ve built world-class sportfishing vessels in a patch of dirt in the rainforest:

In an empty warehouse:

and this time we’re doing it in the backyard:


Naturally you can take away lots of boat building knowledge from this project and hopefully it helps you on your own boat projects. However it is our hope that all marine enthusiasts can draw inspiration from our commitment to hard work and creativity in overcoming obstacles rather than just throwing money at them.


In that spirit our good friend Marcus over at Ft. George Island Marina came through for us huge. He offered us a slip for the boat in his warehouse, use of their fork lift, and space in the yard to knock out the first phase of the project.


We did him a favor by tearing out all the moldy fabric so we wouldn’t make a mess of his facility.

Marcus tucked her into her slip and we all slept a little better that night.

The Discoverer was safe and sound, and we begin to search for a boat trailer and a permanent home for our new prize.

May 8, 2012 – Day 28

Matty and Captain Jack have really bad luck when it comes to rainstorms during FishingNosara projects. Let’s check the highlights:

Loading 10 golf carts into a container with only a pickup truck and one set of ATV ramps? Freezing rain.

Building a pallet with all the gear for the Adventurer? Hot muggy rain.

Pulling the tower off of the Discoverer? Lighting storm with tons of rain.

Unfortunately we didn’t get many pictures of this deal since Marcus was boldly defying logic by operating the forklift in a lightning storm; I love the guts on a guy who says, “The radar says we gotta shut down in 10 minutes…I think we got time!”

You can tell by the rain slick on the floor that we barely made it in time. It’s too bad they don’t put forklift driving in the Olympics because Marcus would bring home the gold every time.


Captain Jack and Matty utilized the forklift to hold the tower up while they built a pallet-style support for the tower to rest on. This level platform will be the canvas upon which Craig Jr. executes his welding artwork so it needs to be strong and keep the tower square.

Once the rain cleared up we used a borrowed trailer to haul this monstrosity back to our shop. We’ll be setting this aside for a while as we continue to seek out a buyer for the inboard motor and settle on just the right trailer for this boat. For now we are one step closer to getting this boat on the road!

June 15, 2012 – Day 66


Enjoy the inaugural episode of The Discoverer Project. We will be presenting these video vignettes of our progress as often as possible as the Discoverer takes shape. No phony actors or multiple takes here folks, just real guys taking real risks to make a real dream come true.

In this episode we rip the motor from the hull and deliver it to our buyer. The proceeds from this sale are going straight to Magic Tilt Trailer and we expect delivery of our boat chariot in about 10 days.

July 15, 2012 – Day 96


August 12, 2012 – Day 124

Howdy all. Work continues on The Discoverer Project as we strip all of the thru-hull fitting and other metal from the hull. The idea is to have a totally naked hull with most or all of the holes filled in before we paint.

Episode 3 will detail the demolition process, but for now take a gander at these pictures as we stake up the cabin then remove the partition walls.


We will use these old dividers as patterns for new partitions which we plan on making out of 3/4in Starboard. This will save weight without sacrificing strength.

Jack has been busy cutting off the top layer of fiberglass on the nose and scraping away the old rotted wood underneath. The jacklegs who put this boat together last time got cheap and didn’t use any 5200. The soupy, muddy condition of the ‘wood’ proves once again how valuable that little white tube can be.

Craig and Jack are just beginning to figure out how best to secured our new dancefloor of marine plywood to the nose of the Discoverer. We are using this thin board as a beginning template, but we’ll wait and see how this elements turns out.

Episode 3 should be posted sometime this week, until then we welcome your comments on our progress so far.

Florida Sportsman Boat Building Forum


August 24, 2012 – Day 136

Craig has made steady progress on the nose job for the Discoverer. So far we have got the top layer of fiberglass off and have discovered that the ‘wood’ has rotted away to the point that a full replacement is necessary.

Take a look at the underside…there is no way that this soft floor would last for any length of time. The little cubes of wood are the random pieces that did not rot into oblivion, so this image should give you an idea how much slop was sandwiched in the fiberglass of this boat.

Our goal here is to fabricate a new front deck section out of 3/4′ marine plywood and fiberglass it in place of the old rotted floor.

Jack and Craig made a pattern out of butcher paper, then transferred the pattern to a 1/8″ piece of pressboard (See previous post). The press board is a rigid enough that we can grind on it like a piece of wood to make it fit the hole; once fitted we can to the cut ‘for real’ on the expensive plywood.

We discovered a problem immediately when we completed the pressboard mock-up. The tip of the nose is 4’10” from the base of the cabin, and as you may know plywood tends to come in 4′ wide sheets.


You can see in this graphic that our only option would be to scab in a 10″ wide piece to round out the nose (purple) and some how retain the strength of the wood in this particularly vulnerable point of the boat…we moor our boats so the nose anchor pulpit has to be the strongest part of the boat (See last year’s Wanderer repairs in our Off-Season Maintenance blog post to see what happens when the nose isn’t sturdy)

Amazingly the guys at Hood Distribution tracked down a beautiful 5′ x 10′ piece of marine plywood which makes this job about a million times easier. Now we can build the nose out of a single piece which will make this nose drastically stronger and the install less of a headache.

Craig transferred the pattern to the marine plywood and cut the rough shape with a jigsaw. Then he sculpted the wood down to form with an air powered disc sander armed with 180 grit paper.

After a quick test fit on the boat, Craig continued by tapering the underside of the deck to mate with the tapered edge we created on the hull. The idea is to make a clean mating surface where the wood and the fiberglass transfer weight between each other with as much surface contact as possible.

The final step was to flair the flat edge that mates to the cabin. Craig removes about 1/4″ of wood and takes care to make a smooth bevel at the edges.

We want to leave some flexibility for Charlie our fiberglass expert to do a final round of grinding before fitting this piece. Still we are pretty excited about the progress so far on this new dance floor and are looking forward to laying some down some coats soon.

