Forward deck hatch -- the dreaded soggy wood - SailNet Community

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Old 05-25-2007
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Question Forward deck hatch -- the dreaded soggy wood

I've been working on my new (used) Catalina 22 that I bought in February. I've been chasing down 3 cabin leaks and killed off 2 of the three at the source (outside the deck under fittings). The last one I have is the biggest one unfortunately. I've been trying to find it after it rains and still chasing it. It leaves a puddle on the aft port set just left of the cabin entry door. The water is kind of "tea" colored. I resealed the stanchions, and the forward bow railing on that side (sorry, I don't have the official name, but you know what I mean!) I still have to seal the other three posts on that still.
Anyway, looking at the forward hatch above the v-berth, I found it was wet along the port side edge (one of he previous owners had done some repairs there, which was kind of falling apart). I took the hatch off and scraped off some of the old sealant and was able to peek in the gap between the ceiling and the edge of the hatch. Prying it open with a screwdriver and peeking in, I saw - yes - the DREADED soggy plywood! UGH!
tapping around the deck with a hammer, I seem to have tracked it to the edge of the deck mostly on the port side, but there is a spot on the starboard side near the hatch also. I did a temporary seal around the hatch with some tub caulk just to seal it from more water, but I still have to deal with this now. I think this is where the water leak came from, then drained along the ceiling panel to the rear of the boat where it could then spill out onto the seat.

I'm sure this is common, but I'm kind of worried. Any ideas what I should do now? Forget it and seal it? Tear the boat apart to replace the plywood? Dry it out somehow? Patch it? <*sigh*>

Tom
Catalina 22 #880 1971
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Finding Leaks the easy way

After 20 years of trying to locate and eliminate leaks, we put a blower on top of the forward hatch and pressurized the boat...plugged up the major exhaust points like dorades, etc. Then from the outside, with a mop, we put soapy water all around the deck. The leaks were obvious...mostly in the cap rail which we grouted out an re-bed. But we also found leaks in the windows, etc. This is by far the best way to find leaks and not that hard to do.

Moe

Crishelle
Chris Craft Apache 37
1967
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Leaks

Yeah, that is probably one of the next steps I need to try. I'm pretty sure a lot of water is coming from this hatch though. The water that puddles in the back is kind of a brownish "tea" color. I figure the soggy wood is causing that - and I have found some soggy wood now@


Quote:
Originally Posted by mgiguere
After 20 years of trying to locate and eliminate leaks, we put a blower on top of the forward hatch and pressurized the boat...plugged up the major exhaust points like dorades, etc. Then from the outside, with a mop, we put soapy water all around the deck. The leaks were obvious...mostly in the cap rail which we grouted out an re-bed. But we also found leaks in the windows, etc. This is by far the best way to find leaks and not that hard to do.

Moe

Crishelle
Chris Craft Apache 37
1967
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Old 05-25-2007
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Tom, you really need to get the rotted wood out of there. I've heard of people cutting the deck laminations carefully and peeling them off so they can reuse them later, others replace the core and add new deck laminations and then refinish the deck. I sounds like the areas where your deck is penetrated are not sealed properly with thickened epoxy. That probably means removing all deck fixtures and sealing the core and rebedding the deck hardware, after removing all wet and rotted core. A very large job.
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Deck slicing

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Originally Posted by DeepFrz
Tom, you really need to get the rotted wood out of there. I've heard of people cutting the deck laminations carefully and peeling them off so they can reuse them later, others replace the core and add new deck laminations and then refinish the deck. I sounds like the areas where your deck is penetrated are not sealed properly with thickened epoxy. That probably means removing all deck fixtures and sealing the core and rebedding the deck hardware, after removing all wet and rotted core. A very large job.
Yeah, I've been reading a bunch of stuff on the internet about this. Seems that I can somehow outline the wet part, overlap to the dry part, cut out a neat chunk replace the insides and put it all together again.

I just wonder how to deal with the non-slip deck stuff to blend it together again after putting it back on. It's not really rough stuff, but rather smooth bumps, so that may be an advantage, but maybe not. The deck does seem firm, but I'm just concerned that it will just get worse over time.

Tom
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I don't know how far back the rot or wet wood goes. But it may be possible to remove the wet/rotten plywood and put thicken epoxy back between the fibeglass panels. You may want to try and dry out the area before injecting epoxy into it. A heat gun may work. After that sets up you want to rebed the hatch using silaflex or 3m 4200.
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Old 05-25-2007
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If you decide to recore, go at least 6" past the wet wood to remove the deck laminate and go 2" past the wet wood to replace it. A Dremel works pretty good for cutting the glass.
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Old 05-25-2007
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If the core is wet but not rotten, then you can drill a series of holes over the wet area to allow it to drain and dry out. Then you can inject epoxy into the same holes and allow it to cure... which will solve your problem without having to cut away the laminate.

However, if the core is rotten... mushy and no longer able to serve its function, then you will have to cut away the skin and remove the rottten core, and replace it with a new piece.

You can do this from either the top or the bottom... doing it from the top is generally easier, but requires that you take more time to repair/replace the non-skid.

Doing it from the bottom would leave the deck's non-skid surface intact, but is a bit more difficult to do since you're fighting gravity. If you decide to do it from the underside, and have fairly good access to the area, you can do it in two stages... the first is removing the laminate and rotten core and laminating an new core to the upper laminate. Then the second stage would be to laminate a new inner skin. This makes it a bit easier than trying to do it all at once.

BTW, you should really remove and re-bed most of the deck hardware and pot all the holes with thickened epoxy if you do this repair, as that will help prevent having to do this type of repair a second time.
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Old 05-26-2007
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If you end up having to recore the deck... It is very difficult to refinish the top and make it look nice. It will end up looking different from the rest of the boat - regardless of how careful you are.

Repairing it from the underside can be pretty soul-destroying...messy and you're working in very cramped quarters.

My suggestion would be to do it from the top. It will be much quicker. When you have finished, sand the entire deck smooth - and then apply the Vetus non-skid (or similar product) everywhere that you currently have a non-skid surface. There are a couple of Catalina 30's at my marina - side by side funnily enough - that have done this and it looks very good.

It will seem expensive when you first consider it, but in the long run it's not going to be too much more than you'll spend on various products trying to get a decent finish. You can even do it in stages.

If you ever decide you want to sell the boat, and if it has a poorly finished deck repair...you're going to get zilch for it.

Last edited by Sailormann; 05-26-2007 at 12:10 AM.
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