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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I found an interesting boat -1986 Helmsman. Looks to have been built in Denmark and or Germany for the "rough seas of Northern Europe" (according to the spec sheet). Has a balsa cored hull. I have read most of the threads on this topic. This particular boat appears to be in great condition, but it has been out of the water for some time. Survey is pending.

Aside from those who think cored hulls are a non-starter, the consensus seems to be that it all depends on the quality of the build. How might I assess this given the fact that the builder is not so well known and there are few examples around?

Any thoughts / advice would be appreciated.

Thanks
 

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Sailboats built by Helmsman Yachts by year on Sailboatdata.com

They seem to have made a variety of types, from cutaway keel/attached rudder type to typical finkeel/spade designs from a number of designers.

Good looking boats for the most part, can't help on the actual build quality issue, but they look pretty good. European quality is often considered in the upper half of that scale.

Where are you located? One of the things about a 'rare breed' like this is you can often get a great deal (and sometimes a great boat!) due to the market's unfamiliarity, but be prepared to suffer the same fate on a subsequent resale.

On the cored hull issue, a good surveyor, and any data you might gather on the construction techniques, the extent of the coring can help with the confidence you'll have going forward.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks for the input. I'm in Maine.

I did a quick search on Nicholson 345 and your boat looks very similar in design from photos. Does your boat also have a fractional rig with running backstays? I have not sailed this rig before and I'm wondering what it means for singlehanded or two person sailing. Do the backstays require constant tending for the structural stability of the rig or can you set them and sail?

If I can get past the balsa cored hull issue (both with the survey and psychologically), it looks to be a great boat.
 

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This is what to look out for;


This was a 1989(1990?) Pearson 34-II. My meter pegged at this spot, and all the way from here down to the keel. The rest of the hull was OK as far as my meter was concerned... I thought that it needed a coat of bottom paint.
 

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Are you looking at the Athena 34? Yes they are similar.

We do have a frac, but have not been using the running backstay/checkstays. We lose some pointing ability I suppose but we're not racing and can't be bothered with the hassle - and they are in the way of the normal helm position upwind as well because of cockpit layout. Our rig does not depend on them; some really do.

Love the Frac rig, though, small headsails and kites means we fly the spinns a lot with just the two of us, easy tacking/gybing, adjustable sailplan. We're running a 120% headsail with a 90% in reserve for those days that need it. We carry a symmetrical spinn and a small Asymm as well.

Off for seven weeks of cruising in a few minutes, so can't continue this conversation for the moment.. good luck with your decisions!
 

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This is what to look out for;


This was a 1989(1990?) Pearson 34-II. My meter pegged at this spot, and all the way from here down to the keel. The rest of the hull was OK as far as my meter was concerned... I thought that it needed a coat of bottom paint.
Those circular marks looks like it bounced off of a submerged piling or something. But looks like it could easily be passed off as bottom paint for sure!
 

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Athena 34? Designed by Håkan Södergren?

Considered to be of good to high quality, at least 4/5. Designed in the early 1980-ies (or late 70-ties). Usually priced above average in that size here where Athena 34 is not unusual.
Sails quite well.

There could be different rigs, most usual is to have single pair of spreaders, sligthly pointing back => runners are not necessary, but is used by most to improve pointing ability just as Faster mentions.

Not difficult to use short-handed, requires saome training and then one has got used to it. Many Athenas has a self-tacking arrangement. If so, there is the possibility to focus on the runners when tacking.

There are many opinions on cored hulls, which also be seen on this site. Cored hulls offers ligther hull and some insulation which is good to have in a colder climate. Boat I have now has a cored hull, there is no bad smell at all in the boat which usually is inevitable with non-cored hulls.
The downside is what many focus on: if water penetrates inte the core layer then there are problems. This is a minor issue if the hull is core from waterline and up, which often is the case. Check!

Helmsman series includes many other as the Lady, Lord, Carerra .. all very popular here - all these mentioned are narrow and long.

/J
 

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Eliminating balsa/wood cored hulls would really leave a lot of boats off the list.

I WAS hoping to see an piece by piece of how to repair waterlogged core. The boats I can afford are mostly cored hulls and many have waterlogged/soft core above the waterline.

One of the things I liked about my Capri 25 was that it wasn't a balsa cored hull, unlike other boats similar in design/performance/size as my Capri (J/24, J22, S2 7.9, etc). I'm considering moving up to an S2 9.1, or even 7.9, looked at some older Js, like the 30 and 27... and all have balsa cored decks. It's common to come into some soft spots.
 

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Eliminating balsa/wood cored hulls would really leave a lot of boats off the list.

I WAS hoping to see an piece by piece of how to repair waterlogged core. The boats I can afford are mostly cored hulls and many have waterlogged/soft core above the waterline.

One of the things I liked about my Capri 25 was that it wasn't a balsa cored hull, unlike other boats similar in design/performance/size as my Capri (J/24, J22, S2 7.9, etc). I'm considering moving up to an S2 9.1, or even 7.9, looked at some older Js, like the 30 and 27... and all have balsa cored decks. It's common to come into some soft spots.
Big difference between cored hull and cored deck. The vast majority of decks are cored with either with balsa or foam. Repairs on decks are fairly straight forward. There is some good info posted by Calib. I have not seen much on doing hull cores. I imagine it would be similar but more sealing afterwards. Many J boats do have cored hulls but I was not aware S2 did as well. But if you get high moisture readings either get a big price reduction and fix it or walk. Does not seem like a fun job but not impossible either.

Sent from my NookColor using Tapatalk
 

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Tackled a foam cored hull earlier this year. Cut out about 2 sq ft of hull and foam core. Used polyester resin to fill then glassed over and finished with a couple coats of epoxy. It was way easier than I expected it to be. Using polyester made for very quick work as it sets up and can be sanded in about 20 minutes versus 8-12 hours for epoxy. Working with a larger area would be more difficult but I dont know that balsa versus foam would be any more difficult.
Dont say no just because its a cored hull.
 

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The way I repair:

IF you can, cut the exterior layer/gelcoat whatever off carefully, in something like a nice rectangle or square, so you can just patch that back in and not have to fair as much back in after you lay the new core down.

Dig out the wet core.

Wet out the area with epoxy, and then lay in structural foam. Even if the boat is balsa, I use foam to fix it. If the area is curved, you can find laser-cut foam on a 'glass backing. here are examples of foam
Sandwich Core Composite Materials

Since you've done a nice job cutting off the exterior layer, you can now wet out the foam and glue that piece of gelcoat and glass back on and fair that in without too much work.

here's an example, albeit in an area where I didn't need to worry about a pretty finish:

Rotten wood under a portlight, it's a wall between the head and a cockpit locker:


Cut that stuff OUT!



Fit in your foam:


Glue in and 'glass in:



hope this helps

edit: BTW the greatest thing since sliced bread is the new reciprocating saw thingies that allow you to get into tight areas and really control cut depth...
 

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Hi Jonah - I may be looking at same Helmsman in RI - did you ever complete the survey?
Cored hull and its sitting in water currently so I think a survey is a bit difficult
 
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