Fixing cracks in the seats.

Dave Lilley

New Member
Fixing cracks in the seats (of their boats)

I am curious how many people had cracks on the seats of their boats where the seats meet the front of the cockpit. I also want to find if they fixed the cracks, and if so, how they fixed them.

I first tried to use MarineTex to fix the cracks. The repairs held at home, even with me sitting and moving on the boat. However, during the boats' first trip on the water after the repairs, the cracks opened up again. (All of the other cracks I fixed with the MarineTex held.) The load in that area must have been too high for an epoxy repair without fiberglass tape.

Therefore, earlier today I crawled in the cubby, which I now call the cabin (I may add a head and navigation station soon), and attempted another repair from the inside. This time I used West Systems epoxy, a micro-fiber additive, and 4� medium fiberglass tape. Before I could repair the cracks, I had to cut openings in the bulkheads for access. I then clean the area and surrounding areas with solvent. Next, I sanded and cleaned up again. After the remaining solvent dried, I applied several large crisscrossing sections of tape. I wetted the area with a light coat of rolled on epoxy. I then rolled on the tape with epoxy, just until the tape went clear. Finally, I smoothed the tape with a squeegee and my gloved fingers.

So far it looks good. I only hope it holds. If you have repaired your seats, how did you do it, and how did the repairs go?



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Hi Dave ,
You'll chase those gel cracks the rest of your life. Capri 14.2s flex, its the nature of the beast. The gel doesn't want to flex, so it will crack. You'd have to fix the flexing to keep the boat's gel from cracking. As the boat gets older it will sofen and flex even more leading to even more gel cracks. Just live with the cracks or buy a new boat. The gel cracks are no big deal.
Great photo Dave!

I didn't even think of doing work from the inside, I'll have to see if I can fit in and clean up some of my sloppy glass work. Did you do any type of finish work inside your "cabin" for storage when you converted it? Do you have a vertical piece of plywood along the centerline (keel)? Did you do anything to protect it?

I don't have any visible cracks in the seats, but do have a verticle fiberglass support inside about where the seats would end, it has a small circle cut in it for (very limited) access. This might provide the support to keep it from cracking.
These weren't gelcoat cracks. I could live with those. I have to live with those, or as you said, buy another boat.

The fiberglass had cracked all the way through. When the boat flexed on the water, the cracks would open up an 1/16 of an inch or so. They went down from the front of the cockpit, through the corner of the seat, and towards the bungee holes on the sides of the seats.

To protect the vertical plywood stringer, I put a square throwable PFC cushion on either side (they fits perfectly). The hole you mentioned is the one I opened up to get access to the seats. (That thin fiberglass "bulkhead" is not attached to the seats. It seems to be too thin to be structural, and I am not really sure of its purpose.) I will fix those holes as soon as I am sure the seat repairs are solid.

Actually, I was joking about the cabin, but I should add a small box or bin for storage. I have been using plastic, locking, storage containers, but they shift too much when sailing.
Wow Dave, that sounds serious. Either the factory did a bad job on that boat or the boats near the end of a well used life. Good on your to save it and keep it sailing! :D
I thought this was a "normal" thing with older Mod 1 boats, because I remember reading something about cracks in the seats. I'm now guessing that referred to gelcoat cracks. I like that I have learned a lot while working on this boat, and I actually feel good about fixing it up...but I'm close to the point where I wish I would have bought a newer (or new) boat. If these repairs don't hold, that may be my next step.

I could always drive to California and pick up the hull you're giving away. ;) The running gear on mine is in great shape, and nearly all of the small hardware is new. (How many hours would that take? - just kidding! I can't drive that far. My back...and my wife wouldn't allow it.)
I can't say I've ever seen the type of cracking but I've only been sailing C14.2s for about 5 years. The oldest boat I've every owned is hull #1400. It has gel cracks but thats it. I have a freind that has hull 208 and another sailing 886. I have not seen that type of cracking on their boats. Ed Jones is the answer guy, ask him.
After all your hard work, it would be a shame to move on now but I'm sure you'd rather be sailing the boat than working on it. No matter what , good luck! :D I can't beleave you got in the forepeak, that's a tight fit. I doubt its too good for the hull being your putting concentrated load where it may not have been designed to carry the load there. I'm 220#s and I would probably hear cracking if I did it. :eek:
After seeing the picture of you stuffed in the bow, I might know why your back hurts. Mine hurts just looking at the picture. I wouldn't go in there as my wife or kids would seal me in there :eek: Great picture!
The worst part of being in there is the heat. During the last bit of work, I waiting until 11:00 pm, and it was still 90F before I got it there. Once in there, it heats up even more.

Well, for my last report on this topic, I have good news. The repairs worked. I patched the access holes, patched the external cracks again using MarineTex, and then took it sailing this past weekend. The wind wasn't blowing real hard, but we (me, my wife, my son, and the boat) got a good workout. Even standing on the seat to raise the mast, right next to the old cracks, the seats show no signs of cracking again. I don't how long the repairs will last, but I have hope that they will last the life of the boat.
Yeah, cracks are perfectly normal(although it would be nice if they didn't appear!). I've seen and sailed quite a few mod1s over the years but i've never seen anything like you describe, Dave. The guys at Catalina do have bad days occasionally, so i wouldn't be surprised if there was a problem like you say every once in a while. My club almost bought a Mod3 once that had a really badly laid up deck(cheap deal from catalina). There were cracks all along the deck where it meets the seats and was way too flexible. It would have taken way too much effort to make sailable, however, so we passed it up.

That bulkhead you mention is probably the same sort of thing that Coronado 15s of the same vintage have. The ones on C15s are about 1/8" thick and are attached to the hull with white glass tape on one side only(I think). They are non-structural and can be removed without compromising anything. Their purpose is to keep your stuff from getting lost back in the hull. I've removed most of one on the C15 our club has- so I can understand waht you went through glassing your deck back together. I did the surgery on the water so the hull was cooled by the water. The worst part was when I squirmed aft inside the tanks to put washers and nuts on the foreward jib cleat bolts. Certainly not a job for the claustrophobic. :D
Hi gang, about to survey a Catalina Capri. Didn’t plan on it, but the symmetrical cracks on either side of the cockpit where the cockpit meets the deckhouse worry me. after reading some info above, I’m a little more than worried. the boat is immaculate besides the two cracks...are they the sign of the end of the life of this sweet day sailor?


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