Removing Rotten Wood From a Boat

Removing Rotten Wood From a Boat – Are you wondering why wood on boats is a material that is otherwise not difficult to maintain.

Nevertheless, it demands frequent and careful care. We will also tell you the causes of wood rot and how we deal with this problem on our boat. In this video you can see what happens to wood in four years.

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Wood, material for building a boat

Catamaran Ariki is built from mahogany waterproof plywood. It is an excellent material for building boats mainly because it is easy to maintain. If such panels are laminated with epoxy and fabric and then painted with real varnishes, as is done on Ariki, then there is practically no work to be done with them.

Some parts on Ariki, however, are wooden. The constructor imagined that it must be spruce wood. Crossbeams are made from a combination of plywood and spruce slats. The mast is made of spruce boards, and both boats are joined with spruce battens at the junction of the deck with the sides of the hulls.

Spruce wood on the boat

Spruce wood is one of the most problematic, as it decays the fastest. Therefore, it is also the most difficult to maintain. That is why such wood is not suitable for building boats. Why the constructor used spruce on so many parts of the catamaran is not entirely clear to me. It is true that it is an elastic, flexible wood, but high mountain larch, for example, would be more suitable. Perhaps he did not use this material simply because it cannot be found in nature where he lived?

Why we used it in the construction of Ariki is completely clear to us. Simply because the plan says it must be spruce wood. At that time, during construction, we did not think about the renovation of the boat, but mainly about how we would make this or that part.

Protection of wooden parts on the deck

In the early years, many of the spruce wood parts on Ariki were only painted with clear varnish. Such wood protection is not exactly adequate. Especially not for those parts that are exposed to the sun and the weather.

Wood in its natural colors and texture is truly one of the most beautiful thing in the world. However, such protection involves a lot of work. If you want your boat to look really nice, such surfaces should be sanded and painted at least once or even better twice a year.

The reason for this is simple: boats like to collect moisture in the form of water droplets. When the sun shines on the drops, they act like a lens. Small cracks appear under them, which are initially invisible to the eye. Nevertheless, they are large enough that moisture begins to penetrate between the wood and the varnish layer.

What are the consequences

In the case of wooden parts painted with transparent varnishes, within a few months the cracks widen so much that they are visible to the naked eye. Then the varnish layer begins to peel off the wood.

On those wooden parts that are protected with an epoxy coating and painted with opaque varnishes, this process takes a little longer.

After a year from the appearance of the crack, the wood under it turns gray, sometimes it also has green shades. We say it’s algae. Whether they really are, we don’t know. But it doesn’t even matter.

The fact is that such a crack must be sanded and all wood that does not have a natural color should also be sanded. If we don’t do this, or if we don’t remove all the damaged wood and fill it all in with putty and varnish, the wood inside will continue to rot.

Removing rotten wood from a boat

During the last refurbishment of the catamaran, we forgot to repair the cracks on the outer side of the right hull. It has now been 4 years since the cracks started. The result is disastrous. The wood has completely lost its structure. It can be removed without tools, with bare fingers.

Fortunately for us, the Ariki is built in such a way that every piece of wood is coated with epoxy before installation. So that contact is prevented between other pieces of wood that it touches. Therefore, the rot does not spread further.

However, all damaged wood should be removed. Then clean all surfaces under it well.

Why wood rots

Wood rots due to the action of various microorganisms, especially fungi and bacteria, which destroy wood tissue. The process of wood rot usually begins when the wood comes into contact with moisture and air, creating ideal conditions for the growth of microorganisms. The main factors that affect the rate of wood rot include humidity, temperature, the presence of oxygen, and the type and quality of the wood.

Fungi are often the main cause of wood rot. Among the most well-known fungi that cause wood rot are white rot, brown rot, and blue rot. These fungi break down the wood fibers and cause the wood to lose its structure, strength and stability.

In addition to fungi, bacteria and some insects can also contribute to wood rot. Bacteria that thrive in a moist environment can participate in the decomposition of wood. Insects such as termites and woodlice can damage the wood and allow microorganisms to get inside the wood, which accelerates the rotting process.

Moisture and wood

Moisture is a key factor in wood rot, as it allows the development of microorganisms. Wood exposed to constant high humidity is more susceptible to rotting. Likewise, wood that is exposed to weather influences such as rain, snow and moisture from the ground.

In addition, the quality of the wood is also an important factor. Different types of wood have different rot resistance. For example, a hardwood species such as oak is usually more resistant to rot than a softer species of wood such as spruce.

Wood rot is therefore a complex process that involves the interaction between various microorganisms, environmental conditions and wood properties.

The rot is removed

So, the rotten wood is removed and everything is cleaned. The damage is much less than it initially appeared. Only one slat 240 cm long, 3 cm thick and 5 cm wide has rotted. A carpenter friend from a neighboring village will prepare such a slat for me without any problems.

But now it’s autumn. Temperatures have become too low to work with epoxy outdoors. Therefore, we will postpone this work until next spring. Until then, we will publish a few more videos. In the first one that follows, we will tell how we protected Ariki from the winter weather.

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