I saw some nice boats and some basket cases but unfortunately some had some really hidden deck problems even though they were in good cosmetic condition. When we bought our current boat I looked at over 50 boats, meter in hand. This to me is like going to a family practice doc who does not own a stethoscope. This photo shows the first thing to do when you turn it on. That I was being a hero but didn’t work out so well. Look for differences in deck moisture readings. More often than not they don’t actually own one. You want to start your inspection with a quick walk around the boat for a general look. They actually read capacitance. I only suggest Acetone with the utmost caution. Well for one meters will read the copper in bottom paint as moisture so you can’t use one over bottom paint. This is a very bad example of exactly what you don’t want to see, a totally saturated core. I do not suggest that you use your meter for bellow water applications, with a solid un-cored hull, as these readings can be very misleading and are best left to a pro to interpret. Three ranges for detecting moisture … This is an example of a high wet reading on a Tartan 37. In this case the leak that caused the wet decks had also caused rotting of the bulkhead the chain plate was physically attached to. The only reliable method is from the inside of the hull. Remember, the chain plates hold up the mast and the deck is an integral part of the support system for the chain plates. There are some ares of a boat that you certainly don’t want wet or even high moist. Those boats are still around today. Many times on sailboats you’ll find some dry core right above the wind speed & depth gauges if they are mounted on the cabin. You can even set it on a saturated deck if you wish.. I then used a terry cloth towel in an attempt to dry the surface before taking a reading. If boats were made out of water this would be one thing but a core, with even close to 35% water content is not a good sign. This is a good example of why spot soundings and moisture readings should accompany one another. This article is not, and was not written, nor intended, as a means for you to replace or circumvent a professional survey. When testing the hull of a boat you should always use the moisture meter on the inside of the hull, as opposed to the outside of the hull. When this core was dug into  by the owner it was found to be less damaged than would have been expected based on the reading. I know many good brokers, who have meters, and who go over the deck and cored hull before even listing a boat. I had a survey, engine check, two test runs and bought the boat. This shouldn’t be the case. Any good and reputable broker should offer to bring along a moisture meter, if not just ask. If you look ahead of the chisel you can see how the balsa just turns to mush when you touch it with the chisel. The longer it has been above 20% the more likely are the odds for a total failure and delamination of the skins but this can still take a very long while. This 6% reading is actually about as bone dry as you’ll ever get on either solid or cored fiberglass using the CT-33. More often than not you find a boat and it looks great on paper and on Yachtworld.com. Is so feel free to donate, support the site and keep it growing. This is an example of a high moist range reading on an O’Day. Core rot, degradation and the physical failure of the core can begin at about a 20% reading on the CT-33, sometimes sooner, which is in the high moist range. It is bone dry and has never left my shop or been wet other than atmospheric moisture. I bought a 30 yr old beauty that I had seen in the water. Remember this is not for you to become an expert just to prevent you from spending $600.00 needlessly on a basket case boat. … This capacitance reading is then transposed, onto the analog display, into a relative moisture reading. This particular boat had moisture in lots of critical places though she looked very presentable. At this stage of rot (early) the core is still tightly bonded to the skins. Some new boats, from builders like Catalina & Hunter, utilize aluminum plates glassed into the deck beneath winches, stanchions and other deck hardware. Over the past few years I have been asked for advice from some of my clients but also from boat owners who I meet in yards, clubs and bars concerning moisture content of hulls. Fiberglass boats are particularly a problem, as moisture in the warm daytime air may condense on the cooler hull inside at night. As you can see, even after wiping it with a towel, the reading was drastically higher and certainly in the high moist range. You then meet the broker, bring your spouse and you both get an extreme case of boat buyers lust. Why? What should you do? As you can see the balsa actually looks wet and you can physically see the moisture. This deck is not yet destroyed but any further leaking needs to be curtailed asap or it will be ruined shortly. Don’t necessarily write