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STARBOARD!!
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Are you SURE that the measurements are from wet core? I think there are lots of people (including surveyors) out there who don't know how to properly use a moisture meter. Moisture meters work by measuring the resistance in electromagnetic field and there is many ways which they can be fooled. A high reading may mean that the deck section is slightly thicker where you are measuring or that the core is not the same material in the area you are comparing to your reference location. In many cases the decks in older boats are not 100% balsa core. Some areas may be reinforced with marine grade plywood for added crush strength at winch mounting locations and deck tracks. It is important to understand that differences in density (including areas where bulkheads, electrical wires and backing plates meet the deck) can cause the meter to read "high" moisture when there really is no moisture problem.

While I can't say for sure if the deck is wet in your situation, I don't like the looks of the cracking that are clearly visible. But this might be common on the Cal's; or it could be a problem that could go back to wet core.

Tapping out the decks and looking for voids would also help determine if your moisture readings are valid.
 

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From what we can see in the pictures I think that the boat looks like it is in good condition. The crazing around the stanchions is normal and it runs in a pattern that you would expect to see.

It is easy to visualise those cracks apppearing as lateral force is put on the stanchion in an outboard direction, compressing the deck slightly between the gunwale and the stanchion, with the result being that crazing that occurred. It radiates outward from the single pressure point.

The cracks in the other two pictures make me wonder a bit about how stiff/strong the deck is in those areas. They may not be indicative of anything wrong, but there is a slight possibility that the core has deteriorated somewhat there and that the deck has been able to "pump" a bit as the boat sails and the crew stands on those areas. Or there may have been a lot of strain on the clutches, pulling the deck up...

The reason I wonder about this is that the cracks are long and unidirectional. They are not the concentric indicators of pressure such as we see near the stanchion.

Probably nothing wrong with the boat at all, I tend to be a bit of a pessimist when I look at boats. Have it surveyed and let's hope that everything is fine.

It may be worth taking the clutch off and looking to see if there is core material in that area.

Good Luck ! :)
 

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cap'n chronic
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If you tear the upper layer of glass off an area with a 15% moisture reading the core will still be solid.
Its when you start getting readings over 20% that you have to start worrying and at over 25% that the core starts to turn to paste.
30% and there are likely signs of delamination already.
Even if there are spots with 30% and some with 10, the bad spots can be repaired and isolated with solid glass as to prevent spreading.
Im having sections in my deck recored (3 relatively small spots on the deck and the cockpit floor) in 2 weeks and its going to cost me close to $10,000 including refinishing the complete deck.
On survey the rest of the boat was perfect.Its got a solid glass hull and the bulkheads,chainplates and overall structure were perfect.
When I bought the boat this contributed to a very, very low purchase price.
When I get the boat back the topsides are going to look like new and I know ill have a solid boat and still be under market value for what ive spent to date.The fact that the topsides will look fresh will also add to my investment.
I cant understand what people expect when they are looking at older boats?
You wont find a perfect used boat.
I can understand walking if say, the boat needs $10,000 in repairs and the owner is expecting top $ for it, but if you can buy a boat that needs some tlc cheap enough to pay a pro to fix it and stay under market value than why not? heck, get it cheap enough and think of what else you can do.
Dont discount some of these boats, just get a good survey done and then get
a quote in writing from a repair shop prior to making an offer.
 

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I cant understand what people expect when they are looking at older boats?
You wont find a perfect used boat.
I second this. I bought a boat in great condition (for a 20 year old craft) at market price. Everything on the boat is getting replaced over the first few years, and then she's heading off for the Awlgrip and we'll probably rip open the decks too because there's likely something wrong after 20 years.

It will cost me close to what I paid for the boat, but I end up with a great-sailing boat, in better than new condition, for about 35% of what it would cost me to buy her new today. Assuming I could find one that sails as well...

:)
 

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Learning the HARD way...
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Discussion Starter · #25 ·
Moisture meters work by measuring the resistance in electromagnetic field and there is many ways which they can be fooled. A high reading may mean that the deck section is slightly thicker where you are measuring or that the core is not the same material in the area you are comparing to your reference location.
With respect, no. Don't confuse a moisture meter with a stud finder...
From another post of mine elsewhere in this forum;
According to the manufacturer, pinless meters (ie CT-33) actually measure the capacitance, that is the ability of the material to store an electrical charge. In effect the back of the meter has an electric plate, which acts as one plate of a capacitor. The water, which is conductive, acts as the other plate, and the fiberglass, which does not, is a dielectric between the two plates. This is why moisture (dew) on the surface of the fiberglass dry will give spurious (high) readings.

Primarily what I look for is large variations around chainplates, deck mounted Genoa track (often a culprit), and other penetrations.
Right on!! The theory of how they work is less important than where and how you test, and interpret the results.

