This should only take 2 days.

And with those fateful words my friend Norm, his son Bill and I embarked on the project to redo a few soft spots on the roof of his houseboat. Norm had taken a couple of days off from work and his son Bill who is a long distance trucker (but previously worked in a marine repair shop) had about a week until his next load. The weather was forecast to be nice out at the lake. Actually almost a bit too nice and as it turned out we ended up with some record breaking heat but we were all available and ready to roll.

We knew that the previous repairs to the railings were the cause of the rot. Long story short, not done properly by the previous owner. Norm and Bill had already removed the railings when I got there so it was off to a fast start. As we started cutting into the roof and pulling up the wood we found more and more rot and the openings on the roof got bigger and bigger. It also got hotter and hotter as this turned out to be record breaking heat.

Day 1 was hot for the removal of the rotted sections and day 2 was even hotter, but Norm and Bill had nosed the houseboat onto the beach and we were in shade pretty much until mid afternoon. Day 2 was spent cleaning up the the mess from day 1 and getting started on getting the replacement sheeting down.

Norm and Bill rocking the Grizzly Adams look
Norm in action
Working our way to the stern.
Into the sun. End of day 2

One of the interesting things we found out was that there was a lot of fiberglass insulation missing from under the roof so that was an added bonus. Stuffing pink fiberglass insulation between the roof trusses was SO much fun.

By the time the sun was well overhead and it was getting damn hot we had repaired and sheeted in the port stern section and the starboard forward and midships sections. Remember this was a 2 day job? We were now at the end of day 2. We took a break the next day and Bill and Norm worked on fixing up the stern section on the starboard side the day after. That was a major job but there really wasn’t enough room for 3 people in that tiny corner so I graciously volunteered to stay home that day. Norm called in to work and got some more days off.

Back at it the day after and the morning started off cool and cloudy for a change. Nice to work in. The clouds burned off late morning and we finished off the stern repairs and re-sheeted and prepped for the fiberglass laminating.

Major reconstruction was required here. Ready to sheet.
Stern ready to finish
Sheeted and good to go.

Bill suited up in his blueman tyvek suit, slapped on his faceshield and respirator and got to grinding. He wasn’t looking forward to it, but it didn’t take too long and in the meantime Norm and I headed into town to get some extra supplies for the next stage.


That was enough for us for the day. I had a wicked migraine so headed home shortly after that and Norm and Bill spent the rest of the afternoon measuring for the railing blocks and prepping for the glass work. The heat had been getting to us (probably the cause of my migraine) and I stayed home to recuperate the next day. Norm and Bill worked on getting the base layer of fiberglass and mat on the deck and when I got there the day after we worked on getting the mounting pads for the railings glassed into place.

That worked out great and we got the blocks all in placed and ready to go. It was looking great, was solid and waterproof. Bill definitely knows what he’s doing with fiberglass! Norm worked the giant parasol for shade and I made sure Bill had the matting and whatever else he needed to hand to get things done. Another day done!

All glassed in and ready for gelcoat.

The final day of the repair was dedicated to putting the gelcoat over the fiberglass laminate. It protects the laminate and gives it a weatherproof finish. Much the same as the fiberglass, the gelcoat also needs a catalyst to let it harden and the heat was once again an issue to deal with. We needed to get the gelcoat on before the catalyst caused it to set up. Bill worked on the top deck, Norm did the fascia along the top (he’s definitely taller than me) and I was Parasol Boy for the endeavour to keep everything out of the direct sun. It worked and we were done as the sun started to head toward the hills.



Gelcoating complete

Bill headed out the next morning after a job well done. It was great to work with him and it sure wouldn’t have been anywhere near as good a job had it been just Norm and I working on it. And it would probably have (definitely) taken even longer.

The final step was to put the railings back on. I gave Norm another day to rest 🙂 and then we spent the last day getting the railings lifted back up and put in place. That took a little bit of manoeuvring but it all worked out and at the end of the day we were finally done.

Railings in place and ready to secure
Finishing touches
A job well done.

In the end the 2 day project took about 8 days. Yes it took a lot longer and more work to get it completed but at the end of it all the houseboat has a good, secure, insulated, weatherproof roof that can be seriously partied on.

And what more could you ask for.



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