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Thread: Cracked Strake on 70 year old Cotuit Skiff - Repair Advice Appreciated

  1. #1
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    Default Cracked Strake on 70 year old Cotuit Skiff - Repair Advice Appreciated

    While sailing alone on my 14' Cotuit Skiff on a windy day last week I was close-hauled on the starboard tack and hiking out when I heard a crack and immediately thought "mast" as it was only the third sail of the season and the mast wedges were still getting settled in.

    Out of caution and for fear of stressing the rig, I tacked over and headed for the mooring. Furled the sails, put the boat to bed, and started bailing and sponging.

    And bailing and sponging until I realized the boat was leaking badly. I looked under the thwart and there was water bubbling in through a crack about an inch or two above the chine. I filled a bucket with water, stuck it on the port side of the boat to get the crack above the water, hopped in the dinghy and took a look.

    The lower strake had a jagged crack about three feet long amidships, roughly one to three inches above the chine.

    Background on the boat:
    My grandfather, Henry Chatfield Churbuck, built it as part of a fleet of 12 Cotuit Skiffs he built in the late 1940s with one of the Crosby brothers. Cotuit has had a renaissance in the Stanley Butler design, with a lot of the original Butler, Crosby, Bigelow, Churbuck, Boden, and Peck boats still sailing. And a new generation of recent boats built by Conrad Geyser, Art Paine, Ned Crosby, and Dan DelVecchio.

    This boat -- #19 -- was the former Hayai and was bound for the dump in the late 1990s when its owner asked me if I was interested in it given that my grandfather built it. So I accepted the gift and gave it to Ned Crosby at E.M. Crosby Boatworks to restore. The boat was iron sick, especially on the chine where it was cross planked with white cedar. Most of the iron - but not all -- was removed, a plywood bottom put on, and the boat was given a new deck, new centerboard trunk, combing, rudder, spars, etc. She gleamed when she was finished and has been a joy to sail.
    I have been doing selective rot surgery along the chine with a Dremel, filling the voids with WEST thickened with microballoons. She has been out of the water for 12 years, stored in a shed with a dirt floor.

    She's out of the water on horses now. Here's some pictures of the crack. My next move is to get the paint off and inspect the bare wood.

    What are my options? I'm thinking. (but have no experience performing):

    1. Drills holes at the ends of the crack to try to stop it from spreading; take a router to the crack, open it up, and fit in a white cedar spline set in epoxy
    2. Drill through the plywood up through the strake and reinforce it with bronze rods, inject the crack with epoxy and clamp
    3. Remove the plywood bottom, and try to scarf in a new cedar plank to the good wood remaining.
    4. Install a chine log and seal the crack from the inside of the hull (adding weight is not a concern as I don't race anymore).

    IMG_20200801_152534.jpgIMG_20200801_152526.jpgIMG_20200801_152338.jpg101932523_653765bb56_o.gif

    Any and all advice appreciated.
    Thanks
    David Churbuck

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
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    Walney, near Cumbria UK
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    Default Re: Cracked Strake on 70 year old Cotuit Skiff - Repair Advice Appreciated

    Similar problem to the cracks in my Shetland eela boat skin.
    P1060419.jpgP1060303.jpg
    I scraped the sides of the cracks clean with a seam reefing hook and glued in splines of the same timber. If the cracks were straight I would have used a router to trim them out square and parallel sided, but I see that yours are not either.
    It really is quite difficult to build an ugly wooden boat.

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  3. #3
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    Default Re: Cracked Strake on 70 year old Cotuit Skiff - Repair Advice Appreciated

    It's always good to give some thought as to why this happened.

    You might discuss it with the fellow who did the resto. My first though was that introducing the epoxy into a trad-built scheme may have locked things up enough that that plank wanted to move but couldn't... so split.
    David G
    Harbor Woodworks
    https://www.facebook.com/HarborWoodworks/

    "It was a Sunday morning and Goddard gave thanks that there were still places where one could worship in temples not made by human hands." -- L. F. Herreshoff (The Compleat Cruiser)

  4. #4
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    South Puget Sound/summer Eastern carib./winter
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    Default Re: Cracked Strake on 70 year old Cotuit Skiff - Repair Advice Appreciated

    I recon the chine log is rotto,or the frame corners are rotto, or the plank is rotto.

