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greencaptn 05-16-2007 12:44 PM

Albin Vega leaking water
I am buying my first sailboat a 27' Albin Vega. My main concern was the deck stepped mast as I have heard of problems with this model boat and the mast step. This boat in specific has a small 2" long hairline crack from the bottom of the mast to the flat part of the deck (the fiberglass is raised about 2" where the mast enters). It also has a 4" long crack wide enough to wedge the edge of a quarter into at the aft side of the V-berth top ventilation hatch. I believe this is where a wooden support beam runs to from the mast. Last night I slept on the boat(still on the hard at the marina) and it rained. Upon waking I found a slight puddle coming from underneath the area where the mast is stepped. When I expressed my concerns to the surveyor he inspected the hull around the pressure areas from the mast, the small cracks in specific and very firmly told me that that was not something to worry about, didn't compromise the stucture of the boat and that I should simply grind out a little V in the crack with a tool and fill it if the appearance bothered me. He did not know where the water was leaking but the rubber seals look aged at the mast step and that could possibly be the leaking problem as it was simply a drop every 20 seconds or so. Sorry for the long paragraph but I am fresh out of college and this is my first sailboat.

scurvy 05-16-2007 02:34 PM

Great Choice in boats Greencapt!
I have not had this problem with ours, but the yahoo group is very active and very helpful! I see that you have posted your question there, I would imagine that responses are on their way. Steve Birch is a wealth of knowledge. He is a member of the group and he designs and sells parts specifically for the Vega. My guess is that the coachroof flexed a bit...either the stays were tightened too tight or something like that that could have caused the fracture? Not sure...but you will get your answers from that worries!

hellosailor 05-16-2007 02:46 PM

Green, when you get stress cracks like that in a deck, it usually means (as Scurvy says) that the rig was overtightened for a long period--OR--that water got into the deck core, which then rotted, allowing the rig to compress it and crack it.

There's quite a variation in the competence of surveyors, he shouldn't have missed it and he should note in the survey about any moisture problem in the deck, or that the cracks are to this point only cosmetic. If they are, yes, you can seal the cracks and reset the rig tension (you'll need to buy a Loos Tension Guage for this, you check them routinely) and not worry. If the deck core has been water damaged, the repair is more extensive. You'll find plenty of discussion about deck repairs with a web search.

The Vega is quite a famous boat, well built to Scandanavia standards. At this point possibly a great deal but like any old boat, it can have maintenance issues. The original engines may be worn out, and spares (like the Volvo starter-alternator unit on some models) are no longer to be found. But if the boat gets a clean survey, it can take you anywhere, once you have the skills to take it.

Water leaks are not just a nuisance, they can eat a boat from the inside--structurally. So do attend to them.

One of the best ways to find all the leaks, is to seal the cabin up with cardboard and wide tape, then use a leaf blower or shopvac exhaust hose to pressurize the cabin. Honest.

Then you throw soapy water all over the deck (slippery!) and wait to see where the boat starts bubbling. And it will blow bubbles, from anyplace that there is a leak. Mark 'em all, fix 'em all, and you'll have a dry boat. (Which is a great pleasure!)

greencaptn 05-16-2007 05:50 PM

Thanks for the comments. The surveyor found practically no water in the boat. He was so surprised he actually checked the calibration of his device about half way through the survey:rolleyes: . He said there was a little moisture in the rudder and some right around the mast step which makes sense now that I know the boat leaks a little water there. Someone mentioned that steel plates are made to reinforce the deck near the mast step. Is that something I should consider now? Around October I plan to start heading toward the Caribbean and will have to take the mast down for part of the Hudson river from lake Champlain. Would that be a good time to address it as the area will be slightly more visible or is this something I should take care of before a few months of sailing on the lake? Oh, someone mentioned the engine. Mine is in relatively new condition with about 50 hours since installation.

hellosailor 05-16-2007 06:04 PM

If there is moisture in the rudder, sooner or later, the rudder will fail. The steel armature that is inside a typical rudder (foam over steel with a fiberglass skin) rusts and fails, leaving you with no rudder and if that's while you are offshore--you have a situation.

There are some other posts on the topic of rudders, basically you can either ignore it (many do for many years) or attend to it by an extensive examination and rebuild, or a replacement. If you plan to go offshore--don't ignore it.

On the deck, you shouldn't need a steel plate if the deck is still solid. The only real question, is to get someone familiar with that to examine it and let you know what really has to be done. Deck structural repairs can be more expensive than you think, unless you can DIY. The web site for West Systems Epoxies has details about deck repairs, you might want to check that out to see what can be involved. I'd take care of that ASAP, since every day that goes by with more water in the deck, there will be more damage. If the leak is more than cosmetic--that can also mean the mast comes down and you've got an expensive problem. And another disabling situation. Tow boats are not cheap.

sailingdog 05-16-2007 10:08 PM

Is the compression post or what ever the Vega uses in place of one in good shape. If it isn't, then that could be the cause of the deck cracking.

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