Hull Penetration Caused Eventual Delamination

A conversation among Whalers
JTC
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Joined: Thu Nov 05, 2015 8:41 pm

Hull Penetration Caused Eventual Delamination

Postby JTC » Fri Nov 20, 2015 10:54 pm

Hi folks. I am a long-time CW member, and until recently proud owner of two Boston Whaler boats, a 1999 28 Conquest and a 1996 20 Dauntless. Let me start by saying that I love my Dauntless and loved my Conquest (past tense intentional), and I seriously considered not posting this note as I do not ever wish to be thought of as a Whaler basher, especially here amongst friends. But if this had happened to one of you, I'd have wanted to know about it, and I hope my story can prevent similar occurrences.

So what happened, you ask? Here are the facts:

I always take my Conquest from Cape Cod Bay around to Nantucket in August for a couple of weeks. When I was on Nantucket I noticed that there was an inch of water collecting on the sole in the cabin draining into the forward bilge. There was also about a half gallon of water that had collected in the storage lockers under the forward berth. Because the water was mostly draining into the bilge, it was hard to tell how much had already been pumped out by the bilge pump, but my batteries weren't drained or anything.

No big deal, I thought. We had some torrential rain here and there, and I figured my anchor locker was leaking like it had in the past, letting rain water in. I didn't think too much of it until I got back to my home port on the Cape, and after inspecting the anchor locker I found that the caulking all seemed good. I spent a good 90 minutes with a hose and just couldn't find a leak, especially one that would let in the amount of water I found.

So I ended up calling up my marina and asking them to figure it out and fix it. The next day I get a call that they found saltwater on the sole (guess I should have tasted it) and they were pulling the boat out of the water. As soon as they had it out, they found a stream of water peeing out of a quarter-inch (tiny) hole below the waterline in the port bow. The hole was at the center of a one-inch circular section where the gelcoat had been chipped out by some impact. They also discovered a small crack in the inner hull on the starboard side in the bow storage locker where the water was seeping into the cabin. So sea water had gotten forced into the foam between the inner and outer hulls and worked its way all the way around to the starboard side where it found or created the crack.

Now for the sad part. After a lot of water drained out (I have no idea how much as I wasn't there), they tapped the hull and found a 5-foot by 8-foot area of de-lamination. Ugh. At this point I got things rolling with my insurance company (Chubb) and they sent out a surveyor to do a thorough examination. They ended up drilling several core samples to understand the full extent of the damage, and they determined that the damaged area was simply too big to repair.

So the end of the story is the boat was declared a total loss. I was obviously hugely worried that Chubb would dispute the claim. Even though it was clear to me that I had hit something at some time, the damage had obviously gone undetected for quite a while, and I just didn't know what would happen. Fortunately they stepped up to the plate entirely and then some, agreeing to pay the full value of the boat as insured.

The Lessons Learned from This

Inspect your hull whenever you can. It's clearly an EXTREMELY rare event to have a small hole like I got without some obvious damaging incident (e.g. hitting something hard, hearing a big CRUNCH, and thinking "I better check this out"). I think I was very very unlucky. Nonetheless, the unique construction of a Whaler hull can turn a small penetration into a big problem especially if it is in the bow of the boat and thus subject to intense hydraulic pressures. Bottom line: at least once a year, look over your hull very carefully for any damage.

Get top-notch insurance. I'm sure there are many great insurance companies out there, but I cannot say enough good things about Chubb. I will never insure a boat with anyone else.

Whalers still rule. I will not be replacing my Conquest with another Whaler, but I still have my Dauntless, which I intend to keep for a good long time (recently powered it with an E-TEC in fact). And even though my beloved Conquest is heading for salvage, it got me home safe and sound, and no matter what the damage was it was always going to get me home!

Mambo Minnow
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Re: Hull Penetration Caused Eventual Delamination

Postby Mambo Minnow » Thu Mar 24, 2016 9:23 pm

Joe, very sorry to hear of your loss. I always looked forward to seeing your Conquest at Sesuit. Did you at least salvage the Yamahas you repowered? That was a great repowering by Nauset.

Thanks for sharing your story. I will definitely look closer on my 1999 Conquest which I just moved from Cape back to Florida last September. I'll still have my Montauk at Sesuit in summer though

Jefecinco
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Re: Hull Penetration Caused Eventual Delamination

Postby Jefecinco » Fri Mar 25, 2016 10:04 am

Minor hull damage such as that described can become a very serious problem for anyone but for Boston Whaler owners keeping boats in a slip the result can easily be a totaled boat. For those of us who keep our boats on trailers the penetration would be obvious as soon as we recovered our boats at the ramp but damage below the waterline is virtually invisible when a boat is in a slip.

