Mick G N 8:52pm, 28 October 2011
Hi All,

Myself and my partner in crime purchased Picaroona (Achilles 24) earlier this year and have had a very enjoyable summer coming to terms with Picaroona and she with us!

Picaroona is now back on solid ground for the winter and it’s time to sort out a leak or two and more importantly a soft spot or two in the cabin roof aft of the mast. This as you can imagine made it difficult to maintain the correct tension in her standing rigging.

One suggestion was to put a stainless steel frame in the already compact cabin to support the mast, however with the bulk head positioned forward of the mast we are not convinced this will solve the problem, never mind rendering the forward cabin / heads redundant.

Is this a common problem and if so how has it been solved in the past? Also and as mentioned above Picaroona is “leaking”, the good news as such is that she is letting rain water in, the bad news is she allowing a significant amount of h2o to accumulate in the bilges and we are unsure as to how the water is getting in. There is evidence of water getting in on the port side where the water is coming to rest on the shelf under the window, but we can’t see how the water can then make its way from there to the bilges!

Your thoughts and words of wisdom are appreciated.
Andrew Curry Posted 7 years ago. Edited by Andrew Curry (member) 7 years ago
Hi Welcome to the site.
I know your boat well it used to be berthed near me in Bangor marina. A few Achilles have suffered a problem with the balsa core in the cabin roof causing a spot spot under and around the mast foot.
The problem will have happened over time due leaking fittings in the cabin roof letting water into the balsa core. I would suggest to start with taking the head linning down and checking the balsa core. It should a golden colour. Ifs its disscoloured and you can see flex when you push on it will need to be repaired. If its a small area you could try drilling lots of small holes and injecting in expoxy. Down side of this is that it might cause a hard spot in the cabin roof that will lead to stress cracking. The other way to repair is to cut away the inter skin remove the rotten core then replace the core and replace the firbreglass skin. I would say this would be a awkward job as you are working above your head.
Mick G N 7 years ago
Hi Andrew,

Thanks for your good wishes and advice. Our plan is to remove the head lining this weekend - weather permitting!

I have no doubt this exercise will result in more questions than answers,

Have a good weekend.
Skykomish E29 7 years ago
"Blue" had this job done professionally, similar to how Andrew describes, by cutting out the wooden core and replacing then re matting the ceiling with fibreglass. It is a horrid job!
If you opt for Andrew's first suggestion you should really drill holes in the underside too to let the water drain out and let the core dry before injecting epoxy.
A third method and one that is described in a back issue of Practical Boat Owner, is to remove an area of the cabin roof from the outside, cut out the core, replace with ply and epoxy then glass the panel back into place. This is easier in that you are not having to apply fibreglass mat to the underside with resin dripping every where, however cosmetically it is perhaps the least desirable as it is virtually impossible to replace the cabin roof without the join showing.
Whatever you choose you will have to drop the mast.
The water leak that you have could be from the stanchions this is a common "leak" point and fairly easy to repair / reseal.
Whatever you do it may well be worth checking every deck fitting as you have found water ingress is a killer of the balsa core.
Good luck.
Of course it could always just be de lamination of the deck from the core which is common in older boats and if so the "Epoxy Injection" process will sort your problem.
busy home [deleted] 7 years ago
Its worth checking the horse through deck hole in the lazerette area,
and seat piano hinges...
Use a hose on slow with a mate inside the boat.
sailing bye1 7 years ago
As previously mentioned, we had a similar problem on 'Sailing Bye', it was picked up in the pre purchase survey.
The work was tackled from the outside, ply core removed over affected area, and replaced with fibre glass matt and resin, no core.
The final surface was then sanded and finished epoxi primer and non slip deck paint, on hind sight should have sanded, then a coat of resin and sand which i believe would have helped hide the joint before painting.
blueachilles Posted 7 years ago. Edited by blueachilles (member) 7 years ago
We had the balsa core replaced from the inside, an area from the bulkhead back into the main cabin, about half of the main cabin roof. My brother and I thought about doing the job ourselves and decided we would make a hash of it. So we had a professional do it, about £450 and not a drop of resin spilt anywhere.

