We are keeping busy with some pre-cruising projects that have Misty a bit ripped apart these days. The primary project is to find/repair deck leaks. This is very difficult since our deck is a teak – fiberglass – cedar – fiberglass – headliner sandwich. We don’t have many leaks, but we had two pretty bad ones near the lifeline gates/scuppers. We suspected the leaks were from the stanchion post or brace, but due to the deck sandwich and a variety of leak migration possibilities, we weren’t really sure.
The biggest leak culprits were the stanchion bases and braces near the lifeline gate and scupper.
The first thing we did was to remove all of the headliner on deck level to expose the fiberglass.
When we removed the headliner in the problem area, it looked like this. The area was moist (it had rained recently), and we found that there were only washers in place, not backer plates.
Then it started raining again and things became even more clear. We thought the sail track (foreground wooden strip) might be leaking, but it appeared that the stanction hardware was to blame, with water following the contour downward to the sail track before dripping down. We also noticed several old 2″ test holes that were mostly sealed up, although a few leaked. We also noticed several old screw holes that were dripping, indicating that the cedar core was saturated.
After seeing the lower fiberglass and realizing the deck was saturated at these places (due to various dripping points not related to deck hardware) and consulting with several folks, we started becoming concerned that the cedar core may have been compromised. This would really suck since the original balsa deck core and teak was replaced in the 1990’s and our pre-purchase survey indicated it was rock solid. We decided to remove all stanchion hardware, whether we had leaks around them or not, to inspect the core, ensure an epoxy seal, and to install backer plates.
What we found after removing the hardware and drilling 3/8″ holes to expand the existing 1/4″ holes, thankfully, was that all stanchion post hardware was installed in epoxy/fiberglass. However, we found that the stanchion braces on each side of the lifeline gates were not installed in solid epoxy- these had wood shavings come up when drilling. We used a bent screwdriver to check inside the holes for signs of rotten wood and only came up with a very small amount (less than 1/2 inch around one screw hole). The rest of the wood was solid. Whew! We used lacquer thinner to clean all the holes out, and when the weather warms up to above 60F, we will fill them with epoxy (then re-drill, re-install hardware with new aluminum backer plates, then wet the deck down and see if we still have leaks!). We also suspect deck hardware associated with a rear winch bracket and a chain plate, so those may be next. To be continued…
We also had around 60 deck screws that had lost their teak plugs. Some people call these “bungs”, but that word creeps Jen out a bit, so let’s stick with “plugs”. We received confirmation that when the deck was replaced in the 1990’s that the boatyard fully epoxied the teak down, as well as screwed it. Unfortunately, screws just add extra holes from the teak deck, through the upper fiberglass, into the cedar core, so any of these could also be allowing water to permeate the deck. Since the screws were not really needed, we decided to remove any exposed screws. We then made nifty hole masking tape, masked each hole, filled the screw hole with epoxy using a syringe, and tapped new plugs in with a hammer. After 24 hours, we used a good chisel to shave off the excess plug. The new plugs are a slightly different color from the grey deck and have a bit of dark around them from the epoxy, but they should blend in better over time.
Making nifty hole masking tape
Screws removed, holes masked and ready for epoxy
Plugs expoxied in place
The finished product!
Blue has been directing all leak repair activities.
In near future posts, we will update you on:
- The deck leak saga continues
- The new headliner project
- The closet project (addressing water damage and improving storage design)
- The dodger
- We’re sailing away! 4th of July…
Thanks for reading 🙂
Jen & Chris & Blue