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  #1  
Old 07-03-2012
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First encounter with soft decks.

Looked at a boat this weekend that had a really soft (spongy?) foredeck. I felt it flex under my step as soon as I stepped across it. The side decks seemed to be ok, but that could've been relative to how the front felt. It's within my budget, but re-doing decks gets into some $$$ I'm guessing.

It's a 40 year old boat, but the last 12 years has been kept on a lift when not in use, so that should help the bottom, right?
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Re: First encounter with soft decks.

There are too many boats out there that don't have soft decks. Walk away and find another.
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Re: First encounter with soft decks.

Soft decks are just part of age and poor upkeep, mine were caused by an owner installing some hardware and not sealing the balsa core around the zillion holes he drilled to add some hardware. The balsa acted like a candle wick and drew in a lot of water, and presto, you got yourself mushy decks !!!

Big question is: Whos going to do the work? A professional or Yourself? Ever do any serious fiberglass repairs before?

How much deck area are we talking about? Do you have the time and space to take on this task?

Keep in mind that it will be difficult to blend in the repaired are with the original non-skid as all cuts and seams will be obvious. I'm was planning on keeping the original non-skid moldded in but the repairs and age of gelcoat force me to apply a new non-skid over my deck when I'm done. Not a big deal, just more money thats all.

If you have not bought the boat but really want it, use this as a negotiating point for a significant price reduction. Tell the seller the next potential buyer will also notice the same spongey decks too.

If you tackle this project, you'll learn a lot, I can promise you that.

Best of luck to ya' Bruce

Last edited by Bruce_L; 07-03-2012 at 09:30 AM. Reason: error in text
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Re: First encounter with soft decks.

This is not a fun job to do. The general procedure is to track down where the water is coming into the deck from and address that concurrently with the work on repairing the core.

If the area is small, you may be able to get away with drilling many many small holes in the deck, digging out the wet core nearby, letting the core dry out for a good long while (no humidity), then refilling with epoxy.

The second way I've seen this done is to take a circular saw or dremel like multitool (you'll use a lot of wheels) and set it to the depth of just the fiberglass skin. Then cut around the wet spot with the saw. Carefully pry off the skin (you're reuse this), clean out all of the bad core material (usually balsa or in some cheap boats plywood), then reset the core and re-apply the skin coat with epoxy filling in the seams and voids.

This gets even more involved if you're in any sort of structural area such as mast step or support area for windlasses, etc.

Either way, think of the materials involved.
You're talking tools, epoxy resin (expensive), marine balsa (not cheap). Now think of the time involved. Cutting, drying, cleaning out core, recoring, reskinning.

With plenty of good boats out there, WHY look at one that has core issues. I'd only approach a boat with wet decks if it was a screaming deal...meaning they're practically giving the boat to me for free.
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Re: First encounter with soft decks.

It pretty much turned me off of this boat as I think it's something that's above my pay grade for now. I figure whatever boat I end up with will have enough to work on without signing up for an obviously major project.
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Re: First encounter with soft decks.

What kind/size boat are you looking for? Budget? let us know...we may be able to help you with your search.
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