Side Deck Issues


Core problems, Rail Cap Repair, Davit Back Up Plates, Power Inlet, Repainting


Core Replacement


When we went down to view LIBERTY and ultimately do our own survey, we found a soft spot on the starboard deck just aft of the step to the foredeck.  A rubber mallet indicated an area that was deader than dead and the moisture meter said that the core was wet a foot beyond the dead sounding area.  We knew we were in for some core work even before we bought the boat.  This hung over our head for most of the first summer but eventually it was a job that needed tackled.


Here is the culprit.  A poorly bedded water intake on the deck allowed water to penetrate the core and give us something else to replace.  The aluminum was even eaten away.


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After seeing how much of the core we needed to replace we had to decide on attacking it from the top or from underneath.  It might be easier to work from the top but that entails having the deck opened up for who knows how long and having to protect it from the weather.  Working from the bottom is going to be uncomfortable, make a mess and make it more difficult to repair but at least the boat won’t look like it is torn up for weeks.  We can still use the boat but not walk in that area.


Never taking the easy way out, we chose to go at it from underneath.  This really was easier than it sounds as there was an un-mounted water tank under the deck in this region.  I am glad the previous owner never got around to it as the two other tanks were 5200-ed in place.  We could just take the water tank off the boat and have lots of room to work.


Ready to do battle with the bottom skin of the deck on a hot, humid day.


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The tool of choice for cutting off the bottom skin was going to be a Multimaster type tool with the carbide blade.  It wouldn’t make a big mess, but it might be a slow process.  Fiberglass dust wasn’t going to destroy my expensive Fein tool so it was off to Harbor Freight to buy a knock off version.

Actually; to its credit (and my amazement) the Harbor Freight tool performed flawlessly and survived the job.


Underside Deck Piece showing the rotten core.  This metered soaked, was spongy to walk on and sounded dead when hit with a rubber mallet.  Yes it was rotten.  The deck fill is in the upper right corner.


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The rot extended to the turn of the deck on the inboard side and towards the rail on the outboard side but this was able to be carved out with a roto-zip type tool that had a small cutting bit on the end of a flexible shaft.  This region was back filled with epoxy goop before gluing the core back in place.


Getting this unattached from the deck was quite the chore.  I was using a small, long handled slick to try to separate the core from the glass and it took quite a bit of hammering to accomplish the task.  Even where the core was wet, it was hanging on for dear life.  Close examination showed that there wasn’t a very good bond between either the underside of the deck or the top side of the lower skin allowing water to migrate above or below the core material.  End grain balsa is somewhat slow to wick water if sealed on both sides.


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The glass on the deck is ¼” thick and you could still walk in this area with the core and bottom glass removed, not that you would want to do that for any length of time.


With the bottom glass epoxied to the new core we could now epoxy this into the hole in the underside of the deck and be done with the job.  A notched trowel was used to spread a thickened mixture onto the upper surface and then we clamped it in place using wood 2x material and wedges.  This was left to cure for a week, another miserable job behind us.  Having never done any core work before it turned out to be a good learning experience, not that I am interested in putting this learning into practice on somebody else’s boat.


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Teak Rail Cap Repair


There appeared to be a bit of soft wood around one of the boat deck supports on the port side.  Initially it didn’t appear too serious, and we thought we could just make a dutchman and patch it in place.  When we actually started poking around, we found the rot ran for a few feet along the underside of the rail.  Previous owners kept putting in more (and longer) screws up from the bottom to fasten the rail down.  Putting more holes in wood doesn’t solve ithe problem.



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We cut out the offending piece of rail to make a replacement.


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We routed out all the bad wood , which left us with basically a shell.  Since we never seem to throw teak scraps away, we had a pile of teak from the swim platform that we removed from FINLANDIA, our previous trawler.

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Glue in the teak strips with epoxy, make a few passes through the thickness planer, and we have a solid teak rail piece again.




Epoxy the joints, and screw it back onto the rail and we are back in business.




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Davit Back Up Plates, Power Chase


The davit back up plates were bleeding balsa.  Fortunately the rot did not go too far in the boat deck but the plates needed cleaned up and the cable chase needed refinishing.  The overhead lights had seen their day and also needed replacement as they were corroded beyond repair.


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.Re-polished plates





Power Inlet Locations


Pilgrims seem to have the power inlets mounted at the step from the side deck to the foredeck.

Unfortunately, they seem to be in a bad spot from our way of thinking.  First off, ours leaked.  Not much, but a leak is a leak.  Second, the starboard one that fed the air conditioner(s) and the breaker (it was a household breaker box) was a lot more than 10’ from the inlet as required by the ABYC and lastly seemed quite inconvenient to use.  Evidently prior owners got frustrated enough that they removed the hinged step that was added to later model Pilgrims when the forward deck was raised so as to not have to fight the step and the inlet at the same time.


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On the starboard side, the first thing to do was to remove the wood trim for the step and inlet.  Once down to bare fiberglass we can cover the hole left when we removed the inlet and then remove the power cables all the way back to the household breakers.  The power for the air conditioner and washer/dryer will come in on the port side close to marine grade double pole breakers like it should.  The bottom of the hole was backfilled with epoxy and then covered with a plate made of Starboard.  This will be hidden when the hinged step is replaced.


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The port step was reinstalled and two receptacles mounted on the side of the house just above the step.  The 90 degree elbow keeps you from tripping over the cord.  The aft receptacle is the main feed for the boat and used most often.   The forward receptacle is used to power the air conditioner and washer and dryer.  When another cord is run to power those devices the cord will lie close to the front of the step.  These inlets are located almost directly under the main electrical panel.


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Repainting the side decks


Eventually we learned that when repainting the decks, once the area was fully primed with the epoxy primer that it was not necessary to do a smooth topcoat of the PPG Concept paint over the entire area.


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The Concept non-skid coat would adequately cover the area with no show through of the primer.  Mixing up the non-skid required a consistency such that the mixing stick would stand on its own.  This is applied with a ¼” nap mohair roller.


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Sanded, primed and painted with nonskid applied.


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