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Old 18-07-2010, 05:06   #1
udo
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Need Expert Advice on Wooden Boat

Hello everybody,

I NEED EXPERT ADVICE!

I am aware of the work which will be involved with wooden boats, but I have a concern:


I am considering buying:

a 24 ft Koster made in Sweden 1960

Hull is made of: Mahogany on oak (Carvel build)
The boat was kept in the same family for many, many years ( around 25 years)

Under the waterline the boat is having a plastic / (according to the owner) a thick epoxy coating and when I looked at it, feels like a thick flexible rubber coating. This was applied 15 years ago. The owner also told me that every year the upper edge along the waterline, needs to be checked, because the edge might loosen a little, just only a few mm. but needs to be re-glued with epoxy glue in order to avoid this going any further.

(Image 1, see link below to my gallery)

This means, the hull under the waterline is completely sealed and should not let any water coming through.

After scraping the hull above the waterline (the freeboards), the owner applied a varnish called Coelan (one of the most expensive on the market) which is a Polyurethane varnish. Of course the inside of the hull is not varnished at all so the hull is able to breath.

With this type of carvel build boat, it's not unusual that in the beginning of the sailing season (after the winter) some water will get through the freeboards when the wood is very dry. The owner told me that this is happening.

This is not my major concern!

Next point:

The cockpit is not self bailing. Any water from rain (fresh water) or (salt) water coming in whilst sailing flows via the drain holes in the cockpit floor boards over the inside of the hull to the lowest part of the hull just above the keel.

(Image 10 + 14) see link below to my gallery)

The boat is having (of course) a manual bilge pump and an electrical bilge pump, from which the last one will be automatically activated the moment water is detected above the keel on the inside of the boat.

I know, it's normal for wooden boats to have water in this place. The boat is in the baltic (Stockholm area) , so it is in (cold) salt water (but the baltic is not as salty as the Atlantic or North sea!)

My Major concern:

Since the boat is completely sealed on the outside and fresh water is able to get inside when it rains, unless I use a cover for the cockpit, I just wonder if this part is not going to give me in the future major worries. But have to say: after 15 years with the coating on the outside, nothing seems to be rot.

I checked all the wood on the inside. All seems to be OK, except a tiny piece of wood supporting the floor boards, which feels soft, but this part is above the water, when there is water inside the hull, above the keel.

At the very bottom above the keel (deepest point) below the cabin floor boards, where usually some water is, also the wood still feels very hard, but some of the red-lead paint is peeling off and bare wood from the hull is exposed, so this part of the hull will be easily soaked with a combination of slightly salt water from the baltic (coming in during sailing via cockpit and freeboards) and fresh rain water.

Is this really going to be a main concern? Or what do I need to do?
Have to get the boat back on the land, scrape all the paint on the inside of the bottom of the hull just above the keel away, let it dry for a whole winter season and paint it next spring with red-lead paint, or apply an epoxy?

Or could I use the boat this summer season for sailing and tackle the issue after?

Or not to buy the boat at all?

here are all the images:

July2-2010


many thanks in advance for any advice!


Best regards,

Udo
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Old 18-07-2010, 14:11   #2
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First of all, I'm not a shipwright but am a former wood boat owner.
The boat is very beautiful and I can see why you are attracted to her.
Most owners seal the hull after the owner finds a lot of leakage and doesn't want to make proper repairs with plank replacement and proper caulking. That, in my opinion, is a red flag.
If there is any soft wood below you want to determine how hard it would be to replace it because that is what you will want to do eventually. Having the cockpit drain into the interior of the boat is a concern because rain and snow melt all go below into the bilge where you have already found soft wood.
Saltwater in the bilge is good but freshwater that collects anywhere is bad and I think you know that already.
If the boat is a real bargain then it might be worth taking on the project. Certainly you can sail her without needing to make repairs if you have not found further rotten areas. Eventually I would imagine you would want to take off the epoxy coating and caulk and serve the seams as she was originally built.
Good luck in your decision.
You can search for other opinions by typing in "wood boat" in the search engine after my signature.
kind regards
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Old 18-07-2010, 14:18   #3
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Hi John, thanks for the commends. The only bit of softwood is maybe 1 cm square, just at the top of the rib (above the keel) supporting a floorboard. I guess, if I take it away, it would not have any effect (still) on the strength of the rib, so in fact, I guess, no major damage at all. Just some wet wood above the keel, that's all. Guess have to get a good cockpit cover. Udo
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Old 18-07-2010, 14:36   #4
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It is a very pretty boat for sure.What kind of wood is it?marc
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Old 18-07-2010, 14:38   #5
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Mahogany on oak ribs. Teak deck on Mahogany plywood. Flexible coating on the hull under the waterline, totally sealing the hull from the outside. Inside of the hull no coating at all udo
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Old 20-07-2010, 09:47   #6
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Found out (from the owner) what the outside coating is:

