Sunday, August 24, 2014

The Harbor Report: Fiberglass repair artist keeps busy

Hans Van Iseghem

By Len Bose
August 22, 2014 | 2:30 p.m.

Most of this week, I have been busy showing and selling boats. I hesitate to say this, but things appear to be picking up in the marine business.
As I make my way around the harbor each week, I see the same marine industry people hard at work and eager to stay busy. Over the past seven years, some people have disappeared into the corn field while others have continued to prosper.
One person who has kept his head down and kept working is Hans Van Iseghem. He is best described as an artist in fiberglass repair who works on everything from a sabot to mega yacht.
Van Iseghem moved to Newport Beach 30 years ago from Belgium to help a friend build a 65-foot catamaran. Over time, Van Iseghem made fiberglass repair his niche, and he has been busy ever since.
"It's a dream for me and the time has gone by fast," he said, adding that he is now 72. Looking at Van Iseghem, I would have never guessed — he moves as fast as a 30-year-old.
"I've always had a job to go to. Sometimes things might slow down a little, but I have been very fortunate," he said.
Van Iseghem said fiberglass has not changed all that much. In the early years, boat manufacturers used a lot of fiberglass because it was unknown how long it would last. Over time, builders have used less and less when constructing a new vessel.
"Fiberglass is very forgiving. It's not dangerous for the surrounding area should you notice a chip or a type of crack in the gel coat," he said.
Fiberglass boats should be buffed and waxed twice a year and washed weekly, he said. If you have a dark-colored boat, you will need to wax your boat four times a year to maintain that rich color.
Van Iseghem's repairs tend to range from structural to cosmetic.
"Each job is different," he said. "I have to assess the damage, match the color and blend it all together to look like the rest of the boat."
Work comes to Van Iseghem by word of mouth, and he's at it six days a week. He spends most of his time on the east end of the harbor, and from time to time he might even be seen on the west end.
He is easy to notice in his white disposable suit, as dust swirls around him. Never hesitate to say hello.

LEN BOSE is an experienced boater, yacht broker and boating columnist.

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