When we bought "Star" she hadn't long been externally shot blasted and nicely painted with a two pack system, her interior
looked clean and well looked after and was fully insulated between hull
and interior. We spent the first Winter living on her as snug as a bug in a rug.
But then, after several other electrical
systems proved problematical, I decide to check the two bilge
pumps. You see the one in the saloon bilge
always made a satisfying buzzing noise
but never pumped any water over the side . . . we couldn't be that lucky, could we?
No access was provided seeing that a previous owner had laid a new oak floor over the original ply but when we did get to the pump . . . we found that sitting in gallons of water with it's outlet pipe not connected as the worm-drive clip had long ago rusted away! When we did drain that bilge we started shoveling out huge amounts of VERY thick delaminated steel . . . sorry . . . rust!
of the entire floor and lower interior showed a picture so ghastly we shivered at the thought we had been sleeping on her. An ultrasound survey indicated that some plates appeared to be around 1.4 mm thick!!
Two decades of being used as a live-aboard and several HW calorifiers, central heating
systems and sink/plumbing changes not to mention the condensation
had all but rotted her out inside . . . still, she did look pretty on the outside!
Nine months later and much poorer than we ever thought we're now at the stage of re-priming and painting the lower hull, almost a half of it is now new and the opportunity has been taken to add a fair bit of extra structural strength to her unique hull. We did one thing as a result of the experience that we hope, together with a generous two-pack paint
system, will prevent water sloshing about doing this again. We got the welder to cut a notch in the keel
and then weld across that into the new plate a big sump . . . into which a big pump will go . . . and when the water stops going over the side now then I'll know there's barely a pint of water left in that bilge.
We will then have to re-build the full interior but, in our case, that work is my job so it won't cost but materials . . . but even that job alone would be heart-braking for a DIY owner.
We love "Star" - she's a one-off - but she has taught us one hell of a lesson in what to look for in steel boats.
When viewing an old steel hull
, expect the worse, the reality will be twice that!