September 10, 2012

Wow time flies when you are having fun and the FishingNosara Build Team has split up to double the fun. Craig, Craig Jr., and Matty are in Nosara right now overseeing the first major refit of the Wanderer. After 600+ trips over three years of excellent service, our flagship is getting a full strip down, re-prime and re-paint as well as some corrections to design flaws and construction errors that have sprung up over the years.

Look at Captain David and Mate Carlos getting after it! Grinding off bottom paint SUCKS and all the goggles and facemasks in the world can stop the micro shrapnel damage and the itching that follows. This is the hardest work we’ve ever demanded out of the boat crews and they are gritting there way though it; still I’m sure that they will be happy to get back to fishing.

We are currently on day 4 of 13 for this project and will have a full update in the September Fishing Report due out in mid month.

Back at headquarters we have Captain Jack Weinmann and Captain Charlie Keen up to their elbows in fiberglass as they give the Discoverer a strong front deck to replace the nasty mess we inherited (See last post). Now we have chronicled Jacks boat building prowess at length (See all Jack related blog posts) however Charlie is a newcomer to the build team but not new to the FishingNosara family.

We have sponsored Charlie in the El Cheepo Sheepshead tournament and worked closely with his auto body repair shop that happens to be situated about 300 feet from the Discoverer shop. This guy paints about 8 cars a day, runs a tight boat of his own, and recently found time to build an operational hovercraft.

Still Charlie has some misgivings about the size of this project and he relatively small scale experience with fiberglass construction. To me fiberglass work is like black magic and the fact that it is even possible is spooky and amazing. You hear stories about temperature and humidity screwing with the hardener/resin ratio and then hear other stories where an improper mix causes a boat fire and you kind of wonder how smart it is to be screwing with this stuff.

If there is one this that can be said about The Discoverer Project is that there is a lot of outside advice, both solicited and otherwise, that comes through big for us. Our buddy Chappy turned us on to a sweet product called Woven Roven which is essentially a fiberglass mat as thick as your grandma’s afghan rug. We learned from Charlie that epoxy resin is the way to go for high-load areas like a deck versus polyester resin. Even though epoxy is much more expensive that poly in this case it is worth every penny.

Any comments anybody has regarding fiberglass, resins, fillers please chime in on the comment board at let us know what we don’t know, which is quite a bit.

September 6, 2012 – Day 149

We put down a thick layer of epoxy resin on the underside of the new deck and on the cleaned scraped layer of fiberglass (ie the backside of the cabin ceiling). We added a layer of 2oz. fiberglass mat (standard, not he roven) then sandwiched that matte under the wood.

To pull it all together Charlie shot wood screws through the top into plywood blocks that an assistant was holding below decks; this squeezed the fiberglass/epoxy/plywood sandwich and hopefully pushed out any air pockets or bubbles.

Most recently Jack and Charlie installed the first two layers of Woven Roven and the pictures tell the tale on this stuff:

We hope to have the deck done soon and then move on cutting up the floor and pulling out the gas tanks. I feel confident in the deck and think that it will be easy to apply what we have learned on the much less geometrically challenging fuel covers.

Jack and Charlie have kept the pedal to the metal while the rest of the team is rehabilitating the Wanderer down in Costa. The shop in Florida is humming with the songs of DA sanders and the air is thick with the syrupy stench of fiberglass resin.

The boys finished off the second coat of Woven Roven and they report that it is sturdy as a brick.

We are really pleased with the fit of the marine plywood deck pieces. All of the pattern transfers worked perfectly from the white paper all the way to this finished 3/4 inch cut. Here is the finished assembly after being glassed into place:

While they had the carpentry and fiberglass tools out they went ahead and took care of the former exhaust port in the rear transom. They fared the surrounding fiberglass to accept the topcoat and cut a circular plug from the marine plywood scraps. Now this area is as strong if not stronger than the rest of the hull.

The front deck of the Discoverer is firmly in place and sturdy as a brick Check out these results:

Charlie Keen is a fiberglassing fool! He has parlayed the momentum established from the front deck piece into a full-on resin renaissance. He has filled almost all of the holes left behind by the old water pickups, the propeller shaft, and the inboard exhaust port in the transom.

Clearly the prop hole (above, the odd shaped hole to the left) is a difficult patch due the the extreme angle of the hole, but Charlie made this patch look like a walk in the park.

During the stripping process Jack removed the transom exhaust portal with an angle grinder and did a good job of leaving a smooth hole for Charlie to patch. Take a look at the step by step process:

A wood plug is cut for the hole and the surrounding area is ground down to accept the plug, then the first of several fiberglass mats is applied. Notice the holes punched in the weave which allow for trapped air bubbles to be pressed out of the wet resin.

They sand the finished fiberglass lightly so it will accept a covering patch of resin mixed with body filler. This completes the repair and this area is now an indistinguishable part of the transom. After priming and painting there will be no evidence that this hole was ever there.

Jack took this time to catch up on some overdue trailer modifications. Remember that in Episode 2 of The Discoverer Project we had to slide a piece of plywood under the nose of the boat so that it would sit correctly on the trailer. Permanently fixing this problem requires lifting the boat off of the trailer and repositioning the cross supports. Here is a view from the bottom…not a great feeling being under a dangling boat, but with these mods complete the hull should rest nicely for years to come.

It has certainly been and exciting few weeks as the Discoverer begins to take shape. We look forward to reporting on more good progress soon.

September 29 – Day 172

Well the team is back together as Matty, Craig Jr., and Craig Sr. put the finishing touches on the refit of the Wanderer and made it back to Florida last weekend. We finally got our hands dirty on the Discoverer again after a barnstorming trip to Tampa for the Florida Sportsman Expo the day after we got back from Nosara.

So through the hazy fog produced by jet lag, culture re-acclimation, and soothing wives/girlfriends angry with us for always being gone, let’s take a look at the current state of the Discoverer:

You can see that the DA sanding of the hull is moving along nicely, and we almost have all of the shiny spots roughed up. One more day of sanding and she will be nearly ready for paint.

