Inspecting Your Boat's Finish

Inspecting Your Boat's Finish
Imperfections in your boat's finish can tell you a lot about its build.
Inspecting Your Boat's Finish
Star Cracks
What: Cracks radiating from a single point
Where: Point of impact, above or below waterline
Why: Local impact
Severity: Low
Fix: Simple grind and fill; stop dropping things!
Inspecting Your Boat's Finish
Leakage/Wet Core
What: Water-soaked core between fiberglass skins
Where: Hull, deck, topsides — global
Why: Improper build or accessory installation
Severity: High
Fix: Costly rebuilding and recoring
Inspecting Your Boat's Finish
Design Flaw Cracks
What: Linear or chip-ridden cracks
Where: Transitions in plane or shape of a part
Why: Load paths interrupted
Severity: Medium to high
Fix: Generally not repairable without rebuilding
Inspecting Your Boat's Finish
Cracking Due To Shoddy Construction
What: Separation of parts; cracks through hull shell
Where: Stringer/bulkhead/transom attachment
Why: Poor workmanship or quality control
Severity: High
Fix: Reapply tabbing and/or add 'glass to hull bottom
Inspecting Your Boat's Finish
Cracking Due to Shoddy Construction
The stiffener, the square-sectioned part on the left, should have been laminated to the plywood frame it intersects. Also, some laminate was missing from the original design, making it even more flexible in this location.
Inspecting Your Boat's Finish
Blistering
What: Bumps on surface of the fiberglass
Where: Mostly the hull below the waterline
Why: Low-quality resin, gelcoat or laminate
Severity: Low to medium
Fix: Costly and time-consuming grinding and recoating