Prepping the Topsides**
By Day 10, we were ready to start on the topside paint. We chose the one-part Brightside system from International Paint, which is marketed in the United States as Interlux. The company recommend a primer, then a Pre-kote (which you mix with 5 percent of the topcoat, to make a better transition to the final color), then the topcoat. We followed the manufacturer's directions. We painted for another week (and this was the prep work), perfecting our technique and enjoying the learning curve (most of the time) as we applied three layers of primer and two of Pre-kote. Sometime during that week, we overheard Doug, the yard owner, refer to us as some of the "fussiest" painters he'd ever seen, and we wondered whether that meant we were just plain cranky. We chose to believe that he was complimenting our dedication. One thing's for sure: There's a real joy in putting on the paint yourself and getting to watch the layers add up to the final coat. And you get better at it with each day. Even on that first afternoon, we noted an exact moment when we figured out what we were doing as we rolled and tipped our way for the first time down the starboard side, changing it from white gelcoat to gray primer. You could see that moment in the brushstrokes, when the paint started going on more smoothly: Yes, it had a lot to do with remembering to start the brush in the dry area, then pull it into the wet paint, not the other way around.
And so it was that for six days, Bernie and I followed a fairly exact routine to prepare the boat for the topcoat: Wake up, brush teeth, drink coffee, feed kids, sand with 220-grit paper, shower (because the paint dust goes everywhere), find painting clothes from yesterday (they grew stiffer and more colorful each day), wash dust off topsides with soap and water, wipe down with turpentine, check tape and reapply where needed, roll and tip paint, drink beer and watch paint dry, field commentary from passing peanut gallery. Occasionally, we stopped for 10 minutes while a cloud let loose on us, and sometimes we had to remember to be parents.
The Final Touches**
Whether it was because of the quality of the paint we were using or because we'd found our stride—I mean, let's face it: If you don't know what you're doing after two weeks of this, you're never gonna get the job done!—applying the topcoat was the easiest task. The first layer went on shiny and smooth. No turning back now: Momo was yellow. Yard strollers who stopped by confirmed this with their astute observations: "Wow, that's very yellow!" You had to really study their faces to see if they were smiling approvingly or shielding their eyes from the glare. But we didn't have time to care: We were on a roll, so to speak, moving fore to aft and keeping the wet edge flowing. Two days of rolling and tipping the yellow topcoat, then two days of green sheer stripe, and we were done. After we spent a few more days performing bottom-paint and other minor out-of-water tasks, Momo was finally ready to splash.