The question of Blisters yet again? - SailNet Community

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  #1  
Old 10-21-2006
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The question of Blisters yet again?

I just had the boat I want to purchase, Cooper 41, hauled out and surveryed today. As the boat was built in 1979 there were blisters. I counted about 30 blisters maybe over the entire boat. Most were about the size of a nickel but some, especially near the bow, were larger, about 1 to 2 inches.

The price is right and I love the layout of the boat (wanted as a liveaboard). The major concerns are some moisture in the decks (which the surveryor said is not that bad) and the blisters on the bottom.

I would rather pay less and work on a boat to get it in shape then pay more and have it all now. But, the question is, will fixing the blisters be the end of it? Am I crazy? The boat is cored below the waterline will this make the repairs of the blisters any different?

Man this is a hard decision. The surveyor seemed to think it wasn't a big deal as did the broker (of course he's going to say its nothing) and the yard guy. They kept saying they have never heard of a boat sinking due to blisters.

If I did do the repairs and let it dry out for the next 4 months on the hard will the dampness in the west coast air be a problem or will I have to wait well into spring? Should I tarp up the sides of the boat over the winter?
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Old 10-21-2006
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mvsun...
It doesn't sound like the blisters are too bad and the bought is nice! The thing is that you will get more blisters and fixing the current ones will not cure the problem especially since you will be living aboard .
Is the surveyor a guy that you found through the broker or someone you found independently? Are the blisters deep or gelcoat only...you don't want to get any core separation issues? Assuming they are only surface, I wouldn't hesitate to buy the boat but i'd get the boatyard to quote a price for a complete bottom job and get that off the price you pay for the boat. As far as drying out goes...if the boat is exposed to prevailing winds in the yard, rather than paqcked in the middle of a bunch of boats, that can help the drying out process. Don't trap the air movement with tarps unless you are going to use heat lamps to do the drying.
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Old 10-21-2006
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My opinion would be to walk.

Blisters and wet deck are two whammies- you can do your homework and get concessions from the seller, but you still will need to accept the risk of the possible surprises. To go ahead, you need to get expert estimates of both repairs. What needs to be done to remove the deck moisture or to prevent a worse situiation. What type of bottom repair is needed. Understand that any estimate must be based on incomplete information, I would not use the yard where the boat is for estimates, if they have any relationship with the seller or broker. Blister problems can run from cosmetic to major - here is a comment I made on another thread "...Sometimes its simple and sometimes its otherwise. The recent blister repair on a friend's SW42 from a well known Maine builder involved machine peeling the hull, replacing all of the wet Airex, and glassing a new bottom, requiring nine months, $15,000, plus a missed sailing season..." As you can see, hull coring can make a big difference - if the laminate moisture has gotten into the core, the repair may involve replacing the core.

I think its natural to want to gloss over concerns at this point under the enthusiasm and excitement of pending new owership, and to make only positive assumptions about the unknown. If fact, I've did that myself on my last purchase. I'd say my enthusiam cost me some $20-30,000 I'll not get back when I sell my now, almost perfect, boat.

good luck.

Last edited by sailingfool; 10-21-2006 at 11:33 AM.
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Old 10-21-2006
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mvsunstar,

Read up on blisters here. http://www.zahnisers.com/
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Thanks for the varying opinions and the article posted was a good read. But my impression from that article is all boats more than 10 yrs old will have hydrolysis occuring regardless if there are blisters or not. Scary information. So I'm going to call Blackline Marine in Sydney on Monday morning and get some quotes. If to peel and repair the entire bottom costs 15K then I can always ask for a reduction in my offer.

I really get the feeling that it doesn't matter at how many boats I look at. If they're old, they're old and a little worn out.

My dad, an old saltly dog, thinks I should buy it blisters and all, pop, grind and fill them and go sailing and not to worry so much. He's owned and sailed wood and steel boats and they all have the same problems after a while, in one form or another. He currently is looking at a 50K repair job to replate his 40 yr old steel hull.

I have to wonder if he's right that I should not be freaking out about the blisters so much. I mean really, how many boats have had the hull cave in or fall out of the bottom from blisters. The paper from the previous posting indicates that even if the laminate gets saturated it still has lots of tensile strength.

What a pickle I'm in .... In some ways this is worse than leaky condo's.
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Old 10-21-2006
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I agree that these decisions are not easy, and there are very few "perfect" used boats. You might find the decision easier if you have looked at many boats, so that you can compare this one, and it's issues, with others you have looked at, compare prices and on the basis of that, be a bit more sure of your decision, regardless of which decision you make. If you haven't done that, then you might consider taking a week and looking at all possible boats in your area to get a better sense of the market. I have also found that if you decide not to buy that boat, there is usually another one that comes along that might be just as good or better for you, depending on what you are looking for.

And having made the decision, deal with the issues and don't second guess yourself for ever--that could spoil the boating experience!

Good luck!
Frank.
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Old 10-21-2006
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If you search the web you should find a lot of information about blisters. Did anyone pop a blister to see if it was just the paint? Or to see what came out of it? Did the surveyor just look at the dampness of the deck, or did he check the hull as well? If the cored hull was dry, and the surveyor knew how to use a moisture meter, I'd be less worried about the blisters, but after repairing them I'd consider a good barrier coat before relaunching.
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Old 10-21-2006
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I would avoid a cored hull boat, unless you know the cored hull was designed properly. Any water intrusion into a cored hull is going to lead to a huge bill for repairs shortly thereafter..
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Old 10-22-2006
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blisters

Having gone through this in B.C., is the core foam or balsa?
If it's balsa, walk away from it - you will regret it.
If it's foam, your idea of leaving it on the hard will work - I've done it for several years. Grind out the blisters first, wash down thoroughly with fresh water, and let it stand for the winter. Fill and fair the blistered parts in the Spring when the bottom is dry. Use epoxy. It will last you for a couple of years.
If you don't intend to use the boat thro' the winters - then leave it out of the water - it's usually cheaper than docking, and the boat bottom will stay relatively free of further blisters.
If you're intending to cruise extensively - it may be worth sanding off all gelcoat & epoxying the bottom.
BTW, blistering can occur for many reasons - I found that the blisters on my boat occured at 50" from the shear line. It was apparent that the edge of the cloth where it was overlapped was not sanded properly during the layup. All the blisters were at the overlap because of small air pockets left in the layup - may be a good thing to check (cloth comes in 50 or 60" rolls usually)
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SailingDog: When I found out it was a cored hull my first reaction was to walk away after reading the numerous posts on this forum and one particularly negative website (I think marinesurveryor.com). But then there were a lot of website and articles I read speaking of the glories of a well laid up core bottom hull. Sailing performance, increased strength, insulation, noise and impact protection at the expense of additional upkeep and closer scrutiny during haul outs might be worth it. Also in one of the articles it mentions that a non-cored hull is more likely to become brittle and to crack from the increased stress placed on the flexing of the laminate over time compared to a cored hull which has much more strength. The bottom line is price. If I can get the boat cheap enough and factor in a new bottom by peeling the gelcoat then that just might be the way to go. Expensive at first but might be well worth it over the long haul. I don't know. Everytime I get a survey done and haul out a boat costs me a 1000 bucks. If I do this 13 more times I could have bought a new bottom
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