The previous owner of Dutchess (then named Fox) did not use the selfttacker and as there were no block in the bow I could actually believe that. But although it had not been used (or at least not much) there were cracks in the gelcoat around the attachment of the selftacker track. Soon after I bought the boat we got a whole new set of sails including a selftecking jib.
On one of the last trips one year, some time in late windy september, we were passing a bay on our way home. The wind were pushing the boat that leaned over heavily and I decided to pull in the last centimeter on the jib sheet. Then with a sharp crack the selftacker track detached from the deck on the leeward side and left a hole big as a childs hand into the sandwich core. Appearently the track was not installed correctly.
Examining the damage showed that the laminate had not been massive where the track was attached. Instead the washer under deck had just been sitting under the top layer of the sandwich and it was kind of astonishing that it survived as long as it actually did. We had been going through some heavy seas during that summer. Now I had to remove all the divinycell core around the attachment and create a massive laminate as big as possible.
The first problem was to remove the parts of the interior that were directly under the track attachment. On the port side I was lucky nothing had to be removed. On the starbord side the cabinet at the navigation station had to go somehow.
After some hours I thought I had found all screws (one in the forepeak wardrobe) and cut through all the Sikaflex but still the cabinet would not move. Then I found the last screw. It had been put from inside the wooden chainplate box right next to the fridge. Of course it was impossible to get to so I had to saw it through.
I choose to work with Epoxy as it does not smell that bad as Polyester. Mixing with different material I could create an epoxy putty that was possible to apply from beneath. After that it was all a matter of applying layer after layer with fiberglass. Different directions of the fibers and different sizes for each layer to ensure a good distribution of the load.
After 24 layers and some sanding the interior was put back. The worst part was cleaning the sanding dust that found it self into the most incredible places. An industrial vacuum cleaner is strongly recommended while sanding inside the boat.
Of course the excitement was big the first times going hard upwind after this project. But nothing happened and after a while I stopped thinking about it. Now I have great confidence in the selftacker in the heaviest of weather.
Fair winds, Lasse W