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Worse things happen at sea :( Repair advice needed.


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Well it had to happen some day.

We got bumped by a large motorboat this afternoon, and it hit our Spindrift which, in the davits, was just at the right (or wrong?) height.

I'm still out at anchor and the dinghy is still in the davits, so it's not very easy to see the damage in full. But first impression is that the starboard side, which was facing aft and was hit, seems fine. The port side has some serious cracks where it was pressed up against the davits.

Up front, the ply has split from gunwale down to the chine, right at the forward bulkhead.

At the stern, it has split from a point about half way along the locker/seat, running forward and then down the front edge of the same.


It sounded horrific, and all happened very quickly. I actually jumped on to the offending motorboat and ran straight up his windscreen, screaming at him. That finally got his attention.


Anyway, I am cautiously optimistic that it is repairable. My thinking is to use glass tape and epoxy, much as I did when I joined the sheets of plywood at the start of the build.



- should I glass the outside of the repair (the boat is not sheathed)?

- what weight of cloth, how many layers, what area to cover?

- should I try to rejoin the split ply exactly as it is (epoxy plus clamps etc) or should I clean up the damage line and then refill with thickened epoxy?


We both have insurance but having looked at the damage, the other skipper would prefer to just pay me for the materials, and find me a place to do the work. I'll also need him to supply me with a dinghy to use in the meantime. If he's generous enough and doesn't argue then I'm inclined to accept the offer.


If I could get some professional advice on how to proceed that would certainly be very helpful.


Anyway I'm off for a beer now... 

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Having had the similar problem with auto crash (look I know it’s not a boat ) but the out come will probably be the same you will wish you had let the insurance company cover the repair because once you settle with the guy that hit you on a dollar value and get into the repair and it turns out to be c can of worms (no pun intended) your on the hook for what ever happens next not to mention the time you personally put in to make the repair and what if it can’t be saved.

     Take it  to a boat yard and get some professional estimates that would be the way I would go about it


p.s. It will save you a lot of headaches.

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If everything else is good you can push the two panels back together and start from their with the repair is it out of the question to make a butt block and attach it to the inside hull panel or as I had to do on my boat when I dropped a lead weight onto the hull while under construction and had to fix it I made it a single side repair but in your case it can be repaired from both sides pictures show how I made the fix hope this will help if you go ahead with this yourself













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Ok here's the damage.

The side that was hit looks ok but I will remove the fendering to check.


In my non expert opinion, I think the stern section above the seat will be the worst. I'm not sure if the ply will want to go back in to shape.


The gunwale at the bow section has been damaged quite badly, but I think one of the three laminations has held. I can add some bulk on the inside here, it will all be hidden by the PVC fendering anyway.


Ideally I would just be handing this over to a pro, but time matters too. The only surveyor who has got back to me said he can't look at the boat for months.
















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That is bad luck. The good news is that you built it and it is made out of wood, you can fix each problem piece by piece until it is as good as new.


The Catspaw that we have kept on our dock for the last 20 years was on the stern of a power boat at the leeward end of a marina when an new owner of a 36' sloop got embayed in strong winds and crashed into the dinghy. The owner was well reimbursed by the insurance company, he left her with me. Her condition was similar to yours. No one knows that it has been crashed. I just cut out the damaged ply parts and spliced new parts back in. 


That vertical break in the side looks easy to repair with a butt block. I would use a 4" wide piece of 6mm ply. The reason for such a wide piece is force the hull back to it's original fair shape and to give plenty of gluing surface. Butt blocks do not have to look ugly if clean up the edges nicely. You would need to a pair of clamping blocks on each side of the repair to force the hull fair while the glue dried. If you do not have a deep reach clamp you can screw right through everything to clamp it in place. The gunwale is a bit trickier. It is impossible to get glue to completely fill the crack along the gunwale to hull joint. I solve that by running a handsaw down that crack so that I can glue in a sliver of wood that is well epoxied. If there is damage to the wood in the gunwales, you will have to cut out the bad bits and scarf in new wood. Just use an 8:1 taper on your scarfs. You can also do taped joints, just use the same tape as you used on your chine joints. You must tape both sides of a repaired joints. Tape won't force the patch into a fair shape but you can use clamping boards to force the taped joint fair while the epoxy dries. Don't forget the plastic release film.


I would not sweat perfection, you need honest strong. This is just the beginning of her chequered history.


Good luck with the repair.

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That’s a lot of work how much do you love this boat?

I have made repairs to cracks that haven’t gotten to big by using small shims to force open the gap injecting epoxy with a syringe and needle you can get them at a feed store or farm supply  then applying clamp pressure to close

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Well I only built it last year. Three months working every evening and weekend. Fitting the gunwales was a 2am job by the time we were finished.


So yep I'm pretty attached to it. It's also about the only design of boat that will fit my yacht, due to limited deck space.


I could take a pay out and buy a roll up inflatable. And then what do I do with my rig and foils. And how do I teach my son to sail. Not to mention no more sunset rowing trips around anchorages...

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While the damage looks bad at first glance I agree with Graham. I think the repairs are all pretty simple and straightforward. Depending on how much you want it look exactly like it was this is a 2 or 3 day job at most plus some paint touchups. I tried doing a video reply hopefully this has some good suggestions for you. Let me know!


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Outstanding support from B and B. I am just so impressed with this company. And hugely relieved to have a clear path forward.


