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Learning the HARD way...
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I was looking at a mid-80's vintage CAL 33 the other day. The broker said it had a cored hull. I couldn't peer into most of the lockers, but I could not find any evidience in the lockers that I did look into that it was... Does any one know if CAL used solid or cored hulls? :confused:

The broker discolsed that the boat had some minor "crazing" that all CALs seemed to have. "It is merely cosmetic" the broker assured me:rolleyes: ...

The day was clear and dry, so I puled out my moisture meter, and found a few small wet (30%) spots, and a couple of damp (15%) spots. Most of the deck was fine, but there were some cracks that disturbed me. I would like to get some opinions from the good folks in the forum:

If you look closely, you can see that there are cracks in the coachroof from the clutches to the cabin side. I suspect that the clutches were not installed properly, and need to be remounted with proper backing. This area measured 15% on the meter.


These cracks along the stbd toe rail showed about 20% moisture... I know that the chainplate on this side needs to be rebedded. The Chainplate registered 30%.


Finally, these cracks near the anchor locker... Again, elevated moisture, but not what I would call "wet."


I understand that I will need to get a surveyor before I get serious. All comments will be taken with a grain of salt, and you're all off the hook in terms of liability.

However, I've been looking at boats for the past 2+ years. EVERY boat that I have inspected (and there have been over a dozen) has had moisture in the decks:mad: . This is the first boat that I've considered having surveyed.

All comments appreciated!
 

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I am not an expert or anything and am still learning a lot myself but also spent a lot of time going over boats before purchasing mine 2 years ago. For a boat of that age I certainly don't think its the end of the world to have some crazing and some minor moisture in the decks in those areas. Frankly just about every boat of that vintage I looked at had some degree of this. Certainly it can be a problem if it were in more critical areas but I don't think so for what was shown.

I have also heard and seen about some Cals with these same problems.

Good luck if you do have it surveyed though
 

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Just for fun, have you ever tried your meter on a brand spanking new boat? I wonder what the reading would be. Can't remember where I read some surveyor saying that all hulls he had measured in his career showed a relatively high moisture reading (I suppose this was on boats drydocked).
 

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Learning the HARD way...
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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks!... Actually, I've tried the meter on a friend's 98 Catalina. NOWHERE on the deck measured over 5%. I also calibrate the meter before I use it. While I've never tried it on a bran'spaknin' new boat.. the 98 Catalina is as close as I'm likely to come.
 

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If said Cal boat is built similar or equal to my Jeanneau, which was also a parent bangor punta boat. The area around the anchor hatch, is probably straight fiberglass, not core in the deck. Along the edges where the stanchions are, also, there is not core. Now where the clutches and winch is, there may very well be a wood core!

On my boat, the cored deck is mostly in the middle, not at the edges. In the anchor locker area, open the locker, and feel the thicknes to the edge, I'll swag pretty thin! ie 1/4" or there abouts, vs what will feel like about an inch if there is a wood core.

My 85 Jeanneau, has similar cracking/hazing along the stanchions, I do not have the cracks issues on the cabin top. Not sure what to say about that pic/issue

My 02
marty
 

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did you ever find a dry spot on that boat to get a base line. i know you said a friends boat read less than 5 %. i would try to alot of spots and see if you can find a >5% area for a base line. if the lowest you can get on that boat is 10 % there might be something in the glass and gel coat throwing of the reading
 

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SouthernComfort
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That is gel coat, not fiberglass or coreing. Those areas are the product of the fiberglass flexing, thus cracking the gelcoat. Very normal.
 

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To be honest, that looks like a decent boat for a mid 80's Cal. If those are the worst areas, you may have a keeper. They appear to be superficial gel coat. Certainly get a survey, but she looks good from your pics.

keep us posted,

dave
 

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The moisture readings are very high. A moisture of maximum 15 to 18 % wood scale is asking for trouble. The original moisture of fiberglass is about 10% of wood reading. Avoid this boat if possible.
 

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Given the age of the boat, and the fact that it looks like the original gelcoat, it isn't in that bad a shape. I'd also point out that the moisture meter could also be picking up the backing plates... if the plates are metal, it would affect the moisture meter reading.

In many cases, the cored section of the deck/cabintop does not extend all the way to the toe rail... so the cracks at the stanchion base may or may not be affecting the core. A bigger worry, IMHO, is if the hull is cored. Cored hulls, if not properly designed and maintained, are a much bigger problem.
 

