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Old 12-07-2013, 10:32   #1
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Can this hull be fixed?

Sadly, on recent haulout, we discovered serious cracking in the glass of the keel stem on our 1985 Pearson 36. This is not the hull-keel joint but at the point where the hull forms the fiberglas "stem" that the keel bolts to, on the indside this stem forms the bilge. Outside, about 320 degrees around a very thin crack is apparent; inside cracks can be seen in several locations in the wall and where the outside hull tabs to the inner floor lining. 2 cracks extend to the keel bolts holes. We did ground hard on a rock last year; sailing at 5 knots coming to a dead stop; there is damage to the leading edge of the keel. Just before haul out we beat through a rough passage of 24 kts and steep waves. The boat has not been out of the water since the grounding; I didn't notice the bilge cracks earlier this spring when I did the yearly bilge clean. A fiberglas guy says he can repair but sail, engine, keel must be removed; just starting to deal with insurance.
Cost aside, do people with fiberglas hull experience know if this boat can be made structurally sound? The fiberglas guy proposes laying up all around the outside extending 12 in up the hull and 12 inches down on the keel as well as redoing the bilge. Inside will be very difficult as the hull is attached to a inner molded floor pan that also serves a structural stringers. We love the boat, its paid for, have 20K in recent upgrades. Probably of not much value in current condition and not sure we can start from scratch financially at this point. Any thoughts appreciated.
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Old 12-07-2013, 10:44   #2
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Re: Can this hull be fixed?

Hiya Spirit! If you have cracks in the up/down (N/S) direction; these could be fixed. If you have cracks sideways (E/W) direction through any structure; these CANNOT be fixed. Sideways cracks affect the integrity of structures/support; you'll need a total hull/structure overhaul...not worth doing.

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Old 12-07-2013, 10:49   #3
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Old 12-07-2013, 10:54   #4
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Re: Can this hull be fixed?

Your friend is very right in my opinion, to do it properly , keel off, about the inside liner, could be the only solution to cut it and glass the inside areas of the bilge floor without the mess of the liner here and there,
are the cracks deep in the laminate or just in the 1 layer of mat ?
Could be expensive and if the boat is worth the expense, do it, if the cracks are deep in the laminate you have compromise the structural integrity of the keel stub, here is few pics of a Jeaneau doing a repair in the bilge floor stringers and keel stub due a grounding, very similar to your problem. Good Luck.
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Old 12-07-2013, 11:27   #5
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Re: Can this hull be fixed?

Teknav; on the outside it appears latitudinal; on the inside they are longitudinal. None appear to be thru multiple layers but none have been gound to date to assess depth. I'll post pics
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Old 12-07-2013, 11:30   #6
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Re: Can this hull be fixed?

If it's made of fibreglass then it can be fixed, but it sounds to me like you have quite a large project on your hands. The decider will be how deep the cracks run. Often you get non-structural gelcoat cracks around keels that have no negative impact on the integrity of the glass beneath. If the cracks are deeper you're looking at grinding away a lot of glass before laying up new glass.

A friend of mine had a similar crack where the after part of the keel meets the hull. The crack went right through the glass to the extent that water was leaking into the bilge. it was ground out to make a big hole and then that part of the hull was effectively re-built. Better than when it was new!
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Old 12-07-2013, 11:35   #7
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Re: Can this hull be fixed?

If it's not leaking, it can probably be repaired, but it does sound like interior access is going to be fussy. I'd be tempted to take a bunch of photos, print them, and take them and talk to fiberglass repair folks, maybe even go to Oahu to seek 'em out, if there aren't enough on Kauai. Try and get a feel for them. If you're up to attempting the work yourself, choose one of them and pay him or her to supervise your work. Listen to their various approaches, see what fits you best. Good luck with it.

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Old 12-07-2013, 11:41   #8
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Re: Can this hull be fixed?

It can be fixed, you have to remove all of the damaged glass and replace it and reinforcement would be a good idea at this juncture.
Is it worth it? I mean dollars = dollars, is it worth it?
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Old 12-07-2013, 11:43   #9
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Re: Can this hull be fixed?

"Westernspirit".....let that be your "guiding light"...stay positive and you will overcome...

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Old 12-07-2013, 12:14   #10
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Re: Can this hull be fixed?

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Old 12-07-2013, 12:40   #11
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Re: Can this hull be fixed?

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Originally Posted by DefinitelyMe View Post
If it's made of fibreglass then it can be fixed, but it sounds to me like you have quite a large project on your hands. The decider will be how deep the cracks run. Often you get non-structural gelcoat cracks around keels that have no negative impact on the integrity of the glass beneath. If the cracks are deeper you're looking at grinding away a lot of glass before laying up new glass.

A friend of mine had a similar crack where the after part of the keel meets the hull. The crack went right through the glass to the extent that water was leaking into the bilge. it was ground out to make a big hole and then that part of the hull was effectively re-built. Better than when it was new!

I had experience with a similar charter boat (42 Catalina) that hit a rock at 5-5.5 knots stopping dead. It cracked a smile in front and behind the keel, loosened the engine bed and cabinetry on one side of the boat. Sounds like your Pearson was stouter than the Cat!
Not 100% what I'm looking at, but that last photo... I'm amazed that Pearson put such a small radius fairing the keel stem to the hull... many would be 10-20x that radius.... I'd be tempted to grind and repair the area as is, then fair in a big radius and grind/ laminate that.
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Old 12-07-2013, 13:11   #12
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Re: Can this hull be fixed?

I think the answer is yes, it is possible to fix (and with some additional frames / stringers then better than new?) - but I suspect that the answer is also not commercially viable........I think the next move very much depends on what the insurance company comes up with. and how much.
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Old 12-07-2013, 13:28   #13
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Re: Can this hull be fixed?

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I think the answer is yes,
Me too, this one was.

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Old 12-07-2013, 13:38   #14
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Re: Can this hull be fixed?

It's repairable but may require cutting away the sole and laminating up essentially a new hull within or on the outside. Use epoxy resin to be sure there is a bond between the new and glass.

I'm looking at the photos on my iPhone so can't see the details. Are you sure the cracks have structural significance?? Is the structural grid pulled away from hull?? Have you noticed structural flexing in the keel area while under sail?? The cracks you see may be just flexing caused by the grounding with no continuing issues.

If the boat does need work and you can take the boat to Kona, Ron Clark and his son Dustin are really experienced glasswork professionals.
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Old 12-07-2013, 14:08   #15
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Re: Can this hull be fixed?

Hiya Spirit! Your pictures are symptomatic of deep fissures/cracks. It looks like structural supports have been compromised. Do nothing until your insurance company assesses the damage. I am sorry to say, that it does NOT look good. Cosmetic repairs are meaningless if structures have been compromised. A pro, examining these fissures, should determine how deep and how extensive they are. Deep fissures create structural weakness rendering the boat not seaworthy. Because I am relying on your pictures alone, I hope that I am wrong in my assessment! Let's us know what the insurance adjuster has determined. Take care!

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