Cockpit drain and rear bulkhead repair

Thread starter #1
I just posted info about repairing the hull-deck joint, here...

I kept going on the repair of this '79 hull so this thread is about fixing the cockpit drain hole and the hull separating from the deck at the rear of the cockpit.

Background: I bought a spare boat against all the advice I give to people. It was heavy, it had been in a barn, it had water in it, the guy was really nice, and someone else was "headed up to look at it tomorrow." Gawd, good thing I don't go to used car lots. I needed it to lend to a clinic instructor that weekend, so I bit.

This boat, I believe now, was sailed without a drain plug many times. There was an old soggy cork inside the hull. It was stored deck down and froze, probably several times. When I cut portholes, the deck sandwich was soaked. The deck rail had separated and crumbled in several places (covered up with mud in his yard). The first time we sailed it, we drained it and still had trouble lifting it onto a car. The cockpit drain hole in the hull and cockpit had separated, someone tried to seal it with goop, and when the hull flexed the hole was slightly broken out.

So, I cut two portholes on the aft deck and one next to the centerboard trunk where my good boat has one. The drill squished through the foam. I put a small fan on one hole and let it run for a week or more. It's dry, with a bit of must and mold to be cleaned up.


Thread starter #2
There was a lot of junk rattling around in the hull. It was the old foam / glue they used to bond the deck and cockpit to the hull. It's very light, almost foam-like, dry, and hard. I could see the pieces that fit around the curve of the drain hole inside the hull.


Thread starter #3
The two holes are for one face and one arm, two arms, or one light and one arm. Or two people with one arm each. A helper is very handy - a friend stopped by to help.

We cleaned out the joint areas with a wire brush on a drill, a Dremel with a brush fitting, a hand wire brush, and some very rough sandpaper. Remove any of the old foam left in there, clean it up, and rough it up.

I mixed West System epoxy with 206 slow hardener - this gives you more time to work, especially if it's warm. Then we added West 406 bonding thickener to make a very thick consistency, like paste or peanut butter. Use latex gloves around epoxy.

Using your fingers seems more useful than spatulas or putty knives at this point. It was like frosting a cake with your hands. Goop it under the cockpit corners, under the drain area, and around the drain tunnel. Keep the two troughs that go under the cockpit clear, so water (and air) can flow fore and aft.

We cut small pieces of fiberglass cloth, saturated with epoxy mix, and fit them over the goop joints we just installed. Work them down smooth onto the back wall of the cockpit and the hull bottom. Smooth out any air.



New Member
Those glue chunks look like what I saw broken up and loose around the mast steps of two old boats I bought. I followed similar instructions of mixing putty like bonding agent and fiberglass cloth. My repairs were dificult as I only had one deck plate at arms length from the repair area. If I were to do it again, I would flood the inside with a work light and duck tape an old webcam to look at the repair area. Sort of a crude laprascopic surgery!
Thread starter #5
We pushed the epoxy mix from inside the hull into the broken drain hole of the cockpit. The bottom hole on the hull is duct taped shut as a dam.

I cut some thin flat plastic from a salad container or something and shaped a dam for the cockpit side. When the opening was overfilled, I pushed the dam piece on with finger pressure to seal it up flat. Hopefully that will be the face that the brass drain assembly fits on without much dremel trimming.

When this batch cures tomorrow, I'll drill a new drain hole through the epoxy from the bottom. It looks to be about 7/8" diameter.

For the record, I am a beginner boat repairman and have never worked with fiberglass. It isn't that hard. Go to the West System epoxy website, read up, watch a video or two, then follow the manual and mix carefully.


Thread starter #6
... If I were to do it again, I would flood the inside with a work light and duck tape an old webcam to look at the repair area. Sort of a crude laprascopic surgery!
Yes, the two holes and a shop light worked well. We have itchy fiberglass arms and some epoxy in my hair, but it all worked out.

Did I mention to wear rubber gloves and glasses with epoxy? Please do.

Luckily, the mast step in this boat holds water for days.


New Member
My mast step held water as well, but when I inspected where the mast tube connects to the hull that was less than ideal. In the hull they mold a wood block with a hole in it. They then butter this up in glue when bondind the deck and the hull together. In my case, all this glue had become brittle and broken. With just a bit of pushing large chunks came out. And yet, the tube itself was not pierced.
Skye's observations about the mast step filler are pretty typical, and since it's the same bog they use under the cockpit that you found broken out, you might consider one more hole up front, so much easier to fix the step when it's still attached..
Thread starter #9
Yeah, that's very interesting. When you have the stuff in your hand, it's dry and brittle and light. As crumbly as the stuff was in the stern, I wouldn't be surprised if the mast step glue is marginal.

I'll see if I can reach in there from the centerboard well and take a pic.

Another day, another batch of epoxy goop! (It is sort of fun)