October 30th Update

The wet foam is gone. Hurray! I have a sore arm and numb fingers that were rubbed raw by the digging and prying and rubbing against the rough side of fiberglass. It was not fun, but there is a sense of accomplishment in reaching this point.

Go back and look at the old posts on this topic and you can see the difference. I’ll post some photos of the empty bay where the wet foam used to be and the buckets of old wet foam. Now I need to put in few foam and then teach myself how to repair fiberglass. I’m told it is easy.

The final photos are of a fin I purchased to repair my bent one. For those who don’t know, a competition ski boat has three fins in the bottom of the boat about 1/2 way back to help the boat track straight with a skier pulling to the sides which make other boats wander off course. I got the fin from a guy whose boat burned in a storage compartment fire in Mississippi. I almost got an engine from him, but that didn’t work out.

While doing this job I discovered how easy it is to disconnect everything in the dash. After the foam and fiberglass I might have to go after that next. Or the carpet. Or maybe an engine will appear. The fun stuff happens next. Putting it all back together.


New trailer!

Some progress to report… I got a trailer! I got a screaming deal on this trailer. It is a little rusty but it is made for a Ski Nautique. David and I stashed it beside the house last night. Eventually it will need a little work, but it is perfectly usable as-is. I towed it home with the old van last night and there were no problems. Most of the lights even turn on, and if you know anything about trailers that’s really saying something. Hahaha…

Current status: The foam issue

Approximately one month ago I decided to have look at a crack on my floor. The passenger / observers seat (it faces aft) in my boat flips up so that you can store things, like skis, up in the bow of the boat. Kind of a neat feature. Anyhow, the frame of that seat had broken through the floor. Here is the crack in the floor.

Crack in the floor

The floor is made of fiberglass and in this area it is not super-thick. I’d say it is about 1/16″ thick. To repair the crack I needed to cut it out, sand the fiberglass and then lay in new fiberglass. When I opened up the floor I found more problems. Remember how the early pictures showed leaves and such in the floor of the boat? It sat outside for a long time getting rained on and rained on…. so the water found its way into this crack in down to the foam underneath.

The little hole I cut

Not to become overly technical here, but almost all boats have foam in the hull. The foam is a material that is used to provide flotation and noise dampening. It is a rigid foam that is roughly the consistency of cardboard. Kind of stiff at first, but you can easily crush it in your hand. It feels like an old dry sponge. Foam works great until it gets wet. Then it starts to break down and if there is wood in your hull then the wood will start to deteriorate. My hull is all composite. But wet foam still weighs too much and needs to be removed.

Here you can see that when I push down on the foam water appears. Wet foam. 😦

Squish = there's the water

So, in the days following this discovery I have been digging out foam. It’s not easy and I don’t want to cut out my entire floor. So I’m going at it slowly and figuring out how to do this bit by bit. Here’s the current look of my floor and some pictures of my prey, the wet foam.

The big hole in my floor
Camera down in the hole
All the details

Working with gelcoat

After removing the carpet I started to fix things. The first area I attacked was the gelcoat issues. I was not concerned about making the boat look perfect, but I did want to fix the chips and gashes in the hull. There is a company based in Kent, WA that is called Spectrum Color. They make gelcoat for many of the boat manufacturers. They are a great resource to find perfectly matching gel for the original colors of Correct Craft boats. Gelcoat is bizarre stuff. It goes on like thick paint and then dries to the consistency of a really hard wood, or even more hard than that. It is hard to describe, but it’s not just paint. The first few pictures here show some of the progress. The process is to prep the area, mix up some gelcoat with a hardening agent and then quickly paint it on. You have about 3 minutes before the gelcoat becomes too stiff to work with. It ruins your paintbrush instantly and nothing can clean it off. Luckily there are cheap paintbrushes made for this type of work. I’ve gone through about 10 of them.

Susie was a great help because I needed stir sticks to mix up the gelcoat. She went out and purchased caramel candy that has the sticks in it to make caramel apples. We snacked on the caramel and I used the sticks to mix up gelcoat. Yum! I love my wife.

After painting you have to sand the gelcoat to get it smooth and to match the hull. In other words, you purposefully put on too much gelcoat and then sand it down to match. You have to use wet sandpaper. I don’t know why, but you do and it takes a lot of elbow grease. A lot. You start out with heavy grit and work your way up to really fine grit sandpaper. It gets rather boring rather quickly, but the end result is beautiful. It isn’t hard at all, it just takes time and patience. And it has to be warm. The can of gelcoat said it likes to dry above 70 degrees F. It doesn’t get that warm in our garage often, so I had to do this in the heat of the summer. I worked up a good sweat.

I am not going to bore you with pictures of all the areas I’ve fixed with the gelcoat. The nose is the easiest place to see the differences. I’ve only sanded this with the 1000 grit (very fine) sandpaper. Later I’ll polish the entire hull and this will shine like paint on a car.

What needs to be fixed on the inside

To really get my boat working again I knew that I would need to tear most of it apart. I’ve essentially gutted it. If this were a car I would currently be almost to what you’d call a frame-up restoration (but not quite). I removed everything that was broken and then cataloged everything I was removing. I knew the carpet needed to be replaced so that meant removing all the chairs and other parts. The more I dug around the more I found that needed to be removed to be cleaned, repaired or replaced. Below is a WordPress gallery of the interior of my boat as I tore it down. If you click on the gallery and move through the pictures I’ve created comments to explain things as you move through the days it took me to do this.

One fun story: One day I was looking at the carpet and at some carpet samples that had been mailed to me. I could not decide which one matched the best (turns out I had the wrong samples). Susie came out to the garage to see what I was up to now so I asked her opinion. She said, “Aren’t you going to replace all the carpet?” “Yes”, I replied as that was the plan. Susie responded, “Then pick a color that you really like and do an upgrade!” My wife = AWESOME!

Next bog I’ll get you up-to-date and then my blogs can become real-time from this point forward.

What needs to be fixed

So, back to my boat. After the initial clean-up I set about figuring out what needed to be fixed. It might be easier to list what didn’t need to be fixed, but since I’m blogging here I can just post pictures. 🙂 First off, the hull, while structurally sound, was rough around the edges. The outside of any fiberglass boat made since the early 80’s or so is a material called gelcoat. Gelcoat is crazy stuff to work with. More on that later. Some images of problem gelcoat areas on my boat:

The poor boat's nose was damaged
Some nasty gashes on the side
More chips and scrapes
Note how the hull basically looks OK, even glossy, but the edges are damaged

And, the most ugly scar of all was this spot where the nose must have been repeatedly rubbed on a dock, or a beach or something. It wore through the gelcoat and even through the first layer of fiberglass. It is somewhat interesting to look at the pattern of the weave on the fiberglass and see how the boat is constructed. Happily, the only damage here is to the the outer layer of fiberglass which is more of a filler type of material, but the woven stuff underneath is still solid as a rock.

The ugly part on the bow
I still wonder how this happened

So, that’s the outside. The inside wasn’t a whole lot better. That’s next.