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Resealing the Hull to Deck Joint


Feb 11, 2017
Islander Freeport 36 Ottawa
I've had this boat for a year now. I knew there were some rain leaks but I didn't know where. The previous owner thought the large saloon windows leaked and he had this crack seal stuff he would apply now and then. I've never seen that stuff work so I started removing and rebedding the windows. They had been rebedded at some point in the past with silicone and they did leak but only a bit. I managed to get the leaks to stop but I think new windows may be in my future. One Islander Freeport 36 owner replaced the plastic framed windows with aluminum and they look great (and they look very expensive as well).
A day after I rebedded the starboard windows it rained and it was dry under the windows but I found a pretty bad leak at the back of a cabinet. Further investigation showed it was the hull to deck joint. :thumbsdown: I discussed this with the IF36 user group (which is very keen and active) and found this is a common problem with these boats. Several people had already resealed the joint and a couple said they needed to do it. The sealant Islander used dried up and just doesn't seal any more. The leak was really bad all along the starboard side; the port side seemed ok. I decided it had to be done so as soon as I hauled out I started taking it apart. The deck hardware on the teak cap rail came off first then I removed the cap rail. The sealant under the cap rail was really dry. The brown flake stuff was, at one point, sealant.
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What I found was more than a little disturbing. The starboard cap rail had been replaced previously, possibly do to a collision although the hull did not have signs of any major repair so it looks like whatever damage there was, was limited to the cap rail. The problem is how the original cap rail was removed. The factory used #14 wood screws to fasten the hull to deck joint but then through bolted the cap rail with 1/4-20 machine screws and nuts through the cap rail, deck and hull which held it all together very securely. The problem is whoever removed the cap rail couldn't figure out how to remove the machine screws so it appears he used a 1" hole saw to just cut the cap rail around the screws then hacksawed through the screws and left the now headless screws in the hull. :banghead: I actually found one of these headless screws in August and could not figure out where it came from. Turns out they were all along the starboard joint.
The person who worked on this before (trying to be nice here) did a lot of damage with the hole saw that needed to be patched up. Here is one of the holes in the deck he created with the headless screw still in it.
I got to practice my fiberglass skills. There was one damaged spot on the hull right aft on the starboard side that had been patched with a filler. It was a small area but I ground it out and built it pack up with glass and epoxy. The port side appeared to be all original. The trick was getting inside to reach all the nuts. My daughter was working at a restaurant that was shut down in the second wave of COVID-19 so I hired her to help get this job done. She is a hard worker and was a big help (I also got to hang out with my teenage daughter which doesn't happen often these days :))
The trick I learned from those that travelled this route before me was to open up the joint with some wedges, up to 3/8" in some places, other places would only open up 1/4" then use a rasp in an oscillating multitool to grind out the sealant. A lot of it just flaked out it was so dry.
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Once it was cleaned out I used 1/8" thick UHMW spacers to maintain the gap for the sealant and shot in as much 5200 as I could. I've never wanted to use 5200 on my boat before but this is a job I don't ever expect to do again - it is now permanent. A couple days later I removed the spacers and filled the gaps with more 5200.
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It's done now, I hope to have a much dryer boat next summer :D
My winter project is to refinish the teak cap rails then reinstall them in the spring.
Last edited:
Oct 19, 2017
O'Day 19 Littleton, NH
Great post and a good looking job. I especially appreciate the part about getting to work with your daughter. I never wanted to work for my father, as a kid. I always worked on other captain's boats, never the Old Man's.

I expect the next owner will never be able to appreciate the problems he/she doesn't inherent because of your work.

-Will (Dragonfly)
Oct 22, 2014
CAL 35 Cruiser moored EVERETT WA
Nice methodical work @DArcy :thumbup:

Should be a fun dry sail come Spring. May Spring come early for you.