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Old 22-10-2016, 18:12   #1
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Minor Deck Softness/Movement

I was looking at a boat for purchase yesterday, and it checked all the boxes, except for, in my admittedly limited experience, a small amount of movement of the deck underfoot. Tapping with a screwdriver handle sounded fine, and the seller showed me a four year old survey that showed with the exception of elevated moisture in one section, no problems identified with the deck.

So, I guess my question is, can a 35 y/o deck lose strength and stiffness over time in a somewhat normal manner, ie without its being on the road to becoming a hot mess, through the processes of delamination, etc?

thx
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Old 22-10-2016, 18:21   #2
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Re: Minor Deck Softness/Movement

Short answer, yes. A four-year-old survey shown to you by the seller means nothing.
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Old 22-10-2016, 19:57   #3
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Re: Minor Deck Softness/Movement

When you tread around on deck do you feel areas under foot where the topside fibreglass presses down under your weight? If so are there a lot of these spots? How big are they?

Good Old Boat website has a great article about finding and repairing delamination.

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Old 22-10-2016, 20:45   #4
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Re: Minor Deck Softness/Movement

The amount of man hours & money per square foot that can go into fixing soft deck cores is one which defies all physics & reason. So look, & then (don't) leap.
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Old 22-10-2016, 21:35   #5
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Re: Minor Deck Softness/Movement

Being in the repair/restoration business for 30 plus years I've dealt with a lot of soft decks. Unless its just a poorly constructed boat decks don't just give up on their own. Generally it's water or impact damage and if it's water the initial soft spot is usually not the end of it. Small spots can sometimes be fixed with holes, heat and epoxy saturation but large spots require surgery and it can get really pricey. Best to get a good surveyor which I'm sure is already on your list. Hope this helps.
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Old 23-10-2016, 02:00   #6
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Re: Minor Deck Softness/Movement

Some boats have a thinner construction and are designed to flex a tiny bit. Gemini catamarans are one.

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Old 23-10-2016, 08:04   #7
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Re: Minor Deck Softness/Movement

Here's the article. Enjoy man and let us know what you do. Cheers

Good Old Boat - Delamination is not spelled d-o-o-m article
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Old 23-10-2016, 10:36   #8
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Re: Minor Deck Softness/Movement

Yeah, I read that last night. Good article on deck recoring (I like the idea of reusing the old top layer of grp), but it didn't really address my issue, which was, is the seller's contention correct, that this amount of flex is normal, and not delam. The best suggestion seems to be find an a surveyor on my own, as opposed to the one the seller recommends.

He kind of had me thinking maybe I've been watching too many Kurt Russell movies. (That's not a taxi, that's yellow primer!)

thx
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Old 22-11-2016, 09:51   #9
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Re: Minor Deck Softness/Movement

Ref the response by deepfrz above, I was recently looking at a boat (on the net) and the original ad had attached a survey from 3 years ago which detailed a few minor bad points easily rectified, with NO deck problems. Asking for more info, whether by error or honesty, the owner included for the first time a second report which now described the deck condition as potentially serious and expensive (estimated at 3 times the asking price of the boat} As a past professional seaman and many years experience regarding safety I would be very worried by the "not a problem, OK for a few years" approach. Unless you can guarantee you will never get caught out by the weather and heavy seas (can you get your boat in the bath?) then do not risk your life and more importantly those of the rescue services who are bound to try and rescue you from possibly dissmasted and sinking boat. Buy the safest boat you can afford. Don*t give up the idea of sailing, just do it right.
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Old 22-11-2016, 09:54   #10
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Re: Minor Deck Softness/Movement

Sorry info error, the second report was last year, just 2 years after the original!!!
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Old 22-11-2016, 09:59   #11
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Re: Minor Deck Softness/Movement

BTW, some older boats had no core in the deck and thus flexed a bit under foot. Not a problem. Probably 70's or earlier.
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Old 22-11-2016, 10:52   #12
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Re: Minor Deck Softness/Movement

I think the answer depends upon the structural design of the boat and the DIY skills of the boat owner.

I've replaced a number of soft spots in the balsa core of my 44 year old boat with not much trouble and excellent results; however, my soft spots were cosmetic problems and not a structural risk as evaluated by marine surveyors.

I cut off the top deck laminate:


Replace the core and the deck plate:


Then cut out the seam to a wide bevel (far wider than the photo above); glass in in with layers or fiberglass, following by a cosmetic finish with non-skid and gel coat:


I've done about half a dozen spots over a long term, but then I've owned this boat for 32 years.
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