Rainwater will find its way to the bilges through any small gap. Water in the shelves under the window could be condensation, on the shroud bolts; Blue suffers from this in the winter. We have also had leaks round the mainsheet "horse", and particularly affecting the cabin roof, where the cables from the mast go through the roof. The latter has been fixed, we have mastic'd round the mainsheet horse but I am not convinced it can be permanently fixed.

There are some pictures on our photostream, here:
New roof
Mick G N Posted 7 years ago. Edited by Mick G N (member) 7 years ago
Wow, thank you one and all!

We removed the roof lining and its not pretty, about half of the roof is discoloured and in a previous life Picaroona had the bulkhead "reinforced" with additional fiberglass.

There are four bolts through the bulkhead all of which are splayed and point upwards in the forward cabin. On a positve the area around the mast appears to be solid, with no give.

I have taken a few photos and will upload them when I get to my own PC.

Better news on the leak front, the windows are the main culprit and we found one deck fitting which may well be the root of all evil. It is just aft of the forward hatch and is simply screwed to the deck and allowing water in with ease.

At this stage we have a few jobs to complete, fix the leaks, sort out the bulkhead and the dreaded roof.

What is the consequence of doing two out of three jobs and leaving the sofy spots? That is, cure the water ingress and sort out the bulkhead?

All the best and thanks

blueachilles 7 years ago
Before we had the roof repaired, we took the mast down, removed the four bolts, and gently jacked up the sagging roof to its proper shape. We then re-drilled the bolt holes, and replaced the bolts with the next size up.
Mick G N 7 years ago
I have just added some photos of the roof minus the head lining, any thoughts on the state of same are welcome.

I’m not so sure we will be able to jack up the roof as the bulkhead has been reinforced with fibreglass where it meets the roof!

Our plan of action is to remove and re bed the windows and the above mentioned deck fitting / s, dry out Picaroona with the help of a dehumidifier and drill some holes in the balsa to release moisture.

On completion of the above, moving on to the bulkhead, replace bolts as described by Blue with the addition of hard wood battens either side of the bulkhead with the bolts tightened through same.

Please let me know if we are barking up the wrong tree!


farmer boy Posted 7 years ago. Edited by farmer boy (member) 7 years ago
... for comparison - this my roof which was dry and pretty solid.
Skykomish E29 7 years ago
Try drilling a SMALL hole in the ceiling and see what comes out on the drill, if it is dark brown and wet then the core is likely to be rotten.
I would suggest that somebody has strengthened the bulkhead in an effort to reinforce the soft roof. Once you have replaced the core and repaired the ceiling you won't need to have the extra strengthening.
Nice little project for the winter months however if you can get it done for a similar price that Blue did I think it would be worth getting done by a professional as it is a grotty job if you are not used to GRP work.
Mick G N 7 years ago
Thanks Sky & Farmer,

Sadly there is not a lot in common, very frustrating!

Will drill a test hole but I suspect I know the answer. If push comes to shove I know someone who will give me a price for the job. Im afraid it is a project too far for me.

Will keep you posted on the balsa exploration hole!
Eclipse 1 7 years ago
Hiya Mick;
Had the same experience with Eclipse a couple of years back. Put the job off for months by trying to ignore things, but it was obvious there was a problem...
Did the job myself, in all honesty it was quite straightforward, and the job has stood up well.
Identify soft area as mentiones.
Using angle grinder (or Dremel?) I cut out the inner glass in a rectangular panel to expose the rot.
Remove all rot, and leave to air out for a week or so.
Abrade & clean fibregass with a rotary wire brush in a drill.
Locate & purchase the correct balsa core ( 10mm ish if I remember right)
Cut balsa to size
Make up a mix of epoxy; coat balsa and cabin roof. Wege/ tape/ hold balsa in place till it cures
More epoxy; put inner glass panel back in place and support as above.
When all hardened off, I used some glassfibre tape to secure the panel in place all round, and faired this off with fibreglass 'tissue'.
Oh... cover everything in the boat with a plastic sheet!!
Yes it is a bit messy, but I couln't afford to pay anyone else, and in all honesty I quite enjoyed the jon
Best of luck John
Mick G N 7 years ago
Hi John & thanks for your "heads up"

It’s a Bank Holiday here today (mind you I think Irish banks are on a permanent holiday), its food for thought but not a job I would relish!

All the best

Groups Beta