The experiences of Nick Ardley and F24 ‘Whimbrel’.
This article is for remedial action which can be taken with Finesse decks. If you have areas of irreparably damaged plywood, then a more drastic course of action will be needed.
See article on Deck Maintenance part 1 which was written by owner of F24, Gypsy, and posted December 2020.
There are several questions that come up from time to time about decks:
1. Damage to deck edges.
2. Rusting of fastening heads on decks and cabin tops.
3. Damage beneath stanchion/push pit/pulpit feet.
All defects, if dealt with, can assist in alleviating further problems down the years.
Ultimately, in time, all boats will probably require decks to be renewed to avoid a constant round of small repairs.
I have owned Whimbrel since her build in 1983/4 and her launch in the spring of 1984. I quickly cottoned on to any damage to deck sheathing due to sanding of cabin top beadings and upper face of rubbing band on the sheer strake. Damage to sheathing will eventually lead to water ingress into the plywood, especially with wicking up the end grain laminates.
All that know me will attest to my pains in pointing out about the care of deck edges when they become a Finesse owner.
As Whimbrel began to age, I also noticed signs of little rusting marks around the main decks, in the main. These indicators were a sign of the degradation of fastening heads. The fastenings are galvanised nails. Some have heads virtually on the surface of the ply deck structure. These appear to suffer most.
Note: I was told by ‘someone’ some years after having Whimbrel built that bronze fastening of decks was available as an optional extra. This is not supported in paperwork I hold, nor do I remember the class builder, Alan Platt, telling me so. I do not know of any boat so fastened. I would be interested to know of any.
I developed methods to deal with these problems early in my ownership of Whimbrel.
Occasionally I have had to carry out repairs to sheathing after lifting a pulpit/push pit foot for re-sealing or when renewing fastenings.
Repairs are best done during the dry months of summer unless boat can be covered or is stored in a shed. My preference is ‘high’ summer.
Epoxy: There are various epoxy kits on the market with differing hardening times. The choice is yours. With a 2-part epoxy, only enough needed to complete job need be mixed.
Look closely at plate 1 and you can see the markings beneath sheathing of the plywood laminate structure. Also, here, can be seen a definite line in sheathing as if ‘cut’ – it was in fact found to be very thin!
The deck coatings are cleaned back to the sheathing surface carefully with scraper and sanding paper over an area larger than the visible damage. See plate 2.
Make sure the deck coating/varnish corner to the rubbing strake is cleaned back to allow epoxy to have an overlap. Also, one does not want to ‘burst through’ the sheathing here – use care.
It is important at this stage to ensure the area remains dry and given time to ensure dry – a hot sunny day is great.
I have on occasions trickled some Captain Tolley’s Creeping Crack Cure into edge. The liquid is in fact a moisture curing compound.
In the third plate the area has been coated with a two-part epoxy. Note extent of area greater than first seemed. A deck fastening repair can be seen (brown filler). Two to three coats are often used, sanding between coats.
When cured, sand, coat with an undercoat primer a couple of times and finish with a couple coats of deck paint.
Masking the area can save further remedial action to varnish work…
Note the little ‘speck’ of rusting (ferrous oxide) coming up through the sheathing and deck coatings in Plate 4. This is a clear indication that the fastening head has begun to degrade – this seems to be a head problem alone from hammering home damage to galvanising during build.
The following plates describe best the action I have developed aboard Whimbrel. The use of an anti-rust agent was a suggestion of a surveyor when I discussed this problem some years ago.
Actions at plates 10, 11 & 12 are completed in sequence in one go.
One needs to work quickly…
Once the epoxy coating has cured it can be sanded and a further coat applied. Finally sanding area before then applying primer and deck coatings.
Sheathing/indentation repairs beneath deck fittings
On occasions when lifting a deck fitting, I have found a need to repair the area beneath. This can be the sheathing and or removing/levelling an indentation of the deck where fitting has been hardened down.
Deck indentation can be a problem with plywood decks. Aboard Whimbrel, I had this problem beneath rigging U-bolts, essentially from build. What I did will appear as a separate article.
A series of three plates and captions show repairs beneath the feet of a bow pulpit.
Of course, I accept that other owners may have more to add to all of this or have a different approach, that is expected.