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ssullivan 08-06-2005 17:57

Blisters or Flooding? Which would you choose??
Hi Folks,

We are about 90% of they way to purchase (and huge debt) for a boat we can charter.

I am trying to decide between two models that are identical, including price. The differences between the two are:

Boat A:

*Flooded while on the hard for the past 3 years. Filled up to the floorboards with rainwater. Still on the hard.
*Port side smashed into something, cracking the hull/deck joint a bit (didn't come apart, but there are some major cracks between the bolts holding the joint together. (also bent stanchion from the hit)
*Hasn't been run in 3 year (genset, yanmar, or any systems)
*Molding (and I don't mean the fancy kind that makes joinery look great! ha ha) on just about every bulkhead.
*Very dirty boat - needs 2 weeks min to bring it up to cosmetically appealing for charter
*Floor in galley rotted out, and needs to be replaced
*Located about 2 days sail from home port
*Small "blisters", blisters not full of water and located above the water line... strange, but barely noticeable.
*Brought up to north east usa from florida years ago and sat since then in the yard.
*One year newer than "Boat B"

Boat B:

*Not used often, but floating behind the owner's house in a canal in FL
*Never really put on the hard much since it's in FL
*Blisters on hull - 30 or so on the hull and about 25 on the ruddder
*Boat located 1500NM from home port
*Will require me to fly down and do inspection, survey, and of course bring back up to home port
*One year older than "Boat A"

Given that these boats are the model we need to charter (they are the only two in our budget that are charter-worthy), which would you choose? Of course both will be offers subject to survey and sea trial, but given these parameters, which would you choose?

My main objective here is to keep all costs down... especially up front costs.

Thanks for all the help, folks.


Alan Wheeler 08-06-2005 19:29

Don't be fooled. Maintanance on Boats is Expensive, so you need to have your eyes and thoughts open wide here. Don't take this as a negative, I think this is great and can be a heap of fun if you view it the right way. However, I just want to make sure you have full and compleate awareness of what this track will present.
So you have a choice.
Spend the money on bringing A or B boat up to scratch as well as many long hours of hard labour. If you can do it all yourself, you would save 50% of the cost than if you had a pro do it.
Spend the same money you would anyway and get a boat in better condition.
OK, now on to which one to choose. If blisters are the only problem on B, then go for B. Downside is, it is not a repair job you can easily do yourself. The best method (don't know if it is done up your way) was developed down here in NZ. A guy designed a special machine that is like an electric planer that litteraly strips the gelcoat away from the glass. They dry it, fill it and recoat the hull. It comes up like new and is the fastest method of blister repair on bad hulls. The other method takes time, waiting for the hull to dry out. But you can probably do the repairs yourself.
Boat A, that is a difficult one. You are going to have water in area's that could come out to haunt you much later on. Like electrics etc. Just depends on where the water has gone. Fresh water from rain is probably the worst. One it will cause rot. But two, it has just enough salt contamination to cause corrosion as well. So be aware, very aware. I would also be dubiuose of impact damage of that severity. If on the hard, it may have fallen off the cradle in a storm. That could have severe consequences. Once structural, you will have a major job getting to damage, and most likely end up with a major rebuild of some area. Mechanics not being run could also bring up some seriuose concerns. However, it sounds like a boat that should go for a song. If you got it real cheap and I mean real cheap (so haggle the price) you could use it as spares and upgrades on the other boat. You may even be able to strip it and sell off individual items to finance the other project. You add up what some of those items are worth second hand and you could be supprised what you could make out of it.
Good luck, have fun and fantastic that this could be your way into the dream.

ssullivan 08-06-2005 21:21

Thanks for the input, Wheels.

I will be doing all of the work myself, no matter which boat I end up with, so the labor isn't a factor... only parts are. I have done all my own work on my boats for the past 12 yrs... I am aware of the time involved, so I am prepared. :)

Given that there will be no yard involved, it will be a matter of how much it will cost to do the hull repairs on "boat B" vs. the interior (and hull/deck joint repairs) on "boat A"

I agree.. boat A scares me from a water damage perspective - especially electrically. Boat B scares me a lot too, given that I have no clue how hard (or expensive) a blister job will be to do. It will involve yard time, hauling, transiting it up the East Coast of the US (not cheap), etc...

The trouble in my decision process is that Boat A is interior work (and can be done while afloat at anchor cheaply) and Boat B is hull work which can only be done on the hard paying a daily rate for storage, etc...

Although Boat A seems to have more general damage, it will not cost me anything in yard fees to fix. And although Boat B had less damage, it will rack up the yard and delivery fees.

Also, I should mention both boats are about $20K-$40K below fair market value, which means when I 'm done the work, the boat's worth will be higher. We also plan to keep this boat indefinitely, so it's not a short term investment.

