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Old 17-11-2007, 10:13   #1
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Soft Spots on the Deck

Hi all I've got a question - I'm thinking of buying a Cheoy Lee Bermuda 30, 1965, fiberglass hull, asking $8500 here is the link:
View Boat Photos - YachtWorld.com

Now my question is that the broker said this: "She a fine little yacht and basically sound. However there are some soft spots on the deck, and although her bright work was just stripped and varnished, it was done kind of crudely, so it could use some work in that area. There is some evidence of leakage in the cabin top and around the portholes too."

So what exactly do you make of that? What kind of troubles would I be getting into with "soft spots on the deck"?

cheers -Dave
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Old 17-11-2007, 10:24   #2
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Just some guessing. The leaks would more likely come from badly installed hardware, ie: stansions, tracks. It depends how bad the soft spots on the deck are. If all the plywood under the fiberglass is shot it's real bad. If it is just spots you can dig out the rot, reinforce it underneath and reglass over those sections. If you can do this work it's not that big of a deal. If you hire someone you are looking at $$$. The condition is probably reflected in the price.
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Old 17-11-2007, 10:41   #3
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If it's a glass over wood type of surface (common), what happens a lot is a little hole in the glass lets some water down into the wood. No big deal, until it keeps happening for a year or two. The (usually fresh, since salt would hinder rot) water rots the wood away, and then you get that spongy feeling.

It's a fairly common problem; I've got two of them myself to contend with. As long as it's not structural (rotting the mast step, or maybe the bowsprit / deck connection), it's not *that* bad, but certainly something to fix.

You can pick up the west systems "how to use our epoxy guide" in west marine for $5, and they have about 20 different ways to repair it.
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Old 17-11-2007, 11:27   #4
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This boat has teak decks. Many older Cheoy Lee boats are known for their deck and cabin leaks. Hence the name, "Cheoy Leaky". I have a CL boat of a different vintage and have visited the Cheoy Lee yards in Hong Kong several times.

Their glass work is very good....solid, hand layups. Rarely have blistering problems. Their teak joiner work looks very good, but often is accompanied by poor materials and workmanship underneath.

My guess is that this one is teak laid over plywood decking. "Soft spots" could spell a lot of trouble, both in time and expense.

Even though the price is pretty low, you'd be well advised to commission your own survey and have a competent surveyor go over this boat carefully if you are really serious about it.

Bill
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Old 17-11-2007, 11:33   #5
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Get a surveyor

You really need to consider getting an expert to look at this, brokers tend to minimize as much as possible these types of issues. Your surveyor needs to be good with a moisture meter and a hammer. If this is a cored deck (ie wood in the center with a layer of fiberglass above and a layer of fiberglass below) then it's either soft because it was poorly built in the first place or more likely since you know there are deck leaks water has rotted the core out. Water from leaking decks can migrate through wood cores and cause a lot of damage.

The core is essential to the strength of the deck and a boat with a rotten core is usually considered to be unsafe for heavy weather in the ocean or the great lakes. Small areas you may be able to fix by drying the core in that area and then injecting various types of epoxy to seal and then stabilize the bad areas. Large areas are a different story, they can be fixed but the cost to have it done professionally and end up with a non-visible repair can be hefty. Yards that can do this work well are not all that plentiful either. It's possible to DIY but it's a big job and takes skill and patience to get a good result.

Good luck, that is a sweet looking boat and hopefully it won't be bad.
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Old 17-11-2007, 11:41   #6
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I agree with jdoe. But I also am wondering how the broker new there were softspots when the deck is teak timber. I wonder if the teak is lifting. If you have to lift the deck, it is big major money. But you need to weigh that up with the cost of the boat and what it is potentially worth. I suggest it is why the boat is cheap. It maybe a lot of time and effort and money down the very near track.
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Old 17-11-2007, 14:24   #7
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I have just finished refurbishing the teak decks on our Westsail 32, it took almost three years of summers to complete the project. It should be stated that when it comes to deciding what to do in this application, the potential buyer has to be really knowledgably about the type of construction utilized on the particular vessels decks that he is contemplating buying and use that knowledge about how much time, money and skill level will be required to rectify the situation. There is no reasons for any surprises

