Fighting Duck Rot

When I built #287 "Duck Soup" in early 2009, I went with the quickest cheapest nail-and-glue chine log construction, no glass and no epoxy. Early in 2012, I discovered that rot had set in at each lower corner of the front transom.

These areas are part of the side air boxes, so here's what I think happened: I spend very much of my sailing time pounding into the chop going upwind, so water is forced into any cracks at the front of the hull. Also, even though I'm careful to leave the air box hatches open when storing the boat, the ventilation must not have been adequate to let the wood dry out before the rot had a chance to get started.

I bought one Elmer's Rotted Wood Repair Kit to fix the boat up. But first I poured antifreeze into the airboxes and propped the boat up nose-down to let it soak in and maybe kill the rot. The port side situation wasn't too bad. I scraped off the loose stuff, stabilized the wood, and patched it up with one of the sticks of epoxy goop from the kit.

The starboard side was a little more serious. By the time I chipped all the loose bad wood away, I had a hole a couple of inches across. I pulled a wedge-shaped piece of plywood through the hole from the inside, doused it with glue, and added another rounded plywood piece to help get the patch flush with the original surface of the hull. Then I jammed one more wedge underneath the first couple of pieces, and the hole was pretty much plugged. Waste not want not; the plywood wedges were some of the original waste pieces from cutting out the sides of Duck Soup back in 2009.

When the glue dried, I sawed the wedges off flush with the hull, used the stabilizer, and made another epoxy putty patch. I painted over the two messy repairs, and from twenty feet away they don't look half bad.

I know that a quickly-and-cheaply-built boat like mine shouldn't be expected to last forever, but I like my little Duck Soup way too much to let it go down without a fight. It's been sailing now for three and a half years, and I hope to keep it limping along for a few more. Of course, it would last forever if I just stuffed it in the shed and didn't use it, but what fun would that be?

Dave #287 "Duck Soup"