Charlie Keen has worked his magic on all of the holes in the rear transom as well as the pickups under the boat; last post we mistakenly reported that the boat was being lifted on pipe jackstands when in fact those stands were holding in the fiberglass plugs.

Notice anything missing in that last picture? If you said “half of the floor that covers the fuel tanks” then you are correct.

We weren’t sure the size or conditions of the fuel tanks until Craig and Jack started cutting, and what we found is shocking. This pair of 120 gallon tanks are the largest I’ve ever seen in a T-Craft and getting them out will be a challenge.

Notice that in the rear these tanks butt up to the transom, and up front they are covered by the side benches. These benches are fiberglassed directly to the hull so their ain’t no removing them except via the sawzall. On the Wanderer the 100 gallon tanks lifted right out through properly cut access panels; on the Discoverer we will have to get more creative.

Our working plan is to drain the tanks then cut them into small enough pieces to remove.

Afternoon Update:

Just ran outside and shot some up-to-the-second pics. Here is the aforementioned jackstand that is holding in the bottom fiberglass plugs:

Here we see the starboard side bench cut out to allow for removal of the tank. This cut killed our cut-off grinder, so it’s off to the hardware store to buy another…bummer.

October 1, 2012 – Day 165

October 6, 2012 – Day 179

It’s been a dirty week of work on The Discoverer Project as we moved below decks into 20+ years of diesel-flavored sludge and muck. Charlie has taken the next step in fabricating the floor by installing these 1″x2″ runners along the edges of the fuel tank compartments and the center compartments.

These will be encapsulated in fiberglass to ensure that they are watertight and Charlie has an idea that is common among expensive custom boats: in every spot that will receive a screw, we will drill out about a 1 inch hole and fill the hole with epoxy resin. This way the wood never gets penetrated by a screw.

It’s a little tricky to line everything up, so stay tuned as we progress on this element.

In the last post we removed the deck plates over the fuel tanks, and to our surprise these tanks are much larger than we anticipated. The tanks run flush to the transom and extend all the way forward, almost to the seat pedestals. We estimate that each tank holds 120 gallons of fuel.

Jack began the delicate work of cutting an access panel into the top of the tanks to allow for our friends at Independent Waste Oil get their sucker hose into the tanks.

Remember on every aspect of the fuel tank work everything must be done twice.

Handy trick: Raise up the front of the boat as much as safely possible while draining the tanks; this ensures that a maximum amount of sludge and fuel make it out of the boat.

The Discoverer will feature aluminum tanks similar to those on the Wanderer. Aluminum tanks are far more lighter and durable than their fiberglass counterparts, plus by having them fabricated to fit we free ourselves from the existing dimensions of the holes in the floor. We are very pleased with the tanks built for us by Atlantic Coastal Welding in Jacksonville on the Wanderer, so we plan on using their services again.

However before we start designing the new tanks, the old ones gotta go!

This is tricky because of the limitations of the situation. First off, you can’t use a sawzall or any other ‘deep-cut’ tools because of the tight clearance between the bottom of the tanks and the outer hull; one slip and we are patching a gash in the side of the boat.

Also, you can’t generate too much heat because of the low flashpoint of the leftover diesel fuel mix, so forget about torches, jigsaws or body saws.

The only tool for this job is a low-RPM cutoff grinder borrowed from Jack’s automotive toolkit. Jack kept the RPM’s low and made long scoring cuts rather than digging in and dragging.

This is an arduous and nasty process, but Captain Jack ain’t scared of a little grinding dust. In the above picture he has already cut away the 3/4″ lid of the tank and proceeded to cut out the horizontal baffles. Here is a close-up of the baffles:

Jack and Craig then cut horizontal grooves into the bottom of the tank (carefully!) so the tank could be removed in sections. The tank is way too big to come out in one piece…quite frankly I think they built this boat around the tanks!

Even with the sectioned removal approach, we battled a layer of foam insulation that held the tanks in place. No exotic way to knock this out; just the old fashioned prybar and balls.

With the tanks gone, Charlie can begin fabricating the new covering boards for the forthcoming aluminum fuel tanks. Meanwhile we will begin cleaning our sanding dust and wiping the hull with acetone. It won’t be long until we are prepping for paint and then it is off to get the transom installed. Stay tuned as we continue work on The Discoverer Project.

October 18, 2012 – Day 191

It’s been another crazy week on The Discoverer Project as we have moved ahead with sub-floor fabrication in the cockpit. Craig and Jack made a heck of a mess grinding and cutting out the fuel tanks (see last post) so the first step was to clean up the evergrowing mess of fiberglass dust and wood shavings.

Charlie has already cut replacement rails for the holes in the floor and now begins the process of glassing them into place. The red clay-like material in the foreground is actually millions of microballoons that (when mixed with hot fiberglass resin) turn into a putty that can fill gaps much better than fiberglass alone.

Charlie laid his first round of fiberglass tape around the two large central openings, then cut six pieces of marine plywood that will be encapsulated in glass and eventually become the new floor for the Discoverer

That night disaster struck as a fog bank rolled through Jacksonville and wrecked havoc on the fiberglass resin setting up. When Charlie showed up to check his test section of fiberglass the whole piece detached.

There is no avoiding moisture-related setbacks when you are working on a boat outside in Florida. Fortunately we are getting to the time of year when the temperature and the humidity are on the decline and hopefully we can get through all of the fiberglass and paint work before the summer starts again in February.

On his second attempt Charlie achieved adhesion and could move on with enclosing the forward deck holes. Since the forthcoming fuel tanks are significantly smaller than the old ones we will fill this dead space with marine foam; you can never have too much foam in a hull.

The next trick up Charlie’s sleeve is to build a fiberglass arch intended to tie the fighting chair directly into the stringers. On the Wanderer we struggled with the best way to secure the fighting chair; not only must it withstand the abuse of reeling in 600+lbs. Marlins, any fighting chair gets grabbed alot by anglers and crew seeking balance. Sometimes the weight of three people are yanking on this thing so through-bolting it to the fiberglass floor is just not strong enough for us.

