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cruisingmom 01-10-2009 05:23 PM

Is the 1987 Pearson 39-2's hull balsa cored
I am trying to find out if the earlier Pearson 39-2's were made with balsa cores below the waterline. I would think that the later models made till 1991 might have been made that way but I am surprised that the earlier ones were made this way - Also if they are Balsa cored below the waterline has anyone heard of osmosis issues with this Pearson. I am interested in buying one but my walk away if the hull below waterline is balsa cored - I presently have a P365 and had a P30 both with bullet proof fiberglass hull.

cruisingmom 01-11-2009 05:20 PM

Issues with Balsa cored hulls
So CardiacPaul as a surveyor what is it that helps understand if a balsa cored hull is robust or is susceptable to osmosic intrusion? How can I verify that it is actually balsa cored in the lower hull and then what would you suggest that I look for to give me some confidence that it is worth bidding on before I hire a surveyor?
Appreciate your professional opinion - I don't have any experience with Balsa cored hulls all my previous boats were fiberglass hulls.

sailingfool 01-12-2009 11:41 AM

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I doubt Pearson made any boats with core below the waterlines, there may be an exception. Some like the 32 have core above the waterline. You can detect the presence of core material by the change in thickness of the laminate..the laminate will bulge (grow thicker) where the core begins. You can see this most easily by looking at the underside of any'll see a thick ridge running around the deck abouth 2-3 inches in from the toerail...that is the core area. The same is true in a hull...assuming you can see the inside of the hull...if you look down form the toerail, you can detect core by the change in thinckness.

I'm not interested in engaging in a religious war, but I respectfully disagree with CP as to whether to avoid cored hulls - it is my advice to do so, as any boat comes with sets of risks what can become expensive repairs - why introduce the most expensive risk possibile...the recoring of a wet hull...if you have other choices?

You can see extensive commentary on hull coreing at Boat Hulls - Cores and Structural Issues: Online Articles by David Pascoe, Marine Surveyor

Your choices, you decide.

NOLAsailing 01-12-2009 12:19 PM


I'll look back thru a pile of my stuff, I doubt the 39-2 (or many) boats have coring below the waterline. (now watch, 50 people will say "MINE IS")

I've had to recore parts of the deck, but the hull is sound. The boat was built in 1981. I agree with what Paul says about coring. By the way, the J30 was built by Pearson (JBoats designs boats and outsources the builds).

cruisingmom 01-12-2009 06:52 PM

More on the Pearson 39-2 Balsa or No Balsa

I found an article by Jack Hornor in SpinSheet from March 2006. Jack is a Surveyor in Md. he stated:
The Pearson 39ís hull is a solid lay-up of fiberglass and resin, while decks and cabin structures use a composite of fiberglass and balsa wood core. The quality of the fiberglass work is quite good for a production boat; attachments are neat and well-finished.

The present owner also swears that the hull is solid Fiberglass. However I am not completely convinced so I will definitely check out the hull for evidence of core.

Thanks to all. I am sure that at there are plenty of wonderful balsa cored hulls out there but for cruising with my family where we will be in areas that have both plenty of coral heads and few good yards, I think I want good solid fiberglass under my crew. The other issues with the P39-2 is the centerboard and the pseudo-spade rudder but that is another posting.
All the best

cruisingmom 01-25-2009 06:39 PM

Well the verdict is in - The Pearson 39-2 IS BALSA CORED BELOW THE WATERLINE
Well, after very careful inspection of the Pearson 39-2 that was sworn to be fiberglass only below the waterline - we found that there is in fact balsa sandwiched between fiberglass below the waterline. This was found after removing the draws under the V-birth and it was clearly evident that along the hull from about 3 feet from the deck joint to the bottom of the hull there is balsa. Most of the rest of the access areas of the boat had carpeting glued to the hull so we could not see the balsa. Only under the V-birth and then by inspecting the sail locker on the port side of the cockpit could we detect the tell tale bulge of the balsa. In the V-birth the squares of Balsa were clearly evident. So - thats the truth of it. Now it will be critical to determine if it is worth pursuing this vessel knowing that Balsa is below the waterline. What do you all think - in 1987 was the technology of manufacture good enough with good owner maintenance to generate a worthy boat with balsa below the waterline?

sailingfool 01-26-2009 09:48 AM

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Originally Posted by cruisingmom (Post 437902)
... What do you all think - in 1987 was the technology of manufacture good enough with good owner maintenance to generate a worthy boat with balsa below the waterline?

My perspective is...why take the chance given you can find comparable boats with solid hulls...say a CS 40 or Cal 39-II, various Benes, etc...

I know an attentive owner of a mid-80s Hinckley of that age, certainly a boat from a "good enough" builder, but recoring the entire hull came along anyway...sort of like, do you feel lucky today?

NOLAsailing 01-26-2009 03:19 PM

Core is not going to rot in the absence of water. So, if it's in good condition now and simple steps are taken to prevent water intrusion, then you're fine. IT IS NOT A BIG DEAL, though it will make the boat lighter, faster and stiffer.

Coring is a larger issue in decks due to the many fastener holes and the often careless installation of hardware.

My boat is a 1981 hull and the core is as good as the day it was installed.

drlove 01-26-2009 08:40 PM

I have an 1983 Pearson 34 and it is cored below the waterline. All of the thru-hulls are mounted in solid glass areas so that if one were to leak it can not get into the core. The survey did not show any wet areas at all. If the hull is dry, there is not a problem in my opinion.

Mr. Pascoe certainly does not like cored hulls. Of course, most of his disparaging articles are about powerboats and hulls whose outer skin is not thick enough to withstand the pounding those hulls take plus the indiscriminate drilling of thru-hull holes without proper treatment to protect the core.

I would bet my Pearson is better constructed than a SeaRay, but that's just me.

flash39 02-09-2009 03:08 PM

The P 39-2 does have some balsa core below the waterline but not in the areas of thru hulls or other holes (shaft,speed log,etc.). It also has vinylester resin below the waterline to prevent blistering.

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