Engineer and composites expert Rick Strand is president at Impact Matrix Systems, Hampstead, New Hampshire. He has worked for Boston Whaler, ITW Plexus and TPI Composites and consulted for Baja, Sea Ray and others.
The finish on your boat is like skin. It can crack, peel, blister, change color, wrinkle or distort. In many cases, these are the symptoms of a deeper issue occurring somewhere below the finish layer. An owner needs to inspect his vessel’s finish on a regular basis, noting any changes that may have occurred.
Your boat may possess a gelcoat or paint finish. In this article, I will focus on gelcoat, usually a polyester resin formulated with pigments, ultraviolet light absorbers and other chemicals. Fairly brittle, gelcoat is the first material to be applied to the mold. It’s typically sprayed on and allowed to harden to a tacky solid before subsequent layers of fiberglass laminates are applied.
Let’s take a look at some of the visual warning signs that could be signaling a problem that might be more than skin deep.