Ask SAIL: DIY Storm Damage Repairs

The after effects of Hurricane Sandy are still being felt here in the Northeast in that competent fiberglass repairmen are all booked up with jobs through the upcoming boating season. Many boatowners have therefore been forced to contemplate repairing their storm-damaged boats themselves.
Author:
Updated:
Original:

Simon Zorovich of Matawan, New Jersey asks:

The after effects of Hurricane Sandy are still being felt here in the Northeast in that competent fiberglass repairmen are all booked up with jobs through the upcoming boating season. Many boatowners have therefore been forced to contemplate repairing their storm-damaged boats themselves. I have read some informative articles by Don Casey on the subject, and my question is this: should I use a polyester resin or epoxy to repair an enormous gouge in my boat? As you can see in the photo (below), it's about 2ft by 6in and cuts well into the fiberglass cloth, but not all the way through the laminate.


Don Casey replies:

Two decades ago I found myself in a similar situation in the aftermath of Hurricane Andrew and, like you, ended up doing the repairs myself. I’m happy to say they remain strong and undetectable to this day. The advantage of using epoxy for repair work is that the bond to the existing laminate will be about 20 percent stronger than when using polyester resin, which provides a welcome margin of error for the amateur worker. Professionals tend to view the extra adhesion as superfluous and not worth the high price of epoxy, which costs two or three times as much as polyester. Epoxy is also incompatible with gelcoat, so if you plan to finish the repair with gelcoat rather than paint, you should use polyester or perhaps vinlyester resin instead.

As for the layup process, in both cases you need to grind away all of the damaged laminate and create a 12:1 bevel around the perimeter. If you use polyester, you can lay down alternating layers of 1.5-ounce mat and 6-ounce cloth, unless you have reason to follow a different schedule. Epoxy repairs are usually made with woven fabrics only, as epoxy is incompatible with the binder in common fiberglass mat. Special epoxy-compatible mat can be obtained if you decide you need it. Your new laminate layers should go down in larger-to-smaller order, because laying down the largest piece first maximizes the area of the secondary bond between the old and new glass. The bond between subsequent layers will be chemical in nature and thus considerably stronger.

Because the perimeter bevel greatly enlarges the size of the repair, cutting out the damage and fashioning the repair from inside can be an attractive alternative, if you have interior access to the damaged area. Whatever method you use, if you grind well, mix the resin correctly, and compress all the air out of the laminate, your repair will be indistinguishable from the work done by a pro, cosmetic appearance excepted. If you fail cosmetically, you can always get professional help next season.

Related

CCA-story-2048x

Safety Culture Starts with the Skipper

Sailing might not be the first pastime that comes to mind when you think of extreme sports, but that’s not to say risks don’t abound. The Cruising Club of America tackles many of them head-on in their newly released guide for skippers, Creating a Culture of Safety: The Skipper’s ...read more

GMR19_F53_0539

Boat Review: Beneteau First Yacht 53

Luxury performance-cruising isn’t entirely new. You can go fast and still be comfortable. You can even race if you make the right tradeoffs—or so says Groupe Beneteau, which recently launched its First Yacht 53, in the process also reinventing the company’s “First” brand. ...read more

BirdonBoard

Cruising: Birds of a Feather

One of the neatest things about sailing offshore is the other lifeforms we encounter. We smile when we see flying fish skimming over the surface of the sea. We cheer when dolphins leap and dance in our bow waves. We are duly reverent when mighty whales sound and spout, and ...read more

pirate-marlin-logo

Pirate’s Cove Billfish Tournament

This Spring has felt a bit like a slow day of fishing but it’s almost time to time to Bait…and Switch. The Pirate’s Cove Billfish Tournaments offer something for every member of your crew. Exceptional fishing, fun times with family, old friends and new. Our run is short, our ...read more

Tusk.00_00_16_21.Still001

Tusk by Spyderco

Spyderco's Tusk knife combines a blade and marlinspike to create a multitool perfect for marine use. Made with corrosion resistant materials like titanium and LC200N steel, a nitrogen alloyed steel, and Spyderco-exclusive locking mechanisms, this knife is one of the toughest ...read more

IY11.98_fTaccola©DJI_0200

Italia 11.98 Performance-cruiser

This past winter, SAIL principal editor, Adam Cort, check out the new Italia Yachts’ new 11.98 performance-cruiser at the boot Dusseldorf show in German, and says he can attest to the fact it’s a boat more than worthy of the attention of North American sailors. Available in ...read more

01-LEAD-2017_IDALEWIS_0219

Racing: Doublehanded

I was born in 1955, and although I was a tad young to actually follow the first Observer Single-Handed Transatlantic Race, I grew up in the age of the pioneers of solo offshore sailing—Francis Chichester, Robin Knox-Johnson, Alec Rose, all Knighted for their singlehanded ...read more

newport-400c-updated

Spectra Watermakers

The world's quietest and most energy-efficient watermakers. Our product line ranges from hand operated desalinators that can make 6 gallons a day to our largest system that produces 20,000 gallons of fresh, potable water per day. Spectra Watermakers has the complete package: ...read more