Starting at the BEGINNING

Thread starter #121
Next tasker was to plug up two totally unsealed horn cleat holes. Also check out the fairlead- it seems to be sitting crooked on the deck of the boat, for some reason. Then we will add backing blocks to both the horn cleat and the fairlead. That was the plan anyway..... Easy peasy right? Wrong! Im learning quickly that you never know what you are going to find when you start fixing your boat.

First the fairlead. On closer inspection, its sitting very crooked on the boat, and covered in rubber cement. To my suprise, I find this when I remove it:

That's right - the pic above shows that the previous owner used some kind of rubber cement and dry wall anchors to mount his fairlead (with no backing block) to the boat. Upon further inspection of the mast tube, I see there is a lot of uneven fiber glass from the top of the mast tube attached to the underside of the deck. That will make a backing block problematic. In my mind, the easy solution is to move the fairlead down a few inches (toward the bottom of the above pic) to get a level surface for the backing blocks to rest underneath the deck of the boat. If Im moving the fair lead, I might as well move the horn cleat as well, so it looks even with the fairlead and looks nice and uniform. So now, Ive got six holes to fill! I broke out my dremmel and removed the gel coat around each hole. I drilled out each hole just a bit bigger to have fresh material for the epoxy and silica filler to bite into.

Hey! Wait a minute! Look at that above pic! What are those two depressions just above the fairlead, next to the mast tube? Lets check it out.

That....... ladies and gentlemen,....... that........ appears to be a "factory void" (if my research is correct - you guys keep me honest here). It appears that when the boat was being fiberglassed, this part did not get enough resin. The dremmel just shredded all that white, dry, flaky, broken fiberglass that you see above. It needed to be removed (as I learned from my readings here). So thats what I did.

Next, I used some glass and expoxy to add some strength to that void. I was worried that being so close to the mast tube, that particular area needs to be strong because of all the flexing forces put on the boat from the mast. No idea if Im right, but that thought process drove me to add glass and expoxy to fill the void.

Above you can see the template Im using to to cut my glass. Each ring on the plastic bag will eventually be a layer of glass.

Above you can see what my plan is. Take the plastic, place it on the glass, and cut out each ring (from outside in). After all the layers are cut out, I cleaned the void with acetone, layed down a base layer of epoxy resin in the void, placed the glass in the void (biggest piece down first, for more surface area and strength - as I learned here), then dabbed the glass to revomve any bubbles. Another coat of epoxy (making sure not to oversaturate the glass) and more dabbing the glass with my disposable brush and it starting looking a bit better. I can do this. I can do this.

While it was setting, I squirted another pump of resin and hardener into my mixing bowl, mixed it, then added some coloital silica. (Lesson learned here - get a scooper of some sort, a spoon, a small cup, anything to help you here. Take the scooper and scoop from the filler and dump it into the mixing bowl. Do not, I repeat, DO NOT tip the filler and bang it on the mixing bowl thinking that a little bit of the stuff will end up in the bowl. WRONG! About 1/4 of that dang stuff dumpped into my bowl!.......... Crap. So, I sprinted into the kitchen, knowing that this resin is getting harder every second, got an older spoon, and started scooping out the silica from the mixing bowl until I got a managable amount of filler to work with.) I mixed a little at a time until the filler and epoxy was the consistency of peanut butter.

By now the glass was getting tacky, so I used the epoxy and filler to fill all six holes and the void at the same time, then stepped away from the project to let it harden up. (Below).

After I put the kids to bed, I went to check up on it (about 10 hours later). I sanded all the work down, then used epoxy and microlight to fair it up. After the fairing filler dried, I sanded with 120 grit paper on my orbital sander. It came out very smooth. I know the pics dont show it, but when I put my fingers across the work, I cant feel when the repair starts or stops. (Look below)

Then I put the horn cleat and the fairlead in a place where I thought they would still be functional (hope I am right), made a pilot hole through the boat, coated the screws with 4000UV, used my monkey arms to reach through the forward inspection port, hold the backing boards in place, and screw the fairlead and horn cleat into place. It was tricky, and a difficult stretch, but I got them into place nicely.

Thanks to all of you......I can do this.........I can do this. And if you are reading this and have doubts .......... So can you. You can do can do this.........

