Repairing Wet Deck Core of the Cockpit Floor

Repairing the soggy cockpit sole

Repairing the soggy cockpit sole

Its time to fix the boat’s sagging deck core. At some point over the last 30 years of this boat’s life, water has managed to work its way into the floor through the cracks in anything that was bolted into the cockpit floor. The cockpit’s fiberglass core is soggy, and it buckles and sags under the weight of anyone who climbs on board. The cockpit pedestal, drain, and diesel fill cap are all culprits and must be sealed and bedded properly in order to prevent the leak from causing more damage.

Under the floor, the rusty base plate/idle wheel that I will need to replace.

Under the floor, the rusty base plate/idle wheel that I will need to replace.

Unfortunately, while the boat survey did mention the moisture problem, I hadn’t really realized the extent of the problem until I had removed the wooden grate on the floor and felt the floor sag directly under my feet.  Ok, so what do I do about it? This will be a very complicated and tiring job but it has to be done. Not only is the water soaking the floor, but it is dripping down onto my gas tank below the cockpit, onto the muffler and down into the bilge.

Wet Core Replacement Project Overview

  1. Disassemble and remove all fittings in the floor. ie. the cockpit pedestal/steering wheel, drain and diesel fill cap.
  2. Cut the top layer of the existing fiberglass laminate and peel it off
  3. Scrape out the old wet deck core
  4. Prop up the bottom half of the fiberglass floor from below until level again
  5. Lay down fresh foam core
  6. Epoxy it in place with the original fiberglass top skin layed back (revised: I ended up laying brand new fiberglass)
  7. And finally re-attach the steering pedestal and fittings.  I’m already exhausted just thinking about it.



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Clean the area and begin removing the easily removable parts.

Removing the diesel fill cap.

Removing the diesel fill cap.

The Edson pedestal steering post removed.

The Edson pedestal steering post removed.

Removing the pedestal was a bit of a challenge. The mess of wires, throttle and transmission links were a little intimidating at first. I had two instruments on my pedestal that just didn’t work so I spent a fair bit of time tracing the wires back to see where they went.

I am prepared for the massive amount of dust this grinder will create.

I am prepared for the massive amount of dust this grinder will create.

Once the pedestal was removed, wiring pulled out, and the surface prepared, I used the angle grinder with a cutting wheel attachment to cut through the top skin of the floor. I made sure to wear a suitable dust mask and coveralls to protect myself from the dust. You can also see in this photo the new foam core that I will be using to replace the soggy wood with. The foam core was the highest density the local marine supply shop had available.  I plan to use FRP from McMaster Carr for the areas directly under the pedestal and diesel fill cap.

Using a pry bar to peel the top skin off.

Using a pry bar to peel the top skin off.

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  • Matt

    Thank you very much. I am going to have to force myself to do the same in a year or so. Did you ever toy with the idea of repairing and leveling the fiberglass under layer and then installing teak decking over that in leu of the core material and old fiberglass skin?
    Thank you for your great info!

  • Derek

    Nice work. Thanks for posting the blog and pics of the process. Can you post a picture of the final work? What, if anything, would you do differently.