On that boat the solution was to screw a 3/4 stainless steel plate into the stringers horizontally. It did the trick strength-wise but weighs alot and is not very elegant. Charlie has proposed a dynamite solution with which we are quite happy.

This arch will receive another coat of glass that will fully secure it to the stringers, and once it does we will have a perfect spot to secure the fighting chair on the Discoverer. Speaking of fighting chairs, check out the rebirthed Wanderer chair:

First Mate Alex really outdid himself on this project. I can’t wait to see this baby in action come November 1!

Next up for Charlie is finishing the covering decks for the fuel tanks and running final surface coats of fiberglass to the cockpit floor and the front nose deck.

Meanwhile we are waiting for our fuel tanks to arrive and getting our ducks in a row for the upcoming month of hanging the transom deck and painting the boat. Stay tuned for more fun as it happens!

October 29, 2012 – Day 202

Another great week of fiberglassing for the Discover has come to a close and we are pleased to report that we are in the home stretch. Charlie got down to the finishing touches by finishing off the corners of the aft deck opening and securing the permanent cover to the floor. We use a flexible fiberglass woven tape for the edges of the openings and standard 4 oz. mat to encapsulate the deck covers.

Charlie will remove these screws once the fiberglass sets up and then fill the holes with epoxy. The screws are in place to ensure that the whole deck is under pressure so no air bubbles get trapped within.

Here is a finished corner after a full day of setting:

This cover is now a permanent part of the floor, but beneath the surface it holds a powerful secret; Charlie finished glassing in the fighting chair support arch and this trick installation will mate the chair directly to the stringers for maximum fish-fighting strength.

The next step is to prepare the removable floor sections. The fuel tank covers have already been encapsulated with fiberglass mat:

Lastly, check out the underside of the in-floor fishbox lid. Once fiberglassed this section will help with the rigidity of the hull and the boat as a whole. This piece should be pretty cool when it is completed.

We just returned from an excellent weekend at the Ft Lauderdale Boat Show and are primed to get back to work on The Discoverer Project.

November 15, 2012 – Day 219

November 16, 2012 – Day 220

Progress continues as we begin to finalize our new floor sections for the Discoverer. In these photos we see that the top and bottom of the new fuel tank covering boards are completely encapsulated in fiberglass. The next step is to apply layers of flexible fiberglass tape around the edge to finish the entombment.

The fiberglass tape is so useful because is it otherwise impossible to wrap fiberglass matting around corners without creating air pockets. Here is a close-up of this tape job on the underside of the new fishbox.

This solution is much more durable and elegant than building up layers of chopped strand or foregoing the mat altogether (sometimes called ‘hot coating’)

While the new pieces are curing safely under the tent, Craig and Charlie re-installed the shelving along the sides of the cockpit. These had to come out to remove the fuel tanks (see last post) and once the final tape layer is applied, no one will be the wiser that they were ever removed.

Most recently we removed the temporary screws that were holding the fighting chair arch and rear floor together as one unite. Now that the fiberglass has cured we can remove the screws and fill the old holes with epoxy.

You can see that Craig had to grind away the top coat around the screws to access the heads, so a final coat of resin with be required before prep sanding this area.

Charlie is almost done with the fiberglass work and has a few more holes to fill around the boat before painting begins. Jack and Matty are currently proceeding with prep sanding the front deck and will soon move to the rest of the hull. It is our goal to be spraying paint before the end of November. Stay tuned!

November 21, 2012 – Day 225

It’s Thanksgiving week and with all the talk of stuffing, and getting stuffed, etc. Charlie decide to ‘stuff’ some more holes in the Discoverer. As we rapidly approach the final prep sanding phase and look forward to applying paint, we keep finding more and more little issues like these that need addressing.

These holes along the top of the aft gunwale are a pretty straightforward fix. The fiberglass and wood are still sturdy this far above the waterline so the fiberglass is truly ‘plug and play’.

Up near the head was a whole different story. The pair thru-hull fittings were (Surprise, surprise) lacking any 5200 sealant so water has intruded around the holes. The damage extends about 4 inches outward from the hole so Charlie had to scrape out the damaged wood, stuff the crevice with chopped strands of fiberglass, and push the hot resin up to fill the void.

So far the inside of this pair of holes is all patched up and the outer layer is coming soon.

December 19, 2012 – Day 254

Sorry for the long layoff, but we’ve been super busy standing behind the sanding machine for the last three weeks. Matty has grown fond of his new Porter Cable electric DA sander and has been wearing out lots of 80 grit and 40 grit sanding discs.

During the sanding process we discovered a flaw in our front deck installation (see previous posts). The bulk of the deck set up perfectly, however some significant air bubbles formed on the outer edges of the installation.

Matty used a grinder to expose the affected area and to rough up the surrounding area to accept the repair:

Then Craig went around the area with a compressed air blower to clean all of the dust out of the crevices; any trapped sanding dust could create more air bubbles and put us right back at square one.

We mixed up a load of resin / hardener with a bunch of chopped-strand fiberglass for thickness, then Craig worked quickly to fill the voids before the material set-up.

Here’s a look at the finished application of the raw fiberglass material:

Craig followed up with a double-thick layer of fiberglass tape to secure the area and to provide a better surface to begin finalizing the curved lip of the deck.

The next day Matty came back with the sander and knocked down all the high spots to match the level of the deck. The low spots remain, and will be filled up to level by the forthcoming layer of resin and fiberglass mat.

We are getting close to finalizing all of the fiberglass repair and will be shooting our first layer of gelcoat very soon.

Clearly The Discoverer Project is gaining momentum as we near 2013.

December 27, 2012 – Day 262

Craig rolls into the office the day after Christmas and throws the fishing calendar down on the table. “We need another big boat!” he exclaimed, pointing at the line for the Wanderer.


He’s right! A quick look shows the blue beauty fishing every single day except Christmas (and that wasn’t due to lack of demand) and clearly the market is primed for the arrival of the next great Costa Rican Sportfishing vessel. The only thing standing between the Discoverer and the blue water is about 1000 hours of labor and God-knows how many dollars.

