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Old 02-12-2019, 13:39   #1
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Is delam / slight wetness in decks normal for an 18 year old boat?

Hey everyone, thanks for the help with this question! My wife and I are currently under contract on an older Gemini 105mc and just had our survey. The biggest question I had after going over everything was around some moisture readings indicating wetness in the deck, and 2 small sections that separated from the core material (found by tapping).

This is our first boat, so we're pretty green but have at least found knowledgable people to help us! I do have a call in to our surveyor to talk about this, but wanted to also get feedback from more experienced folks here. Is there any amount of delam that could be considered usual / normal for an 18 year old boat? I've also heard 'all boats leak' but maybe that's just what wet boat owners tell us in order to sell their boats

The delam'd section is at the anchor windlass. Moisture has gotten in through a poorly sealed fitting/screw and caused about a 6in x 6in section to come apart from the core. There's another smaller section that delaminated on one of the steps in the cockpit. About the same size.

The wet portions aren't 'soaked' but do show signs of elevated moisture. They're around the front windshield where it looks like water is getting around the seal. And the bow pulpit up front. There's dampness around many of the latch screws and the like in about half dozen other places. Those seem like simple fixes, just replace stainless hardware and re-seal.

In my mind I'm watching all my hard earned money fly out of my hands lol. But this is also our first boat, so I'm really lacking what's 'normal' or just to be expected issues on a nearly 20 year old boat. Thanks!
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Old 02-12-2019, 13:51   #2
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Re: Is delam / slight wetness in decks normal for an 18 year old boat?

Just because it's normal and to be expected doesn't mean it shouldn't be fixed.

How long do you intend to keep it?

Do not base the decision on expecting any resale value.
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Old 02-12-2019, 14:04   #3
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Re: Is delam / slight wetness in decks normal for an 18 year old boat?

In the case of a small delam in a non-structural area you can just drilled holes down to the other face and squeeze in epoxy, making a kind on column, and filling the void. Works fine, especially on an older vessel that doesnt warrant big expense


Bigger delams, areas that are cracked or under real stress can be ground down through the top skin and re glassed. Grind flat, fill and paint.



But all this assumes that the core is dry. DRY, not damp.


Damp balsa will rot, destroying the core and all structural strength, and must be cut out, replaced and reglassed. All of it, no short cuts. Big job, stay away!


For a first boat thats not a job you want, unless its very cheap and you love hard dirty work.
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Old 02-12-2019, 14:30   #4
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Re: Is delam / slight wetness in decks normal for an 18 year old boat?

While it's not uncommon, it's not normal. As you point out, poorly fitted hardware has let moisture into the core.

Unfortunately not all tradesmen do their job properly.
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Old 02-12-2019, 15:31   #5
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Re: Is delam / slight wetness in decks normal for an 18 year old boat?

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Originally Posted by GordonShumway View Post
Hey everyone, thanks for the help with this question! My wife and I are currently under contract on an older Gemini 105mc and just had our survey. The biggest question I had after going over everything was around some moisture readings indicating wetness in the deck, and 2 small sections that separated from the core material (found by tapping).

This is our first boat, so we're pretty green but have at least found knowledgable people to help us! I do have a call in to our surveyor to talk about this, but wanted to also get feedback from more experienced folks here. Is there any amount of delam that could be considered usual / normal for an 18 year old boat? I've also heard 'all boats leak' but maybe that's just what wet boat owners tell us in order to sell their boats

The delam'd section is at the anchor windlass. Moisture has gotten in through a poorly sealed fitting/screw and caused about a 6in x 6in section to come apart from the core. There's another smaller section that delaminated on one of the steps in the cockpit. About the same size.

The wet portions aren't 'soaked' but do show signs of elevated moisture. They're around the front windshield where it looks like water is getting around the seal. And the bow pulpit up front. There's dampness around many of the latch screws and the like in about half dozen other places. Those seem like simple fixes, just replace stainless hardware and re-seal.

In my mind I'm watching all my hard earned money fly out of my hands lol. But this is also our first boat, so I'm really lacking what's 'normal' or just to be expected issues on a nearly 20 year old boat. Thanks!
First, all boats do NOT leak. If a boat leaks, you fix the leak. Your goal is to have dust bunnies in the bilge. Anything else is just making excuses for bad design, bad construction, or bad maintenance.

Second, water in the core of a deck is always a bad thing, and needs to be fixed. That involves more than just replacing the hardware, possibly a lot more.