Thanks again for the input - would love to hear a bunch of opinions to see if there is something I'm missing with either boat that could become extremely expensive.



irwinsailor 08-06-2005 21:51

I can help here. I bought my boat with 3 feet of water in it and some exterior damage. It had blisters and we did a bottom job on it. I do all my own work, I do not trust the yards around here. BUY IT RIGHT! I did and I would do it again in a heartbeat. I think the blister job would be the easier repair. I replaced the sole, engine, genset and ten's of thousands of dollars in other items along with the epoxy bottom job. My boat is 61' overall so things are a big deal when I do them. Feel free to email me with questions.

irwinsailor 08-06-2005 22:19

Could the blisters on boat A be from a lightning strike?

ssullivan 08-06-2005 22:23

Wow, Irwinsailor. You did an exceptional amount of work to get her in shape. I would have some questions regarding the bottom job... I'll contact you off the site... thanks for the offer to provide some more detail.

Also, does anyone know if you can anchor your way up the ICW transiting a boat for free? I'm one cheap bastard... ha ha ha. ;)

Seriously, I need to minimize any costs to transit, and I will be singlehanding it up here should I choose Boat B. Any tips on a free trip up the ICW or eastern seaboard?


ssullivan 08-06-2005 22:25


irwinsailor once whispered in the wind:
Could the blisters on boat A be from a lightning strike?
Interesting thought! I am thinking that lightning usually exits below the waterline? These "bubbles" are at least a foot up above the waterline on both sides, but places randomly and sporradically.

delmarrey 09-06-2005 03:27

I second what Alan said.

Blisters up the side? Now that doesn't sound good. But on the other hand 30 blisters isn't a whole lot.

This guy took 2 years, every weekend, doing all these blisters. Here he's just starting to put on the barrier coat. He should have stripped the whole bottom with a planner, like what Alan was discribing. But he was new to the boat world and didn't find out about the planner option until he was about done.

One other thing! A boat thats been full of water usually ends up with blisters............................._/)

Alan Wheeler 09-06-2005 04:55

First of all, to Gunner and Sean. NO DON'T TAKE IT OFF LINE. I want to read all about it.:) It will help the rest of us learn. Please please keep the questions and Answers here.
Next, lightning NUP. Lightning will do more than just blisters. If you had a strike, there will be many many more very obviuose signs to see. Lightning strike in a hull is not a pretty sight.
Blisters are not as scary as many people make out. You can attack them in many varied ways. The time is drying. How much time that takes depends on many factors, one being how you attack the problem.
Has Gord posted a link about Blisters somewhere????

Talbot 09-06-2005 09:24

Personally I would not touch boat A with a barge pole.

As far as blisters go, it will really depend on how big they are and what the damage is. A badly repaired blistered boat is worse off than a non-repaired boat in most situations, and the number you are describing is not to big a deal. I have blisters on my skegs and rudders, and the surveyor said that I should just leave them as they are, I would not cure them, due to the way the rudders and skegs had been made, and all I could achieve would be to weaken them.

The really important requirement is to get the hull dry before dsealing it up again, but 30 blisters should not prevent you from having a good season, and then dealing with it at the end of the season, prefereably by having a peel, or by using the dry ice system

GordMay 09-06-2005 09:40

We’ve had several discussions on Osmotic Blister Repair, and similar subjects, including the following threads:

A Primer on Fiberglass Construction

Hull Blistering

BLISTERS - Causes, Types, & Prevention

Gelcoat Crazing & Stress Cracks

Pox and Epoxy Neophytes

Cored Sandwich

Osmosis repair

Gord May

ssullivan 09-06-2005 10:29

It seems unanimous!
Thank you to everone for your help. Wheels, you are absolutely right... we should keep this on the board so that it can add to the body of knowledge. Gord, I am familiar with your blister posts and have read them to a good extent. The only thing I wasn't sure about was the cost. The procedures are well documented. It was the cost difference between "Boat A" and "Boat B" that I couldn't wrap my head around.

Given what many folks have said above, it is very true that Boat A would cost a heck of a lot more in the long run (and especially in the short run!) since Boat B would need literally no work to get the first season or two out of.

Great advice! We are now teetering on the edge of having the financing in place (should have an answer today).

Also, does anyone have experience going up the ICW on the cheap while singlehanding? Are there sufficient anchorages within 12 hours of each other?



GordMay 09-06-2005 11:00

ICW Guide
For excellent AICW cruising info’ Goto:
The Intracoastal Waterway (ICW) - by Tom & Pam Dove:
Includes mile by mile reports from cruisers

Some excellent On-Line resources to the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway
(AICW or merely ICW):

ICW Guide from Tom and Pam Dove




Latest information on Intracoastal Waterway activity

The Intracoastal Waterway On-Line Cruising Guide

Published Precautionary Notices - Atlantic Coast of the U.S.

Skipper Bob’s Waterway Updates
Gord May

Floridaguy 10-06-2005 17:50

Choose "neither." Keep lookin'

Jentine 10-06-2005 18:37

Sean, if you add the up-front costs to the repair costs, you will be able to afford a substancially better boat with no excessive work and problems. Keep looking.

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