Options for a soggy fish.

Thread starter #1
I have a seriously soggy boat. It is a ’69 fish in need of some minor repairs, otherwise in good shape, just seriously, seriously overweight (I’ve not gotten it on a scale yet, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it tops 300 lbs).

From talking to a number of different people and reading the forum, I seem to be getting mixed signals about drying out a sunfish. Some say it works, others have said, don’t bother, you’ll never get all the water out.

As it stands I see the following options

1: Cut two holes in the top deck and devise a low power ventilation / heating system.

Pros: Low initial cost. Small labor investment. “Set it and forget it” process (this is especially attractive since the boats is at my mom’s house and will stay there through the winter.

Cons: Time consuming. I figure the boat won’t be ready to sail until next year. Considering that I am fixing this up to teach my 11 year old son to sail, this is not a major drawback, however, where is the point of diminishing returns if I can’t get all the water out? Also, I see the strong possibility that I will wind up with three 5” ports in the boat: bow, near the centerboard slot and aft, I don’t want the boat to look like a floating junker.

2: Replace the foam

Pros: Ultimately, This appears to be the only sure fire way to get all the water logged foam out. Replacing the foam with new technology extruded polystyrene foam may also represent a major tech improvement in weight and future water resistance. I may still need one vent port amidships. However, but that would be offset by the ability to use it as a cat bag. In addition, this would allow better access in making repairs to the hull and upgrading the rudder, adding a hiking strap, etc.

Cons: Labor intensive, high skill levels, etc, Cost of materials*

3: Buy a new boat

Pros: It’s a new boat.

Cons: Even though a new sunfish is still one of the best “bang for the buck” deals in sailing, it’s still a bit more than I can swing at the moment.



* From some preliminary research, I don't see why I can't use one of the newer extruded polystyrene foam boards from dow or Owens Corning. OC's Foamular 150 is avaialable in 2" thick boards that can be glued up to the appropriate width and shaped. I also think that it would be possible to wrap the blocks in ultracoate like a model airplane wing to vapor proof them further.
 
#2
your options are a logically layed out progression , start with #1 and go from there ! Replacing the foam is a BIG project and you will need some skills(if you don't already have them , and option #1 would be a good move in aquiring them). It ain't rocket science so dive in !
 
Thread starter #3
Yeah, As I see it, Option 1 is a "nothing to lose" option. Beside, now I have another justification for buying a rotozip tool and circle cutter.
 

Wayne

Member Emeritus
#5
From talking to a number of different people and reading the forum, I seem to be getting mixed signals about drying out a sunfish. Some say it works, others have said, don’t bother, you’ll never get all the water out.
Interesting..., usually the people I find who tell me it doesn't work expect an overnight success. I frequently buy their boat really really cheap and have a great boat in 3 - 6 months.


Cons: . . . Also, I see the strong possibility that I will wind up with three 5” ports in the boat: bow, near the centerboard slot and aft, I don’t want the boat to look like a floating junker.
. . . or you could glass your bow and stern cut-outs back in place once the boat's dry. Gelcoat the saw kerf and buff it in like nothing was disturbed.


* From some preliminary research, I don't see why I can't use one of the newer extruded polystyrene foam boards from dow or Owens Corning. OC's Formula 150 is available in 2" thick boards that can be glued up to the appropriate width and shaped. I also think that it would be possible to wrap the blocks in ultracoate like a model airplane wing to vapor proof them further.
Getting creative is great, just a little risky going out on a limb as your own Guinea Pig.

From experience doing this project, the flotation grade billets foam blocks are recommended to be cut from are what floating docks use. The styrofoam is a denser grade than construction insulation sheets. As we've experienced, when exposed to extreme moisture they may osmos, but they don't break down. Your idea of laminating sheets into a block of sufficient thickness then wrapping it in a barrier sheet may transcend that issue.

.
 
Thread starter #6
From experience doing this project, the flotation grade billets foam blocks are recommended to be cut from are what floating docks use. The styrofoam is a denser grade than construction insulation sheets.
There are some pretty strong, dense grades of construction foams out there.