Nothing to it but to do it, so Craig got back to work on the new front deck of the Discoverer. Here is how we left things before the break:

The high spots have been block sanded down to the same level of the rest of the foredeck, and the spots that are still shiny are lower than the surrounding level. Craig applies liquid resin / hardener with no additives (also called a ‘hot-coat’) to the low spots, then we add another layer of fiberglass tape over top of the resin.

The idea is bring everything up to the level of the foredeck, and if we accidentally build it up too much that’s no problem because we can always bring it back down with the sanding block.

After an overnight cure and some early morning sanding, Craig returned to repeat the process; there are no shortcuts when it comes to building up levels of glass like this, just lots of time spent on a sanding block.

Finally the entire deck is at the proper level! All that is left to do is a final touch with the block sander, then clean it up and add our final layer of chopped strand.

Here is last bit of this deck that will ever see the sunshine:

Craig is fired up to keep this thing moving so he began forming the chopped strand sections even though Matty had one more round of block sanding to go:


Meanwhile Charlie came around and added another coat to his hole repairs by the bathroom and the rear transom. He moves like a ninja and makes this stuff look easy, but trust us this is high-level detail oriented work:

We are stoked for the final coat of chopped strand and you know where to find the pics…right here baby!

“Thats a lot of work, I am curious to know if you have calculated the amount of weight you have added with all that glass and resin?

I am also wondering why you did not use non woven biaxial fabrics to save weight and improve the overall strength? You could have also used a light weight fairing putty to fill the low spots on the deck and skipped that final layer of matte.

It seems like you guys are doing more work than you need to but I will give you tons of credit for taking on the job. Good luck and keep them pictures coming.”

-Dave Meyers, Florida Sportsman Forum Senior Member

January 30, 2012 – Day 296

Hi Dave,

Thanks for the reply! You are totally correct that the approach we are taking with the nose seems extremely overbuilt, and common wisdom tells that a lighter nose / bow means a softer ride, better gas mileage, and less horsepower required to get up to plane.

We currently have a boat almost identical to the Discoverer in service down in Costa Rica and the front deck has been a constant source of concern in our specific application. We keep this boat (the Wanderer) in the water year-round tied off to a mooring point and last year a freak set of waves swelled into our harbor at Garza Bay.

The Wanderer incurred serious damage from this event as a rouge wave came over the back, filled the cockpit, and sprung the whole boat up on her nose. When it crashed down, here was the result:


Also as a charter boat we have come to expect the unexpected when it comes to client behavior. Sometimes we have hardcore anglers want to sight fish off of the bow; other times we have 10 yoga students who want nothing more than to hang off the bow and look at dolphins:


The Wanderer has taught us the value of having a strong foredeck because the unexpected is always right around the corner for us. Read the details on the whole in-country repair process here: Wanderer repair – September 2011

As for the weight issue, we have a very short ride to the blue water (less than 6 miles) and never need to exceed 25 knots even during tournament time. With the Discoverer I figure we have added approximately 75 pounds to the nose so far and will probably end up just short of 100 pounds added by the end of the process.

As for the finish work, you are also right that we could use either a lightweight fairing puddy or even a micro balloon mix to fill the low spots rather than fussing with whole sheets of fiberglass mattes. However in this case we are trying to replicate the materials that are available to us in Costa Rica.

You see our area is so remote that there are no legitimate boat suppliers. The only materials we can acquire locally for repairs are standard polyester resin/hardener and matte. The best way to make sure that we can easily repair this foredeck with local materials is to only use locally-available materials from the start.

Another example of this is our choice to spray gelcoat rather than marine paint…you can’t find good marine paint anywhere in Costa Rica, but gelcoat is available in almost every hardware store. Here is a link to our last gelcoat spraying escapade: Wanderer Refit – September 2012

It seems like you guys are doing more work than you need to but I will give you tons of credit for taking on the job.

You are totally correct, and thank you for the kind support. We will keep the pictures coming and should be spraying gelcoat soon. Here you can see that Captain Jack has plowed ahead with prep-sanding the interior and the cabin. A little more clean-up and a few more repairs and we will be throwing material at her in the next few weeks.

February 15, 2013 – Day 313

Work on The Discoverer Project has reached a fever pitch as we have multiple irons in the fire right now. First off, the tower has been delivered to our sister shop over at All Jak’d Up Motorsports where the master fabricator Craig Sutton Jr. has begun the modifications. He has already added our shade extension to the rear:

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In addition to increasing the sun cover for the clients, this hoop drops the rod holders a few inches which will allow for quicker access to the rods by our Costa Rican crewman who are all under 6 feet tall. Craig Jr. will also be adding breakaway hinges to the upper superstructure so we can fold the tower down for road transit. Should be exciting and of course we will keep you up to speed as progress unfolds.

Also, Matty is running himself ragged trying to perfect the final surface fiberglass repairs to the foredeck, rubrail area and transom. The foredeck has been a long process but it is finally coming to fruition:

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We were turned on to a technique that surfboard repair guys use involving wax paper on top of hot resin. The wax paper allows you to smooth out air bubbles and force resin down into small crevices and holes that can form while building up layers of fiberglass.

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An added bonus is that the paper traps the heat from the catalyzer and makes the form cure much more quickly.

For the rub rail we elected to fill all 117 of the old holes with fiberglass plugs. The quicker and easier approach would be to run a layer of glass around the outside and be done with it, however we want as fresh a start as possible once we get to assembling the rubrail, so this tedious effort is worth it.

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Lastly, Craig Sr. is doing everything he can to strengthen the areas around the hull where water intrusion has eaten away the wood. Of specific concern is the area around the forward deck hatch and the cabin windows.

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The previous owners knew that water was leaking through the windows and rather than repair the leaks properly, then laid a bead of epoxy caulk over it and called it a day. Well that trapped moisture really did a number on the wood so Craig is taking this opportunity to fix it right. He picked and blew all of the rotten wood from between the hull elements, then methodically pushed a chopped-strand/resin mixture into the crevices. It is essential to do this in layers so as not to create trapped air pockets.

