Ericson 25, Deck Core Repair, Cabin Trunk, S/V Flibbertegibbet

Deck core repair work by Robert Slocum on Flibbertegibbet
Repairing rotten deck core on a fiberglass boat is one of the most unpleasant tasks that any owner can undertake. Deck core typically consists of balsa wood or plywood sandwiched between a top layer and a bottom layer of fiberglass. Almost all of the core of the Ericson 25 consists of balsa wood that is 3/8 inch thick. The fiberglass on either side of the core is between 1/8 and 1/4 inch thick. This combination of balsa and fiberglass is incredibly strong, as long as the balsa core is not compromised by rot. Deck core rot occurs whenever water seeps into the core through some penetration in the deck, usually through a bolt hole or screw hole beneath a piece of hardware. If you've read my article, "Deck Core Repair, Chain Locker," then you'll know that there are two different ways that you can tackle a deck core repair job. You can come in from the bottom, as I did on Oystercatcher, my Ericson 25, or you can come in from the top. Robert Slocum, who sails his Ericson 25, Flibbertegibbet, out of Lake Texoma, Texas, sent me some pictures of a major deck core repair job that he completed by coming in from the top.
Most of the rot was in the area forward of the companionway hatch
Robert reports that a previous owner had tried (and failed miserably) to accomplish a deck core repair job by coming in from the bottom. I was able to come in from the bottom on Oystercatcher, because I was working in the chain locker. This is one of the few areas of the boat where there is not a fiberglass hull liner. The hull liner is a two-part shell of sorts, which provides structural support to the boat, and which conceals the unsightly bare fiberglass of the hull and of the overhead. The hull liner is covered with glossy white gelcoat, which provides a bright and tidy appearance to the interior, especially when balanced with the generous portions of varnished mahogany throughout the boat.
While the hull liner does have its benefits, its also has its costs, especially when it comes to doing any work on the deck core. Within the galley, main salon, V-berth, and the head, it is impossible to access the underside of the deck without first cutting through the fiberglass hull liner (or more properly speaking, the head liner). Doing so, of course, means that the hull liner is forever damaged and you must take some action to conceal the hole, unless of course you're the type of person who is not bothered by the wretched appearance of a hack job. It's into the latter category that the previous owner of Robert Slocum's boat fell.
In the picture below we see the overhead of the main salon. The scars around the perimeter indicate the area of the cuts that the previous owner had made through the hull liner (head liner). Robert reports that the previous owner, after making the sloppy repair to the deck core, did not bother to permanently reinstall the fiberglass liner by glassing it into place. Instead, he simply stuck it up there and concealed the cut marks with pieces of wood trim. Robert speculates that the previous owner might not have wanted to glass the liner into place, because the sanding and fairing would have damaged the textured surface of the overhead. I should note that the textured surface to which Robert is referring is found on all Ericson 25s. It provides a matte finish to the overhead and thus reduces the glare from the gel coat.
Here is how Robert himself described the situation: "A previous owner attempted to fix the boat from the inside, and he never glassed it back in. He just screwed some trim pieces around the overhead where he had cut. This repair job [on the interior of the boat] completely failed. I thought it looked awful, so I ground it all out, re-glassed [the liner], and faired it back in. There was no end to the awful sanding dust falling on my head. I assume the logic was that the previous owner didn't want to mess with the texture [of the head liner]. I don't know."
Robert did not indicate to me whether he concealed his glass work on the interior of the boat with his own wooden trim pieces, but I cannot imagine, given his concern for the appearance of his boat, that he did not do so.

