So my wife and I dug some rot out of the wooden platform that goes to our stainless steel bowsprit and man, what started as a small hole continued to get larger and eventually was going to require more than your standard application of wood penetrating epoxy.
No problema. Novices to sailboats 18 months ago, we were able to pick the right brains and do the right research to do some serious wooden boat repair on our former sailboat, SV Slurricane, a Cheoy Lee Bermuda 30 Ketch built in 1964. Slurricane has a fiberglass hull and cabin top but we nearly completely replaced the cabin top and did replace the entire deck with fiberglass (used to be teak). It turned out very successful and we are still using many of the same techniques we learned through that experience.
For any novices repairing wood or fiberglass on a sailboat (we consider ourselves experienced novices at this point), we cannot recommend enough that they read the West Systems Wooden Boat Repair Manual. When I first started reading it, I was almost sure it was a marketing tool to sell more West Systems resin but the manual is so damn well written, illustrated, and an easy read, it really turned into an awesome resource for us when it comes to repairing our boat(s). Also, we’ve used other resins in some of the manners suggested in the repair manual with great success. It’s more of a manual on wooden boat repair than it is a manual on why to buy more West Systems resin.
I scraped out all of the rot we could get our scraper on and then drilled holes nearly all of the way through the platform that we planned to fill with West Systems wood penetrating epoxy. we figured that any rot we missed or couldn’t get to would be penetrated by the epoxy and reinforced.
My wife had to get back to school so I then taped off the old bolt holes on the underside of the platform. That way, I could fill them with epoxy all of the way to the top and give it a good 15 minutes to penetrate the sides of the bolt holes before removing the tape on the bottom and draining the hole. This would make the wood on the inside of the bolt hole impenetrable to water should some get in there. Thanks Mark for this tip!
Everything soaked in nicely and by removing the tape on the underside before the resin kicked off, I drained the excess epoxy onto an old pizza box that I placed under the platform. It occurred to me at this point that had I just left the damned tape on, I’d have used less epoxy on my next step. I was just going through the motions of treating holes that wouldn’t be filled in all of the way and made myself some extra work. I hate it when I go on autopilot.
Anyways, after that cured overnight, I sanded it down the next morning and then mixed up a filleting blend of West Systems resin using the fast hardener (due to the colder weather) and added some of their 405 filleting blend, which is a wood colored powder. I mixed it just thick enough that it would flow into the little cracks and crevices deep in the platform. I poured it in and using a popsicle stick, coerced any trapped air beneath the resin to work its way to the surface.
I spent the rest of the day working on other projects but again (after a night of allowing the epoxy to harden) sanded that filleting blend down, mixed up one more that was thick and to be used as more like a fairing compound, and filled in the last two low spots.
I should also mention that this repair is purely for structural purposes and I honestly didn’t make the repair with the intention that it would blend in seamlessly with the surrounding wood. This spot is actually going to be covered by a post of the bow pulpit. Were this going to be visible, I would have cut the entire problematic piece out and glued in another teak block so it would look better. This will work perfectly for this part of our platform.
Well the weather kind of took a turn for the crappy today but when we can, teak cleaner on the platforms is next and then more Signature Finish before we reassemble the bowsprit!