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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So, the stars aligned and I bought a small sailboat for my wife and I. It's a Venture 17, which although perhaps not the boat of my dreams, is a good compromise design for us, being big enough to have a small cabin, and small enough to be towed behind my S-10. (I currently live in SW Florida, and I'm just unwilling to spend $200-$300 a month for a patch of water to float my boat on!) Besides, if I really wanted to go fast, I'd take up flying again!:D

The condition of the boat is surprisingly good given the price (it even floats!). No blisters, keel cable recently replaced, and I couldn't detect any soft spots on the hull anywhere! The original owner also decked in the interior, and while reducing the usable space, the area below the deck was filled with foam blocks to aid flotation.

I did have to replace one shroud, the p.o. managed to cross the battery terminals with it, and the arc damage was too severe to ignore. Fortunately, a rigging shop was just down the road, so I'm back in business.

There are a few items that need seeing to, of course. The original owner left it out in the weather year round, and there is significant crazing along the topdeck where it turns down to the gunwhale. There are also a few spots where the finish has been either worn off (by an anchor line, I suspect, despite the two guides on the bow!), or cracked away to reveal the glass. Looking at this, it would seem that the finish is quite thin, which makes me wonder if it's gelcoat or some other kind of finish. The attached photos illustrate the problems, if I can get them posted:





How do I repair damage like this? Forgive my ignorance, but is there some kind of bondo-like product I can use to protect the glass before repainting the boat? I've been told that the cracks will need to be opened up before I can fill them effectively. Also, what kind of paint to repaint a boat? Although I've been on boats since I was about 2, this is the first time I've really had to do any maintenance. (Grandpa's boat was a garage queen!)

Other than the finish issue, I would like to add some cam cleats to the gunwales for the jib sheets, right now we only have standard cleats.

Thanks in advance for any help you can provide!!!
 

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Those stress cracks indicate a weakness in the laminate that is allowing movement. In order to fully fix it, you'll need to either identify the weakness or stiffen the laminate by adding stringers to the underside. Even if you grind the cracks and fill them with thickened epoxy, they'll reappear in your new paint before too long.

You may want to think about just living with them and enjoying the boat. Certainly get some sailing time in before you try this repair.
 

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Montgomery 17
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Tortuga, what part of SW Florida are you in? My boat is in Panama City, Fl.

Sounds like you have yourself a nice project boat to learn on. Thats how got into it myself and I think its a pretty good way to go about it. You can try the repair yourself and if you screw up, its not that big of a deal.

Anyways, check out my website in my signature and go to the Sailboat Projects page and you should be able to find answers to most of your questions: paint, crazing (the cracks) and more. If not, ask away here.

Good luck with your boat! Its alot of fun making an oler boat like new again.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Can't get my fingernail in all but a couple of the cracks, they are too fine for that. In the spots that are big enough, the laminate looks to be intact. The deck is very stiff , so I'm not sure where the weakness could be. My understanding is that the original owner left the boat out in the sun all year sans cover, which caused the cracking.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Also, thanks for the link! I'll be messing with the boat a little in the morning, so I'll dig around a bit and see how serious these cracks really are. What's interesting is that the cracks don't seem to appear around the chainplates or other stress areas. Oh well, as long as the damn thing will float, I'm not going to complain too much!!

We don't have Menard's down here, was it store brand epoxy? I do have a west marine close by, what kind of products do I need when I start the repair process?

Got a new shroud today at the rigger's shop, so we're good to go on that score!
 

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Congratulations on your new vessel !

The cracks/crazing don't appear too serious. They can (sometimes) occur as a result of the boat flexing over the years. As well, in the early days of fibreglass produciton, there was a tendency on the part of builders to make overly thick gel coats which were given to crazing.

UV damage would also be a contributing factor...however - enough of the past.

Repairing them is not too difficult. If you are wanting to bring the boat back to "Bristol Condition" my suggestion would be to get some polyester resin and hardener. Mix a very small amount of filler in with it - light sandable stuff NOT silica - but maintain a smooth pourable consistency.

Use a paintbrush to paint a light coat over the cracked areas. Let it harden and then sand it flat using med fine to fine paper. It will probably take a few coats to fill in some of the deeper areas so continue patiently until your deck is smooth.

The reason for using polyester resin rather than epoxy is that the epoxy is much harder than the resin. If you try to sand the epoxy flat in such small areas you are going to end up removing all of the gel-coat and not much of the epoxy.

Once you have a smooth boat, clean her all over with quick wipes of acetone and then paint on a two-part polyurethane finish. You'll be amazed at how beautiful she looks with a little love :)
 

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Montgomery 17
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Tomorrow you can decide what needs fixing and what you can live with. Depending on how much you spent on the boat, fixing the crazing may or may not be worth it, its up to you.

Epoxy, when you go to WM there is the West System Epoxy. Great stuff, they have all you need but it is a little expensive. I wouldn't recommend sinking a bunch of money into a boat that you may not keep long or didn't spend much on unless you think you can get the money back out of it when you sell it.

