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Old 12-01-2010, 16:03   #1
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Blisters

In my four plus years of research hull blisters always seems to come up. But at the same time it seems that this problem mostly appears to be a late 70s early 80s issue (some models are just plain famous for them). Then again maybe it's because once the word got out everyone started barrier coating their hulls "in case". Near as I can tell my 1988 Cal-39 has never had any blisters.

What is everyone else's experience with blisters: boat made, year, yes/no etc?
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Old 12-01-2010, 16:22   #2
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I think you also have to consider the location the boat is used in. Up here, in the Canadian North East, I do not believe that the cold waters (and the fact that the boats are only in them for 5-6 months a year) result in many blistered boats. A surveyor in Northern Maine told me the same thing - wasn't really an issue for him.
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Old 12-01-2010, 16:42   #3
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Blistering may come from a couple of sources. Some blisters you cure, others will come up again. No rule.

Worst case I have seen was a Valiant (40 or so). She had hundreds of coin size (a big coin) blisters everywhere there was gelcoat - topsides, cabin sides, etc..

My own boat built 1981, no barrier coat (other than the original gelcoat), no blisters. I have never seen blisters on Swedish built boats (my home ground), but we have to remember Swedish boats are out of the water half a year and they normally get excellent maintenance in between sailing seasons.

b.
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Old 12-01-2010, 17:02   #4
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We had so many blisters that i sanded all the Gel Coat off to let the Hull dry. Just finished today. 1976 Ericson 35 we've only had her a couple of year's nobody before us put had put any barrier coat on, and we bought the boat in Miami.
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Old 12-01-2010, 17:46   #5
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some speculation is that the issue with boats in the mid/late 70's range is the the oil embargo caused resins to be formulated differently due to the rising price and this is what leads to the blistering.

i remember reading in another thread recently that the blistering problem on some valiants had to do with a fireproof gelcoat or resin they used. ruh-ro.

just finished the bottom job on my 1964 allied seawind and there were a total of 4 blisters that we worth filling. first time she was out in 6 years too
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Old 12-01-2010, 17:57   #6
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Check out this link:
THE CAUSES OF BOAT HULL BLISTERS
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Old 14-01-2010, 05:11   #7
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So based on low replies but fairly high views; it seems that blisters are not the wide spread problem that reading would lead you to believe.
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Old 14-01-2010, 05:26   #8
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Any polyester hull can potentially develop blisters. And it isn't a problem limited to 70's and 80's vintage boats either - there are plenty of boats built after 2000 which suffer the pox. Water chemically reacts with uncured resins to form an acidic liquid which smells like vinegar. Fresh water is worse than salt water.

Boats in warm waters are far more prone than those in colder waters. Boats which sit on the hard through the winter tend to be in colder waters plus they dry out over the winter - however, if you take these to the tropics and float them all year they may develop blisters.

Vinylester hulls don't develop blisters but it is a more expensive. Likewise, epoxy is immune but even more expensive. The good news is that boats don't sink from osmosis.

Certain Valiant hulls are a special case as they were made with fire retardant resins specified by the military during the Vietnam war. These resins proved to be extremely susceptible to blistering. You can check the internet to determine which Valiant hulls were affected.

Blistering isn't widespread in the higher latitudes but is quite common in the tropics.
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Old 14-01-2010, 05:56   #9
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Was not really looking for a discussion on blister causes as there are lots of those threads etc. But was wondering if this is like in the media where we are being kept in a state of fear. I have this feeling that we hear all the "my boat destoryed by blisters" stories that we think it common, but in fact its' rare. So was looking for real input on people's experience with blisters on whether they have or had not any problems.
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Old 14-01-2010, 06:24   #10
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It's probably rare where you are - but it sure isn't rare in the tropics. I've had it on both boats I own (1 at 12 years / 1 at 5 years) and have seen it on many of the boats owned by friends and acquaintances around Hong Kong. And these are boats of virtually every price range, manufactured in yards from around the world, and affecting even boats built as recently as 2006.

It rarely, if ever, affects structural integrity. It does impact upon resale value of newer boats so in that sense it is a real problem. And an expensive one at that! One friend currently has a warranty claim of $50,000. on a 2 year old boat. I'd guess that until that work is performed the value of his boat would be knocked down far in excess of $50K if he tried to sell it.

It's like a car with a paint job destroyed by a sandstorm - it's still a sound vehicle but it'll sell for a lot less than a car with a good paint job. It may just be cosmetic but....
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Old 14-01-2010, 11:55   #11
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I just had my '81 Catalina 38 hauled out this morning and, unfortunately, it has A LOT of blisters, probably 100 or so. Bought the boat in October 2008 and don't recall seeing that many, maybe a few dozen, but the surveyor told me not to worry about 'em. As a young, naive boat buyer, I think I kinda got duped, but it's a lesson learned. All of them are roughly the size of a dime, but it looked like a teenager with acne. I'm not made of money, so I can't afford to have the whole thing stripped down to the laminate and redone, so probably just gonna have the yard grind down the open ones and leave the others for another haul out.
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Old 14-01-2010, 12:12   #12
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Definate blister issues here. I'm putting a gelplane and epoxy layup in my 5 year plan. Will have to set up canvas shop in whatever marina I choose to stay busy while hull dries out. Probably come out ahead after whole episode is over. The canvas biz does pretty good when I stay in one area long enough.
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Old 14-01-2010, 12:39   #13
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I had no blisters but ten years of bottom paint, so I had Page 83 soda-blasted last winter. I found some repairs I didn't know about, but nothing alarming. I overkilled with seven coats of interprotect and two coats of bottom paint, and she still floated a half inch higher last spring! I'm glad I did it, and even gladder I didn't have to. I hope some future buyer will see it that way!
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Old 14-01-2010, 20:24   #14
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Cassive,

On a 30 year old boat I would just spot treat the blisters if they're fairly small. If there's a huge build up of anti-foul, it might be time to strip that as well. It would be worth have a surveyor have a look at the hull to see how far they've gone into the laminates. They're usually a cosmetic issue rather than structural.
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Old 14-01-2010, 20:36   #15
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I had a whole bottom full of tiny blisters on my boat and ended up having the whole thing peeled to the first level of laminate. Laid up two layers of new glass and faired the hull and keel. As it turns out this was a gross over reaction IMHO. There was no delamination anywhere and no damage to the cored hull. The blisters were between the glass and gelcoat as I think most of them are and were primarily cosmetic. I think there has been gross over reaction fueled by boatyards who really did not know what they were doing (my boat had been "sealed" with one of the epoxy products---which may have accelerated the problem more than it helped. Would I do it again? Nope.
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