And here's a picture looking aft:
This picture was taken earlier in the day, probably my next-to-last pass on the low spots:See the extra putty on the keel near the transom? I made a mistake while shaping the keel foam and sanded too deep in that area, so I had to build it back out with fairing putty. Wasn't too bad a job, but it sure does help when you get these things right in the first place.
Fairing seems to be one of those things where you can never quite get to 100% perfection. The imperfections definitely get smaller and smaller as you progress, but I'll be honest, I don't think I've fixed every single one. Some imperfections are very very slight, and I expect the "super build" (Alexseal's product name) primer to fill them up. At least that's my hope.
I ended up filling some low spots 4-5 times. The reason that happened, is that I would be nervous about slopping on too much putty, so I'd carefully squeegee the extra putty to be even as much as possible with the surrounding area. The squeegee (plastic putty knife, actually) has a pulling effect, that causes it to pull a small amount of material away from the center of the low spot, as you drag the squeegee over the new putty. So you start with a low spot, then add some putty, then end up frustrated when you later longboard that area, because a new (but smaller!) low spot appears in the middle of the old low spot. I'm a bit slow, so it took me awhile to catch on to this. I need to remember to pile the new putty a bit higher next time.
When I first thought about fairing, I somewhat had the idea that all of the "standard" ways to do it were laborious, time-consuming, and generally not necessary for anyone with 20/20 vision. In other words, why bother with guide coats, batten checks, etc, when you can just use your eyes and sight down the surface to identify the imperfections? I no longer feel that way. Your eyes can lie to you, at least mine can, especially when viewing a non-shiny surface. But the longboard doesn't lie; if you're sanding an area, and there's a spot in the middle without any sanding scratches, then you've got a low spot. The batten doesn't lie either; if you are pushing a flexible batten over the surface, and suddenly some daylight appears underneath it, then you've got a low spot. After awhile I began to rely on a lot on these techniques. However I did not use the guide coat technique. I'm thinking that that would be the acid test for creating a perfect surface, and I hope I don't regret not doing it; however I'm trying to keep in mind that this is a boat, not a piano (heard that somewhere).
I have learned to detest the bubble patches I had to add. I started out with all of them covered pretty well, but as I slowly sanded down and evened out the putty layers, some patches started to appear. Near the transom was the worst area. In this picture you can clearly see the outline of the patches:
I'm not overly worried that I sanded the patches too much, since they were oversized to begin with. At least I hope they'll be okay. At any rate, I know I'm not about to redo the fairing job, that's for sure!
Here's the port float back in the cradles, with the starboard float up in the frames ready to go: