Storm Damage

This page was last updated on 18 May 2002

Rebuilding the Anchor Platform          Repairs to the Foredeck  

On the night of May 13/14, 2002, we had a pretty classic nor'easter here on the coast.  The system set up in a winter-type pattern, which gave us heavy rain mixed with sleet at the house, and building east-northeast winds overnight.  The height of the storm seemed to be between midnight and 4 AM on the 14th.

I awoke at about 0130 when the power went out, and for the next couple of hours lay there listening to the wind howl and the rain fall.  I estimated the wind gusts at 40 or possibly higher, based on past experience and the sound of the wind.  Obviously, it was too dark to see anything, and there was nothing I could do at this point to check the boat.  Of course, this meant that I had to lie there while horrible scenarios played out in my mind.  I pictured the mooring lines chafing through, even though I had chafing gear installed.  I pictured some weak link in the mooring chain, or some other circumstance that threatened to toss Glissando on the rocky shore like an abandoned child's play toy.  Finally, after forcing myself to relax, I managed to fall into a fitful sleep for an hour or two.

At first light, I was up and drove down to check the boat from shore.  The wind had slackened somewhat since the worst part of the storm.  The tension in my truck was palpable as I drove down the yacht club driveway...and there was the boat, right where she belonged.  I nearly collapsed in relief.  With my binoculars in hand (I always keep a set in the truck) I walked down the pier for a better look.  As I looked at the boat, I could see something hanging off the bow that didn't look right.  Try as I might, my lousy binoculars weren't strong or precise enough for me to really pick out what it was.  Finally, I hypothesized that it must be the chafing gear (reinforced vinyl hose and duct tape) that had slid forward under the stresses of the waves during the night.  That seemed reasonable enough.  In any case, the boat appeared to be in good shape, so I returned home for the time being to have coffee and await the beginning of launch service at 0800.  (It was now about 0600.)

By 0900, I was back, and rode the launch out to the boat.  By now, the wind had lightened further and shifted so it was more offshore, so even the waves that had been present at 6 were pretty flat.  As we approached the port side of the boat, I could suddenly see that the object I had seen hanging from the bow was my 35# CQR anchor.  There was no sign of the anchor roller in which it had been stored.  At first, this made no sense--how in the world did the anchor come out of the roller, into which it had been securely pinned?

As the launch came around the bow from the port to the starboard side, I saw a white "smile" on the hull, and immediately knew that the anchor had been swinging in an arc and had gouged up the paint on the hull.  This was depressing, obviously, but I could see that the damage was relatively slight and completely cosmetic.  In most places, the swinging anchor had only gone just through the Awlgrip into the primer and gelcoat beneath, with a couple areas showing bare laminate.  Ugly--yes.  But not the end of the world, all things considered.   That scar is about 1-1/2' or 2' long.

Also, I now could see that half of the projecting part of the wooden anchor platform was missing completely.  The launch let me off on the boat, and I went forward to inspect the thing further.  The CQR was hanging by its end shackle on the point of the bow chock, surprisingly securely--it took a bit of fussing to remove it.  I suppose I might have liked it better if the whole anchor had gone overboard instead of catching--this probably would have made a mess of the mooring lines and such (tangles), but might have prevented damage to the hull.  Well, in any case, that didn't happen, and I now have an ugly mark on the hull.  There's a slight scratch on the port side in a similar position, but it is much more minor.

With the swinging anchor now out of the way, I turned my attention once more to the splintered platform.  What I deduced had happened was that during the height of the storm, when there must have been pretty good-sized waves in the anchorage, the plunging bow, momentarily slacking the mooring lines, must have allowed the mooring line to catch on the protruding tip of the anchor.  Probably immediately--at the next moment when the bow rose up on another wave--the mooring line must have become instantly taut, thereby snapping the platform as it pulled sharply down.  The break is fairly clean and follows the contour of the toerail, supporting this theory.  I don't think the line remained hung up on the anchor for more than a brief instant, since there were no signs of any chafe on the pennant in that area.

The platform broke cleanly in a longitudinal manner following the general line of the port side of the stem casting cutout.  This left the Bruce anchor and its roller intact and unharmed.  But the CQR roller was missing, completely gone without a trace.

I unshackled the CQR from its chain and stowed the anchor in the starboard cockpit locker for now.  Then, I removed the Bruce anchor as well to prevent any chance of losing it, and stored it temporarily in the cabin.  I was unhappy about the damage, of course, but felt surprisingly copasetic about it--after all, considering some of the horrible things I thought of during the night while listening to the wind, the damage that occurred was fairly slight, and hardly the end of the world.  Obviously I was disappointed in the failure of my platform, the loss of an expensive anchor roller, and the ugly paint damage.  All of these things can be fixed, and will be.  I suppose I would rather have had a failure in the platform now, under these circumstances, than later on when out cruising somewhere lying to the anchor.  I'll never know if the platform broke because of an inherent weakness and/or design fault (which could have meant that under normal use it might have broken, which would have been a real pain), or if it was just an unfortunate incident that occurred under abnormal circumstances.  In any case, I will take this experience to heart and account for its repeat possibility when designing and building a new platform.  For now, I had done all I could, so I left the boat.
Repairs and Rebuilding

Later in the day, despite trying to talk myself out of going, I decided to return to the boat to start removing the broken anchor platform.  I can't stand unresolved issues or projects, and knew I would feel better if I could get the darn thing off the bow and start working on a replacement.