Our vessels seams had completely failed, considering the boat is 30 years old a completely normal issue. However the original craftsman did such a high quality installation, with superior materials that the seam issue was more cosmetic than anything else. The boat has 1" thick Burmese teak over a fiberglass sub-deck with 3/4" marine ply core. The teak was bedded in Thiokol and mechanically fastened. On the initial inspection of the boat we where able to get under the deck in various places and inspect the color of the plywood thought the underside fiberglass, golden colored means good wood, black areas indicate areas of water intrusion into the wood core and rot. I can't stress how important this is if possible to have done! Bottom line we had no soft spots and beautiful golden color to the wood core throughout, making the vessel an ideal candidate for refurbishment. Note I used the word refurbishment, not restoration, big difference. teak decks of the era of the Choy Lee had thousands of mechanical fasteners holding the deck to the substrate, i.e. thousands of potential holes for water to get into the core of the deck. Production boat built by foreigners with big time potential for substandard workmanship. The hull to deck joint is one of the most important places to inspect. This area is subject to extreme forces and works, the seam fails and water pours in between the deck sandwich. Wheels is absolutely correct in his assumption that if you can walk on the teak overlayment and there are area that feel soft the teak is lifting, more than likely something much more extensive. If the boat has been located in Minnesota for any length of time the water in between the deck sandwich freezes, expands and does considerable damage. My instinct is this might be a good one to walk away from, unless you get it for such a good price that you just sail the rest of the remaining life out of it then scrap it or you like to do boat restoration work as a hobby( A noble hobby). The broker doesn't care about you, he makes his living selling boats.
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Old 17-11-2007, 14:48   #8
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How did you fix this?

Quote:
Originally Posted by cburger View Post
I have just finished refurbishing the teak decks on our Westsail 32, it took almost three years of summers to complete the project. It should be stated that when it comes to deciding what to do in this application, the potential buyer has to be really knowledgably about the type of construction utilized on the particular vessels decks that he is contemplating buying and use that knowledge about how much time, money and skill level will be required to rectify the situation. There is no reasons for any surprises

Our vessels seams had completely failed, considering the boat is 30 years old a completely normal issue. However the original craftsman did such a high quality installation, with superior materials that the seam issue was more cosmetic than anything else. The boat has 1" thick Burmese teak over a fiberglass sub-deck with 3/4" marine ply core. The teak was bedded in Thiokol and mechanically fastened. On the initial inspection of the boat we where able to get under the deck in various places and inspect the color of the plywood thought the underside fiberglass, golden colored means good wood, black areas indicate areas of water intrusion into the wood core and rot. I can't stress how important this is if possible to have done! Bottom line we had no soft spots and beautiful golden color to the wood core throughout, making the vessel an ideal candidate for refurbishment. Note I used the word refurbishment, not restoration, big difference. teak decks of the era of the Choy Lee had thousands of mechanical fasteners holding the deck to the substrate, i.e. thousands of potential holes for water to get into the core of the deck. Production boat built by foreigners with big time potential for substandard workmanship. The hull to deck joint is one of the most important places to inspect. This area is subject to extreme forces and works, the seam fails and water pours in between the deck sandwich. Wheels is absolutely correct in his assumption that if you can walk on the teak overlayment and there are area that feel soft the teak is lifting, more than likely something much more extensive. If the boat has been located in Minnesota for any length of time the water in between the deck sandwich freezes, expands and does considerable damage. My instinct is this might be a good one to walk away from, unless you get it for such a good price that you just sail the rest of the remaining life out of it then scrap it or you like to do boat restoration work as a hobby( A noble hobby). The broker doesn't care about you, he makes his living selling boats.
That's really interesting information. Can you elaborate on what the process was to fix the seams on your boat? I'd like to know more about teak decks and how repairable they are, I love the stuff but having all those holes in a deck scares the crap out of me!
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Old 17-11-2007, 14:51   #9
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Soft spots on the deck means ripping the decks up, replacing the rotted wood and then replacing the teak decking

The leakage in the cabin top would probably be around the mast. You have no idea how deep, or far, this goes and won't until you begin the repair.

