Tag Archives: West System

Bruised boat, bruised ego

starboard_hull_damageLast summer I was merrily heading into Toronto’s inner harbour through the Eastern Gap*. I was busy lounging behind the wheel and talking with friends when one casually said “we are headed straight for a big green thing”.  That big green thing being the big steel buoy making the inner entrance to the Eastern Gap. I turned the boat to port and the wake pushed the buoy away from the a boat,  only to have the buoy swing back back with a vengeance and smack the hull just below the rub rail on starboard. Ouch.
The impact shattered the gel-coat and the underlying layers of fibreglass. It didn’t look too bad and I left it for the season as it is well above the waterline close to the forward sling marks.

What king of sailor sails straight into a big green buoy that he knows is there… ugh.

Repair #1
Finished repair.

Peeling back the layers of crushed gel-coat and fiberglass mat, I discovered the damage was much more extensive than it appeared. There was considerable de-lamination between the many layers however the lowest layers were just bruised, not cracked. The damage also extended in a much larger radius then the gel-coat damage itself, presumably from the fibreglass flexing in.
I couldn’t access the damage from the interior unless I did a massive cabin disassembly, so rather than cut a hole , I decided to grind down and re-glass from the outside, leaving the bottom most layer intact.

After applying a few layers of mat and resin I levelled the patch with a sander and enlarged the grind. You can see the wound get bigger in the photos. Complicating the repair job was an unusually cold spring. I used a heat gun to warm the hull first and then gently warm the repair at several intervals to ensure the resin kicked.

Continue reading Bruised boat, bruised ego

Helm Seat repair

This fall the original owner surfaced and sold me all the missing bits and pieces – some pieces were more important then others, like sails and cushions, others just nice to have like spare filters and doo-dads.

One piece that was missing was the Helm Seat, at first I thought no problem, I can live without one- then a season of sailing made me realize that yeah – a seat would be good. I was going to make one from teak, a welcome addition to the cockpit which is a sea of white gel-coat – but all that is moot now.

The seat was taken off as it had water in it and the previous owner didn’t want frost damage. I could hear water sloshing around inside but couldn’t see how it got in. I moved it around my storage locker and one day noticed it was dripping, then I tilted it and left it. A couple of hours later there was a decent puddle on the floor coming out of a hairline crack in the gel. I was amazed at how much water is in the seat!

20131229_140134This generation of Hunter has the Helm seat swing back and flip over so the bottom of the seat forms a step on the swim platform. I discovered that one screw on the bottom that holds the rope pierced the cavity and was “sealed” with a dab of silicone…….! I checked the other holes with compressed air and they are all sealed.

I enlarged the hairline crack with a burr and drilled out all the screw holes to a larger diameter. Everything gets a epoxy and the leaky spots were filled with colloidal silica and epoxy.

syringe and a spade

Once I had possession of the boat, I gave the rudder and prop a close inspection. The rudder seemed to have a lot of side to side slop/play, at the bottom tip it seemed to be about an inch (if memory serves me correct). As the boat was on the hard and I didn’t do a sea trial I figured that this play would be, at the very least a clonking noise on the hook. Seeing as I was in for a pound with the hull I figured I’d tackle this  job.


I looked into replacing the big white lower busing, but it isn’t available from Hunter, but I did stumble upon a solution used by others as outlined in the West System Epoxy manual. It involves drilling holes in the bushing and injecting epoxy with colloidal silica (for bulk/viscosity) and graphite powder (for lubrication). It seemed a reasonable method so I forged ahead.

Dropping the rudder required digging a hole in the yard, there seemed to be several holes that spring! There is definitely a benefit to being on gravel instead of pavement! Funny thing is the hole filled up with water in heavy rains and I ended bailing the hole out to reinstall the rudder.

DSC00071The technique calls for waxing the steel bushing, drill holes, reinstall the rudder and then inject epoxy with 50/50 mixture of silica and graphite. In my case I drilled three holes on each side and three on the front. As you can see from the photo the epoxy merged into one big pad. I like this technique as it creates a zero tolerance fitting that would be difficult to achieve otherwise and I suspect is better then when it left the factory.

It stood a season and seems fine – there is a posting out there with