I bring a deck / hull diagram with me, and make sure that my meter is calibrated immediately before I use it (it can vary from day to day with humidity) and try to establish a baseline on the particular boat that I am checking. The baseline reading is at a point that I feel confident has not been compromised by moisture. I then at moisture prone areas, and only look for large variations in the readings. I have found that most decks that I have checked have a baseline, on the CT-33 meter, between 5 and 10. When I see the needle pass 25% I note that area as being "moist" on my diagram. I then search around the deck and continue to note the 25% moisture cline on my diagram as I scan around.
The thickness of the overall deck has no bearing on my moisture meter, an electrophysics CT-33.

The meter can be affected by surface moisture, or a difference in the thickness of the outer skin of the deck over a wet hull. The change in reading, however would have an inverse relationship to the thickness of the hull. Here is why: assuming that there is moisture in the core, and the level of moisture remains constant, as the outer thickness of the deck increases, the spacing between the conductive plate on the back of the meter, and the wet core increases, and the moisture reading should fall.

I agree with you that different woods will read differently. Each species of wood has a different ideal moisture level, and will dry out at different rate.

Ed
 

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STARBOARD!!
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It is easy to visualise those cracks apppearing as lateral force is put on the stanchion in an outboard direction, compressing the deck slightly between the gunwale and the stanchion, with the result being that crazing that occurred. It radiates outward from the single pressure point.
Yes; or the core is bad beneath the stanchion allowing it to flex too much when pushed against (like if the PO pulled the boat up to the dock by pulling on the stanchions). This sort of thing also happens where turning blocks pull laterally against the deck; especially if they are mounted on risers.

The cracks in the other two pictures make me wonder a bit about how stiff/strong the deck is in those areas. They may not be indicative of anything wrong, but there is a slight possibility that the core has deteriorated somewhat there and that the deck has been able to "pump" a bit as the boat sails and the crew stands on those areas.
Well being a Cal it's possible that there is soft core (at the companionway) and the upper skin is so thick that it is deflecting slightly; but is not "springy" feeling because that area is not spanning the entire coach roof. But yes; cracks like these do indicate some movement/flexing. On the corner next to the anchor locker; it could just be from an un-supported section of deck at that corner; and old age.

cnc33voodoo said:
Im having sections in my deck recored (3 relatively small spots on the deck and the cockpit floor) in 2 weeks and its going to cost me close to $10,000 including refinishing the complete deck. On survey the rest of the boat was perfect.Its got a solid glass hull and the bulkheads,chainplates and overall structure were perfect.
Yes; having a yard do this work is expensive. If you DIY it it's cheap; but it takes time. In some ways I feel that if you can fill the bad areas with thinned epoxy; it's better to defer doing a full-on deck re-core until it is truly "needed". Do a quick fix and go sailing!

Yes; those were my reasons for buying my C&C designed Newport 41. Structurally it was in great shape for it's age. Rough around the edges but recently (1 year prior) re-rigged with new sails and furler. Just needed some brightwork and a new head.

When I bought the boat this contributed to a very, very low purchase price.When I get the boat back the topsides are going to look like new and I know ill have a solid boat and still be under market value for what ive spent to date.The fact that the topsides will look fresh will also add to my investment. I cant understand what people expect when they are looking at older boats?You wont find a perfect used boat.
No; you won't find a perfect used boat or a boat that was perfectly maintained. I find it amusing sometimes when surveyors point out all of the non-ABYC stuff on boats that were built before ABYC even existed! I don't expect to buy a boat that was completely re-built to todays standards; and both the buyer and seller should not be punished by such "findings" when it comes to boats that were built in a different era. Good to know and be aware of for when it's time to upgrade systems; but not necessary to be "fixed" because that's just how the boat was made to begin with.
 

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STARBOARD!!
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Ed-

I don't think your meter is sending any current through the deck; it's sending out a E/M FIELD. The field is affected by the presence of moisture; but it is also affected by the density of the materials that it passes through. Believe me on this. If it were true that the "electrophysics" unit you have only measured moisture in the core; then how would it be possible to measure moisture in a solid glass hull? The answer is that it only measures relative moisture content; that is the moisture level is in reference to a dry section of the same cross section (with the exact same composition).

If it were me; I would set the meter to measure 5% moisture on the side of the boat hull above the waterline. Double check those readings at different locations on the hull (it should be dry glass on the sides). Then check a spot on the deck that you are fairly sure is dry. It should read a bit higher or lower but if it is close to the 5% reading from earlier go ahead and start checking the suspect areas. If it is reading 20% then go back to the side of the boat and adjust it to read 0% (should then yield 15% on the dry deck). Re-check the deck and subtract the reference value (15%) from where you are sure it is dry from the other areas of the deck and you will know how wet those areas are (unless there is a difference in the core material; then it could easily read higher or lower).

The electrophysics meter is a very basic moisture meter; and can easily be fooled and is best "interpreted" with a grain of salt. There are other meters that are much more expensive that use RF to measure moisture content. My surveyor had one of these ~$600 units and said that the basic meters could not measure anything but moisture at the outer layers of the FG at best.
 