The first thing to do was remove the nuts and washers from beneath the platform--located in the chain locker.  I removed all the books and the bookshelf from in front of the access door, and crawled in as much as possible to access the nuts.  I had visions of being stuck there, halfway in the silly door, so I took my cell phone with me!  (Just in case...)  The nuts came off easily, thanks to the 20 gallons of 5200 that were holding the bolts in place.  I will certainly live to regret choosing 5200 for my sealant/adhesive on the anchor platform, though. (I used it because I wanted the strength, and never foresaw having to take the platform off...who knew!)  When I had the nuts off, I banged the bolts up with a hammer, then pried them up and out from above.

Next, I unbolted the Bruce roller, after tying a line to it to prevent it from being lost in case I lost my grip.  Now came the fun part:  releasing the 5200's tenacious bond with the deck, and the flat part of the stem.  With a few different putty knives, I began cutting the bond beneath the wooden platform.  The worst part is that there is no real access on much of the length, because of the curvature of the bow.  This hampered my attempts to get the knives slid in everywhere.  After an hour or so, I called it quits for the day.  I had made progress--the after sections were free, but I couldn't get to the forward sections well enough yet.

The next day, I returned with some new tools--a couple new, stiff putty knives--and a tiny container of Antibond 2015--the magical stuff that's supposed to release the bond of 5200.  Don't be fooled by the picture in the catalog, which makes it look like you're getting a standard aerosol-sized can;  no, the can isn't much bigger than my thumb.  Very small.

A very stiff northwest wind was blowing off the shore, making work not particularly pleasant during the highest gusts.  It was cool and gray with sunny breaks.  Where is summer, anyway?  I suppose that if I have to be ripping my boat to pieces it might as well be lousy weather.

I slaved over the platform for an hour or more, and the antibond did seem to work.  I got the port side of the platform free--well, the after portion at least.  The part that is attached to the stem on the flat area either side of the headstay is still glued.  I'll deal with that later; I don't care if I break the wood when I pry it up.  However, the starboard side was being stubborn.  Part of my problem, I discovered after a time, was that the upper deck skin was coming free along with the platform.  This highlighted another problem:  a small portion of the foredeck contained rotten core and delamination, evidently a problem I missed before.  (I didn't recore the foredeck on the starboard side because it seemed OK.  Obviously I missed this spot.)  In any case, the flexing of the upper laminate was working against me, and the 5200 remained securely stuck to the fiberglass along the inner edge of the platform foot--the spot that I can't get to.  Upon seeing this, I stopped work to regroup.  I need to debonded that 5200 on the inside and remove the platform without trashing the whole deck.  Obviously, I'll have to do some minor core work in this area--probably just drill some holes and inject epoxy.  It's a small area, and is confined to the nonskid area, so it'll be easy to repair and repaint.

Next plan of attack:  use a handsaw to cut the platform down the middle, the long way.  It's trash anyway, and I think I need to get in there.  Sigh.

The next day, I was back with renewed determination to finish the removal.  Enough, already!  I brought a selection of hand saws and even a flat pry bar, just in case.

Starting at the opening around the stem chainplate. I used a small hand saw to cut the platform down the middle.  The upper surface of the platform is about 1-1/2" thick, and is supported by two "feet" that are about the same thickness, so in between the longitudinal "feet" is an open space.  Cutting was plenty of work through the mahogany and epoxy, with a dull saw, but after 10 or 15 minutes the cut was complete.  I pried off the port side of the platform, which I had already loosened in an earlier day, and therefore exposed the very, very stuck inner side of the starboard "foot".  The 5200 came easily off the Awlgripped stem area, alleviating a concern of mine.

pryingup1.JPG (162701 bytes)Next, I sprayed more of the antibond stuff on the 5200 on the inside part of the remaining platform.  After waiting a few minutes, I started carefully prying up the remains with a couple stiff putty knifes.  The antibnd loosed the 5200 enough to allow the putty knives to be hammered in between the deck and the platform, but it was still a surprisingly hard task.  Only the forward, inner half of this "foot" was still stuck, but, boy oh boy, was it ever stuck!  It took a few putty knives to finally get the bond separated, and, even so, part of the deck, which I had damaged in earlier attempts, came with the piece.  The aftermath left a very ugly foredeck, with a substantial piece of the deck damaged on the starboard side and a crack down the middle.

I spent some time cleaning up the area, removing any remaining small bits of wood and 5200, and sweeping away sawdust and the like.  Then, as a temporary means to prevent any water from entering the deck or interior, I filled the old boltholes and the cracks and deck damage with some polysulfide caulk, and covered these areas with strips of duct tape.  Rest assured, this is a very short-term patch, and is ugly as hell, but this, too, shall pass.

Next:  the actual repairs to the deck and platform begin.  Click here to continue.


Glissando, Pearson  Triton #381

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