Recoring or repairing the deck on the bow of an Ericson 27


Member I
I just recently bought an Ericson 27 at a rock bottom price. She has a huge soft spot on the bow and ripped-out cleats. My neighbors suspect that the core on the bow is rotten and needs replacement.

I messed a little with the cleat holes. They are patched over with shoddy patches (duct tape????), which are peeling off. I can see into the holes. The exposed edges of the balsa are dry and crumbly to the touch. I'm still kicking for not taping them over with plastic. Either way, the balsa right around the cleats is ruined. I think I'll drill out the bad sections, epoxy over the holes, cover with fiberglass, drill new holes in the epoxy+fiberglass, and install new cleats---as long as I don't have to cover too great of an area. Does that sound like a good fix? Is there anything I need to watch out for?

The bow has a giant soft spot. I heard that the outboard was dropped on it (so maybe maybe my neighbors are wrong and the core is neither wet nor rotten!). I'll drill exploratory holes when I go to liveaboard in May. If the core is only cracked, can I epoxy over the cracks and push it back into shape? (It actually holds its shape pretty well, even with the soft spot, so mostly I would just have to stick the gelcoat back on.)

If the core is rotten, I still haven't decided on whether I should recore from above or below. The pretty yellow nonskid surface all over the deck will be a pain to match. I don't want to mess it up. Underneath, though, there's this weirdness:

The overhead over the V-berth is straight. As far as I can tell, it's unpainted fiberglass. It's pretty firm when I push on it. It doesn't look like it's delaminated from the deck; it looks factory-straight. There must be some material in the void between the deck and the overhead, and I'm not sure how to deal with it. This is relevant to exploratory drilling as well. Any ideas?

What tools would you recommend for the job?

Last but absolutely not least, if the above epoxy procedure is correct (the one I'll use for cleats), I also want to do the same for the one leaky chainplate that currently seats in a tub of sealant, for the rail fittings (I might actually replace all of the rails, since they're in bad shape), and for the handrails on the top of the cabin. I'll be working in May-June in the Chesapeake bay area. I've never worked with epoxy before. From what I understand, it sets pretty quickly in hot weather and can even catch fire. Any hints?


Member I
Oh, yes, I know about that. It's a shame that the link in the first post no longer works. I have a whole reading list built around that thread and others. The online resources it includes thus far:

...and I know there were more, but I can't locate them right now. Should've bookmarked them as soon as I read them.

And I will definitely post pictures... as soon as I take them... as soon as I make my way back to Virginia.
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Contributing Partner
Blogs Author
For what it's worth the foredeck was entirely saturated with the exception of one small area about a foot square. I was always surprised by how much more extensive the damage was than I suspected from sounding the deck. I recently discovered that the cockpit is pretty saturated but it's still sound. I cant see the entire sketch you posted so I am not sure what is going on under the foredeck. In my boat there is a finished fiberglass liner that sits just below the bottom skin of the deck. one would have to remove the liner, then the bottom skin, then the core in order to do the jobs from underneath. Knowing how hard it is workin on your back and getting fiberglass cloth to stick properly overhead I would not work from the underside. Tools. Circular saw to cut deck skin. Fein multimaster or knock off for core removal and deck skin cuts you can't get with circular saw. Check for more recore examples. Good luck!

Walter Pearson

Member III
On my E27, that interior liner does not always follow the contour of the deck exactly. And in many of the areas where I've opened things up, there is nothing in there to fill the gap between them. (I filled that gap at the port lite perimeters and at the grab rail mounting areas in the cabin.) I have never opened things up in the V-berth, so could be wrong, but I would think you would have to cut out that liner in a way that it could be re-joined if you are going to work from underneath.