Irwin 26': HELP!! sealing off slot from lost centerboard - SailNet Community
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post #1 of 16 Old 08-12-2019 Thread Starter
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Irwin 26': HELP!! sealing off slot from lost centerboard

Hi everyone:

I'm the worried wife. Husband will not ask advice and hopefully is repairing his 1974 Irwin 26' so it's seaworthy. Help!!

He was motoring into harbor on Lake Michigan and suddenly he couldn't steer. The motor was still going. Sails down. A large submerged log broke the outboard shaft. He was pushed into the breakwater and required a salvage company ($3900 worth for 25 minutes of tugging this way and that to get him off some rocks.)

Got into marina, had it pulled out with travel lift and noticed the center board was gone and lead keel was scratched up a bit. Boat was put on his trailer. He read in the past that many people had trouble with the Irwin centerboards (as did he and he got it fixed 15 years ago), others just decided to "glass it over." So he spent a few visits (3 hr drive) fixing it up a bit where holes visible. Of course it was sitting on his trailer. Put it back in. Electric pump could barely keep up with water entering through where centerboard was.

Taken out again and put on jack stands. Low jack stands so he is working on the ground with a few inches clearance. Took the railroad ties supporting the keel out and boat resting on the jack stands. I guess he's realized that those who decided to give up on the centerboards still had the centerboards and so the 5' or so 1.5" slot where it goes would be pretty much filled. Not the case here.

He got a bid from the marina for $4000+ to fix it. The boat itself isn't worth that of course.

So here's what he's been doing: I'd give you some photos, but he's not a phone person so he's not a taking a picture with his phone person either. He sealed where the cable came into the deck area with epoxy. He managed to get a piece of green treated 2x2 in the slot pretty well, angling it in with 3 pieces. He glued that with some marine glue that needed a week to cure. He filled some minor holes on the bottom (size of finger) with two part epoxy. Said that didn't hold as well as he thought it would. He knows there is a void above the wood and intended to spray some marine foam from the top into the void by drilling say 5 holes, 1 ft. apart. He tried one hole and probed with a dowel the size of the drill (say 1/2"?). No direct path to a void and.... the dowel is now stuck there. So he'll cut that off and seal. Me, being the worried wife and not there said,"Whatever you do, don't be drilling holes in the bottom to put in the marine foam." He said he thought about it, but decided that might be a really bad idea. He can't shoot the marine foam up into the blocked slot, just falls out.

Okay, so his plan now as to do the "glassing" over that folks had done, using the fiberglass "chop" rather than cloth, applying like putty I guess. He says all the new boats (unless they're super expensive) are made with this now. After that, he's got the epoxy paint (gel coat? he says half paint, half epoxy) to put on, then the bottom paint. The little I've looked up, seems like a few layers at least of fiberglass cloth might provide some more assurance on this repair. No, he says. He doesn't care what it looks like. Just needs to be secure.

So I asked if water gets in there, can it be pumped out. "No, only comes out if out of water."

So I think, "is what he's done adequate and if water gets in there could he sink?" We're talking a boat here on a large body of water and life at risk.

Any helpful advice would be much appreciated. I'm worried and he's adamant he won't ask anyone at the marina for help. (They charged him $600 for a couple of guys to throw him a rope from their underpowered boat to help him out. Yeah, it didn't work but they made the gesture, right?) And then they want the $4000 to fix. He won't back down on this.

Any advice you can provide would be much appreciated. He's fixed his through holes and stantions before and does all the teak restoration and painting etc. Boat is very nicely maintained. This is a bit more serious.
help.


Thanks anyone. I hope I'm not out of line here as I'm not the sailor. But the sailor is not one to ask for
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post #2 of 16 Old 08-13-2019
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Re: Irwin 26': HELP!! sealing off slot from lost centerboard

I'm sure some of our experts will give some advice.

Very sad when these things happen.

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Re: Irwin 26': HELP!! sealing off slot from lost centerboard

Hard to say much without pictures.
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Re: Irwin 26': HELP!! sealing off slot from lost centerboard

First of all, I am very sorry that your boat was damaged and that you and your husband are going through this.

Dealing more specifically as far as I know, there is no such thing as an Irwin 26. Irwin made a 25 and a 27, but not a 26. There was a later model that was built differently, but I think from the comment that the lead was damaged this is probably a 25 or 27.

I believe that both the 25 and 27 were built the same way, with a bolt on lead keel that contained the centerboard slot and the centerboard pivot pin. If this is how your boat was built there are several places water can enter the boat. In order of likely sources of water intrusion: 1) at the joint between the lead keel and the fiberglass hull, 2) at the keel bolts, 3) at the lift pennant port, 4) at the pivot pin, and lastly 5) at the centerboard slot.

Reading how the repair was accomplished, I would respectfully suggest that the procedure you described would be a very poor and ineffectual way to make the necessary repair on all counts.

It would appear the the entire repair focused on the centerboard trunk (slot). The reality is that the centerboard trunk is intended to be full of water. Therefore, in itself, losing the centerboard should not result in water intrusion. There is more likely a separate and more critical source of the leak.

If this is the original Irwin 25 or 27, a grounding on the rocks that was hard enough to damage the centerboard is also likely to have damaged the hull to ballast joint, keel bolts and the fiberglass laminate of the hull in this area. If that is the case, then sealing the centerboard slot would make very little difference to water intrusion and have no impact on the structural damage to the boat.

It doesn't sound like there was an effort to seal the pivot pin, or the pennant port. Nor to evaluate the condition of the keel bolts or the hull to keel joint.

