Keeping History Afloat—By Sanding a Fishing Boat

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4 F 224 Wfb Fm24 Wdwkrs Boat Sanding 2The 3½-inch-thick fir deck of this 1929 commercial fishing boat has no doubt seen its fair share of swabbing, but a good bit of nautical time had passed since its last sanding. That’s how Stephen Gunneson of Bradford, Conn.-based Gunneson Flooring Company got reeled aboard. The new owner of the antique vessel purchased it for his shellfishing company. He had given the deck an initial sanding and asked Gunneson to clean it up. “There is a first time for everything!” says Gunneson, a fourth-generation wood flooring pro. For the renovation, a massive white tarp had been set up to enclose the entire boat, which Gunneson was able to access through a ramp at the dock. “Not every day you’re bringing a big machine out to a boat!” Gunneson says. Gunneson and his team began sanding with the lowest grit they could find (“Just rocks, pretty much”) and worked up to 36-grit to maintain a roughness on the deck. The most challenging part of the sanding was getting the big machine up the bow, which curved sharply. “It was hard to get the big machine up that part,” Gunneson says. “It took two people to do that—one pulling a rope tied to the front of the machine and another to push.” They spent about two days sanding, after which the owner coated the deck with a waterproofing epoxy. Today, the renovated vessel is back in commission. “It’s pretty cool to keep the history going,” Gunneson says.

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