Our deck core samples for testing duplicated the deck core of our test boat, a 32-foot PDQ catamaran. Some other boat cores will be more strongly constructed; some will be lighter.
The writers and editors at Practical Sailor are perpetual tinkerers-always looking for creative, do-it-yourself solutions to even the smallest onboard problems. We figure our readers likely suffer the same challenges on their boats, so were obliged to share such projects.
Breathing life into an older fiberglass boat always entails more work than was expected, but for a person with the time, skill, and do-it-yourself inclination, it is often worth the extra effort. The DIY approach makes even more sense when the boats structural quality and big-ticket components meet the grade, and the skipper and crew are ready to tackle the cosmetic makeover. These fairing compounds are perfect for structural and cosmetic fiberglass repairs.
Testers evaluated sandability, resistance to sag, cure time, and adhesion using sample fiberglass panels with 3-by-3-inch test swatches. The fairing compounds were applied and cured in temperatures ranging from the low 60s to the mid-80s. Each test was repeated three times, and the results were averaged. The shaping test involved closely timed periods of even sanding using a block sander and new sheets of 80-grit sandpaper. Testers observed each materials tendency to clog the sandpaper, and measured the volume of accumulated dust after four minutes of sanding.
Epoxy fillers can be used to fix surface imperfections or for reshaping appendages like keels and rudders to make them more efficient. The smaller the surface imperfection, the less viscous the fairing compound should be. When filling deeper holes or voids, check the manufacturers recommended thickness per application. It may take two or more coats to achieve the necessary thickness. Applying filler too thickly can cause it to sag or will result in an incomplete cure.
One of the more popular uses for fairing compounds is for shaping underwater appendages like keels and rudders so they are more efficient. Adjusting the NACA (National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics) profile, or airfoil shape, of a fin keel or rudder can create more lift to enhance windward performance. Altering the trailing edge can yield similar improvements.
Running the wires for new electronics requires your best cursing vocabulary, lots of sweat, twisting body contortions, luck, and the occasional bandage. For tips on how to make this job easier, we turned to PS contributor Bill Bishop. A professional marine-electronics installer, Bishop has many ingenious ways to thread a wire from point A to point B.
Weve sewn our fair share of eyes in nylon webbing, but heres an easy no-sew alternative for creating a webbing strap with a buckle (shackle) that can be used for easily lashing down the dinghy, a battery, or even holding up your pants in a pinch. It is based on stuff a sailor has on hand-webbing, a chain link, and a shackle-and is as strong as professionally sewn ends, plus it can be untied after loading. It has tested at greater than 85-percent breaking strength and 100 percent of minimum rate strength, and it works on both nylon and ultra-high strength materials like Vectran webbing.
The true test of marine gear is not whether it works when installed, but rather how it functions after years in the field. To that end, we have left samples of sewing materials and sewn test samples in the sun, wind, rain, and snow for two years, and have also sailed with sewn samples in service on our test boat.
Pulling hoses is generally low on the fun list. They are in bad places, jammed onto crusty hose-fitting barbs, and have stiffened over the years. As part of our 2016 update on long-term tests, we needed to wiggle loose a few of the sanitation hoses were testing to see how they were looking on the inside-a job much less pleasant than new installation.