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Date Posted: - Tuesday - 11/27/12 - 5:26pm
Author: Adam Parrott
Subject: Too many projects to list ... Need help!

Hey everyone! I recently took ownership of M31 Hull #47 "Whisper". She is a gorgeous boat ... but in need of so much TLC I don't know where to start. Her decks were re-fiberglassed, although the glass wasn't finished properly (not trimmed and still rough) with no epoxy/gelcoat. She has a lot of rot in all of her remaining cabin tops ... but oddly enough isn't leaking there. Some of the rot has been dug out and filled with an epoxy putty (I'm guessing). Under the decks the plywood is completely rotted and soggy to the touch. Much of it has already been pulled away, with the only real remaining plywood where there are deck fittings (stanchions ect.). The aft bulkhead (galley area) is soggy to the touch, but again, doesn't seem to be leaking ... just soft.

The electrics work just fine, the boat has no water coming into it other than 4 drip leaks from somewhere on the deck (the hull is sound ... bulletproof).

I really want to start restoring this beautiful boat ... but I am a complete novice when it comes to woodwork boat repair so I have NO idea where to start. I'm thinking about tearing out all the rot from the cabin top and continuing to reinforce/replace the holes with some sort of filler as the previous owner did. When the weather becomes sunnier, I'm thinking of pulling all the deck hardware, trimming and grinding down the old fiberglass job on the deck, and putting a few layers of new fiberglass down. Finishing off with an epoxy/gelcoat cover and paint. Then I'd tear all the rotted plywood and just get rid of it, adding backing plates to the underside of the fiberglass for all the deck fittings.

Do you think this repair would stop the few deck-side leaks? Is the plywood structurally needed or if I put a few more layers of fiberglass on and add backing plates should that do the trick? I don't know what I'm going to do about the aft bulkhead yet ... too much woodwork for me to think about right now without my head exploding...

Thanks for any support/input. Even if you don't have any suggestions, some moral support would be much appreciated. I'm in over my head, but I'm looking forward to the journey, the learning, and eventually showing off this gorgeous boat!

You can email me at adamsmind@mac.com


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[> A little more info ... -- Adam Parrott, - Tuesday - 11/27/12 - 5:30pm

Oh, and there have been some modifications done to Whisper already. There was a metal beam added to help support the mainmast from (I guess) eventual movement. The cockpit has been redone ... although one of the lazaret hatches will need to be replaced.

The cushions were all moldy and gross ... so if anyone has patterns or old cushions please let me know!

Thanks a million

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[> [> Deck and Cabin Re-Building -- Bruce, - Thursday - 11/29/12 - 1:26pm

Hello Adam,
In my experience, fiber-glassing the top and trying to replace or remove plywood from below would not stop the leaking, nor provide proper deck support. I strongly urge you to review the projects on the web site, especially Randall's, where the decks and coach have been wholly removed and replaced, and then fiber-glassed over. I think that you will find that once you get started, the task is not insurmountable. I have also replaced much of the decks and cabin bulkheads on Gitana Vela (M31 #95) and have had great results. I assure you that once you get started, it will become almost therapeutic. Best regards, and fair well...

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[> [> [> Thanks -- Adam, - Friday - 11/30/12 - 9:49pm


Thanks - I was worried about that. Do you have any pictures of the process you could send to me? The previous owners have done a lot of modification work to the deck and cabin (I think it was completely redone some point in the past). Currently the decks are overbuilt in fiberglass and in many places have no plywood underneath, but still seem structurally solid. It's just where there is still wood that there seems to be leaking :(

My fear is ripping something out that I should have left alone. So if you have any pictures documenting the process that would ease my mind a lot. Also ... what did you find was the easiest way to cut out the old deck completely?


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[> [> [> [> Email -- Bruce, - Tuesday - 12/ 4/12 - 2:53pm

I just sent you email.
Give me a call to discuss. I can guide you through it. It is not difficult, just tedious.

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[> [> [> [> Cabin top -- Terry, - Wednesday - 12/ 5/12 - 10:52am

Bruce is absolutely right. We did just that on Bridget,stripping cabin top right down to the frames and starting over.

The decks and cockpit were ok. Bill had rebuilt the cockpit.

If you don't go all the way down past the wet/rot, it will come back to bite you.

In some ways, it is easier, and perhaps even cheaper to to the whole thing rather than chasing leaks which will simply continue to migrate to other spots an pouring money into them on an endless pursuit.

I have some photos of what we did if you're interested. there are others here who have also "been there--done that, too.

