Skip to main content

Ready on Deck

Steve Karas of Spring Grove, Pennsylvania, asks:"My 1985 Catalina 27 is in good shape except for some tiny spider cracks in the foredeck gelcoat. The previous owner tried to repair the cracks by drizzling loose gelcoat into them, but the repaired deck looks worse than it did before.I had to sand it all down—losing the non-slip prism deck pattern in the process—and then I
  • Author:
  • Updated:
    Original:

Steve Karas of Spring Grove, Pennsylvania, asks:

"My 1985 Catalina 27 is in good shape except for some tiny spider cracks in the foredeck gelcoat. The previous owner tried to repair the cracks by drizzling loose gelcoat into them, but the repaired deck looks worse than it did before.
I had to sand it all down—losing the non-slip prism deck pattern in the process—and then I covered the surface with Treadmaster. The Treadmaster has worked well, of course, but now some other areas are beginning to show the same spider cracks. This time I would like to repair the surface without destroying the factory anti-skid surface or having to use Treadmaster. Is there a caulking product or a gel-like paint I can use to repair these hairline cracks? The factory gelcoat is a flat gray."

Don Casey replies:

In most cases gelcoat resin is not a good choice for repairing hairline cracks because it is too thick to reach the bottom of the crack. Often the gelcoat just bridges the crack and leaves a hollow void underneath. If you want to repair a crack with gelcoat resin you need to open up the crack so it forms a shallow V that can accept the thick resin. This solution works best when there are just a few impact or flex cracks, but it’s not practical when a surface is badly crazed.

A two-part epoxy primer is the best thing to use on a crazed surface. Because it’s much thinner than gelcoat, the epoxy wicks into the cracks, attaches tenaciously to both sides and fills the entire void completely. Unfortunately, because it is a primer, you also have to cover the primer with paint. And applying paint over a molded deck pattern inevitably impairs its anti-skid properties.

If you want to retain the molded anti-skid surface, one or two thin coats of epoxy primer should take care of the cracks. If you want better footing, lightly sprinkle grit of some type over the first primer coat. Gently sweep away any grit that doesn’t adhere to the primer and use the second coat to encapsulate the grit that remains.

Then follow up with two coats of a milk-thin two-part urethane paint. You should wind up with a crack-free deck whose existing anti-skid characteristics have been only slightly compromised.

Related

01-LEAD-AnchorChain

At the Helm: Anchoring Instincts

In 2015, our friends Lee & Rachel Cumberland were onboard their Tayana 37, Satori, tied to a mooring buoy in a Bahamian anchorage when a severe line of thunderstorms rolled through. The rare weather phenomenon known as a “derecho” wreaked havoc throughout the Exumas with ...read more

C38_BAVARIA-227

Boat Review: Bavaria C38

Following a change of control and reorganization in 2018, Bavaria Yachts, one of Europe’s biggest builders, tapped a new design team and started updating its entire range of boats. The first new “C-Line” Bavaria, the C42, designed by Maurizio Cossutti and Alessandro Ganz, was a ...read more

01-LEAD-DSC_1255

BoatWorks: The Rig and the Crane-Barge

During the three months my little ship lay in Belfast, Maine, I had three friends. The first was a schooner bum I’d met sailing in Florida who now worked for the shipyard next door to where I had just bought my boat, Teal, a 1963 Tripp 29, sight unseen. He would hook me up with ...read more

01-LEAD-18-Running-before-strong-winds-en-route-to-Molokai

Cruising: Hawaiian Island Hop

We didn’t get off on the right foot sailing into Hawaii. It was our own fault, of course. We should have known better. It’s never a good idea to assume that just because procedures were a certain way one year, they will be the same the next. It was an especially bad idea given ...read more

DUFOUR_470.JM-LIOT-15

Boat Review: Dufour 470

Annapolis may be the sailing capital of America, but if you looked around the United States Sailboat Show last fall, you would have no choice but to conclude most sailboats are now built in Europe. The Dufour 470 is a good example of a modern French performance cruiser. DESIGN & ...read more

01-LEAD-IMG_6563

Close Encounters: Captain Sarah Schelbert

I met Captain Sarah Schelbert back in 2019 while on the boat trip from hell aboard a seaworthy but poorly run Triton 28 in the western Caribbean. I was trying to help the owner sail his boat back to Florida from the Rio Dulce, in Guatemala. Outbound from the river basin, we had ...read more

02-Voice-of-the-Oceans---sailboat-Kat-11

Raising Their Voices

Many of us who are cruising sailors have been sailing mid-ocean or walking along a perfect beach in the middle of seemingly nowhere, only to be appalled at the amount of plastic trash we find. Few of us, however, have taken that disheartening reality and turned it into a ...read more

IC37racingonSunday-Photo-by-Paul-Todd

IC37 North American Championship

This past weekend saw 20 IC37s off Newport, Rhode Island engage in fast and furious one-design racing with the win going to Peter McClennen’s Gamecock. “It’s huge,” said McClennen of the win. “I think of the one-designs of this club going back to the New York 30 [built in ...read more