It sounds like there was a consistently poor choice of materials to make the repair. Your husband is completely mistaken about chopped glass being widely used in boat construction. That almost never is the case because of the poor structural capability of the material. And while used in the past for cheap small boats, it is an extremely poor material for repairs. Chopped glass fiber should only be used with polyester resin. It is not compatible for use with epoxy. This type of repair should be done with epoxy and should not be done with polyester resin.

Lastly, the centerboard is an important component when these boats are sailed. Eliminating the centerboard is not a good idea if you plan to sail this boat.

I wish I had better news on this.

Respectfully,
Jeff


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post #5 of 16 Old 08-13-2019
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Re: Irwin 26': HELP!! sealing off slot from lost centerboard

Scrap the boat,

Don't know what you should do with him, I have a few thoughts on the matter, but cant say it here!


Complaining about the cost after the fact? Not having marine tow insurance was a BIG mistake! hope you have insurance on him at least!

He doesn't know what he's doing, if your story is even half true he's also a liar if you weren't with him, when all this happened. But, he's going to keep trying, fortunately he's just a danger to himself because he's an "island and a rock never cries"

He needs a crash course on fiberglass repair and may have some success with epoxy not polyester.

Yes, your feelings are going to get hurt because it's an open forum, which means you're open to all kinds of remarks good and bad.

Sad story that did not have to happen with just a little bit of common sense

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Re: Irwin 26': HELP!! sealing off slot from lost centerboard

I fear your husband is in "I'm gonna fix it or die trying" mode, my wife would be supportive while gently pointing out that the value of my time and health far outweigh that boat. You should understand this stubborn attitude to "complete the mission" has been drilled into many since childhood. Let him catch you browsing Yachtworld like it was boat porn, you have a short season to enjoy a boat, it shouldn't be spent trying to raise one from the dead.

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post #7 of 16 Old 08-13-2019 Thread Starter
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Re: Irwin 26': HELP!! sealing off slot from lost centerboard

Yes, you're right, it's a 25' Irwin. I got the 26" because that's what the marina charges for it. It's actually 25.5'.

He called today and I asked him how he went about sealing up the cable mechanism area for raising and lowering the centerboard. He apparently didn't do that when he put it back in, after whatever work he did. Thought he might like a centerboard one day again. Anyway, he's sealed it up now, but I don't know with what. He's been using locktite marine epoxy putty and JB Weld. He says JB Weld is not drying. Oh boy. It's not the injection type either. The bid from the marina had $900 worth of materials. Some of that was marine foam. He hasn't used any of that.... yet.

He says when there used to be a forum for the small Irwins that multiple people said they just gave up on their centerboards and said stable enough. Of course they might have been just small lake sailing, not on Lake Michigan. He says he often sailed without the centerboard down, so assuming that would be the same as no centerboard, he should be okay with that.

All your points of entry sound like a good place to start. Now that he has the slot all patched up in the chop mix way. I guess that won't necessarily make any difference. But he has to take care of the areas that do make a difference properly! Yeah my thought (and I know nothing) is water into the keel area would just add a bit more ballast. It's where it's coming into the boat itself that's the problem.

Thank you so much for responding. Maybe I can get him to either take this advice or at least as for more specific help. He's an English PhD who sailed as a boy and teenager. We've sailed in the Caribbean too. He knows how to sail. He's not a fix-it person, likes he boat but won't pay the marina $4000 to fix it.

Yeah, actually we had liability insurance. The "salvage" doesn't seem to be covered by towing insurance although Towboat USA was the one to free it. Our insurer said, nope, not covered then two weeks later said, "I don't usually get to make this call very often, but it was insured." So we got the money except a $100 deductible.
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Re: Irwin 26': HELP!! sealing off slot from lost centerboard

Yeah, I believe him about what happened. He had a long shaft outboard (we've replaced now for $1400). The log was submerged, didn't see it at all. The boat and the log were pushed to the side into the breakwater. It is a large channel as the Badger crosses Lake Michigan and arrives there. He didn't have time to put up the sails. He was motoring in. He couldn't figure out why the motor was working but he was being pushed to the side. The interesting thing is the coast guard and the marina are "oh well" about the huge log. Guess they're there and this sort of thing happens.
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Re: Irwin 26': HELP!! sealing off slot from lost centerboard

I've heard that tow boat has a clause about "salvage" whereas boat US doesn't. I'm sure it'll start a whole discussion of what is "salvage" and what is just "run aground" did he leave the boat?

I don't know how anybody here can offer any help. Clearly, by what you written above you can't even get him to listen to you, so what point is there in any advice anybody would give you, except to be honest? it's an old boat, a very old boat,. You keep throwing these numbers out of what it's costing you and this is all money could be putting towards another boat.

I don't know about the performance, but I would listen to Jeff on it how the boat would handle without the C/B.

and I would have to disagree, and say he doesn't know how to handle a slug without sails, if he did he wouldn't be blundering around like he is and yup, guys don't like when I say things like that.

"Never go any faster than you want to hit something"

"Never enter unknown harbor /waters without charts or local knowledge"

Center boards and swing keels break and fall out because they are always overlooked when it comes to maintenance, and I can almost bet this was true of your boat,

Good luck

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Re: Irwin 26': HELP!! sealing off slot from lost centerboard

Hes just being a guy; thats all.
To save a lot of money and distress in the long run, arm yourself with something interesting from VS, 2" marinated rib-eyes...and tell him you want to go small sailboat shopping.
He will fold.
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