Let's now consider Robert's solution to the problem of the deck core rot. Having re-glassed the head liner into place, Robert supported the head liner with a pole and then cut into the deck from the top. This pole was necessary to prevent any sagging while he worked from above.
One would think that the deck core rot originated at the point where the winch was joined to the deck. Notice in the picture below the six holes, which form a circle (not far from the pole). On some Ericson 25s (but not all) there is a winch in this location, which serves to raise and lower the centerboard.
Concerning the origin of the rot and his approach to the repairs, Robert says the following: "I went in from the topside. That way I could brace the ceiling from below, while setting it up, and gravity was my friend. What I found was random rotted out plywood that had completely failed and swelled. I assume this was the previous owner's fix. I ground it all out clean, and went back in with end grain balsa and liberal amounts of West Systems epoxy. I put several laminates of glass over the top of the repair job, and I spent time fairing the glass all back in around the perimeter. [In place of the original textured, non-slip deck], I went back with kiwi grip after I painted her. So far, she's holding up fine. I'm still not 100 percent sure what caused the softening. Weirdly, the area around the winch was fairly sound. The worst softening was between the companionway hatch and the winch, and along the sides where the hatch rails run. This is all fairly elevated, but I suspect that to be the culprit. Everything got re-bedded anyway after painting."
Doing a deck core repair project from the top side of the deck is, as Robert suggested, much easier, since gravity works with you instead of against you. There is, though, a downside to this approach; after all is said and done, you must start yet another project - that of fairing and sanding and priming and painting the deck. Robert, though, appears to have approached this project with the right frame of mind.
He would later, in a separate project, not only paint the hull, but also apply an epoxy barrier coat and an anti-fouling paint to the bottom. I would say that Robert did a fantastic job bringing his boat back up to speed.
This ends this posting on the deck core repair job that Robert Slocum completed on the cabin trunk of Flibbertegibbet, his Ericson 25.

