Moisture delamination risk in hull of westerly pentland

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Karm01
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Moisture delamination risk in hull of westerly pentland

Post by Karm01 »

I have recently had the hull of a westerly Pentland 1979 surveyed.
It was found to have a high moisture content throughout . There were indications of delamination on selected areas forwards of the keel towards the bows. This was evidenced by movement of the hull to pressure from the handle of the surveyors hammer.
The three simple conclusions made by the surveyed were
(1) the hull has been weakened in these areas
(2) uncertainty of time before this becomes a major safety and operational problem
(3) if I choose to sell it at a future date, the prospective purchasers survey will pick this up especially as it is most likely to have deteriorated further.
This boat was advertised at circa £20000.
Is this problem a common one to westerly of this age and as such shouldn't be too concerned as they will remain sound for at least 10 yrs. if so should I refuse to proceed with purchase or proceed at a much reduced price. I do understand that there is an element of uncertainty, of judgement and of course risk. However all experiential and knowledgable comments would be well received .
Thank you all
Denys
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Re: Moisture delamination risk in hull of westerly pentland

Post by Jolly Roger »

Has the boat been on a drying mooring? Repeated rough grounding could be the cause of the problem.

What surprises me is you do not mention what your surveyor has recommended to rectify the problem. When I bought my boat there had been a small area of delamination on the foredeck, but the surveyor said it was not major and easy to fix. He recommended to drill into the deck and use a syringe to pump epoxy resin in to fill any voids. It certainly made it completely solid and was very easy to do.

I wonder if a similar fix could be a solution for your delamination. My suggestion would be to try and find the total extent of the delamination. Then plan to drill all over the area from the inside of the hull just into the void of the separation. Then pump epoxy resin in, starting near the bottom. As each hole becomes filled then seal it and start filling futher up. Be prepare to use a lot of epoxy, so buy plenty.

Before you start doing anything, I would run every suggestion to your surveyor. He may disagree with some suggestions, even mine. You have paid the surveyor for his professional opinion and you may find it is beyond his experience. It would also be worth contacting an expert GRP repair guy as they usually have experience of doing similar jobs. In the past I had a boat extensively damage due to the 1987 hurricane. The boat was only 5 months old and was cracked from within the cockpit and right down to the waterline. The boat was roaded back to the Hamble for repair under the supervision of an expert GRP surveyor as the insurance company would not write it off. Later I found out from the expert GRP repairer the comment of the surveyor I employed - "Christ, what the hell are we going to do to repair this". Gave me a lot of faith as the repair guy dictated what needed to be done and taught the surveyor how to complete the repair. The hull was laminated internally and the gel coat beautifully matched, but nearly a quarter of the deck was cut away and a new section was let in. The repair cost the insurance company £12,000 in 1989, as the repair took 18 months to complete.

Do not worry too much as it should be able to be repaired. Hopefully you should be able to do the work, rather than employ a yard at great expense.
Roger
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Re: Moisture delamination risk in hull of westerly pentland

Post by mikebuggy »

