Saturday, 31 March 2012

Back to the main problem - dampness in the foam

Getting back to the catamaran after a break building the dinghy, I spent a day mapping dampness in every part of the boat with the moisture meter. I'm not sure why I haven't done this as thoroughly before. Most of the problem areas are in the coachroof, but there's a bit of water in the starboard deck, and there is dampness in the hulls close to the daggerboard cases. It seemed like a big problem and I spent a day regretting not building my own boat from scratch so that I am not chasing around problems caused by other people's poor workmanship. And wondering what the hell to do about it all. How to get the water out? How to assess the damage the water may have caused? Maybe I can just get the water out in some areas, and the laminate might be OK. Other places I'll have to replace fibreglass, or both a layer of glass and the foam beneath.

When you've got a big problem that you don't know how best to deal with it, find someone else who is already dealing with the same problem. Or even better, someone with a bigger problem that can put yours into perspective.

There's a boat yard just 400 metres from my house. In a shed in there is a 39' foam sandwich catamaran that has the gel coat stripped away to deal with an osmosis problem. Water is dripping out in a couple of places. With the gel coat removed, the outer layer of glass is clearly visible, and the foam below that. I went to visit with my moisture meter. I was relieved to see that where the moisture levels were high, there were very few places that had any sign of delamination.

A 39' Catana with the gel coat stripped off.

Clearly, my boat needs drying out, and the sources of the water ingress dealing with, but the repairs to the laminate may be necessary only in the worst affected areas.

I've decided to bring my cat to the same yard, and put it in the shed there for the summer. I doubt I'll have to strip away the whole of the gel coat, but repairing the laminate will require warm and dry conditions.

So there goes my summer sailing. But if I sail back down the river at the end of the summer with a solid dry boat, newly painted and ready for the high seas at last, I'll have plenty of confidence in what I'm sailing, and I might get it all done in time to sail south of the winter.

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