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DLM 04-08-2007 10:03 AM

Recently purchased a Pearson 34. Installed a new cleat on the bow. When I drilled a hole through the deck, water came out of the hole. The hole is located near a stanchion.... The second hole ... aft....did not have the same result.... any suggestions?

pmoyer 04-08-2007 10:28 AM

I haven't done this, so advice is based on what I've read! Adjust confidence accordingly.....

It may be the nearby stanchion, or some other fitting or crack, that's letting the water in. Regardless, you need to do two things - dry out the deck and stop water from getting in.

You can use a small mallet or the butt of a screwdriver to sound the area, and see how much water intrusion you have (by the change in sound when you tap on the deck). If it's a tiny amount and there doesn't seem to be any deck delamination, you may be able to drill some holes and flood the area with acetone to dry it out.

If it's been happening for a long time, and the deck is delaminated and/or the core rotting, you'll know because the deck will be spongy when you tread on it, and it will have a distinct dull thump when you tap on it. If that's the case, you'll need to do a much more extensive repair by carefully cutting off the top skin, peeling it away, scooping out the rotten core, drying it out, and installing new core. There are a few excellent books on doing this; I suggest Don Casey's "This Old Boat," or his "Hull and Deck Repairs."

You'll also need to properly reattach the deck fittings in the area, which means you need to
  • remove the fittings
  • redrill the holes using an over-sized bit
  • route out the core material around the holes
  • tape the bottom hole closed and fill with epoxy
  • redrill the fitting holes
  • reinstall the fitting, bedded with a sealant

Again, Casey's book, or other maintenance books, go into great depth on how to do this.

BTW, I'll be repairing a large soft spot in my deck at the fall haul-out. I'll take lots of pictures and post them.


sailingdog 04-08-2007 10:55 AM


Definitely sounds like water has gotten into the deck.. that's a bad thing. While potting the holes as described by Paul is a good idea... you'll probably have to remove the stanchions and pot the holes for them as well. However, you need to find out whether the core has rotted or is just wet. If it is just wet... you can dry it out by drilling holes to let air in and water out...

Did you get a survey on the boat??? If not, this is a good example of why you get a survey... and if you did, ask your surveyor about it and why he missed it... Wet core is definitely something that should have caused a price adjustment in the purchase price. It can be an expensive repair. However, from your description I would guess that the deck is cored with end-grain balsa and that the damage is fairly limited at the moment. The reason I'm guessing end-grain balsa rather than a foam or marine plywood, is that water tends to migrate more freely when it has been cored with the latter two materials. End-grain balsa tends to keep water confined due to the way it wicks water.

sailaway21 04-08-2007 01:45 PM

Casey has a compendium of his books out, called Complete Guide to Sailboat Maintenance. Five books in one.

sailingdog 04-08-2007 01:48 PM

Actually, it is six volumes in one, and it is called Don Casey's Complete Illustrated Sailboat Maintenance Manual

Fairly reasonably priced, quite comprehensive, while staying relatively modest in physical size.

DLM 04-08-2007 01:58 PM

Thanks, for the input guys!

The deck does not seem delaminated nor do I notice any difference in sound when I tap on it. I was just surprised hat how much water came out of the hole that I drilled....sounds like I've got some major work ahead of me.

BTW. I did have a survey and it did not show any wet areas in that part of the boat. when he ran his meter over it... don't know that he actually selected that area to do it as it did not, does not look "suspect" however....
it appears that more investigation and much more work is ahead.

Again, thanks,

sailaway21 04-08-2007 02:14 PM

Also pick up the west system manuals. West Marine (no relation) has them for free and they address similar issues to yours. You'll be picking up epoxy resin/hardener anyways for the repair. I recommend getting the larger quantity cans than what you will strictly need for this job alone. They don't really go bad, and then you'll have them on hand for future adventures.(g)

Unless the damage is extensive, and it does not sound like it, the repair is not that difficult. You'll gain good experience on the small repair. And, if you are like me, you'll end up using the epoxy on about a gazillion other projects.(G)

sailingdog 04-08-2007 02:28 PM


One thing to remember, epoxy is susceptible to UV damage, so it has to be protected with a coating of varnish, paint or gelcoat.

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