Saturday, April 30, 2011

Blisters can be a good reminder...

Most of the hundreds and hundreds of blisters that were visible when first hauled are now gone as they were all in between the actual fiberglass and whatever outer coatings previous owners or the original builders had applied.  Now that the fiberglass is all laid bare, you don't have to be a chemical engineer to recognize the result of "laminate hydrolysis" in Pelican's hull. The outer layer of fiberglass matt in the affected area has turned milky white and is not translucent like the unaffected areas.  Water had slowly combined with the soluable components of the resin and had robbed the layup of its strength and rigidity.  This area is riddled with blisters (many ground out and filled over the years).

The reality is that the boat is slowly dying.  Polyester resin as a boat building material doesn't cut it.  The vehicle of my dreams, my floating sanctuary, it isn't exempt from the forces of decay?  Is nothing sacred?  Unfortunately not.  The ugly truth lurks everywhere, always coming back to remind us of the unacceptable fact of our own eventual annihilation.  And that is perhaps where the good news lies.  It is in the ability to put it into perspective.  At 46 years of age, a few millimeter loss of hull thickness really ain't that bad... At this rate, Pelican will still be out sailing long after you or I will be.

1 comment:

chrisjmelo said...

I've lived and cruised (East Coats/ Caribbean) on Alberg 35 #229 for 22 years and have the same hydrolysis problem. I probably made it worse with a bottom epoxy job. Now it manifests itself with stryrene bleeds through gelcoat and paint stress cracks. It's unsettling, and makes it pretty useless to think about repainting the topsides, but having (and wanting) no where else to live I've also tried to resign myself to the hope that the loss is minimal and time will favor the hull more than me. Like weathering a storm offshore, it's strangely and maybe selfishly reassuring to know your not alone. Thanks for sharing your experiences.