Soft decks are not a death sentence for your old boat. It took me a few hours to re-bond the inner skin of the deck to the foam core to repair the soft decks. It took longer to refinish the deck than to make that structural repair. The repair isn't difficult, but it does take some feel to get right. The old Hobie decks have a thick outer laminate, a foam core, and a light weight inner skin. In my case, this inner skin came away from the core and I glued it back together. Here is the short version of how it's done before I give you a full step by step description.
It sounds easy, and it is if you take it step at a time. Read through the directions several times. Do all the preparation work you can before you mix epoxy, and don't forget to chock the trailer wheels if the boat is on a trailer (Free lesson number 1. Yes, I chased the trailer around the garage.) The size of the hole we drill is determined by the size of the syringe tip we use to inject the epoxy.
I used a standard syringe with Luer Lock syringe tip. The screw is a number 8 sheet metal screw (#8 x 1) and the drill is a #17 of .173 inch diameter.
Required repair tools-
drill motor, #17 drill bit, tape, rubber gloves, permanent marker, 20cc syringe, rubber tubing, mixing cups, stirring sticks, paper towels, shop apron, #8x1 sheet metal screws, small instrument screwdriver.
A lot of you have done a lot of catamaran sailing this season with the normal wear and tear on your boats. Sometimes the wear (or tear) is a little beyond the "normal" category. When that happens, don't forget your fellow catamaran sailors who might have the same situation in the future.
As you do your repair, or fix your problem, please take a moment during this stressful time to take pictures and make a few notes about how the problem happened, any warning signs, and how you fixed it.
Nothing fancy is needed, a phone camera, disposable camera, or professional SLR will all result in pictures to tell the story. As soon as you have the pictures, upload them to an album in the Beachcats Technical section of the photo gallery to help the next sailor with the same problem. You can easily come back later and add more detailed information to the pictures.
If you are currently struggling with a problem on your boat, check out the Beachcats Technical and you might find a solution.
I have sailed the Hobie 17 for 16 years and this is great news for the best solo catamaran that I have ever sailed. There is an opportunity for the makers and owners to make some non-performance modifications to make a great boat even better . Lets begin with things on the boat that have failed on me and the possible remedies.
Cross Beam inner gunnel securing bolt bearing plate .
Fault - It's small size and relative fore and aft alignment of the bolt hole and pop rivet securing holes causes the cross beam to crack around its underside at this point. Remedy - Make this plate " U " shaped , wider and longer to separate this hole alignment and give the bolt more support .
I put this little beastie together when my first Hobie 17 tore itself apart . After 12 years sailing Hobie 17 catamarans and being quite partial to the comfort and mechanical advantage of trapezing from a wing, returning to a Hobie 14 while my 17 insurers decided what to do with me (and I had sailed Hobie 14's from 1972 to 1987) was going to be quite a letdown .
Not so, as this is only recreational sailing (there isn't any 14 competition in Western Australia any more), I could put wings on a Hobie 14 catamaran and go like a striped ape! That is indeed how she performed, with a VMG to windward far better than the local Hobie 16 catamarans.
For 33 years I have lived on year-around warm, windy and relatively flat Kaneohe Bay on Oahu, Hawaii. I have enjoyed all kinds of sail boating on the Bay including sailboards and full keel monohulls. However, since my son-in-law started bringing Hobies here about 16 years ago, I spend most of the time fooling with them.
I started soloing his Hobie 17 and a few years ago I was humbled with capsizing, and though the buoyant mast stopped the turtling, I could not get it up without the help of a passing boat. I’m 158 lbs. & 71 yrs. and just couldn’t overcome the windage from the tramps and upper hull.
Catamaran sailors are an inventive bunch, as Ron Darby proves!
The wings that existed for the Hobie 18 seemed a solution, but I wanted a more comfortable answer for day-long cruising. I found some references to trap seats but they seemed too expensive for a lawn chair. So using the few grainy pics that I could find on the internet as reference, I got to work making my own.
This article will explain the step-by-step method of repairing soft spots in your beach catamaran hulls. This technique uses the method of injecting thickened epoxy into a catamaran hull using a syringe.
This method is well suited to repairing soft spots in catamaran hulls. The soft spots can be found by pressing carefully with your fingers on the hull. Usually they are on the top or upper side of a hull. When you apply pressure to a soft spot, the area will detent slightly and even give a "squish" sound. The soft area can be a few square inches or entire areas of a hull.The typical catamaran hull consists of an outer later of gelcoat and an inside layer of fiberglass with a foam layer in the middle. This foam layer is about 3/8" thick. When you feel this soft area from the outside, the foam inside has either deteriorated and has separated from the inside or outside layers. Some times it can even be wet.
There are a few ways how these soft spots can develop. One way is to install access ports without sealing the raw edge of the hole with epoxy or silicon before the port is installed. Water in the hull vaporizes and penetrates the foam from the inside. Usually ports are installed to alleviate the build up of moisture in the hulls, but if not done properly it accelerates the same problem you were trying to avoid.
There are reports that 1979 Hobie 16 boats were vulnerable to soft spots because of the inferior foam that was used that year. I don't know if it is true or not, but I owned a 1979 Hobie 16 that had a soft spot problem in front of the forward pylons. This boat also had access ports installed by the previous owner without sealed hole edges.
Ports or no ports, water left in the hull can evaporate and penetrate the inside layer of fiberglass and damage the foam layer. You should silicon all leaks in your hulls, drain them after each sail, and remove the drain plugs prior to storage. If you can garage or cover your boat and open the access ports it would be even better.
Another way that foam is broken down is to step on the top sides of the hull. If you have to step on a hull, do so on the outside edge where it is stronger. Or better yet, crawl on it so that your weight is more distributed.