If the hardware was installed by just drilling a hole into the cored deck, and screwing into that, I would say it was "normal" for an older boat to have this problem. "Normal" but bad. Kind of like it was "normal" for a 1960s era car from Detroit to rust away in 10 years.
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Old 02-12-2019, 17:12   #6
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Re: Is delam / slight wetness in decks normal for an 18 year old boat?

From my experience with Geminiís there is no coring in the hulls and very little in the deck. To me this means the structure of the boat probably isnít compromised but the deck fittings where the moisture is found probably is.
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Old 03-12-2019, 10:17   #7
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Re: Is delam / slight wetness in decks normal for an 18 year old boat?

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From my experience with Geminiís there is no coring in the hulls and very little in the deck. To me this means the structure of the boat probably isnít compromised but the deck fittings where the moisture is found probably is.
Very common.

There are countless boats crossing oceans every day with wet decks.

The average life expectancy of marine sealant is 15 years. If all deck fittings havenít been removed and rebed, before this, there is likely moisture in the deck somewhere.

Itís a little complicated for discussion here, but elevated moisture does not necessarily mean unavoidable rot and delamination.

Most important thing, stop the moisture ingress today. Resin pot all mounting holes and rebed. Monitor any area of elevated moisture, to ensure structural integrity isnít compromised. Many boats can go their entire lives with elevated moisture readings, and it not be a problem. The trick is to know what will and what wonít be.
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Old 03-12-2019, 10:40   #8
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Re: Is delam / slight wetness in decks normal for an 18 year old boat?

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Very common.

There are countless boats crossing oceans every day with wet decks.

The average life expectancy of marine sealant is 15 years. If all deck fittings havenít been removed and rebed, before this, there is likely moisture in the deck somewhere.

Itís a little complicated for discussion here, but elevated moisture does not necessarily mean unavoidable rot and delamination.

Most important thing, stop the moisture ingress today. Resin pot all mounting holes and rebed. Monitor any area of elevated moisture, to ensure structural integrity isnít compromised. Many boats can go their entire lives with elevated moisture readings, and it not be a problem. The trick is to know what will and what wonít be.
Agreed. This should not necessarily be a deal breaker. Get some qualified opinions from some people who can actually look at the problem. And adjust the same price accordingly.
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Old 03-12-2019, 11:45   #9
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Re: Is delam / slight wetness in decks normal for an 18 year old boat?

Thanks guys! I was able to talk to our surveyor a bit yesterday and his response was that it isn't normal but not at all unusual for a boat this age and that it wouldn't be a deal breaker for him. His survey value did come in lower than the last survey that was done in August (which did not note wet anything), so I think if I can get the boat for the current 'as is' survey value I'll go forward. There were a lot of other small, to medium issues that will cost $$ to resolve. I know you never expect to get maintenance costs back when you sell, but at the same time I'm trying to not start off immediately under water on this boat (pardon the pun ha ha).
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Old 03-12-2019, 11:58   #10
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Re: Is delam / slight wetness in decks normal for an 18 year old boat?

Pretty much what Motu42 said.
Most boats have a spot or two.
Is it a problem...? Hard to say really, I think it can be "over worried" sometimes. Where, how much and strength of the build all come into play.
There are some cored boats that are so thick outside the core that it really doesn't matter much. But a cat probably isn't that boat.
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Old 03-12-2019, 12:28   #11
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Re: Is delam / slight wetness in decks normal for an 18 year old boat?

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Pretty much what Motu42 said.
Most boats have a spot or two.
Is it a problem...? Hard to say really, I think it can be "over worried" sometimes. Where, how much and strength of the build all come into play.
There are some cored boats that are so thick outside the core that it really doesn't matter much. But a cat probably isn't that boat.
Yeah this boat has a 'spot or two' and I do wonder if I'm tipping into that 'over worried' territory lol. It's hard when it's your first boat, wondering what's typical and what isn't.. and a little bit of "what the hell am I getting myself into"

I would agree that this boat isn't one that you can ignore a wet core on. And I think there's really only 2 places where a bigger fix is required. Based on my limited knowledge (admittedly) the 'damp' small spots where the screws hold the latch/hinges down just needs to be replaced and re-sealed. The surveyor said you could even just drill a couple of air holes from the bottom to dry things out. Sounds a little sketchy but maybe not so bad. My ideal fix for these would be just to replace the fittings properly and re-bed/reseal the screws and be done. The core in these examples shows elevated moisture, but to say it's 'wet' I think is an overstatement. Maybe just prevent new leaks from getting in and call it a day?
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Old 03-12-2019, 14:59   #12
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Re: Is delam / slight wetness in decks normal for an 18 year old boat?

