Plywood Deliminating around Bulkheads! Boat brand new!

This is stressing me out.  The plywood around the bulkheads is delaminating and I have no idea why - what to do about it.  The boat is basically brand new.  I don't have space indoors to store it, so it has been stored outside and kept from the elements (mostly).  How do I solve this problem?  This is bumming me out.. a lot. 

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RE: Plywood Deliminating around Bulkheads! Boat brand new!

   Ouch! I can see why you are concerned. And your boat is so lovely--(I've seen your prior pictures)--that it is imperative to find a way to fix this before it gets worse.

I guess my first question is, "What do you think may have caused the problem?" I think I see a dent in the rail above the cracking. Could some sharp blow to the boat (from inside out) have caused the problem? I hope so because that's preferable to an inherent weakness in the plywood or in the process of construction. If you are storing the boat outdoors, perhaps even something happened that you aren't aware of. 

Anyway, if you fix the damage, I think you can stop the problem in its tracks. Right now, it's just a minor imperfection.

I'm no expert. Indeed, I think you are a better boat-builder than I am, but here is my 2-cents.

You seem to have some discoloration from water penetration so the first thing is to get that area dried out. That means making sure that you've got a really good cover over the boat. If it were me, I'd continue using the boat (gently) until later in the fall. Then I'd sand all the varnish off of that area and add thick epoxy fillets along the bulkhead. I'd also put several coats of epoxy over the areas where the cracking is evident. I might even first put down some fiberglass cloth over the areas of cracking. There is a chance that would look ugly, but you can always paint the interior. 

I sometimes think I'd prefer a painted interior. Somehow that would make it less irritating to be always finding mud and dust on my varnish.

Best of luck,


RE: Plywood Deliminating around Bulkheads! Boat brand new!

   From my uneducated eye it appears there are several problems.  Is it possible that there was a void between the lap and the bulkhead?  Was the lap sticthed tightly to that portion of the bulkhead - wood against wood?  It appears these are stress cracks which allowed water to intrude thus the blackend stain.  Did that area sustain any undue pressure or impact?  It would seem highly unlikely that the plywood would begin to delaminate in the middle as oppose to at an edge.

RE: Plywood Deliminating around Bulkheads! Boat brand new!

from the picture, it is pretty clear that you had some kind of water intrusion.  and whether it came before or after, at this point, in my view is not particularly important.

to fix this, you need to sand off the old varnish in the area.  where there is damage, you need to remove/sand off the epoxy (you could use a heat gun to scrape it off), ensure that it is dry and then start your rebuild/repair.   you also need to ensure your repair addresses any potential way that water is getting into the wood core.

i would consider a careful inspection/redo of the epoxy and glass on the outside of this area (the side of the boat not shown in the picture) becuase it's possible your water intrusion came from the other side or between the laps.   i can see on the right side of your picture what looks like a gap/crevise between the laps.  this can be a possible way water is getting in.  on the left side it looks like the gap is clearly filled with epoxy/varnish.

the repair i would do is pretty straight-forward.  i would re-fillet and re-epoxy/glass per the original construction.  depending on how much wood you end up losing when you clean this up (e.g., if you have a delam, you typically lose the outside laminate that seperated from the next laminate piece), you may have to build up a little patch that can be done with wood flour and epoxy.   it won't be a perfect match but it will be close enough that i think you can keep a bright finish.   you can, of course, reinforce the area with extra glass....but i don't think you need to do anything special unless this becomes a re-curring problem.

anyway, i think this is very fixable.  and that as others pointed out, there was probably something that happened that allowed water to get in and create the discoloration.  i don't imagine this is anything related to a classic 'structural' problem or defect in the plywood.

RE: Plywood Deliminating around Bulkheads! Boat brand new!

   thanks for tips... I want to point out that it is happening in more than one place, however it is very similar (right around the top of the bulkhead).. I did have a lot of problems with epoxy orange peelings, however, I FELT I fixed that issue.. I will sand the varnish & epoxy off, then re-epoxy.. I realized it is fine if it isn't perfect, as long as its functional as a wooden boat will never be ugly!  I feel I need to re-epoxy the top of the bulkheads very well.  I cut the top of the bulkhead to fit for the inwale, the (stupidly) did not hit  that with bare wood with epoxy until the inwales were on.  that may be where water is getting into the hull panels.. In a rush to get the boat into the water, I guess anything is possible.  As my father tells make, "haste makes waste".  hopefully my last four months were wasted 

RE: Plywood Deliminating around Bulkheads! Boat brand new!

   I wonder if the trimmed bulkheads and the inwales are combining to cause the delamination. There is a small gap between the top of the bulkhead and the bottom of the inwale. If you apply force to the inwale (as you would with a tight tie-down strap or sitting on the inwale), I think it might serve as a lever, flexing the top edge of the panel away from the bulkhead. You can test it be applying some force and seeing if the inwale "leans down" onto the top of the bulkhead.

If that's the cause of the problem, perhaps you could fix it by filling those areas with fiberglass paste.

RE: Plywood Deliminating around Bulkheads! Boat brand new!

I went back and looked at my inwales that land on top of the bulkhead and indeed there is a little bit of space.  And like you, I did not epoxy the trimmed bulkhead [to allow for the inwale] before attaching the spacer.  I am still in the process of buildking mine, so I am going to go back and inject some epoxy with either wood filler or cell-o into the space then run a small fillet or bead around the entire area where the bulkhead meets the spacer.  Hopefully that will insure a dry fit.  Any comments?

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