2013, April 15th. Prepare for launch.

A rumination about owning an older sailboat.

I had been warned when we first bought “Odalisque” ten years ago that more maintenance items would come due quicker than with a newer, perhaps more expensive boat. “Odalisque” is now 45 years old and while she is still a distinguished lady some of her older parts need helping or fixing now.

I don’t think much of the idea of selling my current boat for something bigger, or better. It is a logical thought to have but I feel quite attached to the old boat we do own and hope to be able to keep up with the “honey do” list of the devil we know quite well. Every boat comes with it’s own set of issues whether known or suspected. At least we know what maintenance has not been done and what we should be expecting to fail next with “Odalisque”.

We replaced the prop shaft and attendant bearings two years ago and a head gasket replacement last year so what’s next? The hot exhaust system? Maybe next year. This year the hot item at the top of the list is the fairly common deck re-core project.

A stanchion on our port deck near the cockpit got yanked badly last year and our boat rode out hurricane Sandy on her mooring. She has had some issues with sponginess on the side decks in the past; not surprisingly at the lowest spots for standing water to sit when she is on her cradle on the hard.

Here are some photos to show what I’m talking about.
lower skin
lower skin
rotten core

For those of you who own homes this situation would be like having a leaking roof every time it rained. There was a lot of water in the bilge come March when I realized how bad the situation was; plenty of moisture and mildew; not good. It took nearly 15 minutes for the electric bilge pump running on fully charged batteries to clear out the water; also not good.

The decks must be cleared! Clear the decks!

At least I do have some experience working with epoxy, fillers and cloth but not a whole lot. This will be a “big” job for me but I am looking forward to fixing this problem.

My online research has been fairly extensive; asking people about deck re-core work on a few forums like my Tartan 27 list and Moyer Marine’s forum.

Ask 4 sailors one question and you will get 5 different answers. This always seems to be true. I began to feel a bit unsure of which way to choose until I had to reckon with what my own parameters are; this could not cost a whole lot, I had to do it myself so it has to be in my comfort zone, I’m not crazy about using any kind of wood as core for my boat. I was looking for a fairly inexpensive 1/2″ core material that cost around what plywood costs. I found it with the help of Howard Crisp out in Grand Rapids, MI on the Moyer Moyer marine forum.

The reason you can get so many divergent answers from a wide group of people is that there are many ways to accomplish the same thing depending on your particular ideas about appropriate boat building materials and methods. I have seen the Liquid-Nails adhesive used to patch up a Sunfish hull. Believe it or not it works pretty well. Would I use it on my boat? Not if I can help it.

So the current plan is to cut approximately a 1′ x 8′ section of each side deck from the top, remove the upper skin with the intent to reuse it, clean out old core material and replace with epoxy, core, cloth and fillers as necessary, then re-glue the original skin. If the original skin does not work out I have enough new cloth to do the job. This work will be done while tied up to a dock which should just make it slightly more challenging.

I’ll see how it goes.

On the bright side “Odalisque” now has fresh bottom paint and will be ready for her scheduled launch on April 21st.

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4 Responses to 2013, April 15th. Prepare for launch.

  1. Freddie Estremera says:

    So is she in the water? you start the recore yet?

  2. Christopher Keller says:

    I have lots of epoxie experience, particularly with the additives. Who ever thought balsa would be a good material for encapsulation should have been keel-hauled.

    • Caleb says:

      Yes. It seemed like a good idea at the time.
      I’ve got some hdpe (plastic) honeycomb core material that will be used instead of Balsa or plywood.
      I also do not understand why someone would go through the hassle of re-coring their boat only to put wood back in the decks again, but lots of people use plywood for a deck core material.
      In any event, the real work begins tomorrow.

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