Ask Sail: A Warped Fixer-Upper

A recent survey states that a 41-foot Morgon Out Island I am considering buying has hull deflections.  These were discovered when the boat was hauled.  Should I be concerned?
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Bill Gordon of Clairemore, Oklahoma asks:

A recent survey states that a 41-foot Morgan Out Island I am considering buying has hull deflections. These were discovered when the boat was hauled. Should I be concerned? The broker said the boat is ideal for a DIY buyer.

Don Casey replies:

You should be concerned. Whether deflections in a fiberglass hull are a problem depends on their magnitude and how permanent they are. Large deflections can cause the fiberglass fabric to sheer between layers. If deflections have damaged the boat’s laminate, it will have to be reinforced or perhaps totally replaced in the affected area.

A fiberglass boat can also creep into a new shape. Some hull deflections can be temporary, but often the hull is permanently distorted. In this case, structural integrity may not be an issue. A thin hull might be pushed back into its original position, and then reinforced to maintain that shape. But for a boat like the Morgan OI, the more common repair is to fill the indentation, much like filling a dent in a car.

Unless you plan to keep the boat tied up permanently to a dock, you need to ignore the broker’s spin and find out exactly what the surveyor discovered. If you are confident in your fiberglass repair skills, this may indeed be a DIY opportunity. But if you anticipate paying to have work done, you could save yourself a great deal of money by getting a written repair estimate before purchasing the boat.

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