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Old 01-10-2008, 16:25   #1
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Challenge: Emergency Hull Repair

I am new to sailing but i wont to see what everyone has to say about emergency hull repair
Say to just hit a Reef or Rock or log ! you look in the bilge and you are taking on water fast the bilge is running but is not going to keep up
you have to close the hole or slow the leak or something?abandoning ship will not be an option for this question.
You are able to get to the leak by the way
and what if you cant?

what would you do if there was a large crack ?

Or a hole THIS BIG or this big?

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Old 01-10-2008, 17:10   #2
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We can all create a scenario that results in death. If that bothers you, maybe sailing across oceans is not for you...

I carry plastic sheeting, plywood sheet, wooden bungs, life jackets, plasticene. There are not too many people that have had to patch a hole in their boat mid-passage. Anything we dream up will be theory until/unless it happens.

We raised a J24 that was struck by lightning. The simplest things are sometimes the best.

We made a circle of plasticene/play-doh and laid it on a thin 1/4 inch ply. We slapped it on the outside and sunk wood screws through it. Pumped the water out viola!

At sea you would have a hard time drilling the screws in but sea pressure might help hold the plywood until you could get it affixed. A manual hand drill (works underwater) like grandpa had is a great toolkit item.

A heavy duty sheet of plastic can have lines tied to its corners and can be hauled in position over a lifejacket stuffed in the hole.

A lifejacket stuffed in the hole from the inside can be braced with any number of spinnaker-whisker poles/2X4/boat hook etc.

This is basically creativity time.

However if the boat is seriously holed at least one crew should be prepare to abandon ship, readying the raft, getting the ditch bag in order etc. If you are solo it should be you.

BTW - Welcome to Cruisers Forum - This question should get some creative juices going!

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Old 01-10-2008, 17:16   #3
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Originally Posted by Ex-Calif View Post
This is basically creativity time.

BTW - Welcome to Cruisers Forum - This question should get some creative juices going!
I think you about covered the hole thing.
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Old 01-10-2008, 17:16   #4
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Also you can carry underwater epoxy. Just kneed it for a few seconds and if you can access the outside of the hull better. Just slap it on if its a crack or small hole. Or like Don said, make a patch and use the epoxy to secure it to the hull. Won't start setting up until you get it in the water and then you have at the most 5 minutes until it sets.
I carry that, plus a big hammer to hammer the hull back out, Steel Hull, if its ever needed. Believe i hit a container one night, big scratch and heavy dent, but no leaks..
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Old 01-10-2008, 17:27   #5
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Splash Zone and Plywood. Always carry a couple of 5 gallon buckets.
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Old 01-10-2008, 17:38   #6
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I find it strange that when sailing books discuss this topic, most show the hypothetical hole on the starboard or port quarter. If you hit a container, won't the problem almost always be at or near the bow?

I suppose you could be holed by hitting a coral reef or a rock, but if you are still hung up, there is no way you are going to get a tarp over the hole from the outside.

Also I suppose that with a fin keeled boat, the keel could rip out and take a piece of the hull with it. But if that happens, you won't fix it with a tarp either.

Something like big gobs of nutty putty that you can jam into the hole from the inside, and then reinforce with a plywood sheet nailed to the inside of the hull seems like the best bet.

In the old square rigger days, crews would fother a sail over the bottom as a temporary repair, but if the holes were caused by cannonballs they did not do this until after the shooting stopped. Until then, they stuffed whatever they could into the hole from the inside and nailed timber to keep the stuffing in place. And they pumped like hell.
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Old 01-10-2008, 21:53   #7
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Personally I think you could carry an entire hardware and lumber company with you but why? Would you be going over the side in open seas with a sheet of plywood and a brace & Bit to screw it on? I wouldn't.
I believe your best bet is a heavy plastic sheet with lines attached (4 at least). Try to quickly plug the hole from inside with anything that will reduce the inflow and the size of the hole. Brace it aginst a bulkhead or opposite side of hull with anything available. Pull the sheet over the outside and let the water pressure help hold it in place make all haste to nearest port. Getting off a May Day to anyone nearby would be a real good idea also.
The trick here is to work fast. Get out a call for help! Try to preserve the electrical system, but you and crew are the most important.
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Old 02-10-2008, 02:47   #8
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If the hole is any bigger than 1 inch you will not stop the water without some form off brace, you should carry plastic sheeting, plywood sheets , wooden bungs, insted of plasticene try Bitumen its about $10 for 500g and its thick smear on the ply or what ever you wish to use and place it over the hole it will suck to the hull better than a pro on double money and will last for months without a drop of water geting in.

