Bow locker and hawse pipe deterioration

Craig Briggs

Over the years there have been several posts about the bow locker floors deteriorating due to water rotting out the plywood. I did a minor repair to mine some years ago, but other sections succumbed and I've now removed the entire floors from both lockers. 

Interesting findings:

- Indeed, virtually all the plywood was rotted out, as I expected

-  Surprisingly, the main entry point for water was the hawse pipe. (I thought my deck locker hatches had been leaking, but they had not.) I had seen some rust stains but never found the cause. Turns out the pipe is a standard galvanized one and, over the years, the chain sliding up and down removed the galvanizing and the pipe rusted through. There was a finger width opening on the back side of the pipe at the top and another further down and these are not at all obvious.

- Having removed the floors I could inspect the bow thruster structure (with some contortions to get myself below the floor level). The structure is made of plywood, well tabbed into the hull and the corners are glassed together, leaving the middle wood surfaces exposed and, surprisingly, unfinished. Oddly, the lower half, from the hull up, is nicely protected by gelcoat. The upper half is not finished at all and the plywood is starting to delaminate on the front side (which is virtually impossible to see with the floors installed). This is where water will run down from the hawse pipe normally.  Fortunately, it is only the surface layers of the plywood that have delaminated and the remainder is still solid, so I can build it back up with fiberglass laminate.

- The floors were only tabbed on the top (getting to the bottom being impractical) and this provides an excellent lip to lay the new floors on. I'm using marine plywood and applying fiberglass to the bottom before installation to prevent a recurrence.

So, with many of our boats in the 25-30 year range, this area is worth a close inspection. I'm adding a 10" X 16" inspection hatch on the port side locker to allow for future inspections and easier cleanup of the chain locker in the future.

Cheers,  Craig Briggs, SN#68, Ft Pierce, FL

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