Dow Bouyancy billets have a minimum compressive strength of 19 PSI.

Dow square edge roof insulation is rated 25 PSI.

a 4 x 8 - 2" sheet is a lot cheaper and easier to get then the billet. You could build up a 6" block by gluing three sheets together.
 

Alan Glos

Active Member
#7
Just another thought. How old is your boat? In my experience, the foam in the early
fiberglass Sunfish seemed more prone to soak up water and are more reluctant to give it up thru ventalation attempts. I am told that the old boats (say pre-1970 or thereabouts) used an open rather than closed cell interior foam, but maybe this is just nautical urban legend (Wayne - chime in anytime). You are correct that you will never get the boat back to new boat weight unless you live in Death Valley and can leave the hull out in the sun for a few months. That said, you can get most of the water out if you are patient. I use a duct fan and a 40 watt light bulb and took about 50 lbs. off one newer hull a few years ago.

Alan Glos
Cazenovia, NY
 

rmwmmw

New Member
#8
Interesting..., usually the people I find who tell me it doesn't work expect an overnight success. I frequently buy their boat really really cheap and have a great boat in 3 - 6 months.
I'm with Wayne on this one. Additionally, why do many feel it necessary to cut holes in the deck? One or two inspection ports in the cockpit walls can do the job if we're just trying to dry out the hull. If you've got a really old boat (no aft storage compartment), this works even better. Try to avoid holes in your deck. Looks junky.

A small heat source, a little forced ventilation and a great deal of patience will work wonders.

Another thing to condsider: If the boat already has an inspection port, don't assume that all the weight is water. I've seen boats with beach sand, ant farms, mud wasp nests, or all of the above. These were long-term storage in a bad location with left-open inspection ports.
 
#9
Predicate inspection port on end goal , if you have to repair/replace foredeck hardware or do any fixes around mast hole/tube , inspection ports in the footwell will do you no good unless you have abnormally and freakishly long arms ! SO..... be sure of all the repairs you need to do before you start cutting ! if you boat is sixties era and weighs "300" pounds you probably have more to do than just dry it out ! I don't like the look of inspection ports on the deck either , however they can be practical solutions. When I can afford a "new" fish I will be stoked for a shiny unblemished deck with soundly backed hardware , in the meantime.....seaworthy and functional.
 

Wayne

Member Emeritus
#10
There are some pretty strong, dense grades of construction foams out there.
Dow Bouyancy billets have a minimum compressive strength of 19 PSI.
Dow square edge roof insulation is rated 25 PSI. a 4 x 8 - 2" sheet is a lot cheaper and easier to get then the billet. You could build up a 6" block by gluing three sheets together.
That's good information to know, always appreciate updates to workable solutions, thanks. Do you know if the roof grade is generally available or should I just Google it and see where I find it?



I am told that the old boats (say pre-1970 or thereabouts) used an open rather than closed cell interior foam, but maybe this is just nautical urban legend (Wayne - chime in anytime).
Logic says that's got to be a myth. Alcort advertised "flotation" in the brochures and open-cell foam is a sponge (though some types are rigid). There'd be no point to putting something in the hull that would hold water and wouldn't float.


. . . however, I can see where someone with a waterlogged boat who was unfamiliar with the emergency flotation concept might mistake saturated foam for a sponge and wonder why-in-the-heck it's even in there.

I encounter people all the time who also swear the boats either never had the deck sealed to the hull -or- that the boats leak from day one, without giving a second thought to their boat might be broke and need fixing. Go figure?

.
 

rmwmmw

New Member
#11
Predicate inspection port on end goal , if you have to repair/replace foredeck hardware or do any fixes around mast hole/tube , inspection ports in the footwell will do you no good unless you have abnormally and freakishly long arms ! SO..... be sure of all the repairs you need to do before you start cutting ! if you boat is sixties era and weighs "300" pounds you probably have more to do than just dry it out ! I don't like the look of inspection ports on the deck either , however they can be practical solutions. When I can afford a "new" fish I will be stoked for a shiny unblemished deck with soundly backed hardware , in the meantime.....seaworthy and functional.
Roger that. Sometimes you just gotta' do it.
 