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Broad Reachin'
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I've been trying to wrap my head around the issue of wet deck core for some time now. I've also inspected many boats over the last 1 year or so (most pre-1985) and the vast majority show strong evidence of wet decks. I realize older boats will almost all be susceptible to wet core at some point, particularly if an owner doesn't proactively take steps to prevent leaks (re-bedding deck hardware, etc. before there is a problem). However, I'm beginning to think that I won't be able to find a boat with dry decks in my budget.

Carry on.
 

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Learning the HARD way...
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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Thank you for all the replies so far. You have allayed my concerns about the cracks.

I'm beginning to think that I won't be able to find a boat with dry decks in my budget.
- I have come to that conclusion myself:( . Many of the boats that I've seen, even those well above my budget, have been virtual sponges.

One of the tools that I bring to every boat that I inspect is a generic deck drawing. Thus:


I usually bring two or three copies. On one, I make notes of moisture readings, cracks, damage or repairs and their approximate location as I move around the boat with my meter. This boat had elevated moisture (20+) near the chainplates on both port and stbd decks. The areas with the high moisture, however, were less than two feet long (measuring from bow to stern). On one of the others, I note items on the boat that I like, and the other things (other than the condition of the deck) that I don't. I try to keep the three sheets seperate.

I tested quite far from the clutches, and found elevated moisture. I don't think that it was from backing plates as SD suspects. I suspect that these high readings, however, could be from moisture in the cracks in the gelcoat.

The CAL 33 is a rather popular boat. Can anyone confirm if they have a cored hull, or not?
 

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We have had a reaslly hard time finding a dry deck on otherwize PERFECT boats from 1980 more or less



This is about the best used boat i have ever seen and it came back bad decks with NO signs of any leaks
 

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My 1982 Cal 9.2 was built in the same Fall River yard as the 33-2. I have the "Cal crazing" but not as extensive as your pictures show. I suspect the Cal 33-2 hull is not cored, but that is purely speculation. I would not be concerned about somewhat high deck moisture readings in a 20+ year old boat as long as there are no soft spots.
 

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Many of the boats that I've seen, even those well above my budget, have been virtual sponges.
So my question is why haven't manufacturers figured out a way to make decks strong without using core...or why haven't they figured out a way to keep cored decks from getting very wet with age...or perhaps they have and I'm just shopping boats that are too old!
 

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In our search, we were not able to find a boat in our budget with completely dry decks. It came down to sail with wet decks, or don't sail. IMHO, for those like us with budget limitations, the first question would be: "Is the water so bad, and been there so long, so as to cause delamination of the structure?". A yes here would nix the boat. If everything is solid but you have some wet spots, then ask yourself "Will the resulting loss of structural integrity compromize the boat under my intended use?"

We wound up buying a 30 year old boat with plywood core that read wet in spots, but showed no other indication of delamination or flexing. I have since done some destructive testing in the course of other repairs and found that although wet, the wood core was solid. After some stratigic venting, it also appears to be drying nicely.

BTW, the boat you are looking at seems to be a bit better than average. If all else is tolerable, she may be a keeper. Good luck !
 

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OK, for what it's worth...I've also read that if the deck is balsa-cored, it's much less of an issue. I wish I could remember the source, but some days it's a blesssing that I remember my own name.
 

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The Cal 33-2 is a sweet boat, I came close to buying one during the last search. This model has an all glass hull, to the best of my knowledge no Cals have cored hulls.

As to the presence of core in the deck, you can usually deck the cored areas from inspection of the underside of the deck, as the cored laminate will be thicker and have a ridgeline when it begins. I can't recall if whether this boat has interior panels that limit viewing of the deck underside.
 

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Learning the HARD way...
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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Thanks for all the input so far!

I know that the CAL 33-2 has a cored deck, but was not sure about the hull. Based on my recollection from sailing them in the past, and the info above, I believe that it has a solid glass hull.
 

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The problem is that fiberglass, as a material is fairly flexible. To build a strong stiff deck, you either have to add stiffeners, in the form of stringers or a grid system, make the deck very thick or use a core. A cored deck is far stronger, stiffer and lighter than solid laminate, and generally far less expensive than adding a grid to the underside of the deck. The problem is really when the cored deck isn't designed properly, with solid glass for areas where deck hardware is installed—or when people add deck hardware to cored areas without properly potting the fastener holes and openings.

So my question is why haven't manufacturers figured out a way to make decks strong without using core...or why haven't they figured out a way to keep cored decks from getting very wet with age...or perhaps they have and I'm just shopping boats that are too old!
 
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