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Old 13-02-2011, 11:23   #1
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Need Advice About Crack in Fiberglass at Ridge of Bow / Keel

Greetings,

This is my first post, and I have looked extensively for some advice on this subject to no avail. I am hoping someone here can help me or direct me to another post that can?

I am looking at buying a Hughes 48 ('72) sailboat. It needs some work of which I am not too worried. The one area that has me concerned is a crack at the (keel) ridge of the hull below the bow. The crack runs from about the waterline about half way down to the weighted keel. It is about 1/16th wide and hard to tell how deep it goes. (Just Gelcoat, or glass?). The owner said a surveyor looked at it and said it wasn't a problem. I'd rather not take his word. I don't mind filling the crack with resin or something, but am more concerned what would cause it.

Is a crack in this location typical for an older boat that is larger and has been offshore taking a pounding a few times, or should I worry the hull is moving too much there and may have deeper problems? Owner owned a boat yard, and said it is the thickest part of the hull and not a problem. Perhaps, but I want to make sure. I don’t know if it makes a difference, but the boat had been out of the water for many years and the hull is very dry.

Advice or comments?

Steve
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Old 13-02-2011, 11:36   #2
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maybe its the mold seem. Boat may have been built in 2 halves a lot of the glass bringing the 2 sides together is inside. the lighter cosmetic glass at the joint flexes and cracks. Ideally this would get a good heavy lay up on the outside too but thats how alot of boats were built.
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Old 13-02-2011, 11:37   #3
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Hi... Welcome to CF..
It would help a lot if you posted a picture... maybe with a tape measure or something going across to give us some scale... could be many things.. jacks to tight/bad setup... but without visual of full crack pic and 1 close-ish at the keel bit you mentioned would just be random speculation
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Old 13-02-2011, 11:44   #4
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pix!!!!!!!!! and how deep are the cracks?
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Old 13-02-2011, 11:47   #5
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I don't have any pic's and the boat is a three hour drive away to get there. It is pretty straight forward to describe though...
There is a ridge under the bow that runs from the pointed deck down to the lead filled keel fin. That ridge has about a 1 in wide flat spot (not completely pointed as in a knife). In the middle of the flat spot, at a location from the waterline of the boat to about 1/2 way before you get to the keel fin, there is a crack that is about 5' long +/-. It is about 1/16" wide and at least 1/8" deep (can't see any deeper into it). It looks more like gel coat than mat or roving at the surface. The crack is fairly straight, but jogs a 1/32" every hear and there as it runs down the ridge.
This boat has a great reputation for design and building during this year, and I am assuming it is probably ok with a little filling with resin. But I am very inexperienced in hulls and boat structures, and want to get any advice as to whether I should be wary or not. I don't want to be offshore and have the hull split and start leaking there.
Steve
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Old 13-02-2011, 11:47   #6
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Scary. Hire your own surveyor. One that is acclaimed to be excellent.

If it's the "thickest part of the hull" it shouldn't crack. Is it really just a scratch?
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Old 13-02-2011, 11:49   #7
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I don't think you can get an assessment that's reliable on this board, however you will probably get good advice as this thread evolves.

I hired a fiberglass guy to do an extensive refurb on a storm-damaged boat --and he told me the only way to know (for certain) the difference between cosmetic cracks and surface damage is to grind it out until you find solid layup that's not white (the white is caused by internal delamination).

He also showed me a less destructive way -- which was to grind off the gelcoat or paint on both sides and shine a light on it, then look through it from the other side. If it's not opaque you can see the cracks and how deep/extensive they are.

Either way -- you're going to need to get the seller's written authorization; or better yet -- get him to hire someone to do it while you or your surveyor is there. If the seller doesn't want to cooperate I would advise you to walk away.
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Old 13-02-2011, 12:06   #8
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I'm pretty the boat wouldn't be built with a crack like this. No guess for where it came from comes to mind. From your description, it doesn't seem merely cosmetic. You can hire a surveyor, but it might be a waste of money. I'd run from this one.
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Old 13-02-2011, 12:10   #9
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The hull was undoubtedly laid up in two halves then glassed on the inside to the same thickness of the hull, if it was done right. The crack is probably just cosmetic cracking of the gell coat as the joint of the two sides was probably faired with putty and gel coated. Still, the only way to be sure is to grind through the gelcoat and see what's underneath. Polyester resin doesn't bond to itself all that well after it's cured. Still having said that, most boats are built this way and I don't remember ever hearing of a boat splitting in two at the hull seam. Sure it's happened with extreme stress like running into a concrete wharf at top speed, but it's not common.
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Old 13-02-2011, 12:14   #10
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Are cosmetic cracks at this spot common then? That is what I am hoping as I can see it being a stress area. The coating which is cracked looks like a thick resin or gel coat. If I buy I would grind it down to see, but that won't likely happen before hand.
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Old 13-02-2011, 12:18   #11
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PS.....

PS.. price is very reasonable, and I would still buy if it needed some work here. I am more worried that it could be something inside like bad frame or something allowing it to move, etc. I don't know boat structures, so am looking for input from anyone experienced with cracks at this location. I don't wish to have to gut the front interior to reframe the boat or something.
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Old 13-02-2011, 12:24   #12
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Scary. Hire your own surveyor. One that is acclaimed to be excellent.

If it's the "thickest part of the hull" it shouldn't crack. Is it really just a scratch?
Hire your own surveyor. If your that close to buying it is time to have someone on YOUR side. You may be able to fix it, you may not. You may be able to get the cost of fixing it reduced from the selling price. Your own surveyor will also let you know what else is wrong and if that can be fixed.
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Old 13-02-2011, 12:31   #13
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Westsails have the same problem. It's a cosmetic thing the gel coat cracks where the two halves join. It's a simple repair, clean up the crack,fill with epoxy' finish. Check this site he shows how he did it. http://www.geocities.com/fluidmotion2/home_frame.html Love this guys work. look at projects New Zealand
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Old 13-02-2011, 12:40   #14
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Westsails have the same problem. It's a cosmetic thing the gel coat cracks where the two halves join. It's a simple repair, clean up the crack,fill with epoxy' finish. Check this site he shows how he did it. http://www.geocities.com/fluidmotion2/home_frame.html Love this guys work. look at projects New Zealand
That is what he said the surveyor told him. Dremel and blow it out, and fill.
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Old 13-02-2011, 12:45   #15
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Are cosmetic cracks at this spot common then? That is what I am hoping as I can see it being a stress area. The coating which is cracked looks like a thick resin or gel coat. If I buy I would grind it down to see, but that won't likely happen before hand.
I am certainly not a fiberglass expert, but I have never heard of a crack in this area, let alone a cosmetic crack. There are very few ways to get a "cosmetic" gelcoat crack. Most gelcoat cracks come from flexing or stress in the layup. There should certainly be no flexing in the area you're describing, unless the original layup was defective in the first place, or the boat suffered some kind of serious trauma (I could imagine something like the hull slamming into a hard sandy bottom while crossing a bar.) If the price so attractive that you'd be prepared to rip out the interior, grind away the gelcoat, and lay up many layers of glass in the area surrounding the crack, then I would suggest getting a top notch surveyor to assess the damage. But I would be really surprised if this defect is really "cosmetic"!
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