I have a hole in my Laser. Can you recommend how I should go about mending it?
Dan Dickison responds:
Thanks for your question. Depending upon where the hole is in your Laser, it shouldn't be too difficult a job to complete. However, if you've never worked with fiberglass and resin before, you might want to first familiarize yourself with the process by reading a few articles here at SailNet. I'd mainly recommend Mark Matthews' Effecting Fiberglass Repairs. Also, have a look at Don Casey's Repairing Gelcoat Cracks and Chips.
Then when you're ready to get started, make sure that you do your work in a shaded and well-ventilated place. Too much heat from the sun or too much humidity and the resin may cure too quickly, which won't allow it to form a strong bond. Start by sanding around the area that you'll be repairing. This surface needs to be abraded so that the resin can bond with the existing parts of the boat. You'll also want to sand more aggressively near the hole so that you end up with a slight depression there that tapers up to surface of the boat the further you move out from the hole. After sanding, wipe the sanded area well with acetone to remove all the dust before you try to apply your patch.
Then cut out several sections of fiberglass cloth or mat that are large enough to cover the hole. You'll want to make sure that these "patches" gradually increase in size. Then, starting with the smallest of the patches, wet the patch out with catalyzed resin and wet the area where the patch will be applied, and then fit it into that spot, being careful to push out any air that is trapped between the patch and the existing surface. Continue applying the patches in this fashion, moving up in size with each successive patch until the repaired area is almost flush with the rest of the hull or deck surrounding it. You can fill in the remaining depth according to the instructions in Don Casey's article mentioned above.
If you can, it would help to apply some of the patch from inside of the hull first, but if the hole is in an area that's not accessible, you'll have to do the whole repair from the outside. Just take your time, keep the repair area clean, and it should come out all right. When you're finished, the information you find in Don Casey's article on repairing gelcoat chips will help you finish off your patch.
Good luck to you.