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Old 09-28-2008
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Gel Cracks on 309

My 2007 Catalina 309 has more gelcoat hailine cracks than I would expect. My dealer is fixing them (rather poorly) under warranty. Dealer had me take a picture of each crack and they send the pics to Catalina for approval.

I made pictures of maybe 25 to 30 different cracks ranging from an inch to a foot or so. They occur both at hardware mounting locations and areas where no undue stress would be suspected. Inside the anchor well there are too many cracks to count.

In an inch by yard long area beneath the two large cabin windows, there are thousands of fine/tiny hairline cracks...I can't imagine how they'd be repaired, at least not easily.

There are no cracks in the topsides.

When I launched this Spring, I applied VC17 bottom coating to the areas where the cradle pads are, but rollered over the same area too many times and lifted the old coating. When I cleaned up the one foot square area with acetone I was down to bare gelcoat. This revealed an area that was criss-crossed with an uncountable number of hairline cracks. I don't know whether this is just under the pad where I removed the coating or whether it's more widespread, as the cracks didn't stop at the edge of the exposed area.

I'm the first owner of the boat and am aware of no collisions, etc.

I've owned several boats that were 10 to 20 years old and have none of them has had anywhere close to this many cracks.

There are no spider cracks (cracks radiating from a central point). They're all basically linear.

I'm not happy about this. The dealer says it's nothing out of the ordinary (hoo boy). I haven't talked to Catalina yet.

Questions: Is this a problem? What would you do? Is the boat prone to cracking and will it continue? Am I screwed?

Last edited by Siamese; 09-28-2008 at 11:03 PM.
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Old 09-28-2008
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'Appreciate the reply dog. I didn't mean to say that I lifted gelcoat on the bottom, just that I was looking at unpainted gelcoat where the cradle pad rests, allowing me to see the maze of hairline cracks there.

I'm going to edit "glass" and change it to "gelcoat" to avoid confusion.
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Old 09-29-2008
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I am sorry to here about this and it is NOT normal and puts you in the bad spot of reading betweet the lines on the warranty as it is being treated like a cosmetic issue rather that a structural issue

Some pictures would help a lot

The real question is what would make you happy and can it be done ?
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Last edited by tommays; 09-29-2008 at 12:11 PM.
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Old 09-29-2008
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In my few years of repairing fiberglass, I have sanded and grinded my share of gelcoat. Other than impact damage, the one outstanding issue of cracks in gelcoat I believe are caused by an excessive thickness of the gelcoat applied to the mold. Of course your hull and deck will flex somewhat during it's life. The gelcoat does not like this movement, and does not flex the same as the glass and resin. As with everything in life, something is gonna give. The craftsman originally probably sprayed the gelcoat into the mold taking extra care around any hatches and any other areas with inside corners to lay on a good opaque coat. As the gelcoat is quite liquid it pools in some areas, resulting in a thicker coating with no flexibility. Go down to the yard and examine the cracking areas. I am sure that if you were to take a grinder and slowly grind through the gelcoat till you reach glass, and also do a small area that isn't cracking. You will most likely find an excessive thickness of gelcoat in the cracking areas. If the repair is simply grinding out old gelcoat and cracks, then re-applying new gelcoat in the same thickness, you will be tasting this bitter pill again.
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Old 09-30-2008
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Can't help you with your problem (sorry), but I'm curious what the headroom is on your 309. I'm 6' tall, looking for something in this size range, and don't want to be constantly rubbing my scalp on the overhead. So, can I consider a 309?
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