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Old 26-04-2014, 18:03   #1
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How do I Know if this Boat is Wet?

So we are boat shopping and were aboard a C&C 38 Landfall today (1981). We know that C&C's are balsa cored and to be weary for saturation, but the history of this particular girl is she is sailed ONE month a year, and put back into indoor storage for 11 months. So my question is, if a boat has been stored indoors for the last 9 months is there any way to assess any potential water intrusion?

Keep in mind we are looking for a full-time live aboard so her usage will change dramatically.
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Old 26-04-2014, 18:43   #2
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Re: How do I know if this boat is wet?

Liunatic,

Water intrusion usually happens when the sealant has broken down enough for the water to get in. Therefore, any place a fitting is into the deck is a potential leak spot. Chain plate deck penetration is where we had wet balsa on our first "Insatiable."

When you go look at the boat, beware if there is any place on the deck that gives under your step. Also, look for rust on the stainless, like all the stanchion bases and their screws. The rust will just be surface rust, but many times it occurs at trouble spots, too.

The fact that the boat is mainly protected is irrelevant to the issue of wet balsa. It is renewing sealant that keeps the water out. You might ask the owner what his schedule for renewing it is, and if he can't give you a straight answer or he avoids the question, crank up your wariness. When you look at the chainplates, you'll see a bead of caulking. When it is old, the color is dull, there may be visible cracks, poor adherence to the stainless, or small chunks of sealant missing from where UV and seawater have got at it.

If you think you want to buy the boat, have the surveyor use one of those moisture sensors on the boat.

Good luck with it.

Ann
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Old 26-04-2014, 18:46   #3
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Re: How do I know if this boat is wet?

I wouldn't think so. I would think that all the normal wear and tear would be minimal. It would have taken 12 years to get the normal 12 month saturating effect of it sitting in the water. Sounds like a good boat. Of course the normal things that happen will still happen.

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Old 26-04-2014, 19:12   #4
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Re: How do I know if this boat is wet?

A good surveyor should be able to tell if there is any significant amount of moisture in the balsa core. In addition to using a moisture meter, he'll tap the hull with a hammer, and detect any wet spots by the difference in the sound.
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Old 29-04-2014, 11:42   #5
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Re: How do I know if this boat is wet?

Hi Liunatic. After a lot of research and exploring on the web, I purchased a 1980 C&C 38 Landfall this past November and I love it. C&C's are renowned for their quality of build and were the premier balsa cored boat builders in the industry. They knew how to build light, fast boats but as others above have said, a professional survey will likely be the only way to put your mind at ease.
I did my own survey before buying the boat and know there are two soft spots, but bought the boat anyways because it was a great deal and I will go back and repair them on my schedule.
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Old 29-04-2014, 11:55   #6
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Re: How do I know if this boat is wet?

Is the boat in an area that experiences winter? (Even if it was stored indoors)
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Old 29-04-2014, 12:13   #7
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Re: How do I know if this boat is wet?

Thanks for the info, all.
The broker had a survey he shared with us and the only moisture detected was at the base of the binnicle, but even that was within accepted limits. (Yes, the survey was done for the seller, who happens to be the broker, I know what that means.)

Igotnuthin: The boat is in Maine, so, yes, they experience winter.

Gwilson: congrats on loving your purchase

Ann T. Cate: I find that you always give good insights on a variety of issues that come up on this forum

We went ahead and made an offer that was accepted yesterday, pending a sea trial.......
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Old 29-04-2014, 12:28   #8
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Re: How do I Know if this Boat is Wet?

Look for spider cracks in the deck or around ANY fittings......if it was wet and at any time froze there would have been expansion and spider cracks
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Old 29-04-2014, 12:44   #9
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Re: How do I Know if this Boat is Wet?

Have the surveyor use a moisture metre. and PLEASE get a surveyor.

I use a rubber mallet, and also check the deck as well as the hull using this basic technique:

Marine Survey 101, Do your own marine survey

"PERCUSSIVE SOUNDING - otherwise known as tapping with a hammer., note I said "tap", there is no need to be heavy handed. This is a simple process of noting the difference in sounds as you tap. A hollow sound may indicate delamination or core separation. A dull sound suggests high moisture content and a very dull sound suggests rotten core material. Anyone with a decent ear should be able to determine all but the most subtle conditions. A sound structure will produce a clean "click" with very little bounce back of the hammer. Delamination of core separation will give more bounce back (like a drum) and saturated core will produce a dull thud with near zero bounce back.

I use a variety of hammers and prefer my brass head but do use the Nylon head too. you can buy the little ones shown at right at Princess Auto. This is a process you will use on every part of the structure and is critical on balsa cored hulls, I/O transoms and engine stringers. On decks tap around every fastener and fitting, paying particular attention to areas of hairline fracture in the gelcoat.

Be aware that tapping on an area of the hull where a bulkhead is attached inside will produce a very hard click and that areas between interior frames will produce a very slightly duller sound. You probably will not find the more subtle differences but you can find the costly issues quite easily."
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Old 29-04-2014, 12:51   #10
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Re: How do I Know if this Boat is Wet?

