Boat Project

Fixing Wet Rot

Friday, May 05, 2017S.V. CAMBRIA


It’s difficult to know how long the problem had existed, but it started dropping hints several days before making itself fully known. The first clue was finding water in the main bilge in the salon. A couple of weeks later, David grabbed a t-shirt from his wardrobe and discovered the pile was saturated.

It had rained heavily the day before and the propane locker, which is accessed through the deck but takes up part of the closet, had leaked.  He checked the locker and discovered the drain was clogged and there was standing water inside; so he cleared it, assuming the water had seeped through the connection between the hose and the thru-hull fitting (which runs through his wardrobe before exiting the boat).  But for some reason, we didn’t think to re-check the bilge. If we had, we would have known then that our problems were much bigger than a pile of wet shirts. 

The next day, he went back into the propane locker to refill the tank we were using and discovered more than he’d bargained for – wet rot! 

Here’s how David fixed the problem:

Photo 1:    What David saw after removing the propane tank.

Photo 2:    A close up of the wet rot.

Photo 3:    The entire base is rotten and has to be removed.


Photo 1:    David begins cutting the base out of the propane locker.

Photo 2:    The base is removed and all that's left is the drooping headliner, leaving a large hole in the boat.

Photo 3:    David glues in false work to hold the new base in position while he glues it.

Meanwhile, we can see daylight inside his wardrobe.


Photo 1:    Attempting to dry out the locker after it had rained.

Photo 2:    Resin and fibreglass cloth on the first base board.

Photo 3:    To avoid standing water, David installs a second base, raising the floor of the locker so that the drain will sit below floor level. In this photo, the second base has been installed, glued and has the first layer of fibreglass cloth.


Photo 1:    Adding another layer of cloth to the second base of the locker.

Photo 2:    After 4 layers of cloth, the locker is left cure.

Photo 3:    Freshly painted and ready to be drilled for the drain installation.


And there you have it: Our newly redesigned propane locker, better and stronger than ever!



Cost Analysis: 

  • ¾ inch red oak plywood*      $25
  • Epoxy Resin                        $25 
  • Resin Hardener                   $13
  • West System Pump Set        $11
  • Fibreglass Cloth                  $2
  • A Small Tube of 4200           $14
  • Labour (25 hours)                $0 
Total Cost                                 $90

Total Savings**                          $1410 – $1910

*After using the red oak, David learned from a fellow dockmate who works in the boating industry that white oak, which is more dense and durable, would have been a better choice.  But because he purchased a hardwood ply and used resin, epoxy, glue powder and fibreglass cloth to encapsulate it, it’s a non-issue. 

**Even thought it took David approximately 25 hours to complete the job, a professional could have done it in 10 to 15.  At an average rate of $90 an hour, that’s $900 to $1350 for labour alone.  The consensus at the marina, however, is that the total job would have cost anywhere from $1500 to $2000 to have it done professionally.

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