A while back I sustained a substantial amount of hull damage to the starboard side of the hull on my own 36 foot sailboat. It was docked and tied secure with 3 fenders between the boat and the dock. On this day there were strong winds out of the south with gusts to 35 kph and more. The bracket securing one of the fenders broke and the fender slid down into the water leaving only two to protect the hull from the dock. Apparently this wasn’t enough and the boat came into contact with a metal strip on the dock and this resulted in severe damage to the hull on the starboard side. It had also dislodged a mooring cleat which added to an already bad situation. Pictures of the damage are shown below.
The pictures really don’t show the extent of the damage and a close inspection showed that in spots the gel coat was completely worn away exposing the outer fiberglass laminate layers.
At this point I was faced with a repair and I considered the available options:
1-Spot repairs to the damaged areas. This would suffice in a pinch but due to the age of the boat a perfect color match probably would not be possible and the repaired areas would always be visible.
2-Complete hull re-finish either by paint or a by a sprayed application of gel coat to the entire hull topside surface. Much more expensive but overall the best option and the method that I chose.
The next question that I was faced with was to paint or re gel coat. Both methods have advantages and disadvantages and I considered both extensively. Painting involves the use of catalysed polyurethane products such as Awlgrip, Interlux Perfection and Dupont Imron. All are similar and advantages are a high gloss and they dry to a hard surface finish. Disadvantages are, extremely toxic to spray, difficult to repair and can fade after 10 years or so. The products are also very expensive.
Sprayed application of gel coat has the distinct disadvantage of being much more labor intensive (the gel coat dries to a rough “orange peel” surface texture and must be wet sanded and polished to a gloss finish). Advantages are easier to repair, can be polished if fading occurs after time, longer lasting and the required products are less expensive. I would like to point out that a cost comparison shows that overall the 2 methods to be similar when you factor the additional product cost verses the additional labor. It was for these reasons that I chose to go with the gel coat re-application.
One observation that I’ve made over the years regarding sailors is that if you put 5 of us in a room and ask what is the proper way to toast a piece of bread you’ll get 5 different answers. In that vein I suspect that some will disagree with my decision but in the long run I feel that it was the correct one for me.
A local repair shop was contracted to do the job and the boat was delivered to them without mast or exterior canvas. It was hauled and installed on the cradle inside their shop. The exterior surfaces were cleaned, the deck hermetically sealed with plastic and a walk way encompassing the entire boat was erected to facilitate easy access to the surface. Much better than working off of ladders.
The above pictures show the hull with the walkway surrounding it and after cleaning and sanding.
I’ll have more on the process in the next post.