Rhodes Reliants are classic sailing yachts, built in the 60's and 70's, which are now being lovingly restored and maintained by their owners and continue to sail the oceans of the world. The boats are distinguished by the extensive use of wood on the topside, including handsome teak decking, which has to be protected against the harmful rays of the sun and the aggressive elements of a marine environment.
One Reliant enthusiast, Mark Treat from Rhode Island in the USA, has found the perfect solution in Coma Berenice Super Marine Varnish, an outstanding high build, ultra high gloss, ultraviolet-resistant yacht varnish from HMG Paints.
Supplied by HMG's American subsidiary in South Carolina and applied to the cabin sides, covings, toe rail, boxes, handrails, masts and elsewhere, the finish has now lasted its fifth year, with an annual maintenance coat, and according to Mark "it still looks like new!".
Named after the 'crowning glory' of an Egyptian princess and a stellar constellation, Coma Berenice is a brush-applied single pack product, which enables a deep, rich finish to be achieved straight from the can, without complex mixing and with fewer coats.
Formulated from an exclusive blend of resins and polymers, with microscopic metal filaments to reflect away UV light, it is available in mahogany, amber and clear versions from HMG in Manchester and approved stockists.
Now the subject of dedicated websites, the Rhodes Reliant was designed by Philip Rhodes and built in Hong Kong by Choey Lee, between 1963 and 1976. Classic bluewater sail boats, they are fast, comfortable cruisers, secure under all conditions at sea, and described by marine author Arthur Beiser as 'proper yachts'.
Now close to or more than thirty years old, many Reliants are being restored, refitted and modernised by their owners, who reason that new boats of similar quality and specification would cost up to $200,000.
Mark Treat's 40ft boat 'Windigo' is a Choey Lee Reliant yawl, with a 28ft waterline, 10'9" beam and an IMS certified displacement of 22,357lb. Sailing out of Newport RI and Westport MA, he nowadays travels mainly to the Elizabeth Islands, Martha's Vineyard, Nantucket and Maine, although the boat did actually circumnavigate the globe under a previous owner. An obvious enthusiast, who has been sailing since childhood, Mark pays particular attention to maintenance and passes on advice to other Reliant owners via websites and newsletters.
"I have been experimenting with varnish for a few years now and have finally found a system that holds up well," he say "The biggest causes of varnish failure are moisture and ultraviolet light. Moisture is dealt with by having properly sealed wood and well-maintained coatings. UV light is resisted by incorporating UV stabilisers in the varnish, but most manufacturers add unstable molecules to the resin and, after a while, these break down and the varnish fails."
"After much research, I discovered HMG's Coma Berenice," he contines, "This uses reflective long-strand molecule technology, rather than UV absorbers, which reflects out harmful sun rays to protect the wood. Following an initial build up of 4 to 6 coats, a single annual maintenance coat provides sufficient protection."
Proper preparation is essential for ensuring the effectiveness of any coating system against sea, rain, wind and sun, so Mark is meticulous about this, sanding the surfaces with progressively finer grades of paper, sweeping or vacuuming the deck before varnishing, always using new hair brushes, pouring the paint into a separate container and never returning the remainder to the can.
Surfaces are sealed and spot primed with clear penetrating epoxy sealer, then overcoated once cured with a series of varnish topcoats. Cabin sides are finished in Coma Berenice Mahagony, with masts, spars, toe rail and other details in Amber.
His tip is to apply one or two coats of colour until the desired shade is attained, then finish the remaining build-up coats in Clear. "Coma Berenice does not give the traditional varnish yellow, it is truly clear," he reports. "It's very easy to apply and the finish is excellent. The varnish is now into its fifth year and still looks like new. Great stuff!"
For further information about Coma Berenice Super Marine Varnish, contact:
Telephone 0161 205 7631