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Don't Let This Happen To You

posted Sep 7, 2011, 1:33 PM by Christopher Hubbell

If you have a boat, and it has a leak... FIX IT!  It's hard to describe how damaging a small leak can be over time to the interior of a boat.  It's pretty easy to describe how painful the repairs can be though.  They are time consuming, and expensive.  In this case, I am slowly reassembling Ravat's interior and replacing damaged panels as I go.  I am just about ready to re-install the cabin panels which butt up against the windows.  The port side has some minor water signs (streaks in the wood) but it's mostly solid.  The starboard side is a whole different story.
Water Damaged Starboard Cabin Liner

The picture above shows a very large section of the panel which completely delaminated and disintegrated.  As much as I wanted to bypass this kind of thing, there wasn't enough structure left to re-hang this panel.  Not even soaking in a few layers of Epoxy could save this one.  My first task was to slowly and carefully separate the headliner material from the old panel.  For the most part it came off without problems.  The delaminated area is going to be a headache for me though as the wood chunks don't want to let go.

I happened to have a nice sheet of 1/4" birch plywood in my shop which I cut to match this damaged piece.  I couldn't get it quite right on the first try because the template panel we so damaged it didn't hold its form well.  After a few test fits I came away with new marks to cut from.  I'm concerned that I may have wasted that sheet of plywood though.  This stuff is very high quality, and fairly stiff.  That makes it very difficult to conform to the contours of the cabin top.  I'm thinking that I should have picked up a sheet of cheap luan instead.  It's a bit more thin (which helps where the panel tucks in) and a lot more flexible.  At this point I think I'm going to finish getting the plywood template to fit, and then replace it with luan.

If all goes well, I'll get the Luan test fit, and then reapply the headliner material with 3M adhesive.  All this will go smoothly and I'll relax with a glass of wine having finished the project two hours ahead of schedule.  Riiiight.

The moral of the story is, fix those leaks immediately.  Your boat can hide a lot of damage before it becomes obvious.