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Discussion Starter #1
I'm about to purchase a 1985 Catalina 36. Just had it surveyed today, and the bottom showed some blistering, though the surveyor said there had been a barrier coat applied. One side was almost clean of blisters, but the port side had maybe 60 osmotic blisters on it, most of them the size of a shirt button, but about 15 of them silver dollar size.

Trying to decide how much of a problem this will be down the road. Would love any advice.

Robert N
 

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Robert...I assume the surveyor gave you his opinion on the severity of the issue and that you wouldn't be asking us if he said the problem was structural.
So...the question is what to do.
First...if the present owner was not aware of the blisters, he is probably in shock about how much $$ he will have to 1. Spend to fix it or 2. Take off the price of the boat to sell it as is.

Properly stripping, DRYING OUT and repairing a bottom with blisters takes a lot of TIME and $$. My guess is that the WHOLE bottom has high moisture content and you'll get many more blisters over the next few years.
Opinions vary as to how much of a problem this is but it is for sure a major problem when it comes to re-sale.
If you were buying a less common boat that you were in love with, I'd say go ahead and get a major price reduction based on the price a yard would charge to do a whole bottom job and your lost time (figure 6 months).
Then you could go sailing this season and get the job done at haulout time.

But Catalina 36's are common boats and you should be able to find one with no bottom problems or a bottom that has already been fixed, so my advice in this case would be to walk away and find another. There are 127 available on yacht world today.
http://www.yachtworld.com/core/listing/cache/searchResults.jsp?cit=true&ybw=&slim=quick&sm=3&is=&type=&man=catalin&luom=126&fromLength=36&toLength=36&fromYear=&toYear=&currencyid=100&fromPrice=&toPrice=&cint=
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thanks so much for the reply. This is very good advice. The
bottom was recently painted, and it's hard to believe the yard didn't inform the owner of the blister problem at that time. Since I got burned badly 2 boats ago with a Peterson 30 which, upon sale, was discovered to have delamination, I asked specifically if this boat had a blister problem and was told it didn't.

The surveyor cited (rightly) that at this stage it wasn't yet a structural problem. But, as you said, it's only going to get worse. He estimated 2 - 4 years before it would have to be stripped. I just wanted to get a couple of extra opinions. It's such a nice boat and really got a clean survey other than the blistering.

Robert
 

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Blisters are due to age and the construction/chemistry of the lay up. You could spend thousands of dollars to strip the bottom, grind out all the blisters, refinish and have a beautiful "New Bottom" and Guess what??? you wake up and discover the Pox has returned to the boat and you have blisters on the hull once again.. If you can convence the owners of the boat to reduce the price because of them :D Great. Then when you do your bottom paint grind out a few blisters, you know, the ones that really annoy you. Then, let them dry out, fill them with epoxy, apply your new bottom paint and go sailing. You can't see them or feel them when your sailing so my advise is to sail often. Blisters will not slow you down nor diminish the value of your boat, it's just puberty for a fiberglass vessel. This advise is from a boat owner with a fine bottom and a soft deck :( . $13,000.00 to repair is unlucky I'l have to wait it's $14k

Fair Winds,

Bill
 

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Heynewt...yeah familiar with his writing on the issue. Kinda like gloal warming...different points of view from equally talented and experienced folks. That's why I said that the only thing for sure blisters will do is lower the re-sale price of a boat dramatically since no one wants to BUY a boat with blisters.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Yes, I agree, and I understood that's the point you were making. Personally, I'm not worried about the blisters actually affecting the integrity of the hull at all. They won't for the few years I plan on owning the boat for sure. But am I going to be the one who is asked to discount the price by, say, $9000 when I sell it. I imagine it will depend on the buyer.

Thanks again for the advice. I've decided to wait until I receive the surveyor's written report rather than just his off-the-cuff comments yesterday. How serious he cites it as a problem in the official report will be the final deciding factor.

Robert
 

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Hey Heynewt,

Very cool article about blistering. It eases my mind about this issue, and provides a good dose of reality vs. a boatyard drumming up business.

good on ya, M6
 

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More important than the visable blisters is the total moisture content of a hull. The only accurate way to determine what the problem really look like is to do a laminate profile. This unfortunatly is a test that requires repair afterwards. Personally I would go with Camraderie on this one.. skip the boat and find another - it's a very common boat so finding one should not be hard. Only exeception in my mind is that if the price becomes too good to be true -- i.e. owner does not want to deal with a repair and is willing to discount full cost of a proper job and the lower resale a fixed hull might be worth.
 

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Not sure where you are but if you are in a cold climate, and the boat has been stored outside there may well not have been blisters on it last fall. When freezing occurs, they can appear. Basically, the water that is in the top layer of the hull under the paint pools, and then expands. January and February are excellent times to inspect boats because of this.

Me - I would be worried. Regardless of what your surveyor says, before you buy the boat, go back and pop one of the blisters. If the fluid that comes out is colourless, and the blister drains quite quickly, it is only semi-serious. If the fluid that comes out is tinged with yellow or brown, you have a very serious problem, as the water has started to eat the styrene away. Also, if it continues to ooze, you know that there is a lot of water in there.

Personally - I wouldn't buy a boat that had more then one or two very minor blisters on it. My rationale is that anyone who let the blisters progress to a substantive point, probably didn't spend a lot of time maintaining the boat generally - hence there are liable to be other issues...but it's your call...
 

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BTW, be careful if you're going to inspect the blisters. Blisters may contain liquid under fairly high pressure, and the liquid can be fairly caustic... so full eye protection is highly recommended.
 
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