They will help you - as they have helped me!

Day 1 of the fixing is complete........

A lot more fun to come.

Warm regards,
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Active Member
Careful use of a heat gun would do the trick if you want to remove the screws. However make sure to do it outside as polyurethane fumes are very nasty. A respirator is not enough protection.
Thread starter #124
Coating the screws with 4000 will make them secure, but will the screws be removable later?
I won't coat the next ones. I thought that's what you guys did. Still learning. I imagine there is a lot I am doing that may not be best practices. Keep letting me know if there is a better technique or process out there. I want to keep learning. Thanks L&VWS


signal charlie

Well-Known Member
Staff member
I recommend that you take the trim off and examine the deck/hull seam for leaks, esp on the bow, aft corners and where the boat gets rested on its side. Do the air test or you may alsosee dirt along the seam, where water has leaked out and dirt collects.

I do my seam repair with thickened (406) West System. Epoxy resin was recommended to me by several folks, especially Howie who built boats at Alcort/AMF 1960-1978 then did warranty repair for them for another 10 years. If I split the seam I add in a strip of 4 oz fiberglass cloth as well and reclamp with light pressure.

I am lucky that most of my West Marine folks in Ft Walton Beach or Pensacola have extensive boating experience. I also am very happy with Jamestown Distributors and their Tech Help line. If you plan ahead you can get some better prices and have the items shipped to you.
Thread starter #126
Signal Charlie,
I will attempt replacing the trim (which is really beat up), doing another leak test to spot more deck/hull joint leaks (I have one currently on the starboard bow), and then fixing the daggerboard trunk leak, this winter. Thanks for the advice, sir.

Right now, I'm just tackling the smaller easy to do fixes - inspection ports, leak tests, holes, hardware, voids, major impacts, and major leaks that I found my second successful leak test. Once all these are complete, I'll get it in the water for a few months before winter hits. During the winter, I'll have enough skill and confidence to knock out those bigger projects mentioned above, then prime, then paint. I WILL use epoxy with thickened filler to seal up that joint - thanks for that advice.

Slow and steady is what I'm trying for. One little fix at a time.

Keep the good advice coming - it's most welcome.

Thread starter #129
Well, Im continuing down the learning path.....and making a few mistakes along the way. (Still having fun and feeling some pride in my repairs, even though some are less than perfect.)

Here is the latest trial. I was faring some pot marks on the boat, and came across a foot long crack, starbord side, located at the corner where the hull and side meet. I thought I would remove the gelcoat to determine the possible damage underneath. When I got there, I could see parts of the fiberglass completely delaminated from the initial impact area, causing the crack. I could also see the fiberglass changing color, turning white, as I moved farther away from the impact area.

I felt confident I could repair this hole, but because it was on a corner, I was concerned about faring it and removing enough material to get to the 12/1 bevel that west system speaks of. Bottom line, I wasnt sure I could do the technique of using cardboard, glass, and wire to plug the hole frommthe outside of the boat. So, I went a different route. (I probobally should have went the cardboard route - live and learn).

Next, I cut out a section of the boat that encapsulated the hole and weakend fiberglass, and repared the hole and damaged material from the inside. The repair was suprisngly easy - I just taped up the outside of the damage, wetted with epoxy, and layed strips of glass over the damage area - worked like a charm. After it cured, I removed the tape, leaving a relatively smooth repaired area to fare. Then I used microlight to fare it smooth as best I could. Easy peasy. (Looked something like this, minus the fiberglass).

Next, I removed the gelcoat around the repair area, the boat, and cut some paint stir sticks, that I covered in epoxy. Not having battens, I used the sticks as a "ledge" for the repair area to mount on while if was curing in place. The sir stics were not a structural fix, they were just used to support the curing process. Then I used epoxy to glue the paint stir sticks in place. Here is what it looked like.

Next, I used epoxy and colidical silica filler to join the repair back to the boat. I anchored the repair into the epoxy covered stir sticks (I did not have any battons to use, so I improvised with the sticks) to hold it in place. Here is how it turned out.

After letting it dry, I removed the screws, then laid fiberglass over the repair area.