The leakage around the portholes really depends on if the fiberglass is cored there. If it isn't this is the least of the worries, if the cabin sides are cored then read some of the posts above as this is an epoxy injection job.

Overall this is a 40 year old, poorly maintained boat that needs rebuilding. We are talking about 100 -200 hours of labor at a minimum not to mention material costs. Repair costs could quickly spin out of control.

You didn't mention the rest of the boat. Condition of hull, sails, engine and age of boat systems or an idea of when the last refit was.

I would say that if you really need a Cheoy Lee, spend 15K more and find one in Bristol condition as you are going to spend at least that on this boat to get her completely refit.

If any boat would do, I would pass on this one as it's 2 years of work and too much $$$ to fix.
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Old 17-11-2007, 15:29   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cburger View Post
My instinct is this might be a good one to walk away from, unless you get it for such a good price that you just sail the rest of the remaining life out of it then scrap it or you like to do boat restoration work as a hobby( A noble hobby).
Ok then what is a really good price? Sounds like everyone agrees that soft spots on the deck is the death bell or atleast alot of money and work. Given that, shouldn't there be some amount of discount?

What is the general consensus on the value of such a boat. I have not personally seen it so we all have to go on speculation - let's say every other system is average and it has these spongy spots. Is it worth $8500, $5000, $1000 or just too much trouble?
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Old 17-11-2007, 16:37   #11
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Rick from Florida's advice is very sound, again sounds like a boat to run from.
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Old 17-11-2007, 16:50   #12
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Apogee-
"Ok then what is a really good price? "
Sometimes, there is none. You can find the West Systems folks on the web and check out their online PDFs about deck repairs.

West System Inc. ; 102 Patterson Ave.
P.O. Box 665; Bay City, MI 48707-0665
Tel. 989-684-7286
Fax 989-684-1374
Monday - Friday 8:00am - 5:00pm ET

Or just call them, they will spend time with you on the phone as long as you make the call, just explain what you are looking at and they'll even tell you about how much of what supplies you'll need, and the retail cost of them.

The problem with deck repairs is that you MUST really survey the extent of the problem, it is possible to start with a few soft spots and wind up needing to replace an entire deck--which can exceed the worth of the boat. Even if you DIY and you have a warm dry place to store and work on the boat, you may need to invest many hours stripping out all the deck hardware and then replacing it afterwards. It can be a big scary job, one that is prohibitive at yard rates.

Or, it could just be some soft spots that need a week of your time.

And by the way, there's a special hell involved in deck work, sometimes you need to work UNDER the dripping epoxy, while whistling "Singing in the rain". <G>

Yeah, deck work can be scary, if you are really interested and aren't certain of how to sound out a deck yourself, you may need to hire a pro. Brokers tend to say "The buyer said...and we don't make any representations or warrantees" and leave you to make your own best guess. Even if they do know more.
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Old 17-11-2007, 17:30   #13
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Before I purchased my boat it had deck rot. Fiberglass decks though. The builder took all the gear off the deck. Cut around the edge of the deck with a saw then pulled the whole deck off and replaced any of the softcore that needed to be replaced. I saw him doing the same process to a Whidbey 42. Nasty job but it came out looking good. Don't know the cost but I scratched teak decks off of the list when I found out a 40' boat could cost $30k to replace just the teak not the repairs from bad fastenings.
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Old 17-11-2007, 19:41   #14
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Once, it took me a week to get all the epoxy out of my hair from a very simple epoxy injection job. I had failed to seal through bolt holes completely. When I added up all of the hours including clean up (the dripping epoxy) no one would believe it.

What is the right price? There isn't one. If you really need this boat that badly, offer them $1000 bucks and make sure you have lots of cash on hand as yer gonna need it.

OTOH, listen to the folks who have 'been there' and pass on this one.
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Old 17-11-2007, 19:48   #15
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Apogee,
You've got a lot of good advice and lots of good opinions. My opinion is that if a teak deck feels spongy and it is not my boat then I really, really, really don't want it to be my boat. Most folks I know who had teak decks ripped them up and just filled and painted before the spongy spots appeared.
Another opinion is that you can get a pretty decent 30 footer for $10K if you shop around carefully.
Kind Regards,
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