your vessel off because of a higher moisture content. If you don’t ask them, you won’t get any answers. Buy a moisture meter and use it if you have a cored hull. Here’s another view of a saturated balsa core. Most every boat has some deck moisture so don;’t be too alarmed at some “moist” readings. To the untrained ear, without a moisture meter and only a hammer, one might assume this deck was in A1 condition. Thanks for posting, I will check mine in the spring but I always take cover off when the boat … Copyright 1994 - 2019 Compass Marine Inc. | All Rights Reserved. This port light has likely been leaking into the decks core. On inboard and sterndrive boats, where … On an outboard boat, stress cracks on the top and in the corners of the transom are a sign the transom is flexing — not a good thing. This is especially true if you have even the slightest concern it is a painted finish. “She’s just perfect!” Your heart gets racing and you begin to imagine how much fun it will be to own her. WARNING: Use of a moisture meter, by a DIY, should only be done to determine if the boat is worthy of  continuing on with a full survey or to track changes in your own vessels decks or hull. Don’t laugh I know some who have coughed up close to 2k in the search for a new vessel and the surveyors loved every penny of it. percussion testing), 3. moisture meter testing, 4. infrared thermal imaging. These are only a few of the questions that need answering. Would you like to see more articles like this? Please note that this balsa, even in the present condition, still adhered quite well to both the top and bottom deck skins and required a screw driver to pry this square from the rest of the deck. The fact is, most have moisture levels which are higher than when the stringers were installed. This is a bad idea and best left to your surveyor. If on the other hand the meter is pegged in multiple areas sch as mast bases, chain plates, genny tracks, bulkheads and other high load areas this is a boat that is probably safe to walk away from and continue looking. In this picture I am holding a piece of metal up against the underside of the simulated deck/hull. So what can you do to protect your self from paying for surveys on boats with saturated decks or hull core? It is very, very important to know what is under the deck before taking a reading and the approximate thickness. Moisture has no place to go unless you are giving it some air. If you want to check for core moisture … These aluminum insertions will cause wet looking readings as they are only about 1/4″ deep at best. Terms and Conditions | Privacy Notice & Privacy Policy | Cookie Policy | Contact Us | Site Map, © 2021 Grabau International. It did not take me long to rule many of them out due to severe moisture issues. Is she in need of hidden big $$$ repairs? Never use Acetone on a painted surface. If this is the case … well.. your choice? If everything else checks out, namely deck and bulkheads, bring in your surveyor to do a full bottom examination. Though you will likely never need to calibrate it, the check takes just a few seconds to confirm the calibration is within spec. Acetone drys surface moisture faster than Denatured Alcohol but both work. Always incorporate spot soundings and core samples before digging into a deck. How many times do you need to fork over $600.00+ when looking for a boat before you invest in a moisture meter. In the minds of many high moisture content writes off the boat as far as they are concerned. These can be had for as little as $250. Buy an Electrophysics CT-33, or its sister meter the J.R. Overseas GRP-33, read this blog and the manual, do a Google search of “moisture meters for fiberglass” and then go for it. Company Registration Number: 9374773. Secondarily any hull that has recently been hauled will have rather high moisture readings. I simply used a misting bottle of water and sprayed the surface of the cored deck chunk to simulate dew or rain. Next the acrylic spacer is placed over the calibration block and it’s ready for you to set the meter on. Your donations help keep the content coming and also help keep it free. At that point apply a coating of epoxy, there’s lots to choose from so do some research. If that were the case, then most every boat with wood stringers would be junked. The deck skin is made of sandwiched balsa and is quite typical of most hull and or deck construction. In my experience the answer is to take her out of the water, remove the antifouling and let her dry out for a few months. I was … It’s is fairly straight forward. I’ve always been a big proponent of boat owners, and more importantly boat buyers, owning a moisture meter. So, the question is that if you have an older boat, as I had, it’s more than likely built well and is structurally sound, but has a wet bottom. I simply used a misting bottle of water and sprayed the surface of the cored deck chunk to simulate dew or rain. I have seen decks with 25% readings going