#12
1962 sunfish, quite wet from several punctures through the hull near the rudder.

Inspection port (just the 1 ) located between the center board & the splashguard. A long fat hose from a shop vac inserted down the hull fore & aft to suck out all the loose bonding foam, broken fibreglass & crap as welll as a fair amount of free flowing water leaching from the foam.

Cleaned as possible & all the grinding & gouging complete for the hull repairs, the vac hose was simply swapped to blow clean, filtered & dry air as deep in the hull as possible. It only took a month or so to dry the hull , a few hours per day while Ben & I worked on it & two other hulls. She's dropped 60 + pounds & now goes fast enough to destroy the rudder (thats another story)

Anyway, moist air could escape through the single inspection port (we had to put two on the Laser !) and the soon to be repaired punctures in the hull, it was noisy at times, but very efficient compared to some of the other methods mentioned.
 
#13
Try the first option. I did that with my boat last winter, with just two inspection ports, one up near the splashguard and one behind the cockpit. Like yours, I'm not sure what it weighed, but since two of us had trouble carrying it, 300 sounds about right. It's amazing how much lighter it is now. Then you have to find where the leaks are and repair them, or it will just get wet again.
 
Thread starter #14
Just another thought. How old is your boat? In my experience, the foam in the early fiberglass Sunfish seemed more prone to soak up water and are more reluctant to give it up thru ventalation attempts. I am told that the old boats (say pre-1970 or thereabouts) used an open rather than closed cell interior foam, but maybe this is just nautical urban legend (Wayne - chime in anytime).
You may be on to something there.

From my limited knowledge of the technology, I would be willing to bet that in the earlier hulls, the floatation blocks were made of expanded polystyrene (EPS). I'm also willing to bet that the newer floatation blocks are extruded polystyrene (XPS).

Resistance to water vapor permeation in EPS can be as much as 3 perm, while it ranges from 0.8 to 1.1 perm for XPS.

XPS is also lighter* with a higher compression strength and flexural strength than EPS.

*which would explain how they were able to shave lbs off the boat weight over the years.
 

Wayne

Member Emeritus
#15
From my limited knowledge of the technology, I would be willing to bet that in the earlier hulls, the floatation blocks were made of expanded polystyrene (EPS). I'm also willing to bet that the newer floatation blocks are extruded polystyrene (XPS).
That makes more sense. In the early '80s AMF knocked 10 lbs off the published hull weight, then again in the late '90s Vanguard dropped the published weight another 9 lbs to it's present 120 lbs. Some of that weight reduction was attributed to better and more consistent construction practices. A change to the flotation block material variety lends logic to the equation rather than thinking it was all a reduction somewhere else in the design. Thanks for your insight on material technology.

.
 
#16
Assuming the boat normally weighs 130lb. you are packing approx. 20 U.S. gallons of water if the 300 lb. current weight is accurate. I'd love to know where you can bury that much water in a boat the size of a SF. It might be best to start by getting two beefy guys, each taking an end, and twist that sucker like a beach towel thereby wringing out out at least 15 of those gallons.
 
#18
Try the first option. I did that with my boat last winter, with just two inspection ports, one up near the splashguard and one behind the cockpit. Like yours, I'm not sure what it weighed, but since two of us had trouble carrying it, 300 sounds about right. It's amazing how much lighter it is now. Then you have to find where the leaks are and repair them, or it will just get wet again.
I agree - and just did the same thing this past winter. I don't know if my boat was near 300 pounds, but it was pretty heavy - even with 3 or 4 guys carrying it down the beach. I got it down to 145 pounds - using no heat source, just a fan blowing most of the winter months.

I just also replaced the expanding foam that seats the foam blocks - I used the 2-part expanding foam (the 4-lb kit), and it has stiffened everything up quite nicely. Having sailed a few times since the foam work, I noticed that when I get some water in the hull still (have to get that leak test done... ) the old 2-part foam soaks up the water pretty good, while the new stuff does not. Makes me wish I had been more diligent about removing the old expanding foam. Add it to my to-do list! :)

cheers,
tag
 
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