Glass Hull to Deck Joint & Composite Bulwarks

Ahoy Team,
I’m about two years out from beginning an extensive refit to prepare for extended cruising. As I spent the last few weeks touching up some failing paint on the wooden coverboards, trim, etc. I couldn’t help but think about ways to make this more bullet proof long term.
Has anyone glassed over the coverboard to seal the hull to deck joint? How about using composites for the bulwarks and supports?
I’m not convinced this is the way to go, but was curious if anyone has any experience here.
Thanks, as always, for the help!
BCC #77

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Mike - 6 or more years ago I completed glassing over bowsprit, boomkin, bulwarks & posts, cover and heavy side boards, boom gallows, hatch covers, tiller, … Working on it part time during the early years of my retirement took me over 2 years, with the boat uncovered on the hard. I do not recommend doing it. To prevent delamination from the existing wood I applied several layers of fiberglass and epoxy, lots of epoxy filler to create large radius on internal corners, and made sure the underlying wood was completely and utterly dry. I’m experiencing small areas of delamination on the heavy timber sections - seems like where the underlying wood was not as dry as I thought. My current fix is to cut away the delaminated fiberglass, let it dry out, and then epoxy coat the exposed wood and paint over it - much simpler to do. I found rot in the cover board around the base of several of the bulwark support posts - port and starboard side similar. Also replaced numerous bulwark support posts due to rot - again port and starboard side similar. And replaced the aft half of both port and starboard side bulwarks with marine plywood, due to rot. Looking back, I think a much better approach is to replace wood posts with bronze brackets, simply bolt replaceable bulwark boards to the bronze brackets, and refinish remaining permanently affixed wood by epoxy coating and finish painting. The heavy sanding my fiberglass and epoxy work required has left the base joints of my good old thumbs and index fingers arthritic - both hands.
Mike M - August Dame


My boat, Merry, has almost all of the typical BCC wood deck pieces as fiberglass - glassed over hull-deck joint, fiberglass bulwarks (cast bronze brackets for bulwark support), sampson posts, bowsprit, rudder cheeks, tiller, taffrail. In each case it’s glass over foam or from molds, not glass over wood, so no delimitation issues.

This makes maintenance easy since I don’t need to keep up with paint or varnish.

So, if this is something you want to do, it’s very possible. Big job, though. Probably more work than making from wood though.

Before Shaula was 10 years old, I wooded all the external wood and gave it 2 coats of West epoxy. Then primed and painted with enamel. The wood was all Honduras mahogany except for the fir sprit and ash bits, rudder cheeks and tiller. I replaced the ash fid with aluminum. After 42 years, there was no rot anywhere except for a few small spots in the bits above the fid notches. Shaula spent 15 plus years in the S Pacific, and the other years in the rainy Pacific NW.

Thanks Mike- Definitely appreciate hearing about your experiences and great tip on replacing the bulwark supports with bronze brackets. I definitely like that idea.

Chickenonthesea- Did you do this work yourself or have it done? Are the bulwarks solid fiberglass or fiberglass over the wood?
Any additional details would be most welcome.

Taking them down completely, then coating with epoxy then painting definitely seems easier so it’s good to hear that worked well. My hope is, no matter what I do, to do it once!

Fairly certain it was done by the builder at the time the boat was built, because the pieces all clearly from molds and all have the same gelcoat colors. It’s a Canadian BCC and my understanding is that many of them had customizations. It is all hollow or foam-cored fiberglass.

I also have a friend who took his FC teak down bare (by sanding), then epoxied and painted. A good move I think as long as you get the teak de-oiled on the surface?