back 10+ years be taken apart only to find that they were damp, but still very, very structurally sound. On fiberglass boats, they are molded right into the hull itself by the manufacturer. Naturally, these top the list. Myth: Wet readings on stringers mean the boat hull is junk. A pocket-sized moisture meter, the Skipper is designed to locate moisture in boat hulls and fittings. If this moisture were allowed to continue the color of the balsa would continue to darken and literally rot away leaving no structural strength. If you want to take reading bellow the waterline you’ll need to scrape away bottom paint in order to get an accurate reading. I use four methods to determine moisture in the hull: 1. visual inspection, 2. phenolic hammering of the hull (i.e. Many times I would not even involve the broker and instead would do a drive by, find a ladder, and at least circle the chain plates and deck fittings near the rail. The surveyor says this boat is a ticking time bomb and I should walk away. chart the condition of their boats from one season to the next, thereby avoiding nasty surprises. Ask all the questions! Thus, percussion testing both the top and bottom of the deck, where accessible, is a useful inspection technique. If you are still not sure, an underused tactic is to monitor … At some point this would have failed but had not yet. Moisture meters read metals and display it as moisture. In your own boat, drill a hole into the core where you suspect moisture damage and examine the excavated material. You’ll need to reference the scale found at the end of this page for fiberglass interpretations/translations. This is a bad idea and best left to your surveyor. If the $179.00 price tag (varies with exchange rate) is still killing you it is very easy to sell it when your done by listing it on any of the sailing forums. Like what you saw or read? If you don’t feel comfortable buying and using a moisture meter by all means please don’t. Using this meter any reading between 0% & 15% is considered dry on fiberglass. This is the adjoining deck section to the photo above with the chisel. Essentially, a survey for 30+ footer can run $600.00 or more these days and whether or not the boat passes you pay the surveyor the $600.00+. I do not find this acceptable in a modern … Hull. Meters can read metals and in this case a backing plate so this reading was not as accurate as one would like it to be. Most would assume there is likely some serious delamination going on and a degrading or degraded core. Please DO NOT feel obligated at all. Buy a boat with a bad engine, and you’re in for a … When the meter is placed atop the spacer and copper faced calibration block the meter should read exactly 14%. Both of these chunks have been sitting in my shop for well over two years, stored right next to each other, so the environmental controls were identical. It may also be used on man made materials such as fiberglass. Many a boat buyer has been wrongly advised that the core was wet when, in fact, only the outer skin was. Even this wet, the deck was still sounding out with minimal differences in tone. I suggest it because in all seriousness the meter above paid for its self the first time I used it to rule out just one boat. These can be had for as little as $250. Please do not use a meter on any deck or interior hull sections that have dew, condensation or where it has recently rained. Using one to rule in boats that may be a good candidate for a survey or to rule out boats that have a pegged meter all over is fine and can save you money. It was clearly insufficient. If you want to take reading bellow the waterline you'll need to scrape away bottom paint in order to get an accurate reading. Unfortunately without a meter you’d likely hire a surveyor, based on cosmetics alone, and pay them $600.00 to find this.. Save yourself $400.00 and buy a meter. I wanted to illustrate just how sensitive these meter are and to impress upon potential meter owners why the deck surface must be bone dry before using a moisture meter. A little common sense goes a long way and is all that’s necessary. Large backing plates can also throw off readings so please do your best to look inside and to be sure your not reading metals through the deck. Again, you can not take a reading with even the slightest amount of surface moisture. I wanted to illustrate just how sensitive these meter are and to impress upon potential meter owners why the deck surface MUST be BONE dry before using a moisture meter. The moisture had traveled a good 7-8″ towards the genny track through capillary action and had even migrated about 12″ fore and aft. We recommend having someone check the moisture level of your hull and deck at least once every three years. We recommend Get Certified Boat History Report . All rights reserved. A few years ago I knew of a boat that had been surveyed almost ten times in two years on the market. As you’ll notice a 30% moisture saturation in wood or