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Old 22-10-2015, 19:05   #1
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Wet Deck

Hi.. I am new to this forum and looking to get back into sailing after 15 years without a boat! A recent survey on a boat I am looking at found elevated moisture in several parts of the deck. Everything was still firm...no soft spots. I was told that if I re-bed all of the deck hardware to prevent further moisture it will "arrest" the condition. He indicated that with proper maintenance going forward it will likely take a long time for any delamination to start. What does everyone think about this? Do you agree that it will "arrest" the condition and not rot the deck? The boat looks to be in great shape, but, I don't want to buy it and have the deck start falling apart in a few years. What do you think?
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Old 22-10-2015, 20:06   #2
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Re: Wet Deck

Maybe, maybe not. My experience moisture meters are not perfectly accurate, results are more relative than absolute. Even if you could learn the exact % moisture there's still a lot of variables and without a lot more information I think it would be difficult to predict how this will go in 5-10-15 years.

What is the core, plywood or end grain balsa mat? What kind of resin was used in the layup? Was the core material saturated with resin and bonded well with the skin?

I would maybe pull a couple of fittings in the areas that show worst on the meter and gouge out a bit of the core for a visual inspection. If not too wet I would consider the boat but still would prefer opening up the holes and drying the core before resealing.
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Old 22-10-2015, 20:44   #3
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Re: Wet Deck

Wouldn't hurt to drill a couple of small holes in the "wet' area and see if the tailings come up wet or like the previous poster said it may well be relative and not wet at all.
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Old 23-10-2015, 06:55   #4
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Re: Wet Deck

Quote:
Originally Posted by captain58sailin View Post
Wouldn't hurt to drill a couple of small holes in the "wet' area and see if the tailings come up wet or like the previous poster said it may well be relative and not wet at all.
Drilling a couple of test holes to get a core sample would be a great idea, but the current owner might not be too thrilled.

If you can access the underside of the deck near one of the suspect areas, say from inside a locker, maybe the owner would allow you to drill in from the underside.

I had a couple of really wet spots and I was able to open them up from below for repair.
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Old 24-10-2015, 04:49   #5
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Re: Wet Deck

Greetings and welcome aboard the CF, CNYSail.
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Old 24-10-2015, 06:27   #6
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Re: Wet Deck

Recently I had an owner spend about $2000 prettying up an old 19 foot fishing boat. Upon initial inspection, I told him the decks were soft, the condition of the stringers and fuel tank was unknown, the motor was antiquated etc etc but he had fallen in love with the idea of fixing it up. He thought the decks were "functional." He had paid $1500 for the boat, trailer and an old "Tower of Power" 150 Merc.

The first thing I did was pull off the captain's pedestal chairs and drill a big (5/16") hole in the deck under the chair which was an area of concern for water penetration. The wood shavings that came up weren't wet, but the wood was somewhat softer than expected and dark in color. I showed the owner the results and again tried to get him to sell the trailer and motor to cut his losses. He said he could see up inside the boat's bilge near the transom and could tell some work had been done but thought the boat was solid. Note that he had described the boat as being in "good mechanical condition, as he had been restoring it with his sons." It had been stored under a shed for FOUR months (very important later.)

Started doing body work on the boat to paint it, and there were acres of resin-starved fiberglass along the mold edges that the owner thought were usual wear patina (chips.) When hit with a dremel they just exploded and got bigger. Lots of filler. More advisories about ending up with $10,000 in a $4000 boat...

Pulled the console off next. The filler hose to the fuel tank was completely broken down at the hose clamps, so that as the gas tank was filled, gas would leak out into the foam surrounding the gas tank (not the proper way to bed a gas tank as it traps moisture against the aluminum tank.) Molotov cocktail!

To replace the fuel hoses, it was necessary to cut into the deck between the tank and the gunwale. Using an angle grinder, I cut the upper fiberglass skin and removed a 12 inch by 18 inch section. This exposed the core, which consisted not of dried-out water-damaged marine plywood but instead SOAKING WET (after at least four months of dry storage!) two inch wide wood planks laid side by side, which could be removed with a spoon. This area was not even "boingy" although it did fail the "screwdriver handle percussion test." In addition, the fuel tank vent hose could now be examined and the connection to the vent outside the hull had completely broken off due to corrosion so that fumes were being vented into the closed space between the outer hull and inner liner.

At this point the owner sold the motor and the trailer for $1500, paid me $2000 thereby losing only $2000 of his $3500 investment and dumped the project.

The main lesson from this saga is the only way to tell the condition of deck coring for certain is to do destructive testing. And in this case, even drilling a big hole in the worst location didn't adequately reveal the extent of the water infiltration and damage. Once organic core material has been exposed to water infiltration, the laminate will almost certainly delaminate and lose its structural integrity. It will not be "OK" even if it dries out, which could take years after preventive measures are instituted.
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Old 24-10-2015, 07:07   #7
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Re: Wet Deck

I would walk away unless the price allows for the condition AND only if I were willing to waste my time repairing a boat. How much discount hard to say prior to going for the repair ...

In my book it is always buy a sound one and go sailing.

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Old 26-10-2015, 18:30   #8
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Re: Wet Deck

Thanks for the input! I don't think the owner will want me drilling holes. It seems to me that if I can get a deep discount it could be worth it. Use the boat until its no longer usable and then decide to either re-core the deck or sell the boat off for parts. For what its worth, the boat is a mid-80's catalina 30. I figure if I can get five good years out of it with no major repairs it would be worth it.
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Old 26-10-2015, 18:47   #9
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Re: Wet Deck

If the headliner is removable then drilling holes in suspect places is ok. Just make sure to bring the proper items to fix the hole, namely marinetex. Now if the boat has a headliner..... thats not going to work.
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