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Balage 04-11-2010 10:01 AM

Soft Deck repair

I'v been reading this forum for quite a long time, however I never really joined the discussion, so here I am posting a question :)

In the last few days I've been working on my 15 ft sailboat, sanding the bottom to apply a new primer/antifouling combination, but my problem is not with that.
The boat has a soft deck issue on the foredeck, right in front of the mast attachment point. This problem arise during the last season and after searching and reading around a little bit, it became clear that I'll have to do something. The problem is, that I have absolutely no experience with fiberglass and epoxy and the last thing I'd like to do is stripping off the gelcoat from the deck, since it is in a really nice shape (given that the boat is 21 years old) and it has a special rugged surface.
So my question is if there are any other methods that could work... Maybe injecting something into the laminate? I also read someone's description how he replaced the core from the inside of the cabin, but again it might be impossible to do because of my lack of experience... (possibly dumb q: btw soft decks are always because of rotten core material? Are there other causes?).

Please help me with this one, I'd really love to go sailing, preferably with a non-soft deck!

Thank you very much in advance!

Fair Winds,
Balázs from Hungary

P.S.: Pic of my boat:

deniseO30 04-11-2010 10:38 AM

Possibly you could put a hatch in that spot? Looks like you could use some more light inside anyway.

oomfh 04-11-2010 10:44 AM

Consult the West System website . . . they have all the professional experience, products and advice on this very problem.

Epoxy by the Leading Epoxy Manufacturer | WEST SYSTEM Epoxy

Good luck!

CaptainForce 04-11-2010 11:55 AM

If you elect to cut away a section of deck to replace the core, which in my opinion is the best repair, consider Divinycel (spelling?) as a core replacement.

Balage 04-26-2010 08:23 AM

Thank you very much for your replies and sorry for not responding for so long...

I wouldn't really like to put a hatch in the deck, i just like it as it is.

Cutting away the deck - is it the only way to go? What about injecting something into the laminate?

And if I'll have to cut the deck? Could it be done from the inside, leaving the outer side untouched? What tools can this be done with? The deck seems really thin, I'd suspect that it is not that easy to separate the layers without destroying everything...

Thank you very much for your help, I really appreciate your replies!

oomfh 04-26-2010 09:38 AM


Originally Posted by Balage (Post 597553)
. . . What about injecting something into the laminate? . . . Balazs

Again, talk to West Systems - they have great products and great technical assistance via the telephone - you will be very pleased!

sailingdog 04-26-2010 09:57 AM

I really don't recommend drilling holes and injecting thickened epoxy, since it really doesn't "repair" the area and makes doing a proper repair much more difficult afterwards.

I also don't recommend doing a core replacement from the interior, as then it is far more difficult to get a solid layup of the replacement core and interior skin, since gravity is working against you. It will generally also take much longer to do it from beneath.

Chances are very likely that the water intrusion was caused by the mast step fasteners. I would destep the mast, cut the deck's top laminate away and then remove the core. Laying in a new core of Baltek ContourKore or Divinylcell foam is relatively simple. I'd point out that instead of trying to re-use the previous outer laminate, it is generally simpler and far more successful to lay down new fiberglass.

The surface can be easily be made non-skid via painting, or applying a non-skid specific coating like Durabak or Kiwigrip.

oomfh 04-26-2010 10:55 AM

RXBOT 04-26-2010 03:49 PM

You say your boat is 15 feet (4.6 meters ). I think with help you should be able to turn boat upside down and support on stands or hang from overhead beams with slings. Take a big holesaw (4-5 inch) and try to cut just through the liner so you can see what you are dealing with. At any rate you are now not working against gravity and hopefully don't disturb the outside deck except for the pilot drill probably.

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