Monday, September 7, 2015

Alberg 30 refit: Lots of Holes & Rotten Balsa Core

Saturdays have been designated as "boat work day" by the first mate. She stays quite busy but has decided that on Saturday afternoons we will work on our Sal together.

Here she is poking out of the lazarette. Yoga training comes in quite handy on a sailboat- she fit in there quite nicely and helped get the fittings stripped off the decks.

Not too happy to have a photo taken :)

All the fittings and hardware have been removed from the lazarette area. This is the very aft area of the sailboat and looks very barren without anything attached. Its quite an accomplishment getting all hardware removed. There are no less than 84 holes through the deck in this small area.....84! Unfortunately all these holes through the deck led to water leaking into the core of the deck.

Here are the cheesy backing plates that secured all the rear hardware...most of them were so rotted and brittle they could be broken by hand...Just sad.

And this is what rotted core looks like. All that back mush is rotted balsa core.

I cut a very small area just to get started. Boy did I open a can of worms....this Alberg 30 is gonna be getting a new core...pretty much everywhere.

Closer look at the rot.

I cut a little further surprise there.

This is a look at the underside of the top skin of the deck. What is surprising is how much of a fight it was to get off. While all the the core is wet, some of it is not quite rotten. 

A wider view of the work area

Still cutting and chasing wet core.

Even though this core is rotten, the deck will not just lift off after being's really hanging tough. It's going to be hard work removing all the bad material.

As the fiberglass top skin is being pried off it is cracking and separating...I am no fiberglass expert but this deck seems as though it was starved for resin...meaning not enough resin was used when the deck was originally constructed. I am not sure though; perhaps this is normal? If you are reading this and have some experience please feel free to leave a comment below.

All of the core on the port (left) side of the lazarette is saturated as well but the deck is very much still adhered. Prying the top layer has proven quite difficult so far.
I am not at all happy with how wet the decks are but as with everything else, I am not surprised. This area of the deck has always flexed quite a bit when I walked on it. I started back here because the area is small and seems to be in the worst shape. 

Stay tuned


  1. Excellent, first cuts made... it will get easier now (the cutting part). For some of the more tenacious areas, I used a pry bar and hammer against the lower skin, it seemed to pop off a bit better that way, taking the core and top skin with it. I suspect you'll find it easier on the more open areas of the foredeck. It may make sense to drill test holes along the way to find out if all of the balsa is wet or not. I unnecessarily pulled a big section off my cabin top that was perfectly good.

  2. That sucks that you are finding so much rotten core. I suppose its better than having rotten core but not actually finding it. I've recently done some better soundings and have found spots on my deck that I need to investigate further. I have no advice for separating the skin from the core, since I haven't gotten that far myself, but I'll be sure to keep an eye on your progress and outcome as I get closer to doing the same work. As for thoughts about the flaking skin and possible lack of resin, I wouldn't know, as I'm a fiberglass novice as well. But I am interested to know if that is normal, or at least common for our era of A30.

  3. Wow! I don't envy you guys but at least you're taking care of it now.

    I just brought my boat from TN to VA so my refit will continue soon :-)
    Take care!

  4. You're in the thick of it now! Hopefully there are still areas of sound core to save you some work.
    I'm certainly no expert on fiberglass, but could it be that in the process of laying up the deck the end-grain balsa wicked some of the resin out of the adjacent CSM, leaving it a little drier than other areas? That's the best I can come up with - other than it was simply poorly laid up.

    By the way, it's great to have a designated "boat-work day." May those days be productive and rewarding.

  5. Thanks for the encouragement everyone! I should probably make it clear that "boat work day" was more about pinning ME down to help out some (first mate here)...Cappy works on it during all of his spare time, or what little of it he has. I tend to need a bit more prodding and direction to pitch in (because yoga! Workouts! Books! Squirrel!) so having a designated day/time has allowed him to organize tasks for me that will keep me focused, and gives me no excuse to wheedle out of it ;)

    1. That's great that you're in on the project too. My wife is incredibly supportive of my project and good help with a lot of other projects, but she's reluctant to even climb the ladder to the boat. :) Good luck to you, too, as you guys keep moving ahead.

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  7. Hi Jason: as I look at your photos I would tend to agree with your analysis of the top skin of the deck... It looks resin starved. The balsa should have been hot coated with resin before the deck laminate started going on, but that step may have been skipped.
    Also, I would try to start removing the top skin a bit more gingerly... Larger sections with wood wedges instead of a crow bar... Cracking and popping mean that the laminate is being damaged and will mean replacing all of the glass on the deck instead of just the taping rebates..Try to get more of the core to pull away/separate with the skin and I think you'll have an easier time of it... I know it sounds like a lot of work, but it's a small boat. So take your time, make your cuts near the radius of the toe rail and the house or cockpit... larger sections will be much easier to reinstall later,,, Hope this is helpful. Cheers... Neil