the accidental project

So since the pontoon is still on land because the @)$%*@^&@)%* motor won’t start AGAIN, I decided to clean these crusty pontoons that have been sitting in the water for 35 years.

The Namekagon Waters are tannin stained meaning they’re supremely clean, but brown with the stain of whatever’s upstream.

What causes that “root beer” color in some lakes?

from Wisconsin DNR

Sometimes described as root beer, coffee, tea, or bog stain, such coloring is natural for many waters in northern Wisconsin. The coloration is not harmful and results from incompletely dissolved organic materials, sometimes referred to as tannins, which come from the decomposition of wetland plants in the watershed of the lake. Often, the greater the amount of wetlands in the watersheds, the darker the color of the water. Since the predominant land type in the watersheds of northern Wisconsin lakes is often a mixture of forests and wetlands, this can result in many lakes having this dark coloration.

Knowing full well that they were swamped with eager anglers wanting to get on the water for the fishing opener, I called Shell Lake Marine to see if they could ONCE AGAIN fix my poor crippled Evinrude and they said they could pick up the pontoon next week Friday. That gave me exactly eight days to get some maintenance done. You know, the kind that can only be done on land.

Thursday was a nice day, so I loaded the wagon with every cleaning agent in the house and shed and headed down to the lake. I sprayed and sponged on pretty much everything in my arsenal and here’s what happened.

Magic. It was Flitz Metal Pre-Clean that did this. Yes, Flitz from our own Waterford, Wisconsin. Since I had one little spray bottle of it, I knew I needed more, so I went online and ordered a gallon, paid expedited shipping and had it in hand Friday morning. Well, first I talked to a very kind woman who told me this would happen. I was delighted.

No more tannin:

I used it very sparingly and did not scrub. Just used a sponge.

Pontoons came out nice and clean. If I get time, I’ll crawl around underneath and get the black stuff off the bottom, although it’ll be far under water when the boat is launched.

It started to rain just after noon on Friday, so my work was cut short and I had to run for cover with my big rolling toolbox and collection of rags and sponges. Up The Killer Hill!

Here’s the accidental part: I pulled off the skirting around the edge and discovered that, although the deck is still firm, it’s pretty rotten and the carpeting has been driving me nuts with its colonies of algae. I debated on whether I had time in eight short days to replace the deck. [cartoon of me with hair standing on end] Yikes.

I guess the decision made itself. I’m committed now. I’ll need a new deck by next Friday when I need to have a friend tow the boat to the landing for pick-up by the marina. A deck would be mighty handy during that process..

Saturday was sunny and warm. Potential for a full day of work. So I removed the rail, skirting and the first of the 4×8 deck sheets. Everything is going well and suprisingly all the bolts and nuts removs easily in spite of a lot of rust. The only problem is that some of the carriage bolts holding down the deck are turning with their bolts because the wood is too rotten to hold them. So those have to be cut off with the oscillating tool from underneath. A bit cramped and very loud with the sound bouncing off aluminum pontoons. Plus my blades were far from sharp.

Trip to the Hardware Store for one new blade that should make it through this project, I hope. By 4:00 my body was wearing out. This morning it’s rebelling mightily. Could it have been lifting that 4×8 water-sodden, carpet-covered piece of 3/4″ marine plywood? Huh.

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