Thought I'd post some pictures of my recent experience repairing soft spots, so that others may hopefully avoid the same pitfalls. I'm sure it pains the H18 old salts to see a newbie doing irreparable damage to their hulls, but it is what it is. Hopefully the repair will still hold and last for a long time!
I bought my boat ('79) used two years ago, and at the time I bought it, I did not find any soft spots. Last year, I found that I had two: one on the aft deck of each hull, aft of the rear crossbar. Seems like a very odd place to me... and the port soft spot especially seemed to appear suddenly.
I attempted the soft spot repair on the starboard hull last year and the port hull this year. The starboard side was about a 6" circle, the port side was the entire aft deck, lip to lip, almost to the rear crossbar (but not quite). After having completed the repair, I filled the holes with matched gel coat and sanded it down. The starboard side looks fantastic.
The port side looks sloppy, but I had a lot of holes, most of which were in the non-skid (84 on port, 17 on starboard).
I'm a bit disappointed, but at least it's fixed.
The starboard side took almost 16oz of epoxy to fill. It was a lot for a small area, so I was suspicious. When the port side took half as much, I knew I was in trouble. I had planned to add deck ports this year anyways, so I was curious to see what it looked like. After cutting the holes, I found that the starboard side leaked through, leaving a puddle of cured epoxy inside my hull. (pardon the dust)
Apparently it seeped through the inner layer of fiberglass? Or perhaps it was cracked?
All of the fill holes were aft of my deck port location on the starboard hull, but it appears the epoxy did extend forward of the deck port hole. There is a separation in the lip right at the rear crossbar, so perhaps that's how the air was escaping?
looking forward (above deck):
looking forward (below deck):
After my experience with repairing the soft spot on the starboard side, I was expecting to need much more epoxy on the port side. It was a huge area, and made a loud "crunch" whenever pressed on. I ended up over filling it, and it ballooned out. The top side is somewhat "wavy", so I knew I had over filled it a bit. I just had no idea how much until I cut the hole for the deck port.
As you can see, I also wound up with large air pockets in the epoxy. I believe this to be because I didn't continuously fill from the same hole the entire time. The repair seemed too big for the epoxy to spread continuously throughout the area from the same hole. So when one fill hole started to get difficult and ooze back out, I moved on to the next one. I knew this was a bad idea, but I didn't know what else I could do. I was a bit overwhelmed by the size of the damaged area.
I was, however, surprised to see that the foam had not rotted out, that the soft spot was just separation between the foam and the fiberglass. With how large and soft the spot was and how loud it crunched, I was sure that the foam was gone. Thinking that the epoxy needed to take up the void that the foam left behind also lead me to over-fill the void.
The starboard hull repair, which was done "right" as far as I can tell (minus the extra epoxy in the hull), was all filled from one hole, until epoxy started coming out of all of the surrounding holes. Then I covered the fill hole and moved on to the next hole (where epoxy had just started oozing out of) with the same process. When the epoxy began oozing out of the perimeter holes, I covered them to force the epoxy to fill to the next hole. I tried to use this same approach on the port side, but I may have rushed it, worried about the epoxy kicking before I finished filling the soft spot. I also drilled my holes too far out on the port side. Make sure you drill your holes just INSIDE of the perimeter of the soft spot. Mine were just outside of it, so I had to re-drill a number of them, which of course just added to the mahem as we were trying to mix, drill and inject all at the same time.
Oh well, live & learn, I suppose. Nothing I can do about it now. Both repairs are very solid, though I'm sure they're also quite heavy. Anybody with more experience fixing soft spots care to comment? Anything else I could've done or should've done? Anything that you recommend moving forward? Any way to get rid of that puddle of epoxy?