The only problem is the clean up it gets everyware and its not easy to clean off but its still better than moveing into a life raft.
May there always be water under your boat,

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Old 02-10-2008, 07:34   #9
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Originally Posted by beetlejuice30 View Post
........ abandoning ship will not be an option for this question.........
Given this condition, there is no point getting the ditch bag or life raft ready etc.

So I would hit the mayday button on the VHF and then try to stop the leak from the inside. I am pretty sure I wouldn't be going over the side unless it was quite calm. For large(ish) holes, try jamming in bunk cushions braced with whatever.

If outside assistance doesn't turn up, I guess I am going down with the ship - give the above conditions.
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Old 02-10-2008, 08:45   #10
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The axe could come in handy to access the hole that would probably be hard to get at, blocked by interior cabinetry.Maybe you can switch tacks to keep holed side of boat out of water, then head for shore.Shift weight to raise damage out of water.I have sat dinghy in middle of Pacific trying to unbolt damaged self steering rudder /shaft ,bent back 30degrees,{abandoned ball of driftnet with sea creatures attached,including 8 ft. shark},repair and replace.It was not easy in 15ft. swells!
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Old 02-10-2008, 11:23   #11
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You'd want a crowbar more than an axe. Less chance of making even more holes LOL. Actually, if the hole were near the bow, you might be able to slide a tarp or a spare foresail over it without leaving the deck.
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Old 03-10-2008, 05:42   #12
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In the absence of dedicated equipment, a spinnaker makes a hell of an effective fothering sail that water pressure holds in place over a hull breach while repairs are effected. We actually carry a fothering sail that we use as a riding sail while anchored. A fothering sail is only intended to slow flooding enough to allow one to effect repairs but they do work.


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Old 04-10-2008, 02:13   #13
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I think it depends where the hole is on the boat. and whether a crack / split rather than a "hole".......and how accessabile (inside and out).

My nightmare would be a split in the hull at the forward bulkhead - or one of my wing keels being ripped off. and the answer for those would probably involve a lot of luck

But I am thinking that given that I do (still ) have to refit the door to the forepeak (which involves modifying the door frame anyway) of making it a watertight door - and also being able to seal the bulkhead / bilge drain if I ever want thinking is a collision is most likely to happen at the pointy end and if not may also be useful to keep at least the bow bouyant whislt I try and fix the hole elsewhere......

Also thinking (note the theme here - "thinking", not "doing" ) that various lockers could be made watertight (both in the forepeak and elsewhere - especially on / below the waterline) maybe not watertight all the time - but to have a capacity designed in on the basis that if a hole or crack is inside a locker I can seal it and worry about a hull fix later (and out of sight out of mind? ).....and if only seals part of a crack I figure that every little bit would help.

On the sealing around the hole idea rather sealing than the hull breach itself (ooops too much Star Trek ) what about a couple of cans of builders foam? Have never used it myself but I understand it expands with some gusto and whilst I beleive it does soak up water long term I am thinking maybe use it to displace water in a confided area (maybe inside a sailbag to stop it getting sucked into the ocean? - or even poke one end of the sailbag through a hull and fire the can to create a large "bung" that would expand to fit the hole shape? - even if very temporary or not 100% watertight.........just an idea ).

But I think simply having a decent tool kit (I have an axe already - see threads on Pirates ), ability to rig some bracing and plenty of "goop" (of whatever brand) to seal a more permanent "get you home" fix and some ingenuity would be the best plan - and some forethought on your own boat.
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Old 04-10-2008, 05:43   #14
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The advantages of a Multihull

Personally new a 40ft cat that loaded up a daggerboard too much and it tore a large hole through the hull (dodgy polyester resin bond I think)

It flooded that hull on that side but sealed compartments in that hull and lack of lead kept it afloat and it was able to motor home on the other engine.

Another 38ft cat I know of got Tboned during a race and had a hull (head on) hole punched through her. They too motored to land, beached her and patched (ply, silicone and screws) and pumped her dry.

Not having all that lead is a big plus, it doesnt float very well

I can imagine why mono boys would be in a panic, having had one that got plenty of water in it ,and a couple of tonne of lead to help it sink, before, and actually being on one that did. (lost keel and fell over)

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Old 04-10-2008, 20:28   #15
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One of my buddies has a J24 that was holed in a race. Sailed it to shore. Patched it and raced the next day!

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