As said above, a wet core decreases the structural integrity. I dont have a yacht yet, but have owned power boats for many years. I just had the transom rebuilt on my World Cat due to a compromised transom core from moisture.

Simple solution is to ask the seller to fix it or give you credit so you can after the sale. I would think the fiberglass and core around the windless gets more stress than just a soft spot on the deck that needs epoxy.
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Old 03-12-2019, 15:09   #13
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Re: Is delam / slight wetness in decks normal for an 18 year old boat?

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I've also heard 'all boats leak' but maybe that's just what wet boat owners tell us in order to sell their boats
Gordon, not all boats leak, but polishing the bilges 4 times a year can be a chore.

You have paid for a survey, don't hesitate to speak to the surveyor again about the issues and what he recommends, then negotiate from there.

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Old 03-12-2019, 15:55   #14
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Re: Is delam / slight wetness in decks normal for an 18 year old boat?

Quote:
Originally Posted by GordonShumway View Post
Hey everyone, thanks for the help with this question! My wife and I are currently under contract on an older Gemini 105mc and just had our survey. The biggest question I had after going over everything was around some moisture readings indicating wetness in the deck, and 2 small sections that separated from the core material (found by tapping).

This is our first boat, so we're pretty green but have at least found knowledgable people to help us! I do have a call in to our surveyor to talk about this, but wanted to also get feedback from more experienced folks here. Is there any amount of delam that could be considered usual / normal for an 18 year old boat? I've also heard 'all boats leak' but maybe that's just what wet boat owners tell us in order to sell their boats

The delam'd section is at the anchor windlass. Moisture has gotten in through a poorly sealed fitting/screw and caused about a 6in x 6in section to come apart from the core. There's another smaller section that delaminated on one of the steps in the cockpit. About the same size.

The wet portions aren't 'soaked' but do show signs of elevated moisture. They're around the front windshield where it looks like water is getting around the seal. And the bow pulpit up front. There's dampness around many of the latch screws and the like in about half dozen other places. Those seem like simple fixes, just replace stainless hardware and re-seal.

In my mind I'm watching all my hard earned money fly out of my hands lol. But this is also our first boat, so I'm really lacking what's 'normal' or just to be expected issues on a nearly 20 year old boat. Thanks!
ďSlightly elevatedĒ and ďsaturatedĒ are two completely different things. The former demands that you seal what is leaking, the latter may require more extensive repair. You need clarity from the surveyor.

Removing, cleaning, and rebidding some hatch hinges is very simple. Windlass installs often introduce core moisture, if DIY, or the installer was not so ďprofessionalĒ after all.
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Old 03-12-2019, 19:21   #15
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Re: Is delam / slight wetness in decks normal for an 18 year old boat?

Please please pay attention The type of core is of paramount vital importance !!!! If it is Balsa or Philippine mahogany walk a few steps then run!! Both these materials have the spores of a variety of rot that will totally destroy the core and will have tendrils or roots in the still dry core that can extend six feet or more past the end of damage or de -lamination . I once re built a very well known class of boat less than 10 years old. Looked good, went fast. That had a slight rain leak into the core where the rain ran down the underside of the retractable spi. pole and dripped on to a small 3/4" by 1" uncovered core under the end of a stringer. 6" aft of the very forward bulkhead . The rot had destroyed the core on one side of the bottom all the way to the engine. The outside skin had split from slamming into a chop rounding Maka'pu point .This left only the inside skin which was deflecting 6" to 8" inboard . The man who was sailing by himself was very nearly dead . Once the inside skin split the boat would have sunk within two minutes. I had to remove the whole head compartment. Build a mold on the outside and replace nearly one half of the bottom on that side. The Balsa was dark grey Porridge. They could have purchased a lightly used boat for what it cost. I hated those jobs and I did too many of them. As "inside "you knew !! it was impossible to gauge if you had got all the rot. I would never buy a balsa core boat now! Though I have previously owned some good boats that were partially cored with it . There are Bad Foam cores too but not as self destructive as Balsa. I may be assassinated next week !. There's a lot of big money behind Balsa core . But somebody has to say it . I am 87 in 5 weeks I have had a good life. I was well paid for the job but no it gives me bad dreams
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