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It seems like everywhere we look there are more areas that need fiberglass repair, though fortunately we are getting better and better at it each day.

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We are still working hard and holding out hope that there is a pot of gold at the end of this rainbow.

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February 25, 2013 – Day 323

Hi folks!

These are the kind of threads that have been going back and forth on my emails:

Matt: Sorry I didn’t get back to you on Saturday because I was busy working on the boat.
CR Office: No problem, how long for the Discover?
Matt: Fish on by December 2013 at the latest, November 1 at the earliest. Why, do you want to switch jobs?
CR Office: No thank you. See you in 2014 ha ha

So it is safe to say that we are chomping at the bit to continue progressing on The Discoverer Project but with the daily demands of jobs, wives, and serving lots of fishing clients here in the high season, it is hard to find time to invest in the boat.

Still we are plowing ahead with the small details to get this thing ready for paint. I went around the whole cabin with fiberglass plugs and epoxy filler and sealed up all the holes, big and small:

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This is a major undertaking that we did not expect to confront; on the Wanderer most of the holes were very well serviced (tight bolts, real stainless steel, ample 5200) we got to reuse most of the holes. On the Discoverer we have “discovered” that the previous owners were not as apt as the late Captain Jack Woodruff and instead put their faith in crappy wood screws, polychrome bolts from Home Depot, and no sealant at all.

Basically, I don’t trust a single hole on this boat so they are all getting filled and fixed.

For the top of the cabin I overdrilled all the holes to find good wood, then inserted plugs of torn-up fiberglass matte with a metal pick, forcing the material into all the null spots between the hull. I applied the hot resin with a pediatric syringe to keep the mess under control while still being able to apply the resin with some PSI behind it; between this and the wicking effect of the chopped-strand matte I am confident the these rotted out holes are now watertight plugs.

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They still may look like holes, but once the gelcoat hits them no one will ever know they existed.

We also are attacking the problem from the underside with a really handle epoxy product called West 610 from West Marine / Port Supplies line of products. It’s a caulk gun-applied binary epoxy that is great for filling gaps and adhering parts; I burned through two tubes running around the underside of the cabin cap, rub rail line, and under-gunwales filling up everything that looked out of place:

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These repairs may look nasty now, but once sanded down flush with the surround bulkhead (once again) no one will ever know they existed.

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Also we finished wrapping the starboard side window in fiberglass tape. On the port side we tried to wrap it all with one 4-inch wide piece of tape. We learned the hard way that this stuff will bend 90 degrees, but not twice with one piece. It took a few hours with a horse syringe and a micro drill bit to fill up all the air pockets, and the raining hot resin to the forehead serves as a reminder not to try and cut corners to save material.

Here is the proper way to do it, with two overlapping pieces of tape:

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In the bathroom we cut out a piece of the wall to remove the toilet, and wouldn’t you know it that we lost the piece? We made a patch out of 3 pieces of woven roven, then after an overnight cure screwed it into place over the hole and ran a coat of tape around the seams to get it trained into place.

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The next day came a bead of the 610 epoxy caulk around the edges to really hold it down.

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Coming up this week we will remove the screws, fill in the holes, then run a couple of fresh pieces of glass over the repair.

Before leaving for Costa Rica last week, Craig undertook the difficult process of filling the load bearing holes with pure epoxy resin. Most of the holes Matty hit will never bear more load than a compass or a radio clip, but these holes here are where the tower, rubrail, and outriggers connect; each of these objects bear extreme strain under open-sea conditions.

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Craig uses the pressure of the syringe to force the epoxy resin deep into cavities all around the holes. Epoxy resin is more expensive than Polyester (which we have used heavily throughout the project) but when fully cured boasts over 2000 PSI of compressed strength (feel free to correct me forum folks, I got that number off the internet somewhere and don’t know for sure)

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Lastly the cabinets on the side of the hull had to be cut in half to remove the giant fuel tanks (see prior post). It was a real PITA and to make matters worse when we reinstalled the back halves they didn’t perfectly line up flush with the front halves. Rather than go crazy trying to make these large pieces setup at a perfect level, I decided to “fake it” by applying layers of chopped strand matte in the low spots, then use wax paper (an old surfer trick) to form the curing hot resin to shape.

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A little more work with the sander and these will be level seats for our clients’ behinds.

At this point in the project we are fairly experienced with this fiberglass repair process and the speed of our progress is picking up. Unfortunately March is the peak of our show appearance schedule and most of us will be out of town for 15 days out of the month. But you can be darned sure we are going to maximize every second we can to keep things moving towards a fish on for the Discoverer.

March 16, 2013 – Day 342

Hey guys. This week Matty and Craig are in Somerset, NJ promoting FishingNosara at the Saltwater Fishing Expo:

This means that Jack has the shop to himself and can get some work done without getting distracted by our shenanigans. We are so satisfied with the way the foredeck came together that we are repeating the same process on the side gunwales.

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Here you can see that Jack has peeled back the top layer of fiberglass to expose the rotted wood beneath. We turned out to be pretty wise in this decision, because if you look closely several sets of rod holders have been drilled in this boat’s history.

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The only way to be sure that OUR rod holder holes will be strong to replace this entire section with a fresh piece of marine plywood.

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Before we left for New Jersey we took a visit from Earl Newton, the man who sold us this boat back in April. Earl is a great old boat man and is always a great source of advice for us on this project.

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Earl dropped by the shop to discuss some last minute details for his trip to Costa, and we are proud to report that his fishing day on the Discoverer‘s sister ship the Wanderer brought multiple great Sailfish releases plus some nice Mahi for the dinner table.

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Great work Earl…can’t wait to see you back at the shop for a good fishing story!