While a small hard plastic hammer is maybe the best, in aviation it's called the "coin tap method", even a quarter can be used to sound composites
But you don't need a framing hammer
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Old 29-04-2014, 13:14   #11
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Re: How do I know if this boat is wet?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Liunatic View Post
...The broker had a survey he shared with us and the only moisture detected was at the base of the binnicle, but even that was within accepted limits. (Yes, the survey was done for the seller, who happens to be the broker, I know what that means.)...
Totally ignore that survey and hire your own from a trusted surveyor.
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Old 30-04-2014, 06:41   #12
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Re: How do I Know if this Boat is Wet?

Liunatic, I see that you are in RI. Contact Gene Barnes. He works out of Gloucester, MA but will travel to RI. Best surveyor I know.
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Old 30-04-2014, 07:36   #13
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Re: How do I Know if this Boat is Wet?

Thanks, Curmudgeon, but the boat is actually in Maine, we will be bringing it to Rhody is the sale goes through.
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Old 30-04-2014, 07:42   #14
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Re: How do I Know if this Boat is Wet?

From alot of reading I've done, and the comparative research I've seen documented moisture meters can have wildly different readings from what is actually going on underneath. Keep in mind you are mearsuring the moisture in the fiberglass not the moisture in the balsa core. To measure the core you'd have to put the probes on the wood... There's a lot of controversey over weather the meters actually work. They work great for seeing if firewood is dry though.

As other have said, and what I feel is the best method is the tapping or sounding out the boat. Is the boats hull balsa cored? From the sounds of it that is what you are describing. No matter how good the original construction of C&C's, it is the maintenance on a 30 year old boat that determines its current condition and worth. If the core has gotten wet it won't matter how long you let it sit at inside storage. The capillary action of the fiberglass and balsa will hold moisture even if they drilled holes to "let it drain". Sure you will get some water out but that is just the water in voids. You'll never get all the water out with out putting a serious vacum on it and heat.

That being said the fact that the current owner didn't get to use it but 1 month a year (yea right!) is neither here nor there. It's like buying a 1983 Mercedes from a little ole granny only driven on sundays in the sunshine. Cars as other vehicles rust/ decay/ need maintenance whether they are used or not. I'd ask to see the work orders with dates of launch and hauling if that is true. No paperwork no proof. Sure rope rigging and gear wouldn't be as wore out but ageing is just as bad.

Here at our storage yard there was a very nice Jboat, cored hull racer cruiser for sale. It sold and two years later it was at inside storage for the year "drying out" with a for sale sign. A large portion of the hull was wet and delaminated. The boat last I saw was for sale for $4-5k and wasn't moving.

I'm not saying you haven't found a gem of a boat just go in VERY SKEPTICAL. Of course pay the $500+ for your own survey, this is a must.
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Old 30-04-2014, 10:24   #15
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Re: How do I Know if this Boat is Wet?

The advice to have it surveyed is sound.
I owned a C&C 38 Racer/Cruiser, which is basically the same underbody with a different topside/interior and some other differences so I'm familiar with the model and maker.
I do know a good surveyor in Maine since my wife and I bought a boat last year in Maine and sailed it back to RI, in fact I'm in the process of selling my C&C as we speak.
If the original owner did keep up with the deck hardware there's a good chance it's sound, if not, all bets are off. I found that the deck hardware needed to be re-bedded about every 4-5 years, with the chainplates being done yearly.
Spider cracks in the stress areas in the deck/cockpit were common but the usual point of water ingress were the grab rails on the cabin house and the mast collar but the most common deck leak is at the chainplates on those models. When originally built the chainplate deck slots were not sealed with epoxy, they were just cut through and then sealed with bedding compound, pretty common in those days.
I pulled the chainplates, cleaned out the balsa around the slot, dried it and then filled it with thickened West System, after setting milled new slots and replaced the chainplates. If your seriously going to keep this boat for any length of time you will want to do that.
Also, the masts on those boats use rod rigging, which is solid for the most part, but, there is an aluminum toggle bolt through the mast at the upper rigging attachment point that the rod rigging attachment caps thread on to, if it is original I can gaurantee that it needs to be replaced, in almost everyone I've seen improperly routed internal halyards have cut through it significantly, this has been the cause of a number of dismastings. I pulled the stick and replaced it the second season I owned the boat (about 10-11 years ago), mine was cut about half way through. There aren't replacements available these days but any decent machine shop can make one for a reasonable price, if you go to a rigger he'll have a machine shop make it and then double the price.
The list goes on, but if well kept and maintained they are sturdy, well made boats that sail beautifully. I was extremely happy with the sailing ability of that boat and miss it already, it's perfect for the New England area, good in light air and predictable in heavy air when reefed.
If this one doesn't have a removable inner forestay you would be wise to add one for a storm sail if you plan to do extended offshore sailing, when used with that set up it's a very predictable boat in heavy air.
If you need any further information or the name of the surveyor feel free to contact me through a private message and I'd be happy to provide the information. Also, there sin't much I haven't done/serviced/upgraded on that boat so I'm pretty familiar with just about anything on the boat.
Hope you enjoy the new boat, they are fun sailing hulls with lots of grin factor.
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