Last, I sanded down the rough spots with 80 grid and my orbital sander, cleaned the area with acetone, then attempted to fare the work area. Ill tell you all now - I SUCK at faring......I just cant seem to get the hang of it. Using microlight filler, I mixed it together going for a peanut butter consistency (but instead settled for ketchup - big mistake). Because the filler mixture was not thick enough, It ran down the side of the boat, and made the top of the repair less covered than it should have been.

Its a learning process. Ill sand it all down, and try to fare it all over again (this time making sure I have the right consistency........taking my time throughout the process).

Here is what it looked like. If you look closely you can still see the repair area beneath. Ill sand it this afternoon and try again.

In the end, the repair area seems to be very strong and rigid. It was a fun project for me. I cant help to think that it may have been better to use the cardboard/glass/wire method. Oh well, live and learn.

This is the video that Im using to guide me to the faring process.

Can you guys give me feedback? I also need some help with faring techniques! Fire away, gents.
Thanks again,
Thread starter #130
Well im actually surprised....... After sanding it all out, the microlight produced a very smooth taper. Using my hand, and closing my eyes, I cant tell where the repair stops or starts. Looks like I wint have to redo it after all. I guess even a broken clock is right 2 times a day! Here is how it turned out.

Thread starter #131
Ok, now that traveler cleats have been sealed, the horn cleat and fare lead moved, their old holes sealed up, port drain plug resealed, all three major leaking impact areas fixed, the long leaking crack fixed, multiple voids and pot marks filled and the list is getting much shorter.

The rudder conversion needs to be accomplished, the daggerboard trunk needs to be sealed, and the deck/hull joint on starbord side needs to be sealed.

The rudder conversion parts are almost all here now. Rudder, tiller and extension have arrived. Im waiting for the Gudgeon and old style backing plate. They should be here in a few days. The star spangled sail has areived (it looks awesome). Things are moving forward on this project! It feels good to have a satisfying project.

While Im waiting for the last of the conversion stuff to get here, I might as well try to tackle that daggerboard trunk leak. Can any of you guys explain how I "isolate" the leak. We know its leaking - the leak test showed us that. But what is the best way to determine where the leak is, and how to fix it once we find it?

Any ideas?

Might as well knock it out while Im waiting.
Thanks again for all the advice,


Well-Known Member
While I'm waiting for the last of the conversion stuff to get here, I might as well try to tackle that daggerboard trunk leak. Can any of you guys explain how I "isolate" the leak. We know its leaking - the leak test showed us that. But what is the best way to determine where the leak is, and how to fix it once we find it? Any ideas? Might as well knock it out while Im waiting. Thanks again for all the advice,
There could be more than one leak, but the most serious leak would be towards the bottom. :( Tape up the top, turn the boat over, and run another pressure test. You'll need lots of light—it's dark in there. :oops: Through dumb luck, I'd picked the perfect time to take the below photo—just as the sun had illuminated the daggerboard trunk lengthwise. :cool:

From inside the hull, one or more "trouble lights" will shine a glow through the fiberglass trunk. If you have a bottle brush, that will help spread the soap solution.

Not sure where water was entering, I used the "shotgun approach", and smeared a thick coat of Marine-Tex around the inside bottom. I was trying to fill any leak near the water line—whether seen or unseen. (On two of my three Sunfish).
Thread starter #133
Thanks buddy.

First, let me thank you for that pic of your sanding block. It got my cognative juices flowing on how to build one. In fact, it really helped me with my sanding today. It looks like the project turned out very well. So, thank you! Here is what you inspired me to build:

I bought a 5 dollar, 16 inch, wooden dry wall tool at Lowes. I then bought 40 grid, belt sander, sanding paper. I cut off about two inches of wood off it, so the belt sanding paper would fit, then drilled a couple of holes, counter sunk them, got some washers and wing nuts, and voila! Works great. Thank you.

Second, your above post made me take a close look at the daggerboard trunk. It looks almost scratch free throughout the inside. The hull of the boat has no real notable damage near the daggerboard trunk. The top of the daggerboard trunk looks clean as well. As I shined a flashlight through it, I was surprised how clean it all looked inside - except for about 5, inch long, delamination marks, about two inches up from the bottom of the daggerboard trunk. Here is what they look like.
(Reference the little notch bump in the lip of the dagerboard trunk for reference.)