Most people have been telling me to just get the insurance companies to sort it all out, but frankly I just want my boat back and I know that the fastest way of doing that is to do it myself. I have space in a boatyard and someone to pay for that plus all my materials. It could be worse.

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Alan, that video is a GREAT way to respond to Apher’s’ inquiry about his boat’s discouraging and awful-looking damage. I appreciate having viewed the video because it was understandable and clear — perhaps even a guy like me could make the repairs as described — and I found that your voice projected helpful confidence (as in “ this is more of a minor repair”.)   Indeed, pictures/videos can be worth a thousand printed words.  If I encounter a similar issue with my boats this video encourages me to try making the repair rather than “writhing” in despair.  😂


I, like Aphers, really appreciate B&B Yacht Designs and it’s wonderful support. And I’m having a BLAST using my little fleet of boats this year (CS15, CS17m3, and my ski boat — made from the ply and planks I purchased from you.)  For instance, Don Silsbe accompanied me on my 17 ft. Avocet for a few days of sailing and overnights in Grand Traverse Bay (part of Lake Michigan).  We planned for five days but we let go of the first and last days due to rain.  I’m glad he was around to kinda guide me through the adventure. 

Good luck, Aphers, with what you decide to do with your Spindrift. 

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Just to address a couple of points from Alan's video:

I did not use fasteners at the aft end of the gunwale, perhaps it would not have popped if I had. I can't remember exactly why I deviated from the plan there, but likely it was that I felt the laminated ash was taking up the shape very nicely with little pressure needed to hold it to the hull.


The suggestions on how to effect the repairs are excellent and clear. I think it will be best on the stern section to do the panel first, and then the gunwale? That should ensure the panel has the best flexibility for getting it back in to shape, I think?


Just to jog my memory, when re-making the taped internal seams, I should lay down a fillet of thickened epoxy and then tape over that once it is firm enough to not get squeezed out, correct?


Final point- the gunwale at the bow, which is quite badly cracked, still has one good lamination on the outside. I was thinking about adding a fourth lamination on the inside of the ply as part of the repair. Maybe this isn't necessary? It would be hidden under the fendering so no real aesthetic reason not to do it.

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I agree i would repair the crack in the side (aft seat tank area) first then the gunwale. That way also you can more easily run a hand saw up against the side of the hull when sawing into the gunwale crack. 


These days I pretty much always just lay my glass tape right onto my wet fillet right after I do it. You can wait a little while until it stiffens up but i'm too impatient. Once i have the joint ready to tape (in your case, sanded/ground and clean) I'd lay in my fillet, clean it up then mix my regular epoxy for the glass tape and paint a generous coat of epoxy above and below the fillet with the edge of my brush just grazing the edge of the fillet. If you're fillet mix is thick enough and stiff enough you can brush right over it gently. Then i lay the glass tape in and it immediately soaks up that coat. Then i brush on additional epoxy onto the glass tape and it usually doesn't' take much and it's done. If you put down too much epoxy and see runs just wipe your brush and wipe the excess up, repeat to remove some excess. 


Since you're doing repairs around paint i'd tape a piece of plastic like a bib under any repair area i work on when I do the repair so that if you do get an over excited drop of epoxy try to run down it won't leave a rude line of epoxy in the painted area. 


On the gunwale forward, there would be nothing practically wrong with adding a strip to the inside over the damage and as you said it would be covered. Personally I think it'd instead just put a couple of layers of glass tape on the inside running fore and aft along the top of the side panel adjacent the damaged area. You'll already have some glass there since the vertical panel crack goes all the way to the top but that would give a lot of good tensile strength to the inside of the panel to help out the gunwale which might not regain 100% of it's rigidity. 

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I've started off by parting the gunwale from the ply at the stern section. For a good long length here I was able to split this really cleanly through the glue line, so that was just a case of working along carefully with chisels. It gets a bit uglier where it meets the crack that had already opened up, as that had veered in to the ply.

At the forward end, I've used a handsaw and there is no further propagation of the split.


On the hull side, I ended up using a combination of craft knife and chisel to clean up the break. This has left something of a gap but should be fixable with thickened epoxy (microfibres a good choice?).


My only concern at this stage is the lower end of the side crack, which ends about half way down the front of the seat box. Here, I cannot easily get the ply to go back in line and it may leave me with a small lump in the side. There is very little flex here, probably due to the build up of epoxy and tape joining the box to the hull side.


Should I try extending the gunwale separation further forward? Or maybe grind back the epoxy/tape on the inside? Just looking for the option that leaves me with the least work, as this is all cutting away sound material. Maybe I should just get it strong and fair it with microballoons?





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The resistance at the bottom is because the plywood side is bent and the break is allowing it to return to being flat and unfair. I would try hard to force it back to where it was but it will take some pushing. Easiest might be to wedge a stick inside the boat pushing out about 6" or so in front of the vertical part of that break you can tap it in with a hammer to dial it in. Like such...



So, dryfit that and once happy, squirt a bunch of glue in the crack. Wedge it back out the fillet and tape inside and filler in the holes and glass tape/cloth on the outside and should be good as new. 


From what I can see i think you're good on the gunwale cut. I think i'd jus fill that up with thickened epoxy and clamp it back together. 

For filling holes i'd use cabosil thickened epoxy. Micro fibers or (milled fibers) won't hurt but nasty to sand it if you have to. cabosil is good enough. Just don't use microspheres or microbaloons for anything but fairing ontop of the glass repairs. 

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