Ericson 25, Rigging, Spinnaker and Staysail Options

An Ericson 25, flying a spinnaker in a promotional document from the 1970s
A spinnaker is useful in light air. A staysail, on the other hand, can be useful when sailing upwind, if the weather is up. When Ericson was producing the Ericson 25 in Southern California in the early to mid 1970s, the rigging for both of these sails (and the sails themselves) were optional. Despite the occasional usefulness of these sails and despite their availability, few original purchasers of the Ericson 25 appear to have opted for them. Most appear to have been content with the standard sloop rig - in other words, a main sail and a single headsail (either a jib or a genoa). When I wrote the article, "Rigging, a Tutorial," in August 2012, I stated that, of the many pictures I had seen of many different Ericson 25s, I had never seen one that had the double head-rig option, in other words, the staysail option, whereby a staysail is capable of being flown immediately behind the jib. In response to that article, Steven Hemphill, an Ericson 25 owner who sails out of Lake Mead, Nevada, contacted me in August 2013 to say that his boat, Old Navy, had both the spinnaker option and the staysail option. Since that time, I have cast a keener eye upon any picture I might see of an Ericson 25 to see if she might possess the rigging typical of these options. Of all the pictures I have seen, I've only noticed one boat that might posses this rigging. Therefore, at present, Old Navy stands out as the only Ericson 25 (except for the company boat in the promotional literature) that unequivocally possesses these two different setups as they were originally designed by Ericson.
In the original paperwork that was conveyed to me at the time I purchased my boat, Oystercatcher, there was a list of all the optional equipment available from Ericson Yachts.
In a cropped version of this list, I have highlighted below the double head-rig (jib and staysail) option and the spinnaker option. Let's focus first on item 40, "Spinnaker gear, complete." Note that this is different from item 46, "Spinnaker Sail."
Now let's take a look at the Ericson 25 shop manual. Below, on page 72 of the shop manual we see instruction to the Ericson boatyard workers on the proper installation of the optional spinnaker gear. This page, the first of two pages on the optional spinnaker gear, concerns the installation of the spring loaded deck block that is designed for the foreguy of the spinnaker.
The next page of the shop manual concerns the fairleads that route the forguy aft from the spring loaded block to the cockpit.
Having looked at the optional equipment list and having looked at the two pages from the shop manual that concern the optional spinnaker gear, let's now look at an actual example. In the picture below, we see Old Navy, Steven Hemphill's Ericson 25. Pay no attention to the wood on the foredeck. These are the hatch boards for the companionway. It appears that Steven had been applying some varnish to these boards at the time he took this picture.
In the close-up view below, note well the red circles that I have placed around the hardware on deck. The first circle (in the foreground) indicates the spring loaded block. The second circle (near the cabin trunk) indicates one of the fairleads. Note also the spinnaker pole stored on deck.
In September 2013 there was an Ericson 25 for sale in Washington, North Carolina. Note the red circle that I have drawn around what appears to be a spinnaker block on the foredeck of the boat. If this is indeed a spinnaker block, it's the only example of one I have see other than the one on Steven Hemphill's boat, Old Navy. In terms of the spar that is stored on the cabin trunk, this might simply be the boom at not a spinnaker pole.
Let's now turn our attention back to Steven Hemphill's Old Navy. The picture below offers us an unobstructed view of the spring loaded spinnaker block.
A closer view.
In the picture below from an original promotional document for the Ericson 25, we see a spinnaker, a spinnaker pole, a foreguy, and an afterguy.
It's difficult to see in the picture below, but the foreguy must pass through the spring loaded block, which is partly concealed by the doused jib.
Having discussed the spinnaker option, let's now focus on the double head-rig option that was available at the time of purchase. First, let's consider Item 22, the double head-rig assembly.
Aside from the extra winch, the "assembly" indicated in Item 22 for the double head-rig must indicate the 3 inch diamond shaped pad eye that would be located on the foredeck of the boat. This pad eye would of course secure the tack of the staysail to the deck. Page 81 from the Ericson shop manual provides instructions for its installation.
If we look back again at the foredeck of Old Navy, we see a clear example of one of these pad eyes. The shop manual called for the pad eye to be installed 42 inches aft of the bow. The pad eye in the picture below appears to be at this distance.
In the picture below, we see the nuts and washers for this pad eye. This is the overhead of the V-berth on Steven Hemphill's Old Navy. I'm really surprised that the Ericson 25 shop manual did not call for the installation of a backing plate for this pad eye. Then again, there were no backing plates for the main sheet traveler on the Ericson 25.
In the close-up shot below, you can see that the washers, over time, have created indentions in the fiberglass hull liner. I can say that the washers for my main sheet traveler had created similar indentions in the fiberglass hull liner in the main salon of Oystercatcher, my Ericson 25.
Having discussed Item 22, the double head-rig assembly, let's now focus on Item 35, the racing rig with the inboard lowers for the double head-rig. By "inboard lowers," they appear to be referring to inboard lower shrouds.
The standard rig for the Ericson 25 consisted of a single pair of spreaders and a single pair of chainplates. This "racing rig," appears to have consisted of the above-mentioned items as well as a second pair of spreaders and chainplates. In the picture below, from an original promotional document, we see a second pair of spreaders.
Not convinced? Take a look at this close-up.
In the picture below, I have drawn red circles around the two different chainplates. The outboard chainplate (on the deck) supports the upper spreader; the inboard chainplate (on the cabin trunk) supports the lower spreader. This inboard chainplate is not the norm. I have seen only two examples of it - the first on the boat in this picture, the second on Steven Hemphill's Old Navy.
Below, we see the deck of Old Navy.
In this closer view of the deck, notice that I have circled in red the outer chainplate and the inner chainplate on the port side.
Although there are no instructions for its installation in the Ericson 25 shop manual, the double head-rig assembly must have included a piece of hardware on the mast for the head of the staysail.
These pictures provided by Steven Hemphill, show this hardware on Old Navy.
Having surveyed the spinnaker and staysail options, I conclude this brief article with three pages from the Ericson 25 shop manual which pertain to additional hardware related to these sails.

This ends this article on the spinnaker and staysail options for the Ericson 25.