    "mast wedges getting settled in" is not a thing.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
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    Rockland Maine USA and Woodbridge, Suffolk, England
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    Default Re: Cracked Strake on 70 year old Cotuit Skiff - Repair Advice Appreciated

    As you were sailing hard it's tempting to think that the split is the result of mast/sailing loads. But it's well aft of the mast right?

    Even so I guess the hull was loaded with twisting loads from the rig and you sitting out?

    From the inside photo it looks like there is still some iron in there? If so the plank itself may be getting decayed.

    I think first of all you need to clean all the paint off inside and out and see what condition the plank is it. If it sound, then maybe epoxying in a spline and perhaps fitting an additional frame or two may fix it.

    But if it, or the ply bottom, is decayed, then replacement in part or in whole, is the only course of action.

    And as Bruce says, check the bottom ends of the frames too.

    Cheers -- George
    To be truly free to live, one must be free to think and speak.

    A C Grayling

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Cracked Strake on 70 year old Cotuit Skiff - Repair Advice Appreciated

    Cracks like that can be maddening! Often the simplest approach is the easier so, you might start with scraping off the paint and, carefully, reefing out any loose material from the crack followed by filling it with G/flex epoxy. This will allow some come and go in the crack in the future and might be a simple way to approache a cure. You can always replace that plank down the line if keeping it simple does not work.
    Jay

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Cracked Strake on 70 year old Cotuit Skiff - Repair Advice Appreciated

    This is an old girl. I wouldn’t get to carried away by the restoration bug, just solve each problem as it comes along and keep enjoying her.
    Epoxy makes it possible to rebuild parts of a plank instead of replacing the entire plank. Explore, it may be possible to scarf in a new piece if it looks like the “ Just glue the crack back together” or spline options seem dodgy.
    I’m not entirely opposed to glueing a piece of 1/8” plywood on the inside once everything is dry and clean.
    SHC

  8. #8
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    Sep 2018
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    Cotuit, MA
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    Default Re: Cracked Strake on 70 year old Cotuit Skiff - Repair Advice Appreciated

    Thanks to everyone who responded. I went at the crack yesterday with a paint scraper and there is a great deal of rot surrounding the crack. I think my next move is to contact Ned Crosby and ask for a consult -- it seems obvious new cedar is called for along the entire chine on both sides of the boat. I have two 16' white atlantic cedar flitches that were stored in the eaves of a sail loft since the late 1940s -- I have no idea if that wood is still viable or not, but at least I may have the right wood for the repair at hand. The extent of the rot and the condition of the bottom third of the strake -- with voids galore, iron from the original galvanized fasteners still weeping through the paint -- makes me fear a bigger job beyond my budding boat building skills. Now to study up on the art of scarfing, splining and sistering planks.

    I also discovered that a block of wood which fits into the mast step to hold the foot of the mast in place had fallen out, meaning the mast was rocking fore and aft in the step -- hence the sounds coming from the bow whenever I tacked or fell off before the wind. I guess the movement of the mast, combined with 250 pounds of me on the windward rail set up enough twist in the boat to pop the crack open. I think a future rebuild will also mean putting a stern seat and an second set of forward thwarts between the clamp and the centerboard trunk to stiffen up the hull.

    Thanks again
    DCC

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Cracked Strake on 70 year old Cotuit Skiff - Repair Advice Appreciated

    If those 16ft cedar boards are wide enough it will be easier to replace the entire plank. Taking the old one out with care will give you hints about putting the new one back in and you can use the old one for a rough pattern. If they are not wide enough replace the bottom half, using a dory lap scarf to edge join them, but bevelled to full thickness and glued.
    It really is quite difficult to build an ugly wooden boat.

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