Join Date: Feb 2000
Location: Annapolis, Md
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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.
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Curmudgeon at Large- and rhinestone in the rough, sailing my Farr 11.6 on the Chesapeake Bay