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Sailing with rotten bulkhead?
I just looked at a Kenner Kittiwake 24 that's for sale in my area, and have a couple of questions. This would be my first boat larger than a Sunfish, although I've been sailing my local club's Flying Scots for a couple of years now.
Overall the Kittiwake seems to be in good condition, and seems to have been attentively maintained. However, the owner was upfront about the fact that when it rains hard, there's a leak somewhere forward on the port side that he hasn't been able to track down. Upon closer inspection, the outer laminate of the port bulkhead is coming off in some places, and the wood underneath seems soft (although it's dry).
I've seen and read about this being a big problem on boats where the chainplates are attached directly to the bulkhead (like the Catalina 22), potentially causing the mast to come down if a chainplate rips out from the rotting wood. However, on the Kittiwake, the chainplates are apparently glassed directly into the side of the hull, and they come through the deck right next to the toe rail, parallel to the side of the boat. So here are my questions:
1) Clearly the leak needs to be tracked down and sealed, but is it reasonable to think the boat can be safely sailed as-is, since the chainplates aren't attached to the deteriorating bulkhead?
2) Are there any other important structural functions that bulkhead serves that would make a deteriorating one an immediate problem?
3) What kind of expense would I be looking at the have it replaced if I decided not to attempt it myself?
Thanks for any and all advice! The boat is really beautiful otherwise.
Last edited by bamabratsche; 08-03-2011 at 02:15 PM.