But take a good look in the morning and decide what needs fixing and what you can live with. Like you said as long as it floats it doesn't matter.
 

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Congratulations on your new vessel !

...Repairing them is not too difficult. .... my suggestion would be to get some polyester resin and hardener. Mix a very small amount of filler in with it - light sandable stuff NOT silica - .....

Use a paintbrush to paint a light coat over the cracked areas. ....

The reason for using polyester resin rather than epoxy is that the epoxy is much harder than the resin. ......

Once you have a smooth boat, clean her all over with quick wipes of acetone and then paint on a two-part polyurethane finish. ...... :)
I'm sorry, but this is a lot of bad advice in one thread, particularly to someone that JUST bought their first boat.

1. Polyester resin is commonly used when boats are built as it's much cheaper than epoxy, but it has very poor secondary bonding characteristics. In other words, it's inferior for repairs. In almost all circumstances, use epoxy.

2. When filling any crack, you need to grind it out. The resin fairing fillers are easy to sand is because they are designed only for fairing; if your fixing/filling something, use colloidal silica for strength.

3. Apply thickened epoxy with a plastic wedge. You can wet out (meaning apply unthickened epoxy first) with a paintbrush, but you'll never adequately fill what you're trying to fill with a paintbrush.

4. The hardness of resins is more a function of the filler than epoxy vs polyester

5. About the few quick wipes of acetone and a two-part polyurethane paint job comment...I can't think of a faster way to spend $500 on paint and materials and end up with a horrible looking boat.

Any boat paint job requires massive prep work. There is no easy way to do it. You have to want it and be wiling to commit the time and dollars. This is particularly true of 2 part LPU paints. The 2 parts are absolutely worth it, but are also unforgiving paints. I have painted several boats with both one and two part.

ALSO, those stress cracks result from movement of the laminate, not UV. If the movement isn't addressed, they'll show right back up through the epoxy and new paint. Guaranteed. So, leave them be (they don't hurt anything), go sail the boat and have a blast with it and, down the road, if you want to do a big project, go for it.
 

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Hi, Tortuga and congratulations on your new boat.

Although the SailNet community is a wonderful resource, and great fun, you will already be getting a full flavor of the range of advice you can end up with!

My advice would be to go along with what a number of guys have already said, which is to live with the cracks for a while and just enjoy sailing the boat. If you do decide to repair (now or later) then go for the full works. "Quick and easy" repairs almost always disappoint very quickly.

There is good information at BoatUS.com: BoatTECH Guides

Good luck and, most of all, enjoy! :)

Stuart
 

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Spam, Food of the Seagods
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One thing about opinions is, you can get 100 and each be different.

If, you can get a large % of opinions that seem to say the same thing, you may follow that advise with "fair" results that you can be happy with.

I guessing you not spend much for this boat, maybe $1,500? If, more that OK too.

I like the ideas of enjoying the boat as is.
Buy a can of fine rubbing compound and buff her until she shine "best she will".

Boats like this are fun not work. You can flip her, dip her and beach her without worrying about scratching her.

You can experiment with ideas. This size you may want to buy a small AGM Battery (riding lawnmower size) and about as cheap as you can buy them. Use it on the mower and boat! Learn how they work and experiment with a small solar charger or alternator rigged up for wind.

What you learn playing now, you can use later should you buy bigger. Many small things can be transferred to your next boat, AGM could be used for a stand alone windlass/radio power or something.

When your wife say the yard need mowing you can say; "Awe honey the battery is on the boat, lets go play first then I can mow"! Remember to take wine for the night and some munchies.

If you start spending money on gel coat and major un-fun work, soon you have another $1,500 invested and be wishing you bought the $3,000 boat that was bigger and looked better.

But, this just my opinion. ;-)
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Actually, didn't spend anywhere close to $1500. Got the boat and trailer for $400, and the pictures I posted show the worst examples of the damage I'm looking at. I figured at that price, even if it were a junker, I could donate it to NPR and get a charitable contribution for taxes! I did pick up a used copy of Don Casey's "Complete Illustrated Sailboat Maintenance Manual", so between that and the advice I've gotten from the interwebs, I should be good to go (when I get around to it, of course!:D )

1st thing I want to do is add some cam cleats for the jib sheets. Will post with results!

Thanks all!
 

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Cool

Actually, didn't spend anywhere close to $1500. Got the boat and trailer for $400, and the pictures I posted show the worst examples of the damage I'm looking at.
Just wanted to say; you think like me on this. Many times I have bought a cheap boat and play around with it. Then give it away.

I been looking at an old Columbia 8.3 meter (Dry Docked for years). It have an old Atomic 4. Water in the bilge. Smells like mold and mildew inside. :(

If, I can pick it up at a reasonable price it give me something to do when it cold, rain and and I want something to do. :rolleyes:

I not put my life saving into it, but, I have a few experimental ideas I like to try with generating electricity.
 
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