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Rotten to the core

or should I say, rotten in the core.

Early Sea Sprites like Flirt do not have much of a core, the hull and deck are solid glass with a couple well placed supports molded into the most flat and horizontal surfaces, like the foredeck. What support they have is mostly molded in half tubes of thick cardboard and a singular piece of plywood to back the foredeck cleat.

All of these were in bad shape on Flirt.

Before I started, you can see the squared off outline of the molded in plywood. This was the same wood that had soaked up quite a bit of ‘glass resin when I attempted to seal up the cleat mounting holes. I was really expecting the worst as I made my first cuts.


Surrprisingly, while the thin plywood under the glass was soaked, the rot was minimal and contained to around where the cleat was bolted through it (as seen by the black staining).

Rotted underdeck support

All the resin that had gone “missing” had puddled and cured between the wood and the underside of the deck, which was where the rot was so far contained. I was pleasantly surprised not to have to deal with a soggy mess of wood. When I re-do this support, it will run from the very bow all the way to the foredeck hatch. I am also going to oversize the bolt through holes for the cleat and fill them with solid ‘glassfibre and redrill so there is little to no chance of a leak at the cleat letting water into the plywood support. Just a simple precaution should anybody forget to rebed the throughdecks later.

Once I had the plywood cut out, I turned to the half rounds that were molded to the underside the deck. They ran crosswise from side to side both before and after the plywood with two shorter pieces running fore and aft alongside the hatch area. All of them were a pain to cut out and grind smooth and all of them contained completely soaked and ruined cardboard that did little to nothing to support Flirt’s deck..

cut support

While I will be replacing them with solid oak stringers that I am going to glass in, I am left wondering how they got so soaked. There was nothing bolted through them or even near them. And while the gelcoat is crazed, the decks are also covered in a thick layer of anti-skid material that is not. It is just one of those odd little mysteries of life.

For somebody who has a hard time working above his head due to rotator cuff issues in my right shoulder, cutting these supports out was not even a quarter of the pain I was anticipating. I was able to comfortably sit on the remains of the v-berth and prop my back up against the sides of Flirt’s hull and work more in a reclined position instead of prone. I only had to stop when the glassfibre dust got so thick that it was getting past my goggles and mask, irritating my eyes and bringing the taste of resin to my tongue.

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A long time sailor who has been away from the water for too long, I am working hard to bring an old and abused boat back to life. When not working on my boat, I can often be found working as a Stage Hand in Atlantic City or just out and about on my Mountain Bike. I really come off as a quiet and boring person when people first meet me.


  1. Trial and error. Until I started working on Flirt, I had never even looked at glassfibre as a way to build anything. I have to say it is very fun to work with

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