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[> [> [> [> [> Anything helps ... What an amazing community -- Adam, - Thursday - 12/ 6/12 - 4:17pm

I'd love to see as many photos as possible of the process. I hope that by the time the dry weather rolls around sometime in May that I'll have a solid action plan for how to tackle this in the summer.

And on a side note, I have to compliment this amazing community. I just arrived and already the out pouring of support, knowledge, and enthusiasm is just incredible. Even though she is going to be a lot of work, I don't think I'll regret my decision to become a Mariner 31 owner.

Thank you all for putting up with my questions ... and all the ones I'm sure to have in the future.


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[> Where to start? And on Being a Novice... -- Randall, M31, Murre, - Friday - 12/ 7/12 - 12:50pm

Hey Adam, welcome to the "Club". :)

I too was an utter cheechako when I bought Murre. I could haul sheets and tie a bowline with the best of them, but didn't know the business end of a hammer from its grip and had never heard of a ring nail; didn't know filler from a fillet, etc.

Murre has taught me a bunch, and I've put together some articles on the process, including lots of pictures, that are posted on the Mariner website under PROJECTS. In particular, with much help, I've replaced the decks and cabin side on Murre in one big chunk many years ago. You might check out the approach (not perfect) for clues to yours.

Others on this string are right. The woodworking is pretty straight forward given its all plywood work, and taking things apart will teach you 90% of what you need to know about putting it all back together again.

A couple observations:

-Given that the deck is fitted UNDER the toe rail and UNDER the house, it's easier to replace section of it if you first remove the toe rail. This does not say that the toe rail is easy to remove or replace. Its challenges are that the toe rail through bolts are likely corroded in place and won't be separable from the rail until it is off the boat, but it allows such a clean approach to laying deck that I'd recommend it.

-The cabin side can be removed without first removing other pieces of house or deck as it fits over the deck and just under the coach roof. The biggest challenge in this work is cutting the curving and angled line at the deck and then getting the thick piece of ply (1") to wrap around the house. Best to save as much old stuff for patterns as can and/or use 1/4 ply for pattern making.

-Murre's coach roof is original, so can't give any advise there.

Feel free to think out loud here as you anlge toward your project. MANY Mariner owners have done extensive restoration work, and we're not shy about sharing our opinions.


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[> [> Checking In -- Adam, - Sunday - 12/ 9/12 - 1:23am


I have just read through your entire rebuild on the "projects" page. I must say it is both inspiring and daunting at the same time. Inspiring because it lays out exactly what needs to be done and how to do it. Daunting because I still have no clue what I'm doing, where to start, and nervous as a 6th grader at his first co-ed dance.

As I still have quiet a few months before the "dry" season here, I'm going to be focusing my efforts mainly on the interior cosmetic issues. The boat is well covered now (yea tarps!) and is staying dry inside. I made sure to make note of where all the deak-side leaks were getting in before tarping though. The only real "rot" on the cabin is on the cabin sides. For now, until I can properly pull the sides off and re-glass, it was suggested that I use an epoxy mixed with a low density filler to make a structural paste that I can use to strengthen the cabin sides where the plywood has rotted out. As this isn't an ideal fix ... it will let me focus on getting the interior squared away as well as focus on the deck first without sitting around with rotting insides. Plus it'll be a moral boost to get the inside looking cheery for the next 6 months.

The previous owner said that he pulled all the glass off the deck a year ago and replaced any rotted wood that he found. There are no soft spots on the deck at all. However, he didn't pull the toe rail or a lot of the deck hardware when he re-glassed, so I'll most likely just be pulling up the glass again in the spring, checking the plywood, and removing EVERYTHING before laying down new glass and a new gel coat.

Thanks again for the support. I'm sure I'll be sending a million questions your way once I start the actual rebuild next summer ...


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[> [> [> Not daunting... -- Randall, - Friday - 12/14/12 - 6:55pm

Well, OK, it is a little.

OK, it is a lot...

But notice I did my work over about 6 plus years. Start with small stuff until you get use to the boat, and don't forget to go sailing in the summer. In hindsight I think myself a genius if only because I never work on the boat (much) in the summer--the winter is for projects.

I saw noted in another post to be careful NOT to do any patching on wet wood. If it's really wet where you are, you might leave patching of the cabin sides until the wood, the rotten sections and that around, is really dry. Epoxy won't adhere or soak up into anything moist, and trying would be a waste.

