Are Deck Soft Spots Really That Bad? - SailNet Community
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Are Deck Soft Spots Really That Bad?

Hey Everyone, I'd like to get some of your opinions. I'm considering purchasing a 1974 32' Ericson but it has some deck issues. I have been looking for a boat for a while now to replace my Catalina 27' and this is exactly what I have been searching for, the price is great too.

The deck area around the mast step was soft at one point and to fix it the owner drilled some holes in that area and filled it with epoxy. The rest of the deck feels solid except for a small (approximately a 6" x 6" area) on the foredeck. How bad is this really? The mast step concerns me, but it sounds like he has sailed it this way for years. The chain plates are solid and everything else looks good on the boat.

I'd like to get a year or two of sailing out of it before having to tear into the decks to do the recore (I'm a maintenance nut, I like everything right even if it functions well enough). What are your thoughts on the mast step though? How serious is it despite it feeling totally solid now?

Thanks for any input you can give me!
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Re: Are Deck Soft Spots Really That Bad?

What soft spots are is a direct indicator of a serious problem. Wood rot. They can be early indication of the issue just starting or they may be the first sign you notice of a severe structural problem.

If there is any doubt about the condition of the mast step you need to investigate and repair it. The mast collapsing can breach the hull and like a falling tree it could land on someone, injuring or killing them. A boat with a large hole in the hull and an injured (or dead) person on board is not a situation you want to be part of.

Some boats the deck always shows issues before the main structure of the hull. Some the deck is the last part to start rotting. Most fall somewhere in between.

You say you see issues with the deck that have been worked on, plus issues that have not been repaired plus you suspect your mast step.
This does not sound good. It sounds like a hull that either needs immediate major repair before its beyond reason to fix it or its time for disposal because its already too late.

I would not even consider buying the boat.
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Re: Are Deck Soft Spots Really That Bad?

Soft decks are usually caused by water intrusion rotting the deck core. For small areas, the repair is not drastic, but until you repair and fix the deck leak, it's only gonna get worse (read larger) The poured epoxy is a quick and dirty fix but assuming a deck stepped mast with a solid bulkhead / bridge-beam / compression post for support it should be ok for a while (?)

Would not be a deal breaker for me, but I would be looking at doing a proper repair sooner rather than later.

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Re: Are Deck Soft Spots Really That Bad?

My advice? Keep looking. There are plenty of boats out there without these issues.
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Re: Are Deck Soft Spots Really That Bad?

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Originally Posted by cdsnyder83 View Post
....(I'm a maintenance nut, I like everything right even if it functions well enough)....
Then why would you buy a boat with known core penetration? Especially, if it wasn't going to be properly repaired first.


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Re: Are Deck Soft Spots Really That Bad?

If the deck under mast step was properly repaired and the compression support structure in the cabin is rock solid, that would be fine by me. A 6"x6" area of the foredeck is likely a 2'x2' repair job but can be done without too much problem. Make sure all deck hardware is bedded properly.

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Re: Are Deck Soft Spots Really That Bad?

Lots of factors involved in determining your tolerance for these type of issues.

What are your sailing plans for the boat?
Inland lakes? Great Lakes? Coastal cruising?
How good is the price (Remember - Sometimes there's nothing more expensive than a cheap boat!)?
Can you do the repairs yourself?
Is the mast deck stepped?
Has the water intrusion been stopped (rebedded hardware, etc.)?
Do you care about resale value?

I don't believe a wet deck is automatically a deal killer, given your answers to some of the above questions. In my experience, there are MANY boats (even newer boats) with water leaks and wet core.

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Re: Are Deck Soft Spots Really That Bad?

Out of the 5, one of the boats we bought showed water intrusion in an enclosed keel. We had a great surveyor, and worked with an experienced yard. We established what was wrong, and figured out what it would cost to fix. We worked out a deal with the seller to cover the cost of repair.

IF you have good advice and/or are highly experienced in FG and core repair, you really know that this is the full extent of the damage, you can get the right amount of price relief to make the repair worth it, you cost out the repair done right...anotherwords, if you do your due diligence, I wouldn't hesitate to do a deal on a boat with some small water intrusion problems on deck or below the waterline. By doing this you might just get yourself a deal, where others would be hesitant.

BUT, short of these steps I'd run away. Unless you are a FG expert, that means a great vetted surveyor, and a yard/FG repair buy with an excellent reputation.

Good luck...I had a friend who owned one of those, nice boat.
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Re: Are Deck Soft Spots Really That Bad?

Thank you for the replies! That gives me a lot to think about and ponder. Perhaps I will keep looking and find a better option out there to buy.
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