Ever since I was a kid I always wanted to be a Pirate. I know... the Pirates were -and still are- really bad people but deep down, we all kind of wanted to be one when we were kids. Not the bad kind but the type that has been spuriously idealized in adventure books and movies. The swashbuckling, treasure hunting, rum drinking, adventurer that sails the seven seas in search of new provenance and fortune. That kind of Pirate!
I don't mind sharing the fact that in my mind I'm still a kid and I would still like to be a Pirate! Don't laugh... In October 2015, USA Today reported that Google along with the National Retailers Association conducted a survey to identify the top ten adult Halloween costumes. "Pirate" ranked at number four! This tells me that I'm not alone in my thinking and it's very possible that some of you still want to be a Pirate too!
-looking around for guilty expressions-
-looking around for guilty expressions-
Rest assured, I'm not running up and down the block sporting a silk sash and a fake eyepatch (all the time). However, now that I have my own sailboat I find myself feeling like a Pirate even more so than ever before. What I mean by this is that there are quite a few similarities between being a Pirate and being a Sailboat Owner.
OK, let me give you a few examples:
1. The Pirates had mighty sailing ships and now I have a mighty sailing ship too! Well, sort of...She's small but she will be mighty when I fix her up...
2. The first ship that Blackbeard commanded was stolen. I purchased my entire sailboat for $375 so that was kind of a steal.
3. Rum! Let's skip this one...
4. Cannonball Damage!
In my last post we talked about the Pirates careening their ships to clean or repair the hull and keel. More often than not if they careened the ship for the sake of repair it was most likely due to cannonball damage. Ironically, I just so happened to buy a boat with three cannonball sized holes in the hull -relatively speaking of course-
Most people would never consider buying a boat with a hole in it -let alone three- but I saw potential in this damaged hull, just as the Pirates did when they attacked a merchant ship.
The attack usually resulted in an extensive amount of damage caused by cannon fire, grenades, musket balls, etc... If the Pirates were victorious in battle, they did not always leave the merchant ship adrift to sink into the abyss. Once the crew of the merchant ship was subdued, the Pirates quickly doused the flames and towed the damaged hull to a secluded cove. Here they would careen the ship and execute the necessary repairs in order to make her a mighty sailing ship once again. Only this time, she would sail as a Pirate Ship!
As you can see in the photo above, my little mighty sailing ship has seen her share of battle. The previous owner reported that some of his enemies (the bad Pirates) utilized a pick-axe to vandalize the boat in the middle of the night. Apparently, their intention was that this boat would never sail again but they didn't know about me (the good Pirate).
Though, the previous owner may have surrendered and abandoned ship I was determined to bring her back to life.
If you're shaking your head right now and saying to yourself, "He's doing it wrong..." then you are very much like many of my neighbors. They often stroll up and down the block -without the silk sash or fake eye patch- (go figure) and make sarcastic comments on my repair techniques. Especially this one!
For this instance however, what they did not realize is that I had applied a first layer of repair epoxy over the holes and it started to rain. The recessed paper plates worked perfectly to cover the initial repair. They did not come into contact with the uncured epoxy and the Saran Wrap kept everything dry.
Good idea huh? Instead of verbally responding to the sarcasm of my opinionated neighbors, I just sort of looked at them like this.
Repairing a hole in a boat is not quite the same as repairing a hole in a fence or wall. There are different kinds of stress loads that boats are subjected to and this should be taken into consideration when initiating any repair to the hull or structure.
As it stands now, the three cannonball holes in my boat are voids- there is simply nothing where something used to be. I wanted to replace these voids with a material strong enough to withstand the stress loads that would one day affect this area of the boat.
If you research the standard repair for a through-hole on a boat you will most likely see a fiberglass lay-up on both sides of the hole. For smaller holes -above the water line- you could sometimes use a structural epoxy without any fiberglass. Though, that sounds simple enough my situation is a little bit different.
I wasn't just dealing with one hole I had three holes to contend with. My main concern was that the holes were in relatively close proximity to each other. Two of which, were lined up almost vertically. Therefore, I decided to put a little extra thought into this particular repair.
I mentioned earlier that boats are subjected to different types of stress loading. This is especially true in a sailboat since you have additional stresses transferred via the rigging, sails, keel, etc... We will eventually discuss all types of stress loads in future posts (when we get deeper into the fiberglass and stringer repairs) but today I want to highlight one stress load in particular, Compressive Stress.
To understand the term compressive stress, think about squeezing a balloon with two hands. Each hand represents an opposing force that compresses against the balloon until it ultimately pops! This is the kind of stress that could be induced when the bow of the boat is pounding against waves. The following illustration provides better detail:
In my mind, the bow (front of the boat -check our reference page if you don't remember the location of the bow-) is the part of the boat that will be subjected to significant wave pounding (in seas of course). It is the first section of the boat to travel up a wave and then slam down on the water when the wave breaks. This tells us that the holes and\or the section between the two vertically aligned holes, could encounter compressive stress.
So, how do you compensate for this type of stress? Well, with strength of course! This is why Popeye eats his spinach. My objective for this area of the boat was to choose a structural epoxy that had a very high compressive strength rating. Of course, I planned on using fiberglass also but the initial application of structural epoxy -prior to the fiberglass application- would replace the void of the holes and I would have a solid surface to apply the fiberglass cloth.
I researched the product data sheets of several different repair epoxies and came across some interesting information.
If you've never heard of Marine Tex, let me introduce you to the Popeye of structural epoxies (at least when we are talking about compressive strength).
I love this stuff! It handles well, cures quickly and can be sanded easily. It's great for issues below the water line and suitable for use on fiberglass, wood, and metal, though It's most compatible with fiberglass in my opinion.
Marine-Tex comes in two colors, gray and white. The gray boasts a compressive strength rating of 13,000 PSI (910 Kg/Cm2). That means a 1" x 1" square of this stuff can withstand 13000 lbs of force. Not bad huh!
For some reason the physical properties between the gray and white vary when it comes to strength rating and I'm not sure why. The white has a compressive load strength rating at -8700 PSI (610 Kg/Cm2) so keep this in mind if you are choosing between the two. The white Marine-Tex would most likely be better suited for top side repairs.
My mind was made up, I was going to use the Marine-Tex in addition to fiberglass. Though, some would consider this overkill, I figured that filling the voids with Marine-Tex would give me something strong to build on from the inside and out, minimizing the potential for air traps between the inner and outer layers of fiberglass. Ultimately, I felt that this would turn out to be a more robust repair.
We did say mighty sailing ship, right?
First application: You can see by the way I beveled the holes I was able to restore some thickness.
Sanding: After each application cured, I would sand the patches until they were flush to the contour of the hull.
The fiberglass resin that I chose for this project Is West System Epoxy Resin.
There are several different types of resins that can used with fiberglass- the main three are epoxy, polyester, and vinylester. Of the three, epoxy resin is probably the strongest. It also works better than any of the other types of resin when you have to adhere to existing (older) fiberglass and it forms a virtually leak proof barrier. It has a compressive strength of 11,400 PSI (801.5 Kg/Cm2) which is 1600 lbs less than Marine-Tex but ultimately, it will provide the overall strength for this repair.
This is what it looked like from the inside with a layer of fiberglass cloth epoxied over the hole -now filled- with Marine-Tex.
This is the end result. Primed and ready for paint.
The 'Hole-Thing' is fixed!