Skip to main content

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

m138123_14_00_210609_TORE02_SE_2152_2504-2048x

The Ocean Race to be “Climate Positive”

The 2023 Ocean Race intends to be one of the world’s first climate positive sporting events, offsetting more greenhouse gasses than are produced. The two-fold effort means cutting emissions by 75 percent and investing in ocean projects that sequester carbon and restore ocean ...read more

01-LEAD-Ancients-3-2048x

Cruising Lake Superior

Almost anywhere a sailor drops the hook someone else has been there before. We are hardly ever the first. That remote Maine harbor without a soul in sight: there’s a lobster trap. The south coast of Newfoundland: the crumbling remains of a fisherman’s cabin lie hidden among the ...read more

01-LEAD-Tablet-Holder-4

Fabricating a Tablet Holder

During the pandemic, I was stuck aboard Guiding Light, a Lagoon 410, in St. Lucia for over a month. During that time, as I worked on the boat, I started by doing a spring cleaning in my spares locker and finding some parts and material that I forgot I had. As soon as I saw them, ...read more

00-LEAD-AdobeStock_486335954

A Catamaran for a New Era

Anacortes, Washington, is an unassuming sea-salty town near the San Juan Islands of Puget Sound, and the Betts Boats yard is easy for a passerby to miss. But within Betts’ facilities, the dawn of an era in Pacific Northwest production boatbuilding could be breaking with the ...read more

X5_plus_slide-01

Boat Review: Xquisite X5 Plus

The Xquisite X5 Plus is a major update of the boat that SAIL awarded Best Large Multihull and Best Systems titles in 2017. The changes were not just cosmetic, but genuine improvements to an already fine boat, making it lighter, faster and less dependent on fuel. The builder’s ...read more

01-LEAD-AdobeStock_40632434

Cruising: Offshore Prep Talk

When I began preparing Minx, my 1987 Pearson 39-2, for extended Caribbean cruising, I had to balance my champagne wish list against my beer budget. Every buck spent on the boat before leaving would be one less frosty can of Carib down in the islands. On the other hand, I had to ...read more

m5702_RACE-AREA-6

Barcelona Venue Shaping Up

The decision to host the next America’s Cup in Barcelona ruffled the feathers of some fans, but the Defender is happy with how the venue is shaping up. The process of allocating team bases, spectator zones and the race village is underway. “I cannot speak highly enough of the ...read more

ELAN-GT6---273

Boat Review: Elan GT6

Elan’s first sporty “Grand Turismo” yacht, the 43ft GT5, launched in 2017, and was actually a bit of a mash-up. It combined an existing go-fast hull from Elan’s sexy E5 racer with a new deck and interior optimized for cruising comfort, and a somewhat detuned rig to create a ...read more