I've used WEST system epoxy exclusively, but just because that's what I started with. You might look into SMITHS, which makes a very good penetrating epoxy and then also the epoxy and filler to build up rotten areas. Could be useful. Of course the challenge we have with this method (building up rotten areas with filler and epoxy) is that the deck and cabin sides are moderately thin plywood. SMITHS techniques are more for wooden boats with heavy beaming, thick joints, etc. But look into it. Their illustrated instructions are very good.

I wouldn't necessarily go ripping up what the previous owner did right off. You might go around tapping with a plastic ball peen hammer (or even the end of a plastic screw driver). Good wood will give you a smart report and a good bounce; bad wood thunks, and there's very little return on the hammer. Test on good wood first to get the general sound OR known bad wood. Be careful though: the sound of good 1" plywood (cabin side) will not be the same as good deck wood (1/2" ply), and places where the deck is supported underneath will also report differently. Still, with a little practice, you can "sonar" you way around the boat and get a general idea where the issues are.

And read.

WEST has put together some really helpful manuals on repair using their products:

For fiberglass boats: http://www.westsystem.com/ss/assets/HowTo-Publications/Fiberglass-Boat-Repair-and-Maintenance.pdf

For wooden boats: http://www.westsystem.com/ss/assets/howto-pub2/Wooden%20Boat%20Restoration%20and%20Repair.pdf

And Smiths: http://www.smithandcompany.org/technical.html

Also, Don Casey's little books on boat repair (there are a bunch) are great because they are simply written and have lots of illustrations. I'd avoid THIS OLD BOAT simply because it had fewer illustrations.

Epoxies are quite easy to work with once you get the hang of it.

One maxim to remember: whatever you do can be undone. So don't worry too much about making mistakes.



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[> [> [> [> The long dry out ... -- Adam, - Tuesday - 12/18/12 - 9:54pm

Here in the Pacific Northwest dry weather is at a premium. And normally during those months I'm out sailing as much as possible. All other seasons are wet. I'm trying to dry the boat out as best I can right now. I have her pretty much fully tarped and have heaters running inside. I'm installing a solid fuel heater that I'm hoping will do wonders at sucking the moisture out from the cabin. I won't start any of the epoxy patching until after its been good and dry for awhile.

The problem with the old owners work is just that it wasn't done properly. The decks themselves are solid ... no soft spots or rotted wood. The cockpit and decks I think were re-done sometime in the past and are strong. The deck around the outside of the cockpit never was though, and you can tell, so I'll be using your guide to fix a lot of that ...

Where the old owner DID do the new glasswork down to the ply is very solid ... it just leaks because I don't think any of the deck hardware was pulled. The fiberglass wasn't faired or anything and was simply laid up to the toerail, not under neath. So, while the decks are strong, all the leaks remain. I think I'll have to put down one layer of glass after pulling all the deck hardware up (and properly rebedding it through the new glass) before the leaks will go away.

But all of these projects will require me to give up many sailing days this summer. Good thing I've got lots of sailing friends ... I'm going to work on all the areas of the deck that are essential to sailing (ie winches, shrouds, ext) first so that I can at least take her out sailing while in project mode a little bit ...

Thanks again for ALL your info. It has been invaluable so far in my planning stages. I can't wait to get the solid fuel heater in there!


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[> [> [> [> Wet up there, indeed -- Randall, - Friday - 12/21/12 - 4:20pm

Yes, having just last month made it back to San Francisco from Port Townsend in Murre, I can sympathize with the wet. I had lovely sunny weather almost all the way from Alaska to Washington, and then on Oct 7, winter arrived in one three day period and stayed. It took me a month of harbor hopping to make it from Gray's Harbor to San Francisco.

One trick I pulled when working on Murre here in SF was to give up my slip in my Sausalito marina, pull the masts and put the boat in a covered berth for the winter. That way I could work during the months that SF attempts to imitate Seattle. The slip fee for the covered berth was maybe $20 more a month, and pulling the masts cost less than $200, so I felt it was worth it. And I could always get the summer slip back easily.

As regards leaky toe rails...welcome to the club. Even after all the work I've done on Murre, she still has a few leaks, mostly up in the forepeak where I can't get to them. One trick James of PIXIS employed to get around this was as follows: when he relayed the decks, he took fiberglass cloth all the way up the inside edge of the toe rail so that the top of the decks and the toe rail edge became one surface. In my experience, the leaking most usually comes from this joint of deck to toe rail. If you can't run glass up the side (I did not think to do that when I could) you might lay a really thick bead of bedding compound, like an inch wide, at this point. I used 3m 100 for this and for bedding hardware (not sure it is still available). I think pulling and rebedding hardware, to your point, will also help a lot.

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