Ask SAIL: Repairing Deep Gouges

Author:
Updated:
Original:
The exact type of repair in a situation like this one depends on the depth of the damage

The exact type of repair in a situation like this one depends on the depth of the damage

DEEP GOUGES

Q: While on a night passage aboard my boat, I struck an unidentified floating object. It did not penetrate the inner laminate, but left a couple of deep 6in-long gouges in the hull. I have a rather large damage excess on my insurance policy and would like to attempt the repair myself, as I have some experience with using epoxy resin. What is the procedure for repairing such damage?

Fred Johnson, via sailmail@sailmagazine.com

DON CASEY REPLIES

Gouge repair is not difficult, but you will need to assure yourself that flexing from the impact did not force the inelastic layers of glass to slide across each other, shearing the bond between them and causing delamination. The test for this is to tap the area with a plastic mallet or the plastic handle of a screwdriver. A sharp report suggests solid laminate. A dull thud merits further investigation. A modest gouge—let’s call it a wide scratch—can simply be filled with an epoxy putty or even with gelcoat if the damage is above the waterline. Preparation is just sanding. Finish is sanding then polishing for topsides, or painting for underwater. If the damage is more serious—the gouge has torn through some of the glass fabric—you will need to reinforce your repair with new fabric to restore full integrity, and to do this your patch needs to be scarfed in place. This is done by grinding away the edges of the gouge to convert it into a gentle depression. The rule of thumb is a 12-to-1 chamfer all around. If the gouge is, say, ⅜in deep, the chamfer on each side needs to be 12 times ⅜in, or 4½in, on both sides of the gouge, so the total repair width is around 9in. Chamfer the ends the same way. Because you are doing the repair with epoxy, you can make all of your laminates from fiberglass cloth, starting with a piece big enough to cover the entire repair area, then adding sequentially smaller pieces until the repair is almost level with the surrounding area. Laying the cloth in a large-to-small sequence maximizes the secondary bond between the patch and the hull. There are lots of written instructions available, including in several of my own books. West System also provides its excellent Fiberglass Boat Repair & Maintenance Manual for free online, which instructs on epoxy use in addition to repair guidance.

Do you have a question for our experts? Submit it to sailmail@sailmagazine.com

February 2016

Related

sailGP-2048

VIDEO: SailGP Launches Foiling First Initiative

Teaming up with the Bristol Yacht Club & East Bay Sailing Foundation and Melges Performance Sailboats, SailGP is introducing foiling to the next generation. Its Foiling First initiative is an athlete development program created to “advance diversity and inclusion in the sport as ...read more

210801_JR_SE_Tokyo20_346141438

Olympic Sailing Updates

Though the results are in for most of the Olympic sailing fleets, there’s still time to cheer on team USA in the NACRA 17, both 470 and Finn classes. In the NACRA 17 fleet, Riley Gibbs and Anna Weis are in 9th place securing a spot in the medal race. They’re currently 17 points ...read more

01-LEAD-IMG20210409160620-copy

Cruising: La Soufrière Volcano Eruption

This past spring my family and I were at anchor aboard our 50ft steel-hulled cutter, Atea, off Bequia, a small island five miles south of St. Vincent in the Southern Antilles. Bequia’s large, protected bay is lined by a collection of beach bars, restaurants and hotels, and is a ...read more

01-LEAD-GMR_ISLA_0415-1

Electric Multihulls

Witnessing the proliferation of Tesla automobiles you would have no doubt that the revolution in electromobility is well underway. Turn your gaze to the cruising world, though, and you might well wonder what went wrong. Where are all the electric boats? And as for electric ...read more

Lee-Cloths-Lee-Boards-and-single-bunks-on-ISBJORN_by-Andy-Schell_Trans-Atlantic-2019

The Perfect Offshore Boat: Part 2

November, 2009: Mia and I were sailing our 1966 Allied Seabreeze yawl, Arcturus, on our first-ever offshore passage together, a short hop from Wilmington, North Carolina, to Jacksonville, Florida. Our second night out, the brisk northwesterly wind shut down, but the sea state ...read more

210727_JR_SE_Tokyo20_186871368

Tune in for Olympic Sailing

Today marks the start of 470 and NACRA 17 racing on Enoshima Bay, and racing in the other seven fleets is already underway. A few of the American sailors are already off to an impressive start, with Maggie Shea and Stephanie Roble currently in second place in the 49er FX, Luke ...read more

Happy-Cat

Boat Review: Happy Cat Hurricane

I’m not sure what I expected from my daysail on the Happy Cat Hurricane. One thing I do know is that the day didn’t go as planned. The SAIL staff was invited by Alex Caslow from Redbeard Sailing to Gunpowder State Park on Chesapeake Bay near Baltimore. We were to test several ...read more

210722_PM_Tokyo20_4910_5979-2048x

Olympic Sailing Guide

The Opening Ceremony for the Tokyo Games is finally here. From July 24 to August 4, sailors from across the world will be gathering on six courses on Enoshima Bay to race for gold. Ten classes will take part in the event: RS:X (men), RS:X (women), Laser Full Rig, Laser Radial, ...read more