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Old 09-04-2019, 10:35   #1
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Hoping I can repair my bowsprit! Yikes!

I've discovered a rot issue with my teak bowsprit. It had been painted and until I started probing with a little dental pick last week, I hadn't realized how bad it was. I'd really like to replace the whole thing but I'd really like to avoid that task (for a while) if possible so that I can enjoy the boat.

Would anyone be kind enough to tell me what to do here? I believe it's teak and I've managed to remove all soft and rotten wood. Now there's just a large void on the port side that I'm hoping I can fill for the time being. Is there a preferred product for that and is it relatively strong? I still go sailing all of the time and there aren't any noticeable issues, which only means it hasn't snapped off.

The area is about 6x2" and a few inches deep. For some reason my pictures upload sideways but I think you'll get the idea.
Thanks for any input!

Evan
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Old 09-04-2019, 10:46   #2
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Re: Hoping I can repair my bowsprit! Yikes!

Replace it or you may find yourself replacing your whole rig. Quickest way would be to have one welded up, or laminate and shape one yourself.
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Old 09-04-2019, 13:19   #3
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Re: Hoping I can repair my bowsprit! Yikes!

Looks like the rot goes through about half the 'sprit. Would you sail with half your shrouds missing? Probably not a good idea. No filler or epoxygoop is going to fix that safely.

It may be possible to fix by cutting off the offending section (making the bowsprit thinner horizontally) until you're back to solid wood all along it, and then laminating a new piece that brings it back to the full width. (Using fasteners like drifts might help too.) To get at it you may have to remove the whole sprit. It depends upon how it was put together in the first place and what else is going on deeper in with the rot. It shouldn't take too long; if it's going to be painted you don't have to worry too much about glue lines and matching grain.

While you're at it, add a thin ridge of putty or sealant across the bottom of the sprit, an inch forward of the seam where it joins with the stem head. Rainwater, dew, or spray that is coming down the underside of the spar will hit the ridge and drip off, rather than run into the seam, where it obviously causes rot.
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Old 09-04-2019, 13:42   #4
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Re: Hoping I can repair my bowsprit! Yikes!

Iíll echo the sentiment that there is no goop that will repair this in a structural manner.

Youíre going to need to pull this off and either add wood, or replace the whole thing with a stainless box section.

As is you stand a chance of loosing your rig.
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Old 10-04-2019, 09:25   #5
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Re: Hoping I can repair my bowsprit! Yikes!

Replace now...easy.
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Old 10-04-2019, 09:39   #6
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Re: Hoping I can repair my bowsprit! Yikes!

I'd use the current one as a pattern and build a new one out of white oak, ash, or something equal.
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Old 10-04-2019, 09:43   #7
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Re: Hoping I can repair my bowsprit! Yikes!

Immediately rig a halyard to pull the meat forward and prevent rig collapse. I had the same problem. I ended up steaming to haul out facility with a halyard spring the mast, buying a length of Sapele and building a new bowsprit. I was close to losing the mast.
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Old 10-04-2019, 09:44   #8
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Re: Hoping I can repair my bowsprit! Yikes!

Just in case another vote makes your decision any easier... do NOT sail the boat until this has been replaced, NOT filled with glue!
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Old 10-04-2019, 09:54   #9
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Re: Hoping I can repair my bowsprit! Yikes!

I would not sail with that bowsprit rot damage. If it gives way, you lose the entire rig. Extremely expensive to replace the rig, and extremely dangerous if it happens. Cheapest option by far is to replace it now, and count yourself lucky nothing has happened so far. From the photos, it appears to be a major structural issue, and it's possible 1/3, or more, of the strength of the bowsprit has been lost.
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Old 10-04-2019, 09:55   #10
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Re: Hoping I can repair my bowsprit! Yikes!

The Bowsprit needs to be removed, it can be repaired, but not with any GOOP, only wood, the problem stems from the fact that it is tight going thru the Bulwarks, as that traps water, and it should be blocked up off the deck about 1", so water again is not trapped, if you look at the design of earlier wood boats, that yours is based on , you will not see the bowsprit tight against any surface, your lucky, as you could hire a Student from the Wooden Boat School in Port Townsend to do the repair for a very reasonable cost.
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Old 10-04-2019, 10:01   #11
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Re: Hoping I can repair my bowsprit! Yikes!

Unfortunately, it looks like that rot is at the stress point of the bowsprit, so a weakness there is not good. I assume it has whisker stays and a bobstay, so that helps make it so the stresses are mostly compressive, but the spar will still get laterally stressed as load is put on the headsail and backstay.

The easiest thing to do would likely to just make another one. It's a big job physically since the bowsprit is probably 6 or 7 feet long, so you would need somewhere to do the work. I replaced my bowsprit when I bought my boat. The original was mahogany but I received advice from several boatbuilders that the best material was actually a dense softwood. Ideally, old growth Douglas Fir. You want the spar to be able to flex under load, long before it would want to break, so softwood is better for that. Higher density, old growth wood helps fight rot. The nice thing was even rare, old growth Doug Fir was still a lot less expensive than mahogany or Teak.


If you don't want to or can't replace, the best thing to do would be to cut out all of the rot, back to smooth surfaced bare wood, and cut a new piece of wood the same shape as the void. Epoxy the new wood in with a wood-based laminating resin and sand fair. In this case I would use the same wood as what the bowsprit is made of.
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Old 10-04-2019, 10:03   #12
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Re: Hoping I can repair my bowsprit! Yikes!

I replaced our stainless sprit asap. Not sure of how yours is constructed or anchored to the hull, but there's no comparison between stainless versus wood.
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Old 10-04-2019, 10:14   #13
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Re: Hoping I can repair my bowsprit! Yikes!

I can't tell what's what on the pic, but I would remove and at least scarf a fresh piece of wood on there with resorcinol glue and screws.
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Old 10-04-2019, 10:34   #14
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Re: Hoping I can repair my bowsprit! Yikes!

Quote:
Originally Posted by rbk View Post
...Quickest way would be to have one welded up, or laminate and shape one yourself.
An example of a cruising couple doing exactly this, all on the boat.

https://youtu.be/qF4OGZoiZ0w
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Old 10-04-2019, 10:50   #15
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Re: Hoping I can repair my bowsprit! Yikes!

While I agree with others that replacement is the smart move, if repair is done, I would:
Cut out all bad wood
Use penetrating epoxy on remaining wood
Scarf in replacement wood

I would also consider reinforcing with some thick L channel and/or some thick plate extending at least 6Ē beyond the scarf.
Good luck.
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