Eliminating Soft Spots

By: Frank Lanier

QuestionDuring my spring commissioning, I noticed a soft spot in the deck around my anchor chain pipe. Water also squishes out a bit around the pipe when I walk in this area. Any thoughts on what caused this and possible options for repair?

AnswerRepair options when dealing with wet coring are based on the core’s condition, which is determined by taking a core sample. This would ideally be done by drilling a small hole in an inconspicuous place from the inside or below the area and looking for moisture and, in the case of end-grain balsa or plywood, rot. Such a check can be carried out by any boatyard or competent DIYer — just be sure not to drill all the way through the deck! If the coring is deteriorated, it should be replaced. If it’s wet but not deteriorated and there is no delamination, you can try to dry out the core using vacuums, heat, etc. Bear in mind, however, that it will be very difficult to remove all of the water (the only sure way being to replace the core), and any remaining moisture will allow core deterioration to continue.

Regardless of whether the decision is made to replace or dry out the existing core, the area should be sealed to prevent further moisture entry. Unless the deck is damaged, water entry most commonly occurs at deck hardware installations (e.g., cleats, hawse holes, stanchion bases) as a result of bedding (caulking) failure or improper sealing of the deck core against moisture entry during the initial installation. The recommendation here would be to remove the pipe (and all other deck hardware in the immediate area), inspect the coring beneath for damage and rebed each to prevent further water entry.

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