Paint, power and a new console

A boat starts looking more like a boat once you install the console and hang the engine. A little paint doesn’t hurt, either. That’s where we are with the Swamp Yankee project boat this week.


The first photo shows boatwright Charlie Koller rolling Awlgrip (Desert Sand) with a non-skid compound onto the decks of our 22-foot Sisu with a foam roller. He also sprayed the hull and console with Awlgrip (Oyster White) and rolled and tipped the gunwales (Moon Dust).


“The secrets to painting are you want to have a controlled environment with no direct sunlight and no wind,” says Charlie. “It’s best done indoors. Prep it properly, wipe it down with Awl-Prep [from Interlux] and then tack it.”

When rolling and tipping, Charlie says: “You want to roll it out so you get a smooth, even coat. You don’t want any ridges or extra paint. Do the best roll job you can and then you tip into the wet paint, tipping out the bubbles.”

When he’s painting the hull sides, he rolls horizontally and tips vertically. He likes to keep a little bucket of Awlgrip brush reducer handy to keep the brush clean.


Whether you’re spraying or rolling, the prep work obviously is important. Charlie fixed screw holes in the hull and sanded it once with 120 grit and a final time with 320 before wiping, tacking and priming the surface. Spraying, of course, requires the right equipment, including a forced-air respirator hood system and a dust-free, controlled environment with plenty of good light to see your work.

The paint job came out well. In hindsight, Charlie says he believes he could have gotten similar and perhaps better results by rolling and tipping the hull rather than spraying it. Maybe, but here’s the thing to remember about paint: You can see all sorts of little imperfections when a boat is standing naked on the hard. Drop her in the water, and they all disappear.


We had the console for Swamp Yankee laid up in Maine. Its footprint is a better fit for the hull than the original one. It’s a bit wider and deeper. Charlie trimmed off the rough edges and did filling, fairing and sanding where needed. He drilled mounting holes and dewaxed the synthetically cored console.


One thing we both agreed on is that the console should be raised. We blocked it up at various heights and stood at the helm to determine the optimum one. We decided to raise her 3 inches.

Charlie built a solid riser for the console out of 12 teak boards that are 3/4 inch thick by 3 inches wide. “We stagger-lapped the corners, basically Lincoln-logged them, and then glued them with West epoxy,” he says.


Charlie put together a rough squaring jig consisting of knees and standoff blocks screwed to a work table lined with plastic. He did a dry fit of the riser before wetting out the pieces with un-thickened epoxy. He then added filler to thicken it, glued the puzzle together (wet on wet) and clamped it firmly in place.


Without wasting any time, he wiped off as much epoxy as possible with denatured alcohol. That’s working smart. “A half-hour spent cleaning up excess epoxy saves you maybe two hours of not having to grind it off,” says Charlie.

Once the West was dry, he belt-sanded the edges, ran a bull-nose router along the top edge, gave it a final sanding and drilled the screw holes.


To fix the riser in its place, Charlie first masked off the deck area and the edge of the teak to keep things clean. He drilled the screw holes and cut countersinks, which helped create snug little “gaskets,” or O-rings, for the sealant. Then he applied 3M 5200 and screwed the framework securely to the deck.


Charlie glued a 1/2-by-1-inch strip of soft neoprene foam rubber to the top of the riser and screwed the console in place. The plan is let the teak weather to its natural silver color. “It will outlast you,” he told me.



“When it comes to horsepower, you know what they say,” remarks Charlie. “Some’s good, more’s better.”

I have always been partial to boats that run nicely with modest horsepower, and Swamp Yankee should be no exception. We are powering her with a 150-hp Yamaha 4-stroke, and I know of plenty of cases where this semidisplacement Sisu 22 hull is pushed along just fine with fewer ponies. Having said that, I’d still rather have a little extra oomph in reserve than to be constantly pushing or straining an engine.


Why a Yamaha? Simple. I’ve powered my previous boats with Yamahas, and I’ve been a very satisfied user for nearly 30 years. That’s not to say there aren’t other good outboards out there, but I stick with what has worked for me. It’s like choosing electronics. You really can’t go wrong with any of the half-dozen top players.

It comes down to personal preference, which for me is based on past performance and the track record of the new engine I’m considering. The Yamaha 150 4-stroke has proven to be one of those reliable, bulletproof engines.


The engine installation was pretty straightforward. The previous outboard was a 150-hp 2-stroke, and the bolt pattern was identical to that on the new engine, with a 25-inch shaft. “I was expecting to have to plug the holes and redrill them,” says Charlie. “But I’d rather be lucky than good.”

We checked the engine height carefully, and the underside of the cavitation plate is even with the bottom of the hull, perhaps a smidgen lower. I talked to two other boatbuilders who have powered a number of Sisu 22 hulls, and that’s where you want it.


“It was obviously designed for that length shaft,” says Charlie. “The engine is well matched to the boat.”

As always, we welcome your comments. It’s a good way to kick around new ideas and learn from the feedback.

4 thoughts on “Paint, power and a new console

  1. The riser is an elegant solution: gets the job done and looks good in the process (excellent description of great boats and wives, but generally an unattainable objective for guys: we’re lucky if we make it to the first part and hardly ever think about the second).

    You probably meant a roundover bit along the top edge (a bullnose is the result of a roundover bit of sufficient size being used on both the top and bottom edges to make a continuous curve). Whatever, relieving the edge is the sort of detail that separates craftsmanship from a hack job. Well done.

  2. Great article! Charlie sure knows what he’s doing. Regarding the rule of thumb that the bottom of the cavitation plate should be even with the bottom of the hull or slightly lower… does that principle work with sail boats too? I have a 22ft Cal and wasn’t sure of what length outboard (6 HP) to use.

    • Hi…
      Making sure the cavitation plate is even with the bottom of the hull or slightly lower, does this have anything to do with the steerage of the boat.

      My friend has a nice older boat that we are all working on. We all agree that being on the water is like being in heaven and we enjoy it so much.

      Getting back to the boat, our assigned captain is having a lot of trouble getting in and out of our dock slip. We have a lot of trouble with the boat kind of drifting where we don’t want it to go. He doesn’t want to push the motor too much because he’s just not sure the boat will go where he wants it to. Taking the boat out of a smaller space with other boats around, he wants to be exact and not slightly brush anyone. We all help by getting on the side of the boat
      that is near other boats and we always manage to push off the other boats with our arms and have never hit or brushed anyone yet.

      Our assigned captain is very good and very careful and has taken the boating course and has a license.

      Is there a magical trick to controlling the boat as you are first leaving the dock or coming back in? Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

      The boat is 25 feet and has a small cabin and I believe the outboard
      is 350.

      Thank you,
      Cee Lecara

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