I hope Joe's settlement was high enough to make him well. When a boat is totaled the engines are usually inclusive with the settlement. I suppose the claimant could buy back the boat for the salvage value and remove anything of special value such as high end electronics or engines and then attempt to sell the hull. The salvage value would determine the economic viability of the transaction.
Butch

Mambo Minnow
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Re: Hull Penetration Caused Eventual Delamination

Postby Mambo Minnow » Fri Mar 25, 2016 10:16 am

Butch, Joe put brand new twin Yamaha V6 four-stroke-cycle engines on about three years ago. Heck, even I'd be interested in buying at least one of them because they definitely would be worth it alone even if you had to buy the hull as salvage. The motors would be worth it alone!

JTC
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Re: Hull Penetration Caused Eventual Delamination

Postby JTC » Fri Apr 08, 2016 10:46 pm

Thanks, guys. Yes, I ended up finding a 2003 Grady White 330 Express that was in great shape, but needed re-powering and I ended up cutting a good deal for my newish motors which I knew were well maintained. The new boat will be back in its usual slip next week! I'm looking forward to trying it out on the water.

Joe

Jccordero73
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Re: Hull Penetration Caused Eventual Delamination

Postby Jccordero73 » Wed Jan 30, 2019 10:18 pm

Hi Joe . Did your boat have a name[?] I purchase a similar boat some years back. We ended up fixing it from the bottom by creating a stringer system.

jimh
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Re: Hull Penetration Caused Eventual Delamination

Postby jimh » Thu Jan 31, 2019 11:31 am

JTC--thank you for the very interesting narrative regarding how ingress of seawater eventually caused significant delamination of the bond between the outer hull laminate and the cured internal filler material of your Boston Whaler Unibond hull.

I would hypothesize that because of the nature of water to be non-compressible, once some water got into the hull that water could continue to be forced further along the bonding area between laminate and hull filler material by external pressures on the outside of the hull as occur normally in operating the boat. Every time an area of the hull that had already had water trapped inside would slam into a wave, the hull probably compressed slightly and forced the water, under new pressure, to seek some new area to separate, creating an ever larger volume of water retained in the hull and working on compressing the hull filler material (the cured "foam") and destroying its closed cell construction.

JEFE--I agree with your observation that Boston Whaler boats stowed on land on trailers are more easily inspected. I go over my boat while on the trailer after every extended in-water period. I am always surprised at the "mystery bumps" I find, usually the result of the rub rail encountering a dock piling or little bruises to the hull gel coat between bow and amidships, probably also remnants of approaches to the dock at a little too much speed. Your mention of looking for hull damage below the water line has reminded me that I should crawl under my boat and give the keel and bottom running areas a close inspection again.

JTC
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Re: Hull Penetration Caused Eventual Delamination

Postby JTC » Wed Feb 13, 2019 9:46 pm

Coincidentally, I saw what I'm almost certain is my old boat for sale in Florida a month or two ago, but with twin Suzuki engines. The boat was named the Lucy Maria, and its successor is the Lucy Maria II of course. The listing that I saw made no mention of any hull delamination. The listing of for-sale is gone now, so I guess that boat was sold.

Jccordero73
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Re: Hull Penetration Caused Eventual Delamination

Postby Jccordero73 » Wed Feb 13, 2019 11:07 pm

Yes that was [the same boat]. I still have your hats. Great boat after we repaired [the hull]. The boat is now in Martinique, France. I have pictures of the repairs. We perfected what I consider a Boston Whaler glitch in 1999. I have another Boston Whaler boat from the same year: it has the same hull problem.

20160211_125502_1547855123896.jpeg
Fig. 1. Repairs to hull of Boston Whaler boat, possibly a 1999 28 CONQUEST
20160211_125502_1547855123896.jpeg (154.68 KiB) Viewed 3100 times

jimh
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Re: Hull Penetration Caused Eventual Delamination

Postby jimh » Thu Feb 14, 2019 8:26 am

The account of the repairs to the c.1999 CONQUEST 28 hull seems somewhat familiar to me. I believe there may have a been a report of a similar problem with that same model, or at least a similar model from that same production epoch. As I recall, a big patch of the hull delaminated from the interior filler material. This occurred while the hull was still under the 10-year-warranty--or close to it--and the boat was repaired by Boston Whaler. I can't find any old thread that describes this, but I do have a recollection of it.

JTC
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Re: Hull Penetration Caused Eventual Delamination

Postby JTC » Fri Feb 15, 2019 8:41 pm

Holy Smokes. I am totally surprised--talk about a small world.

I am glad the boat is getting a second life--and in France too. That's just amazing. She served me very very well and always got me home safe and sound. Hilarious about the hats -- I thought I'd removed everything from the boat. They were a gift from my brother-in-law who loved to fish with me. Wear them in good health!

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Dutchman
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Re: Hull Penetration Caused Eventual Delamination

Postby Dutchman » Thu Feb 21, 2019 4:02 pm

JTC you do understand the boat didn't go that far as she is in the Caribbean just south of you and a third the distance to France.
EJO
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JTC
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Re: Hull Penetration Caused Eventual Delamination

Postby JTC » Fri Mar 01, 2019 1:16 pm

Oh—ha ha. I didn't notice the "Martinique" part. I actually vacation down in the Caribbean so I'll be keeping an eye out for her. I loved that boat, even if my back didn't.