The big story for this winter was completely unanticipated. While stripping gear off the deck on the delivery to the boat yard for winter layup, I discovered a rather troubling issue with the port jib track.

The jib track should be perfectly straight. The very strong breeze (25-30kts) on the 3rd day of the Manhasset Bay Fall Series produced enough load to pull the track away from the deck. A close look at the track is not pretty.

A look at the underside of the deck reveals a bit more reason for concern.

Note the hole to the right of the chainplate in the photo above. That's a really good place to put a bolt, dontcha think? Well, every hole in the track is occupied by a bolt, so what gives? There is only one way to find out... pull the track!

The sharp bend in the track is clearly visible. But wait! What's with the short second bolt and the crud around the hole?

Uh oh! That bolt was screwed into some sort anchor being held in place only by the upper skin of the balsa-cored deck. Clearly that is not going to hold when the breeze is on. But wait! There's more! :-(

Whoever did the installation of that track should be shot. The anchor for the bolt was not epoxied in place, so it was movable. Movable deck hardware breaks seals and allows water invasion. Water and balsa core do not mix well. A number of the other bolt holes had been drilled out and filled with epoxy plugs, but the plugs were not properly bonded to the surrounding deck skin and also became loose.

I started imagining a cool project to clear out the wet balsa and fill the holes with epoxy, but couldn't quite figure out where I was going to find the time to do what might turn out to be a very significant amount of work. A quick chat with the fiberglass expert at the yard and it was clear that he knew what needed to be done (and I didn't). One simple little piece of paper called a "Work Order" and I signed over the project to the yard in the middle of December. The plan was to cut out the upper skin of the deck surrounding the track and replace the wet balsa with fiberglass matt and epoxy to beef up the area to which the track is fastened.

When I showed up at the boat on the 2nd of January to work on the navigation electronics, I was amazed to find that the glass work was complete with the holes on the underside filled, faired and painted with gelcoat (leaving the air in the cabin completely toxic while the gelcoat cured).

Every week I came back to the boat and nearly every week there was some progress on the repair. Here's the new glass faired in and painted with a smooth gelcoat (yes, that is snow on the deck!).

And last weekend the patched areas sported a nice, matching non-skid texture.

Although the track only pulled up on the port side, I had both sides prepared in the same manner.

Now it's time to buy new track and associated hardware and (measure twice, cut once) install it on the freshly-prepared deck.