A lot of boat builders today are all about cutting costs, even if it means the quality of the vessel is compromised in the process. One of the most common ways this is done today is by painting boat frames, stringers, and other plywood structures with a thick layer of gel coat rather than properly sealing them.
Why This Happens
The primary reason builders will turn to a gel coat rather than a more durable solution like epoxy is simple, they want everything to appear as if it’s all glassed over, but they don’t want to spend the extra costs to make sure it’s done properly.
Biggest Problems With This
The number one biggest problem with this is pretty obvious. A gel coat is not at all waterproof, meaning water can seep right in and start causing major damage. In fact, gel coat is actually extremely good at absorbing water, which means any plywood underneath doesn’t stand a chance. Furthermore, once the water is able to get in, the plywood will swell causing the gel coat to crack right open, leaving the plywood exposed and allowing even more water to get in – which inevitably leads to serious rot problems. And as you know, rot is something that can’t always be fixed. The entire structural integrity of your boat can become compromised and you’re only option from there is to make sure you don’t make the same mistake twice when purchasing your next vessel.
What Can You Do?
If rot has already set in, you’re most likely out of luck. However, if you have a lot of exposed wood that isn’t ruined yet there may still be some time to save your ship. You will need try to clean it and coat it with dilute resin, making sure to add another coat of undiluted once the first coat is set. Of course, for this to work you’ll need a good, clean, dry surface to work with. Some kind of rotary tool with a sandpaper drum or grinder head should help with this. Just keep in mind, however, that if your wood is very old or oily, this method may not be as successful, in which case you should try painting it with a wood preservative instead.
Save Yourself The Headache
You should always inspect the plywood structures of any vessel you’re considering purchasing. If you see that the builder took shortcuts and used gel coat, don’t even bother. And remember, if you ever have any questions about the integrity of a ship, you can always trust a marine surveyor, like me at CAS Marine Surveyor, to help guide you in the right direction! If you are considering the purchase of a new or used boat and are looking for a marine surveyor, call Christian today at 1.810.531.0992 or fill out the form in the sidebar to schedule your free consultation.