Just a hard shell fibre-glass epoxy coating.

So let's see what the surveyor is having to say about this tomorrow.
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Old 20-07-2010, 14:51   #7
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Hi,

I too have a Swedish boat and a pretty old one. Double-ender (koster) just like the one in your pics (but a plastic one).

First of all - CONGRATULATIONS - you are looking for the right kind of boat in the right country. What is she anyway? She looks much like an early Laurin.

Now the water in the bilge is normal in a wooden boat and all wooden boats I have sailed had some water in the bilge. But avoid fresh (rain) water there - you can direct the drains to a sump and pump it out (this applies to the cockpit drains but cannot be done if you have an alloy mast going thru the deck). You can also build in new thru hulls and drain the cockpit overboard (recommended for any serious offshore work).

If there are any small areas of soft wood you will be able to replace the offending pieces. Small areas and not in the keel area. Replacing a plank is easy and replacing a rib is more complex but it can be done too.

My experience with boats in Sweden is that they are much better built and maintained than elsewhere. And there are very good boatbuilders there if one wants to fix a boat.

My one last comment is for you to NOT take the boat out and dry - you dry the wood and that is when you get into trouble. Winterizing is not a big issue since Swedish winter is cold and humid.

Get a surveyor and if the survey is OK get the boat if you like the price. You will find good woodwork specialists in Sweden should you need to replace a plank or two.

BTW My friend Peter is a boatbuilder specializing in wooden boats and he is now on a job close to Stockholm. You can contact me via a private msg here and I can try to get you in touch with him, should you need any professional support in that area.

PS She IS a beauty.

Cheers,
barnakiel
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Old 20-07-2010, 15:25   #8
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Thanks Barnakiel,

I love the boat, but my main concern is the plastic sheeting on the hull under the waterline. Woodwork moves, and plastic / epoxy does not, this might lead to voids between the wood and plastic and the fun starts!

A wooden boat with water in the bilge above the keel floating in sea water (not lake) will have at least SALT water in it, this one will ONLY have fresh water in it and the owners for sure never emptied a bag of salt in it either + not having any protection above the cockpit and the bilge was every sailing season (for many years) with fresh water in the bilge.

That is unfortunately a big worry.

Love the boat, but need to be sure, the hull is OK.

Udo
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Old 21-07-2010, 15:04   #9
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Just to let everybody know. We had today an inspection from the inside of the boat by the surveyor.

He found no rot at all on the inside. The previous time I dried the bilge completely, but we did see more water back in again. So we suspect some water coming in from in between the wooden hull and keel via the keel bolts. It was so minor, that the surveyor did not see this as a problem.

By looking at the gabs between the planks in the hull above the waterline, which allow water to come through during sailing (not much but still al little bit, he suspected that this could be the reason why the previous owner had put fibre glass sheeting on the hull under the waterline.

Overall from what was possible to see on the inside, he recommended me not to do too much work on the boat, only the things which needs to be done urgently (and that are only a few small items) and just start having fun with it.

We will have a check on the outside of the hull probably this coming weekend.

Udo
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Old 21-07-2010, 15:25   #10
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Glad good survey.Best of luck.marc
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Old 21-07-2010, 15:31   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by udo View Post

... the plastic sheeting on the hull under the waterline. Woodwork moves, and plastic / epoxy does not ...
Oh yes it does! True - if the movement is beyond the elasticity, there will be a crack, and so will be with plain varnish.

