Crazying and Soft Spots on Deck - SailNet Community

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Go Back   SailNet Community > On Board > Gear & Maintenance
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  #1  
Old 08-11-2004
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GarrettK is on a distinguished road
Crazying and Soft Spots on Deck

I''m currently looking to buy my first boat and am still new to the repair and maintenance aspect of ownership. I plan on doing as much work myself as possible and have a few questions about crazying and soft spots. First, is crazying the proper term for little spiderweb like cracks on the deck?

It is my understanding that crazying of the gel coat is the result of stresses to the surface of the boat. Is this right? Places to typically look for crazying include stantions, toe rails, hand rails, etc.

Second, are soft spots the result of crazing? Am I correct that water will eventually penetrate through the cracks and create soft spots?

Lastly, how difficult is it to repair these things? I consider myself pretty handy around my house and car, but have never worked on a boat before. If the crazying and soft spots are on the deck is it neccesary to put the boat on the hard to repair?

Thanks for your help,

GarrettK
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Old 08-11-2004
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wgwl13736 is on a distinguished road
Crazying and Soft Spots on Deck

garrett, i''m a green beginner just like you except i just purchased my first, a 27'' coronado,last week. i was told the spiderweb cracks on deck were merely signs of age in the gelcoat (or other such coating) and would come out with normal refinishing techniques. not to say there can''t be any damage of course.i know i''m short on facts but maybe this helps. someone out there,please correct me if i''m wrong. frank
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Old 08-12-2004
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aflanigan is on a distinguished road
Crazying and Soft Spots on Deck

From Don Casey''s This Old Boat (paraphrasing his advice):

Crazing may indicate localized stress (near stanchions, for example). It''s a cosmetic thing, but getting rid of the crazing won''t solve the problem if you don''t eliminate the flexing problem first by reinforcing the section of the deck doing the flexing. More widespread crazing will typically be an older boat symptom; thick gelcoat that gets heated and cooled too often eventually cracks like dried mud.

Soft spots indicate serious problems. Most boat decks have a sandwich construction; older boats, anyway, tend to have two layers of FRP sandwiching a core of balsa or plywood. When moisture gets under the upper layer of FRP, the core softens and deteriorates due to rot or saturation. Repairing substantial areas of delaminated deck is expensive (if you are paying someone else to do the work) or involved and timeconsuming (doing it yourself).

Crazed gelcoat by itself is probably not much of a risk for water penetration to the core since it is merely an outer cosmetic layer over the FRP, but if water penetration has weakened the deck near screw holes and caused flexing which caused the crazing, it''s a moot point, anyway.

Allen Flanigan
Alexandria, VA
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Old 08-12-2004
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Crazying and Soft Spots on Deck

Thanks Allen, that was some information I was looking for. I think you just mentioned a new book I''ll have to buy.

Garrett
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Old 08-23-2004
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Crazying and Soft Spots on Deck

Hi GarrettK,
I have a 1972 Gulfstar 43MS center cockpit and it has its share of leaks, soft spots, crazing and hull delamination but, it''s all doable. Crazing or stress cracks occur on all boats and especially on older boats. They are generally superficial hair line cracks in the gel coat. If they are larger than hairline, they enter into the realm of stress fractures and they will definately let water into the sub-structures (typically balsa, plywood, or a combination of the two) and this is what causes your "soft spots". You are literally standing on the gel coat and fiberglass pressing down into the area that once held the firm sub-structure materials. Now it''s either water soaked mush or rotted material that gives under your weight. There are many ways to repair the damage, ranging from drilling holes and drying the area with a heat gun and filling the vacated area with a special resin to cutting away the damaged area and replacing the materials with new sub-structure material and re-glassing. I''m a do-it-yourselfer and I started with the small projects like re-bedding the stantions, cleats, and portals. At the end of this season, I will start to tackle the larger areas and try my hand at replacing the damaged areas of my deck (soft spots). There are any number of books on the subject. One of my favorite series is by Don Casey. His books are full of illustrations and helpful instructions and "Sailboat Hull and Deck Repair" would be right up your alley. Hope this helps
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