Several years ago I bumped into some coral in the dark whilst attempting to park one New Years' Eve in the very crowded anchorage at Mustique in the 'Grenadines' of the Caribbean Windward Islands. My yacht drew 2.05 metres and in the process of navigating our way throught the one hundred other sailboats at anchor for the New Year celebrations, the forward bottom edge of the keel hit some coral.
Fortunately we were feeling our way in at not much more than one knot, but the impact and resulting grinding sound sent the heart rate skyrocketing. I knew that the keel was solidly constructed and we had nothing to worry about, but also knew that on return to Rodney Bay Marina, she would have to be lifted and the damage repaired.
Out of the water we inspected the damage and having time on my hands I elected to tackle this task myself. In the event it was relatively easy with the main difficulty being fairing down the cured glass to exactly the right shape. With an electric grinder and fine sander and a good dollop of patience this was achieved so that the finished job, once antifouled again, was indistinguishable from the original. Gazing at the finished job with great satisfaction I came to the conclusion that a lot of these jobs that we automatically call in the experts for, could on many occasions, be achieved by ourselves. From that moment on I resolved to follow this path in the future with, in the main, very satisfactory results.
A p.s to that Mustique trip was that some weeks later visiting there again after all the New Year revellers had departed we happened into the Cotton House bar which was virtually empty except for two figures at the dim far end of the room. Who were they? without dropping any names, they were two very famous band leaders who own property on the island.
Getting back to the subject of fibreglassing, I have come across a very thoughtful book on the subject and written by Roger Marshall.
The following is an extract from www.seabreeze.com 'yachting' section:
'Fibreglass repairing - not as difficult as we thought' .
Doing your own fibreglassing has in the past an exercise that many an otherwise handy yacht owner has shied away from.
However, a new publication just might contain all you need to know to carry out a repair to that latest fibreglass damage on your boat, instead of calling in the professionals.
The cost of the book may be recoverable hundreds of times over if you have the time, the inclination and the bravery to have a go.
Fiberglass Boat Repairs Illustrated, available at some chandleries and bookstores but also online this month, is a comprehensive guide to making repairs to a fibreglass boat and how to finish and paint those repairs.
Written by Roger Marshall, winner of numerous awards for marine technical and magazine writing and author of 14 nautical books, the nine chapters of Fiberglass Boat Repairs Illustrated include:
Fiberglass Boat Repairs Illustrated - all you need to know:
1. How a fibreglass boat is built, identifying hull damage
2. materials, tools and basic techniques; gelcoat restoration;
3. Making minor repairs
4. Making major repairs
5. Hull, keel and rudder fairing
6. Identifying and making osmosis repairs and
7. Finishing and painting a repair job.
Then there is an appendix on building a temporary Shrink WrapT shed in which to do boat repair work year-round.
With more than 200 pictures and drawings, the book shows repair projects as done by the author and other professional and amateur boat builders, from simply polishing the gelcoat or repairing a ding in the paint work, to much larger projects such as making a transom well guard to keep water from flooding over the transom.
The most ambitious project is a complete hull and keel reconstruction on a boat that went aground and was seriously damaged.
Fiberglass Boat Repairs Illustrated is published by International Marine/McGraw-Hill. It's a paperback of some 192 pages, and it sells for just US $24.95 - not bad if it will save you the cost of those expensive professionals.
Extract courtesy seabreeze.com
You can read more about hull repair and glassing whilst cruising in my ebook 'Voyage of the Little Ship 'Tere Moana' downloadable from my website http://www.sailboat2adventure.com