How to Repair Your Fiberglass Sailboat
Here are some resources you may find useful when
you need to repair your hull or deck
Hopefully the damage will be minor and you’ll get safely back to dock where you’ll be able to assess the damage and make arrangements to repair it.
However, if you haven’t had experience with the cost of professional fiberglass repairs, be prepared for a shock. Boat maintenance and repair businesses count an their clients knowing nothing about boat repair in general, and fiberglass repair in particular.
They would like to keep you believing that fiberglass repair is some kind of voodoo science.
The truth of the matter is that repairing fiberglass is pretty straightforward and well within the scope of most sailors. All you need is the right information, the right products, some simple tools and some time and patience.
Which brings us to
The West System
Meade and Jan Gougeon opened for business in Michigan in 1971 selling WEST SYSTEM® Brand epoxy to boat builders and individuals who wanted to construct or repair their own boats. Since epoxy was new in the boating world, the Gougeons found themselves dispensing a lot of how-to advice right along with their cans of resin and hardeners.
Today you can get an enormous amount of information on how to use their products from their web site. Their product page at www.westsystem.com/ss/products/ and their user guides and videos at www.westsystem.com/ss/use-guides/ are excellent starting points for anyone contemplating any fiberglass repair.
You can download the following free manuals at www.westsystem.com/ss/how-to-publications/
Wooden Boat Restoration and Repairs – 80 pages
Fiberglass Boat Repair & Maintenance – 84 pages
Gelcoat Blisters: Diagnosis, Repair & Prevention – 52 pages
Final Fairing and Finishing – 28 pages
Vacuum Bagging Techniques – 52 pages
You can also purchase a copy the Gougeon brother’s classic manual “The Gougeon Brothers on Boat Construction” and a copy of their “Epoxy How-To” DVD
Gougeons also have a very good on-line magazine at www.epoxyworks.com containing how-to articles and stories about boat building and repair. You can search back issues as well.
The Manual by Don Casey
Without doubt, Don Casey is the guru of boat repair. His books are my first reference source when I strike trouble.
His book “Sailboat Hull & Deck Repair” is 125 pages and has sections devoted to finding and repairing leaks and repairing decks, laminates, laminate cores, hulls, keels and rudders.
The book is full of illustrations and explanations by someone who really knows what he’s doing.
At about 15 bucks from Amazon, it’s really a no-brainer if you want to save yourself a small fortune next time you ding your boat.