Epoxy cracks but it does have some elasticity in it. And if the cover is made in GRP (epoxy and some glass fibres) then you actually have a situation alike with a grp hull.

Quote:
Originally Posted by udo View Post

... Love the boat, but need to be sure, the hull is OK...
I am afraid the worry is a part of the deal with any second-hand boat (as it is with a new one, much surprising as it may sound). We just select different sets of worries according to our pockets and skills.

You are in Sweden and the surveyors opinion is binding. You can check the credentials of the surveyors with their guild and the builder's credentials simply by asking other sailors around.

If both are fine and the boat is fine then you will not get any more assurance than this.

My experience with Sweden is - high quality boats, top quality boat professionals, no cheating (and no bargaining either). Born elsewhere, but definitely my type of place and at the top of my list to buy a boat if one can afford it.

PS Do have a close look at the mast, especially so if it is wood - I have seen some trouble with wooden masts (rot). Make sure yours is healthy throughout.

Please let us how it goes.

Cheers,
barnie
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Old 21-07-2010, 15:41   #12
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I'd be wary of any wooden boat (deck or hull) that has had someone put a coat of anything over it rather than attend to the real problem (generally caulking and replacing some planks). It's amazing how much money people will spend on half ass solutions when it actually costs less (in terms of money) to just buy some wood, a saw, and some glue.
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Old 21-07-2010, 15:52   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by barnakiel View Post
Oh yes it does! True - if the movement is beyond the elasticity, there will be a crack, and so will be with plain varnish.

Epoxy cracks but it does have some elasticity in it. And if the cover is made in GRP (epoxy and some glass fibres) then you actually have a situation alike with a grp hull.



I am afraid the worry is a part of the deal with any second-hand boat (as it is with a new one, much surprising as it may sound). We just select different sets of worries according to our pockets and skills.

You are in Sweden and the surveyors opinion is binding. You can check the credentials of the surveyors with their guild and the builder's credentials simply by asking other sailors around.

If both are fine and the boat is fine then you will not get any more assurance than this.

My experience with Sweden is - high quality boats, top quality boat professionals, no cheating (and no bargaining either). Born elsewhere, but definitely my type of place and at the top of my list to buy a boat if one can afford it.

PS Do have a close look at the mast, especially so if it is wood - I have seen some trouble with wooden masts (rot). Make sure yours is healthy throughout.

Please let us how it goes.

Cheers,
barnie


Good to know about elasticy of fibre glass!btw: what we notice about the mast: This tiny little wood on the side near the top of the mast(what's the right word in English?) was in a very bad shape, but is small job to replace. The mast was bending slightly to one side and was not straight anymore. Udo
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Old 21-07-2010, 20:06   #14
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I'd say it's time for a 2nd opinion.

As many others have mentioned. A wood boat with a relatively 'recent' epoxy cote bottom is a red flag.

My neighbor purchased a wood boat 6 years ago that just had a "little" work to be done. 40K later and still no interior but it's floating again and sailing.

Don't get me wrong it's a Great Boat #2 hull 31' Hershoff (stretched H28).

Just be wary of "simple" fixes already done. Wood needs to be fixed "Right" not mearly bondo patched.
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Old 22-07-2010, 00:00   #15
udo
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Just to let everybody know. We had today an inspection from the inside of the boat by the surveyor.

He found no rot at all on the inside. The previous time I dried the bilge completely, but we did see more water back in again. So we suspect some water coming in from in between the wooden hull and keel via the keel bolts. It was so minor, that the surveyor did not see this as a problem.

By looking at the gabs between the planks in the hull above the waterline, which allow water to come through during sailing (not much but still al little bit, he suspected that this could be the reason why the previous owner had put fibre glass sheeting on the hull under the waterline.

Overall from what was possible to see on the inside, he recommended me not to do too much work on the boat, only the things which needs to be done urgently (and that are only a few small items) and just start having fun with it.

btw; the wooden mast was slightly bending to port side and not straight anymore, but only slightly.

We will have a check on the outside of the hull probably this coming weekend.

Udo
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