March 26, 2013 – Day 352

The whole team is back together in the shop and we have some great progress to report. First off Craig Jr. has finished his modifications to the tower:

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The extended hoop on the rear will provide extra sun-shade to the fish-fighters in the cockpit. The real trick part of the modification is that now the tower can be removed for road transportation:

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Great work by Craig Jr. and the whole crew over at All Jakd Up Motorsports!

Meanwhile we saw in the last post that Jack has completed gutting out the old rotted wood on the side gunwales, so Craig came in and fabricated epoxy plugs to fill the voids from the old rod holders.

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The epoxy is really clear but the plugs look blue in the pictures because of the painters tape on the bottom.

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Now we are ready to start fabricating the new wood.

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We will be using the same marine-grade plywood we used for the foredeck, and as before want it to be as tight as possible to the edges so that the wood carries the stresses, not the fiberglass.

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Craig is busy sanding the “floor” of this repair so that the new piece has a solid surface upon which to bond. The next step will be to encapsulate the new wood in fiberglass. Once it cures we will set it into place and start building it back up to the level of the gunwale.

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This used to be difficult, but now that we’ve got the hang of the fiberglass process this one should go smoothly.

April 1, 2013 – Day 355

The fur has really started to fly in the boat shop as Craig and Matt are half-way through the replacement of the cockpit gunnels. This area had been completely eaten away by water intrusion with about three generations of rod holder holes to show for it. In the prior post we cut the new wood and prepared the ‘floor’ of the repair to accept the planks.

There is still an important step in preparing the planks: fully encapsulating them in fiberglass matte. This adds another layer of protections from future water intrusion, however if we install the rod holders correctly (with 5200 and through bolts) then this element shouldn’t ever come into play.

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It’s a little tricky to made the fiberglass tape wrap around 90 degree corners so we encapsulated these pieces in two separate pours: first the top and bottom, then the sides and edges. In hindsight this was the backwards way to do it so I will use foresight and say that next time we will start with the edges.

We don’t want to leave anything to chance so we added another layer of protective fiberglass over our previous rod holder repairs. This is a little bit overkill but better safe than sorry.

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We gave the planks and the floor a final pass with the sander and mixed up a batch of epoxy resin to glue the whole thing together.

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This is the strongest epoxy that Fiberglass Coatings makes and takes a full 72 hours to cure. Rather than fuss with complicated jigs and clamps we opted for an old trick we’ve developed over years in the car industry.

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Any ballast would do to apply this steady downward pressure, but hey we have lot of batteries around so why not?

Craig made a quick save when he noticed wet epoxy falling out of the back of the floor and thoughtfully lowered the boat trailer to level. This leveled out the pour, but there was still some voids that Craig filled by hand while the epoxy was still wet.

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While we wait on this to cure we have tackled a few other projects around the boat and are feeling good that our ‘to-do’ list is shrinking by the day. Here are some of the side repairs:

Fiberglass Belly Band

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Fill Voids around the tower mounts

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Repair cracks in the cabin bulkheads

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Finish leveling the side seats

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This has been one busy week but we are stoked about the rapid progress. This week we will be finishing the gunwale repairs and tackling the last rotted element: the rear gunwale and deck.

We should be able to apply everything we have learned to-date on this, the final repair before spraying our base layer of gelcoat.

Comments are encouraged and welcomed. Stay tuned!

April 5, 2013 – Day 359

Hey guys and gals. It’s been another busy week and we are really on a roll now.

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Little taste of Costa pulled up to the bar next door, and the office staff in CR got a kick out of this picture.

We were excited to remove our battery ballasts to find that our new wood has indeed adhered to the gunwale floor. The next step is to pour epoxy resin mixed with phenolic microballoons to fill up the voids between the new wood and the old hull.

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This epoxy sets up slow and (with the microballoons added) has a paste-like consistency. This makes it easier to work with than straight liquid epoxy.

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While waiting out the 48-72hr. cure time Craig busied himself with a few nagging repairs in the cabin and around the exterior. When working with slow-curing material it is essential to have other things to work on, otherwise one is tempted to rush into an area that is stull curing.

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There are still some low spots on the inner gunwale that need to be built up so Craig got into it, while very carefully avoiding the still-curing epoxy around the wood.

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This is a step when the details really count, and by paying special attention to the corners and seams we are hoping that our final layers of fiberglass mat will set up smooth and flat.

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Once these low areas are built up we can form the new gunwale lip and lay up a few sheets of woven roven to finish the side gunwale repairs.

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Yee haw!

April 11, 2013 – Day 365

April 25, 2013 – Day 379

The Discover Project has increased to a fever pitch as we close in on a major milestone: completing major reconstruction of the hull. Once achieved we will spray the gelcoat and basically at that point we are back in our comfort zone. The entire project to date has been ‘off the edge of the map’ for us as we have no significant experience with fiberglass or hull repairs; once we have a strong gelcoated hull we know what to do with it.

Since the last post we ran a full mat of 90 degree bi-axial fiberglass down both gunwales. This layer encapsulated the new wood (see last post) and since we ran it all the way to the foredeck also serves to tie all our repairs together into one surface. This stuff is really cool because the ribbing makes it roll over corners smoothly. A little work with a block sander and this whole repair will be complete.

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The looming storm cloud for this phase of the project has been the rear transom deck. We could tell by standing on it that the wood is softer than ice cream on a hot day, but a glance underneath revealed even more problems.

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Apparently they had a pair of livewells cut into the deck at one point in time, and then someone else came in and attempted to patch them up. The result is pure waterlogged swiss-cheese; none of this area is strong enough to ‘build-up’ and incorporate into the finished product so it’s time for a fire sale (everything must go!)

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The first step is to mark out the cut line. Since the existing fiberglass is so thin and weak we used a small flashlight to mark our line from below. This is a handy trick to make sure that you cut out the bad parts while leaving the good.

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The next step is to score the cutline with an angle grinder or cut-off wheel. Once the outer layer of fiberglass was pierced we got our first close look at the disaster area:

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Uggh. That is nasty. The third step is to cut out the ‘floor’ of this deck with a skill saw; we add a slight angle (10 degrees) to the blade to help create a beveled edge for the forthcoming deck wood.

