A rotten deck is probably one of the easiest things to avoid, but if left alone can be the fastest spreading. Most boats use a balsa core which is small cubes of wood connected with a paper thin sheet of fiberglass. While it is strong, the wood is like a sponge, once water finds its way in it spreads like wildfire. Here are some steps to make sure water doesn’t get into your decks core!
- Check all deck hardware. Cleats, stanchions, rails, rod holders. Anything that is screwed or bolted into the deck needs to be properly sealed with marine grade sealant.
- Check all hatches and portlights. These should be bedded along the lip with sealant and each screw individually sealed.
- Check seats, leaning posts, T-Top bases, center consoles, etc. These use larger diameter fasteners and are in areas where water can sometimes stand.
- Chips and stress cracks. Cracks will usually appear in a radius, this is where boats tend to flex and the gelcoat will crack. These should be properly repaired asap, or at the very least rub some sealant into them to keep water out until you can have them repaired
- One of the biggest culprits of deck rot that I have come across is your everyday deck plate. They are usually only 4-8 inches in diameter and are fastened with 6-8 screws. A lot of times people will simply seal the flange or just the screws. Even from the factory they aren’t always sealed right. You want to coat the edges of the deck cutout, put a bead under the flange, and individually seal each screw.
If you aren’t sure how well your boat is sealed, take a few hours and start pulling and resealing everything you can. Invite your fishing buddies over to help and it wont take long!