a cored section is only equal to 3% total absorbed moisture on a solid fiberglass with no core. Fiberglass bulkheads are usually tabbed (fiberglass taped) to … If the boat has just been hauled, allow some time for surface moisture to evaporate. I suggest the latter and a little more patience as it is much safer. The meter can’t see beyond the copper so it does not really matter where you set it to check the calibration. To master the use of one takes time and should be used with soundings, something many DIY’s don’t have the ear for and other measures to cross check the moisture meters findings.. Now I know what you’re probably thinking “it’s already wet”? The problem is generally worse when boats … Moisture meters read metals and display it as moisture. This article is intended to help you use a moisture meter to potentially uncover boats which are clear lemons and separate them from vessels that are worthy of pursuing further. You’ll want to hire a surveyor or lamination expert to fully inspect the hull with more sophisticated tools, such as a moisture meter, but you can certainly conduct the initial inspection. One other area for potential high misreading could be a gelcoat with a high metals content. Last decoded HIN FGB60613E605 BRA20070H293 PPN38054D898 … This face down orientation is what you use when checking the calibration. Here is a piece of 5/8″ solid fiberglass I laid up to cut thru-hull backing plates from. I don’t suggest this because I want every DIY boater to think they are a surveyor, or to try and circumvent the surveying process, that is not my point at all. If you get consistently high readings on a gelcoat find a known dry area and take a baseline reading to compare against. Refer to the previous chart for translation. wet cored hull I'm going through this now. All those years ago when GRP was first used in boat production no one really new how strong it was, how long it would last and what we needed to do with it each year? No one knew that you should protect the hull from water, why should you, it’s GRP the new wonder material. Soundings & moisture meter can help each other out. A pin-type meter can be used by drilling two small holes for pin insertion into the core and … The scale on the left is for reading wood, or a wood cored laminate and the scale on the right is for reading solid fiberglass. I learned my lesson with my first boat. Remember this meter is primarily designed for the many different species of wood. Sadly though many less helpful or thorough brokers claim they don’t have one or don’t know how to use one. A large section (2"- 2 1/2" can be removed and sent to a laboratory analysis for moisture content. The needle should read zero. I have seen boats put under heat lamps for six months before bottom coating and new blisters appeared within a few years. Rigoruos maintenance seems to be the only way to prolong the life of the structure, and that is usually not done by many boat … A pocket-sized moisture meter, the Skipper is designed to locate moisture in boat … Remember the degradation and physical rotting of the core begins at around 20% on the CT-33. This is an initial calibrations check. DRY YOUR BOAT We’ll come and set up our system to repair your wet coring, … Once moisture has a route into the structure of a fiberglass/wood boat, the wood will absorb moisture like a sponge and the fiberglass will keep it there. 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Other area for potential high misreading could be a gelcoat with a quick walk around the thru-hull penetrations it only... Contact Us | Site Map, © 2021 Grabau International deck section to the untrained ear, without moisture... Makes all the differense feel free to donate, support the Site and it! Deck penetration under a teak hand rail that leaked due to improper bedding skin … left untreated, boat. The fact is, most have moisture levels which are higher than the. We bought our current boat I looked at over 50 boats, where … please enter any hull Identification -... Don ; ’ t see beyond the copper in bottom paint but any further needs! Check the calibration Downeast style boat but sandwiched balsa core stage of rot ( early ) the core where suspect. Slightly off center but the meter can ’ t work out so well be curtailed asap or will... Never need to scrape away bottom paint as moisture go over the top, tough... 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Notice & Privacy Policy | Contact Us | Site Map, © 2021 Grabau International to the! Ruined shortly going on and a little over 8 % to prevent from. Even after reading this, please do not find this acceptable in moisture... Claim they don ’ t want to start your inspection with a little common sense goes a long and. Very presentable probably how to check a boat hull for moisture “ it ’ s lots to choose from so do some research A1 condition then... The degradation and physical rotting of the hull: 1. visual inspection, 2. phenolic hammering of questions...