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Once the big nasty wreck came free, the final step was to clean up the cutline and edges.

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After a few days of head-scratching we have devised a plan to make this rear transom deck stronger than ever. We will reinforce and strengthen the fore side of the hole and create a lip for the wood to rest upon. Then we will build wood rib supports from the fore to the aft of the hole. As long as we measure our angles correctly the new wood should curve smoothly and fit the rest of the lines on the hull.

The first step is to build three sections of stiff fiberglass sheeting to build up the decayed lip on the fore side of the hole:

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These were made by pressing two sheets of woven roven together between wax paper. We trimmed out the edges with a grinder and glued them into place with West Marine 610 epoxy. We couldn’t lay our hands on clamps big enough for this application, so we reverted to the ole’ tape-and-wait approach.

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The overnight cure was a success, so first thing the next morning we sealed up the edges of the sheets with bi-axial so that no liquid would pour out of the sides and bottom.

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Then we poured a thick mixture of epoxy and phenolic microballoons into the channel. The viscosity of this material means that gravity will pull it downward, filling all of the impossible-to-see cracks and crevices below. Once cured this should make the forward lip hard as a rock.

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After a day’s curing we are ready to finalize this forward lip. I little touch-up grinding and a protective topcoat of the 610 epoxy and this are will be ready for wood. In the meantime we also got the aft lip prepared by grinding off the old material and creating a good surface to which we can bind the ribs.

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In the next post we should have the ribs in place and the deckwood ready to go into place. We will have some extra hands on the project this weekend to help put the boat up on stands and finish sanding the whole thing. The much-dreamed of day when the repairs are complete and the gelcoat is flying is near…once that day gets here I hope this truck is ready to get emptied:

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’til next time….

April 29, 2013 – Day 383

Over the weekend we finished installing the four stringers that will support the forthcoming wood for the rear transom deck. It started simply enough by gluing together two 1/4″ pieces of marine plywood together to form a 1/2 inch piece. Then we cut out four pieces about 30 inches in length; the hole itself varies from 23″ to 24″ so at this point you want a little extra wood.

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Then we test fit each piece and label them according to their slot…certainly would be a fail to let these things get mismatched.

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We used a plumb-line and some simple trigonometry to make sure that each stringer fits the slanted back wall of the transom. Here is an example of the fit we are going for:

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Once we have a rough fit we encapsulate each stringer in fiberglass matting; an addition to strengthening the wood and making in watertight, this also add thickness that we can grind away until we have the perfect fit.

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Here are all the pieces in place, supported by temporary screws:

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The final step is to lay down some fiberglass to lock these stringers into place. There are some tight corners here, and one small mistake can prevent a stringer from locking in properly.

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After an overnight cure, we were not pleased to find that two of the four stringers failed to adhere:

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Fortunately with fiberglass, you can always grind it off and try again. Here is the final result.

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This week we will be shaping and installing the top piece, then we will run our top layers of woven roven and fiberglass matting. Ideally this repair will seamlessly match the prior repairs to the side gunwales. Stay tuned!

May 9, 2013 – Day 393

Hey everybody! Craig and Matt are in Nosara this week trying to catch fish, so here are the pics from last week. To finish the major reconstruction of the rear transom deck, Craig ran fiberglass tape around all the corners underneath the deck. The idea here is to create a seal to catch the forthcoming epoxy mixture.

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These are very tight corners and it is virtually impossible to create a perfect seal with no air bubbles with a single piece. That’s why Craig laid all of these corners with two layers of tape; it’s twice the work but is the only way to be sure it will work properly.

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With the new plywood secured to the stringers and all the seams covered, Craig proceeds to pour epoxy mixed with phenolic microballoons into the void. This mix should penetrate all the gaps and created a bullet-proof level of strength for this whole section.

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You can see in these shots that the back-fill worked to perfection with nary a drop of the red stuff falling through.

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All that’s left now is to wait 24-36 hours for this epoxy to fully cure and harden, then it is on to finish fiber-glassing.

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Meanwhile we are continuing to search for little spots that have evaded our repairs so far with Craig tending to the anchor box and Matty continuing to shape the rear deck, gunwales, and foredeck.

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May 30, 2013 – Day 414

Hey everybody!

So we are back from Costa and fired up to keep jamming on the Discoverer so we can take it on down south for a good old time.

In the last post you can see that the new piece of marine plywood has been laid on the new stringers. After the initial epoxy set up, Craig backfilled around the entire piece with an epoxy/microballoon mixture. Notice in the final picture that all the edges were coated in fiberglass tape so that the epoxy would not seep through around the stringers.

The week before we left for Nosara it rained everyday and we couldn’t pour any fiberglass to encase the top of the marine plywood, which was still raw and exposed to the elements. The last day before leaving we got a break in the humidity and poured a hasty piece of woven roven over the wood.

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You can see that there were air bubbles along the edges and that everything is far from level, but at least it is encased and can withstand the rain while we go do this:

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So once we returned the next step was to level out the hasty pour from before and get a fresh start at making this thing look right. We used the 90 degree biaxial weave because the ribbing helps it hold tight to corners.

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The pour came out much cleaner than the first attempt, and you can see in these shots how well the corners set up. While there are some air pockets and other imperfections that will be ground out and replaced, most of the corners achieved adhesion with no air bubbles at all.

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This also allows our first unobstructed view of our marine plywood and we were happy to see no cracks, fissures, or other signs of stress in either the wood or the fiberglass.

After another round of block sanding Matt applies a hot coat of resin and wraps it in wax paper; using a spatula we can work out the air pockets and create a nearly common level in preparation for the final run with the sander.

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One trick is to remove the paper as soon as the resin begins to set because if you leave it too long the paper with shred and get encased in resin, which is a pain to correct and costs time.

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Next up we will apply the same technique to these fuel covering boards and the central deck cover, as well as a final pour on the nose and foredeck to bring everything to a factory-perfect level. We’ll see…

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’til next time!