With this in mind, I tried your "shot gun" method. I mixed up epoxy and silica filler to a peanut butter thickness, then used a spreader to lay on a layer of epoxy from about four inches down, to the top, on both sides of the dagerboard trunk. Here is what it looks like. (Reference that bump below again.)

Here is the other side.

Ill let it dry out tonight, and do a leak test tomorrow to see where we stand. Hope the "shotgun"method fixed it!

Thanks again for the pics....they really helped me.

Warm regards,


Active Member
Realize you might want it smooth in there for accommodating your daggerboard without scratching it up excessively. Tough to sand it now?? Also, you'll want a "decent" fit too, so the daggerboard can slide, but not be so sloppy either and you're potentially altering the slot size. Smearing West System with their fillers typically is used for fairing and not fixing leaks. ...although shoving it in holes and gaps could be exceptions. Leaks in this case would be best, although potentially move involved, done from the inside of the boat and using some fiberglass mat, cloth, etc...not just resin and filler. West System is used for waterproofing, by "painting/rolling" layers over things like wood pieces and stuff like that. Also for bonding. Hopefully what you have done will work, but slathering on West System not knowing where it really needs to be, came sometimes be regretful. I believe the above post described slathering on Marine Tex from the INSIDE of his boat. It appears you do have a lip, looking from the outside, so hopefully the board will still slide in/out as should. I'd make another cut on the hull bottomside, like you did previous gain access and do the repairs from the inside out. Same for stuff like the mast tube, etc.
Also think about using something as inexpensive as a palm sander on flat surfaces. Ideally a random orbit sander is best, but can save a lot of time and save the block for final finish work with finer grits. Then when you run your hand over the final fairing, CLOSE yours eyes so you are not influenced where the repair starts and stops. You'll feel even the slightest differences. On the bottom it doesn't matter so least to me. But once you apply gelcoat and a high shine, surface imperfections will stand out more, the shinier the finish is.. Think high gloss paint vs satin....and how they cover woodwork when painting your house. Another good reason for a "base/primer" coat before a final finish, as you won't feel the smaller pin holes in your filler, but they'll stand out with a single color finish, if they don't "fill up" with the final gelcoat.
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Thread starter #137
Thanks for the insight here. I applied a very thin layer of the filled epoxy and made sure the stuff did not extend out past the lip. The intent was to keep the daggerboard from making contact with it (since the entry and exit of the trunk seems to be more narrow than the inside of it). I'm hoping that this simple step will fix those 5 little trouble spots by filling those small holes with resin and thick filler (to keep it from dripping off those trouble spots). We will see. If not, I'll put an inspection port in the front of the cockpit (in conjunction with a hiking strap) in order to make a fiberglass repair to the daggerboard trunk from the inside (as you suggest).

As for the sanding block, just used it with 40 grit to knock off the high spots and to remove the excess filler initially. It worked extremely well. Then switched to my orbital sander for the finer 120 grit. Was going to go even finer grit, but it seems as though it is not needed now. Very smooth.

Thanks again for the thoughts - keep em' comin'

Grateful as always,


Active Member
you'll probably want to end up with #400 grit or finer, before any painting, the scratches would probably show thru that you now can't feel. Lastly, when repairs are they quickly get, it is very hard to see imperfections. Once it is a single color, they are MUCH easier to see. Usually that's the final coat, and decisions are made whether to apply an additional final coat, when these imperfections pop up. Keep on chugin" best way to learn
Thread starter #139
Thanks bro......we'll do!

Not even near ready for 400 grit sanding....ugh.....but im sure its in my future.....reality check hits home.


Active Member
some people will say... (and even knock you for it!) ...that they'd rather be sailing. But doing this kind of stuff on a boat becomes addictive...or at least a lot of fun. The nay-sayers are usually the ones with an old rust bucket car in their garage that hasn't run in 10 yrs! That said, one can make a decent income doing gel repairs and fiberglass work (retirement?), as quality work is always in demand and you can always fairly, name your price. Your eyes are going to open up to stuff you'd never dream doing, but do so because of the entertainment and relaxation. But yes.... endless sanding is a chore!