I find this story very surprising and odd. Usually osmosis proceeds v....e...r...y s..l..o..w..l...y! ...And...the presence of moisture in a hull is NOT of itself a defect. The long term affects of increasing moisture content does of course eventually play a large part in later problems, but there are ample warnings through the life of the vessel, blisters of course eventually, but, long before this, there would be very few owners who werent aware something was amiss down the years. Every time those darned insurance companies make you have an insurance survey for example? Not many owners would not be aware that 'their readings are high'. A huge proportion of older boats have already had 1, if not 2, cycles of solvent free epoxy treatment for just this reason. The boats papers, records, bills etc usually have past records of any or all of this. Delamination is a very 'late stage' phenomenon and it would be difficult to see how the natural chain leading up to it could possibly have been missed. This level is past the microblister cluster stage and even past the structural blister (swelling) stage...were any of these present on this survey or on previous surveys? ....and who could possibly have missed them? What past treatments have taken place, and has there been any blister/hole/damage filling or partial reskinning?
What type of meter did the surveyor use and did he record readings inside as well in the affected areas? Was the surveyor perhaps just feeling the natural 'as built' flexibility of the hull in those areas...or has there been some other form of damage? Was this not perhaps just the forward hull side 'wave slam areas' which do tend to flex and fatigue over time on many boats and often end up needing some stiffening inside? Would it be possible for the owner to arrange for removal of coatings in sample areas for a deeper analysis .....perhaps even into some of the core areas for inspection...easily patchable afterwards. I have taken circular cores out (seacock hole size) to test this in bad cases.
For what its worth, Westerly hulls are usually incredibly thick in the lower parts of the hull .....I have seen cross sections where even the delaminated layers were thicker than most modern boats!
Finally, if you have the time, repair of a damp hull need not be all that expensive. You would need a light soda blasting, or simiar, to remove all coatings down to a a kind of roughened gelcoat (or in the very worse cases past this until the gel coat is just removed). The hull must then be washed very thoroughly several times to remove all osmotic by-products. The blasting usually opens up any damaged areas & blisters as well (which would need to be filled once dry). The boat is then left to dry out.....it will take several months naturally.....but can be done cheaply this way.....quicker if you can afford all the usual heating and covering. A thick high build epoxy layer is then applied once the readings are down to single figures, followed by the normal protective coatings and primers etc.
Apologies for rambling on...hope some of this helps!
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Re: Moisture delamination risk in hull of westerly pentland

Post by aquaplane »

Run away.

Buy a boat that doesn't need fixing.

Certainly don't buy a fixer upper for top dollar.
Bob.
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Re: Moisture delamination risk in hull of westerly pentland

Post by Gary-Cottam »

That would be my advice - Run very fast!
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Re: Moisture delamination risk in hull of westerly pentland

Post by Nigel Birch »

Me too. Loads of boats to choose from it's a buyers market....
Nigel
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Re: Moisture delamination risk in hull of westerly pentland

Post by steve parry »

Hi,

I am a proud owner of a 79 Westerly Pentland - WALKABOUT.

Early Westerly models(especially Centaurs) did suffer from weak area's around where the keels were attached to the hull and guidance was given by Westerly to stiffened up around the keel bolts etc. Later models had this area upgraded on build, I for one have not come across this problem on later Pentlands.

I think what you have to remember that this could happen to any boats not just Westerly's. I am not an expert but it sound to me that the Gelcoat has come away from the glass matting and that is fixable. The current owner should have a look at the area in question and have a look at what is behind this movement. It is in his own interest that he does this, if he wants to sell the boat to yourself or anytime in the future (if you don't buy it).

I wouldn't give up on it just yet, do some investigation with the owner etc and see what comes up. There are not very many Pentlands up for sale at the moment and good ones don't come up that often. I have considered selling mine at the end of the season and I have a local broker chomping at the bit to take it on his books as I said, they don't come up that often. He stated that he could sell mine tomorrow! But they all say that!

Anyway, see how things go and if it turns out to be a major thing - Walk away

Regards

Steve Parry - WOABoatline member for Pentlands
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Re: Moisture delamination risk in hull of westerly pentland

Post by Nigel Birch »

There is this one that a WOA member is selling and only £17,500

http://mattrose8.wixsite.com/westerlypentland
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Re: Moisture delamination risk in hull of westerly pentland

Post by steve parry »

Hi,

Further to my last post, I don't know where you are in the UK but Trafalgar Yachts have a 79 Pentland with a 1998 engine in it .It's on their books for an asking price of £15500, I don't know if it is still up for sale or it has been sold. It might be worth giving them a ring and get a few more details and photographs from them.

It's worth a punt!

Regards

Steve
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Re: Moisture delamination risk in hull of westerly pentland

Post by Karm01 »

Thank you all so much for taking time to reply to my posted query.
As a younger man , I may have been tempted to do some remeadia
Work as described. That is if I was the current owner. However I have decided not to proceed with this purchase
Thank you all once again
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Re: Moisture delamination risk in hull of westerly pentland

Post by jim1945 »

This may not be relevant to the OP but may be useful information to others looking at older boats. I bought a 1971 Westerly Cirrus that had high moisture reading in the hull, below the waterline. I sent an email inquiry to Tim lackey, Lackey Sailing, who does a lot of restorations of older boats and asked his opinion of high moisture readings. His lengthy response follows:


I was a surveyor for over 10 years before shifting my focus to actually restoring boats rather than inspecting them. When I was surveying, everyone always wanted to focus on that silly little beeping moisture toy as if it was some sort of magic box that would cure all ills. Well, moisture meters are notoriously inaccurate, or at the very least misleading. From my own standpoint, I found over the years that the meter was more harmful than helpful, and by the end I would use it only so I could discuss in my reports why they shouldn't be trusted, and go on to discuss real findings that might better describe the boats' conditions.