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Dirt Free
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Moisture meters do not measure moisture (pinless types measure capacitance) therefore cannot possibly tell you 15% or 30%. I suggest you read this before you pull out that meter again.

moisture meters
 

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Telstar 28
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STARBOARD!!
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I hate to say this; but putting a moisture meter directly next to items like chainplates and cleats is asking for an erroneous reading. In addition if you don't know the structure of the deck below the meter the meter might give a reading that is incorrect. Sorry, but many of Maine Sail's examples are flawed and unless you know how to properly use the tool; you might as well turn down every boat you see because you will get bad readings on every boat you test.
 

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cap'n chronic
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You cant beat a little brass hammer, sure, but when your getting the work done and they start tearing up your decks and realise they need to go further, well, thats a phonecall you dont want.
Thats when you start thinking of other uses for that brass hammer.
I took what my surveyer said with a grain of salt, since he wouldnt be the one fixing it.
Before I made an offer on the boat I had a repair shop check out the boat and their numbers were twice that of the surveyor.
after getting second and third opinions not even one shop was less than twice the price of what the surveyor said it "should be".
Most shops want nothing to do with this type of work and tend to quote on the high side.
Its unfair but to be realistic if your going to get involved in something like this you need to base your numbers on written quotes.
 

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cap'n chronic
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You cant beat a little brass hammer, sure, but when your getting the work done and they start tearing up your decks and realise they need to go further, well, thats a phonecall you dont want.
Thats when you start thinking of other uses for that brass hammer.
I took what my surveyer said with a grain of salt, since he wouldnt be the one fixing it.
Before I made an offer on the boat I had a repair shop check out the boat and their numbers were twice that of the surveyor.
after getting second and third opinions not even one shop was less than twice the price of what the surveyor said it "should be".
Most shops want nothing to do with this type of work and tend to quote on the high side.
Its unfair but to be realistic if your going to get involved in something like this you need to base your numbers on written quotes.
 

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I find this a very interesting thread. Being that moisture meters are beyond me, I had to go on what I could see and the input from a surveyor that came highly recommended on this site. After nearly a year of looking at used boats, I bought a very sound looking boat that got a very clean survey. Still, I found there were over a thousand dollars worth of work needed on the rigging and I recently found I have some level of moisture in the deck as evidenced by the brown goo leaking into the interior. Neither item was evident in my detailed inspection of the boat over 3 or more visits and neither was even hinted at in the survey, using a moisture meter and a brass hammer over the entire boat.

I sure wish I could devise some repair technique that would adequately address minor dampness in the core, because I could become rich fixing othewise nice boats that have some dampness in their cored decks. As it is, I'm with the crew that can only try to stop further water ingress, and sail the boat, or choose to stay on the dock and wish.
 

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Learning the HARD way...
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Discussion Starter · #36 ·
A bit more detail...

Again, I'm still looking to see if anyone knows if CAL used a balsa core in the hull of the mid eighties CAL 33...

One additional area of interest on this particular boat was the cockpit sole. I noticed that it had been completely re-covered with something that looked like coarse grout. It did not match the non-skid on the rest of the boat in either color or texture.



I did the moisture meter thing and found that there were spots in the low 20s. I know that it is non-skid mixed with paint, and possibly epoxy. I could not access below the cockpit at the time (the locker was full of the owner's stuff, and the rear ¼berth was filled with cushions.)

Thoughts? - Or, shoud I have the surveyor ferret it out.

Thanks!!!

- Ed
 

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STARBOARD!!
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OK; I'd say that anything built in the mid-80's most likely has balsa coring in the decks. The first reason is weight; but more importantly cost. In areas where strength is needed; plywood might also be used.

The cockpit sole could have been re-textured; or re-cored. Or it's possible that it has a core problem that was inexpensively repaired (drill/fill) and poorly re-textured; probably more likely. Items packed beneath the cockpit would make one wonder about what is wrong in there that a seller would not want you to see. A boat should be open and ready to be looked at in every location not just on the exterior and in the main cabin areas.

You could either ask to spend an afternoon onboard looking through every area of the boat; or you could ask the surveyor to thoroughly check the areas of concern. What you first need to decide is if this example is clean enough to be worth it to you to deal with the obvious sore spots and the ones that the surveyor also finds. If not; what price for the boat do you think would be a fair/proper adjustment for the problem areas?

If you don't think the price would ever go down to the point where you think you are getting a good deal then there is no reason to hire the surveyor. If you are willing to wait for a better example to come along; then it takes the pressure off on this particular boat. If you want to get out on the water this season, then it might be a boat that you are willing to pay a bit more for if the seller is not willing to drop his price much in respect of the deck issues (and others that the surveyor may find). You need to make the decision of "what's it worth to me" and then either go for it or pass depending on what the seller will agree to.
 

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Again, I'm still looking to see if anyone knows if CAL used a balsa core in the hull of the mid eighties CAL 33...
I looked personally at four of the Cal 33-2s, they all had solid glass hulls, I'd bet that the one you are looking as does also...not likely they made a one-off. As I said before I have never heard of any Cal with a cored hull.
 
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