Don’t put open cell foam in your boat

Im out at the boat more or less full time now, and getting a lot of work done. The first thing I need to do before I can safely pull the boat is address some rotted deck between the port bow and the cabin on the wing deck. I didn’t really know what this was going to entail, but decided to just go for it and replace whatever I had to.

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I cut into the plywood, using a multi-tool, until there i felt like i had pulled off most of the rotted plywood. I found a crossbeam that had significant rot in it. Not a good sign. I also found some open cell foam, just sitting in this cavity, that i could not access from anywhere. Really not a good sign.

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I started this process in December unfortunately and it started raining, a lot. So I had to tarp it and wait a few months for it to stop raining.

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When I cam back out to it, now in march, the tarp had actually held up really well, and kept it dry for the most part. Normally I’m not a fan of duct tape as a solution, but this stuff i found on the boat has got to be the strongest duct tape on earth. It’s on a whole other level from even gorilla tape. I don’t know where it came from or what brand it is, but I love it.

Anyway, I started by cutting out whatever foam I could. I was hoping that it was just a layer of it for some reason, but it quickly became apparent that this stuff went all the way to the bottom of the wing deck. Great.

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this cavity is accessible on the starboard side in the engine room, and on that side, it is not filled with foam. Its pretty clean, and there is no rot. After checking the rest of the boat, I can’t find anywhere else that isn’t accessible, and i can’t find any more foam, so Im guessing the guy who built in only put it in here as some sort of emergency buoyancy, too bad he didn’t use closed cell foam!

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So I realized I was going to expand my work area in order to remove ALL of the foam. And decided to cut back the plywood further to expose more of the area.

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This exposed the foam in the forward compartment along the leading edge of the wing deck. which unfortunately was also rotted, and also needed to come out.

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During this process Ive also been sleeping on the boat for the first time. Im in the “guest” berth on the port side of the boat. I have the entire starboard hull quarantined off because of a lot of spilled building materials from the previous owner. The port side doesn’t run bow to stern like the starboard side, because of this gigantic ancient freezer in the galley that protrudes into the berth space. So to get around that there is a removable board that spans the port hull and give you almost a queen berth side to side. I say almost, because its about 3 inches too short for me to fully stretch out, but diagonal its fine. The cabin at night is very cozy and Im really starting to like the lay out of galley up, and windows higher.

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Using basically just a sheet rock hand saw and a shop vac, I started pulling out what ended up being 7 contractor bags of rotted water logged foam. The second crossbeam, is gone, the ply that separated the two compartments is gone, and in a few places, the ply that made up the lower side of the wing deck, is completely rotted through. leaving only the fiberglass on the bottom of the wing deck to hold it in place. There is a lot of work to be done to replace these pieces, however a feel good knowing that I’ve found all of it, and there won’t be any surprises later on.

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Now I plan on reinforcing the missing crossbeam with at least a 2×4 for compression during the haul out, but I feel confident that I can repair all of this. Its nice I can now access the chainplates from the inside as well.

Onward and upward!

The Plan

SV Pelican is a 1977 Spindrift 37 sailing catamaran designed by Lock Crowther. It is known for its high bridge deck clearance, wide beam, and general seaworthiness. It is a no-nonsense cruising cat that was designed ahead of its time. In contrast to most cruising cats of today, Pelican was designed for the sailor with minimal comforts and high performance in mind.

I bought SV Pelican in summer 2016 with plans to restore it and sail to adventure across the Pacific ocean. This Blog will serve to document that journey from initial repairs through hopefully sailing in paradise.

The boat is in pretty rough shape. Its been sitting neglected for at least 7 years. There are rotted parts in the deck, and I spent the first few months just pulling trash and materials out of it. I will need to replace almost everything on the boat.

However Pelican once proudly sailed the west coast of North America from Seattle to the Sea of Cortez, and with hard work and determination, She will again.

My plan is to completely refit the boat, using DIY techniques to make it as modern and safe as possible.  The major projects as they stand now are:

  • Replace rotted sections of the deck
  • No fossils fuels on the boat, repower with all electric motors and galley
  • Re-rig with modern sails and rigging
  • Update all electronics including autopilot

The restoration will be a long road, and I look forward to the journey.

I have already met so many helpful people along the way, if you are interested in my project, please do not hesitate to get in touch.