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Old 09-08-2016, 16:39   #1
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Cracked/Worn/Blistered Gelcoat - Repairable?

I have an S2 7.3 sailboat that I've owned for a little over 3 years. The PO had been painted not long before being put up for sale.

I recently had the boat hauled out for the first time. I didn't get to witness the haul-out, so my first look was after it had been washed and blocked.

I was a little surprised to see what looked like numerous gouges to the gelcoat, exposing the fiberglass mat in some places. I've ready plenty about blistering, but wasn't prepared to see all of them already popped/open.

Needless to say there are a lot of blisters. The bottom has now been garnet blasted to the gelcoat (see photo), and I'm concerned that the gelcoat is really in terrible shape - in addition to the blistering, it's thin in spots, and there is some moderate spider cracking evident. I've looked around but haven't seen many photos of gelcoat in similar condition.

Time to do work on the boat myself is scarce so I'm working with the boatyard on a repair strategy. I know there are a lot of options.

The current plan is to clean out the blister sites, let the hull dry for a couple of weeks (good time for it, hot Louisiana summer), apply an epoxy barrier coat to the bottom, and then finish with bottom paint. Sailing performance isn't critical and none of the blisters are deep, so I don't have any plans to fill and fair the blisters prior to the barrier coat application.

The yard is quoting $350 for the barrier coat (24 ft boat), plus $20 a day while it's drying. The bottom job is going to run close to $1000 for haul-out/blasting/painting.

I guess my real question is the gelcoat even repairable? Do I need to invest my time or money in filling the blisters or is the barrier coat sufficient? The boat itself isn't worth much, but I would like to keep sailing it for at least a couple more years.

Thanks in advance!
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Old 09-08-2016, 16:45   #2
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Re: Cracked/Worn/Blistered Gelcoat - Repairable?

You'll get other answers, but I believe Gelcoat is just to look pretty from a structures perspective.
If Minaret chimes in, listen to what he says.


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Old 09-08-2016, 17:15   #3
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Re: Cracked/Worn/Blistered Gelcoat - Repairable?

The cavities must be filled and faired, after drying out, and a proper vapor barrier applied. Large blisters may need glassing. Doubt 2 weeks drying time will do much unless you use heaters and fans or vacuum.
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Old 09-08-2016, 17:29   #4
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Re: Cracked/Worn/Blistered Gelcoat - Repairable?

Put some bottom paint on it and go sailing.
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Old 09-08-2016, 21:24   #5
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Re: Cracked/Worn/Blistered Gelcoat - Repairable?

Which yard is it at and who are you talking too?

That looks like a grind, fill, and fair job to me from here! It's honestly one of the least skill required jobs there is but brutally painful, particularly in this heat. For $1,000 I would let the yard do it though, there is a lot of upside down with a sanding block work there, and in this heat I wouldn't be in a hurry to do it myself.
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Old 09-08-2016, 21:34   #6
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Re: Cracked/Worn/Blistered Gelcoat - Repairable?

Stumble, I've been talking Jeff at Seabrook.

I don't have any prior experience doing the fill/fairing work but agree it seems straightforward - I wish I had the time.
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Old 10-08-2016, 04:39   #7
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Re: Cracked/Worn/Blistered Gelcoat - Repairable?

Peel, fill, fair and then barrier coat. Depending on the weather and humidity, it will take a fair amount of time to properly dry out. When we did Vigah, it was on the hard for at least three months after the peel. Blisters won't dry out until popped. We bought a peeler and it worked well. Sold to the next guy who had to do a blister job. The old gel coat went into plastic bags, not the ground.
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Old 10-08-2016, 05:22   #8
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Re: Cracked/Worn/Blistered Gelcoat - Repairable?

BTW, Here is what we used. Costs a lot less than having someone do the job, but the tool is not cheap. Paint Removal | PaintShaver.com | Paint Removal Tools, Paint Stripping Tools
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Old 10-08-2016, 06:05   #9
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Re: Cracked/Worn/Blistered Gelcoat - Repairable?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Guy View Post
Put some bottom paint on it and go sailing.



This. If all you wanna get is a few more years sailing out of her.


On the other hand, the quote from your yard is dirt cheap. I'm surprised they're willing to skip the fill & fair, though. Most yards don't like to put out work that looks like crap.
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Old 10-08-2016, 06:07   #10
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Re: Cracked/Worn/Blistered Gelcoat - Repairable?

Quote:
Originally Posted by bletso View Post
BTW, Here is what we used. Costs a lot less than having someone do the job, but the tool is not cheap. Paint Removal | PaintShaver.com | Paint Removal Tools, Paint Stripping Tools


That is NOT a peeler. Doesn't do the same thing at all. These are a great way to hack up a bottom.
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Old 10-08-2016, 09:40   #11
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Re: Cracked/Worn/Blistered Gelcoat - Repairable?

Scrape the blisters, let dry out for a few days and paint it yourself. You can paint that boat in a day easy.
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Old 10-08-2016, 09:59   #12
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Re: Cracked/Worn/Blistered Gelcoat - Repairable?

the 20 dollars a day for dry out is a little steep. it could take a couple of month to get the bottom dry enough to fill and fair the blisters and smooth out the bottom. this should be done with epoxy and micro ballons at the least.


suggest you get a surveyor first to do a moisture meter reading .NO is a pretty wet place so you will either have to tent the bottom and put in dehumidifiers or have it brought indoors.


if you have the yard do all the work, you need to get a guarantee. if they won't do that go some place else. from the California perspective 1 K is cheap
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Old 10-08-2016, 12:09   #13
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Re: Cracked/Worn/Blistered Gelcoat - Repairable?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Guy View Post
Put some bottom paint on it and go sailing.
Agree, most boat pox are not going to sink the boat. Its another way yards make money. Just paint and go. Otherwise if you really really want to get rid of them gotta sandblast or mechanically strip the coat down to glass, dry out for half year(preferably indoors), fair out with micro balloons, vinyl ester the bottom, put on your anti foul and then, after a year go sailing.

Likelihood is you can ignore the blisters and sail the boat for another ten or more years without much problem. But for a $1000 bucks, which is dirt cheap, just let the yard do it. Oh, and figure another $600 for the lay days(one month).
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Old 10-08-2016, 12:49   #14
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Re: Cracked/Worn/Blistered Gelcoat - Repairable?

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Originally Posted by minaret View Post
That is NOT a peeler. Doesn't do the same thing at all. These are a great way to hack up a bottom.
Whether you call it a peeler or not, it worked great for us. Certainly, if you don't do it right, anything will hack up the bottom.
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Old 10-08-2016, 13:31   #15
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Re: Cracked/Worn/Blistered Gelcoat - Repairable?

Quote:
Originally Posted by minaret View Post
That is NOT a peeler. Doesn't do the same thing at all. These are a great way to hack up a bottom.

This might not be a peeler in the true sense of the word,But I bet it works just fine
If need be I would give one a go.


The 13 Amp Marineshaver and the 13 Amp Paintshaver are the same tool with the exception of the blades. The Paintshaver comes with Tungsten Carbide blades and the Marineshaver comes with Diamond blades. The 13 Amp Variable Speed MarineShaver™ Pro strips gelcoat and anti-fouling paint from fiberglass boats and paint from wooden boats at a rate of 1 square foot in 20 seconds. You can strip the gelcoat on a 30 foot sailboat in about 8 hours.
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