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Old 06-07-2020, 12:09   #1
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Is a cracked cockpit coaming a red flag?

We're looking at a Cape Dory 36 (about 40 yrs old) with nice teak benches in the cockpit. The port side coaming (the seat back) has a significant crack running horizontally from end to end. Looks like the crack was filled as an attempted repair at one time. Is this crack a possible indication of a deeper/bigger issue? e.g. a hard grounding or other structural damage?


thanks for any insight!


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Old 06-07-2020, 12:16   #2
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Re: Is a cracked cockpit coaming a red flag?

More likely someone fell against it or they dropped the engine on the seat. Do you have access to the back of the panel? if so an easily if messy fix with fibreglass to stop the crack moving, then fill the crack.

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Old 06-07-2020, 15:15   #3
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Re: Is a cracked cockpit coaming a red flag?

thanks, Pete. And, phew!
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Old 06-07-2020, 15:40   #4
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Re: Is a cracked cockpit coaming a red flag?

Seems strange for there to be that crack in a coaming.

I would wonder:
-Too hot a resin mix when built? (I looked at a brand new Pacific Seacraft once that had just arrived at a dealer's yard. He allowed me onto the boat although it was still partially wrapped from shipping. On the aft end deck behind the cockpit there was this huge crack, evidently the catalyst ratio device had been set wrong or malfunctioned.)

-Stress from the winch? If so, that is weird too.

Are you sure it isn't just a gel coat crack?
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Old 06-07-2020, 16:05   #5
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Re: Is a cracked cockpit coaming a red flag?

Thanks, Cheechako. No, it's a deep crack through the wood. There was no mention of the crack in a survey done 3 years ago but (not knowing much about surveys) it wouldn't have been noted unless a significant/structural issue?
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Old 06-07-2020, 16:07   #6
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Re: Is a cracked cockpit coaming a red flag?

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Originally Posted by deweymt View Post
Thanks, Cheechako. No, it's a deep crack through the wood. There was no mention of the crack in a survey done 3 years ago but (not knowing much about surveys) it wouldn't have been noted unless a significant/structural issue?
Oh that's right, the CD have traditional wood coaming boards...
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Old 06-07-2020, 16:19   #7
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Re: Is a cracked cockpit coaming a red flag?

Yep. Sounds as if something fell on it.


Ask for a repair quote and then ask the seller to discount.


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Old 06-07-2020, 17:19   #8
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Re: Is a cracked cockpit coaming a red flag?

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Originally Posted by deweymt View Post
Thanks, Cheechako. No, it's a deep crack through the wood. There was no mention of the crack in a survey done 3 years ago but (not knowing much about surveys) it wouldn't have been noted unless a significant/structural issue?

So, it's really just a crack in coaming board?
Is it towards the top near the unsupported section of the wood. If so, not an issue. If it's much lower can you get a mirror up inside to look if there is any f/g damage?
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Old 06-07-2020, 21:27   #9
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Re: Is a cracked cockpit coaming a red flag?

They are one piece teak coamings which can be removed and repaired. A bowtie key is a permanent repair and any competent cabinetmaker can make the repair for you.

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Old 07-07-2020, 09:30   #10
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Re: Is a cracked cockpit coaming a red flag?

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Just got a photo. Thanks for the thoughtful advice!
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Old 07-07-2020, 09:56   #11
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Re: Is a cracked cockpit coaming a red flag?

That looks like what would happen if someone gave it a good swift kick and it split along the grain a skootch above deck level (behind it). Or similarly, they were standing on it while severely heeled.

The upshot of a really long crack along the grain is you have a really big bond area for epoxying inside the crack and clamping - but I'd rely on some mechanical holding as well such as butterfly dutchmen as others have suggested. Epoxy it together first, then when its cured and one whole piece you'd go cutting out the dutchmen.

Take it off the boat to repair it, of course.

My coaming is fastened in a peculiar way - it has bronze rods running inside of it, top to bottom. These pop out the bottom and are fastened through the deck. Similar rods running through yours would help hold a repair together but i don't know how you drill a hole that long and straight.

Your winch pedestals aren't included in the picture, but i know the way mine are constructed they would be significantly weakened if the coaming was broken like that - perhaps yours too, so take a look and make sure you understand how they are secured before loading up the winches on that side!
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Old 07-07-2020, 10:07   #12
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Re: Is a cracked cockpit coaming a red flag?

OK, so I am looking at another image that shows a look from the outboard - there seems to be an offset there and the wooden plank broken possibly right at this offset, at its upper end.


Open the locker ant feel inside the edge. Alternately run a water hose test.


Probably the wood is old, got dry, cracked under to much pressure from anything.


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Old 07-07-2020, 16:43   #13
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Re: Is a cracked cockpit coaming a red flag?

Thanks for all the input. I feel better about moving forward with this boat. This seems fixable.


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Old 07-07-2020, 17:12   #14
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Re: Is a cracked cockpit coaming a red flag?

Maybe just a bad piece of teak? The crack looks like it conforms nicely to what looks like the natural wood grain. Also if just the outside of the board was varnished it puts stress on the front surface and would be trying to pull the edges of the board towards the varnishes surface. Add in age and stress and it could have just split a weak plank.
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Old 07-07-2020, 20:13   #15
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Re: Is a cracked cockpit coaming a red flag?

Is the crack in the coaming where the coaming is fastened to the deck? I had a similar situation developing on my CD 27, and re-caulking, where the outside of the coaming is fastened to the deck, kept the problem from worsening. I wanted to avoid pulling out the whole piece of coaming. But it does look like a long crack, so I think that is a concern, but not a structural one.
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