Any honest surveyor worth his salt will eagerly disclaim the use of a meter without additional means of determining the condition of any structure. Sadly, too many do not, perhaps to make what they do appear mysterious and expert, when in fact the real expert will be the first to downplay the results of a typical $300 meter on a challenging construction medium (FRP). The readings given by a moisture meter need to be interpreted and explained in an overall sense, as there are numerous factors that can and do make these meters read alarmingly high, when in fact there is nothing unusual going on.

Like anything else, a moisture meter is one of many tools available to a surveyor or restorer, but used in a vacuum without physical inspection and experience, unfortunately their results too often are misinterpreted or unhelpful. To be sure, sometimes a simple meter can be helpful in locating an area on hull or deck that requires further investigation, and sometimes this brings to light a real issue. But never simply because the meter says so. I have on occasion used a meter during my current work, but not often, because it's rarely called for in what I do. The symptoms of various issues that I come across are normally obvious from other means, and through experience.

All hulls absorb moisture when in the water. Older hulls with old construction technology tend to have small voids that can hold moisture, but usually without creating the chemical reaction that causes what we call blisters. Blisters may be one of the most misunderstood issues of our time, and only in rare instances are they the cancer that the boating media would like us to believe is lurking. Bottom paint absorbs moisture all the time, in or out of the water. Hulls beneath bottom paint absorb moisture, and it takes time for it to dry out even if the paint is removed. The conductivity of copper can alone cause a moisture meter to read abnormally high. Internal structures can skew the readings from outside. Epoxy barrier coats often withhold existing moisture behind them that lurks and causes issues after the fact, when it never would have without the "preventive" barrier coat. And "normal" moisture levels are...well, they're all over the place, and no one really knows, so what's elevated really mean when one doesn't know what normal for that particular surface really is? Any hull with a real structural issue is going to show other obvious signs that, should they be found, would require further investigation. So-called elevated moisture readings (without knowing what that means) on a 40 year-old solid fiberglass hull, lacking any physical evidence of an issue, are unlikely to be of any concern.

Low-tech boats don't require high-tech investigative techniques. The problems, should they occur, are straightforward and generally well-known through similar craft of like construction, of which there are many. We basically know everything that might happen to or exist in a 60s or 70s vintage solid fiberglass hull; there are not any surprise diagnoses at this point. We know how polyester resin (both pre-and post-embargo)and coarse rovings interact, or don't properly interact, as the case may be. We know that special fire-retardant resins are a disaster. We know that polyester secondary bonding is weak. We know that a lot of the laminating techniques from back in the day were, at best, casual. Despite all these shortfalls, the boats built during these decades have survived extremely well, at least as far as hull structures go. This is important when assessing any future risk or conditions. In my opinion, a moisture meter not only is not required to determine this, but may well be misleading. Perhaps the information has a use, but it should not be solely relied upon. In your case, actual physical conditions will easily tell the tale of your hull.

Tim

The Cirrus I bought didn't have any flexing in the hull and didn't have any visible signs of blistering. A second email to Tim advised him of that and he responded that he would not be concerned with the higher readings. I ended up buying a meter myself, an Electro Physics Model CT33, from a Canadian company for around $160 USD. I tested my hull at various points and some were high and other points were not so high. When I tested inside the boat I got lower readings than the same spots tested outside. There was another Cirrus in the marina where I keep my boat and when I put the meter to his boat I got the same higher readings. My Cirrus was a very low cost boat compared to the Pentlands but the Cirrus is a very well built boat. Very stiff and solid even at 45 years old.

Hope this information has some value to others.
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