Bottom Blisters

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I just bought my partner out of our 1988 Catalina 34.   I am told the boat needs a bottom job (the big one).  They say there are a lot of blisters, but that they haven't yet "effected the structural integrity of the vessel".  I've spoke to HullTex (the company/method recommended by Practical Sailor) and other bottom-paint yards, and I'm totally confused.

The prices range from 5K to 8K (for the hull TeX) and I'm not sure if I should even do the bottom.  I'm told I need the major bottom job due to blisters, but this is from all the people who are trying to sell me one.

On one hand, I've read (and heard from reputable people)  that bottom blisters are a fact of life, that if you just paint over them every 2 years, you're OK, forever.  On the other hand, I'm being told that if I don't do the major bottom job, basically, that my boat will be worth nothing in 5 years.  That no one will ever buy it, and that the sky will fall in.

I have 2 questions:
1)    Do I need to do the "major bottom" job, or is that a fallacy
2)    If the boat has very little bottom-paint on the bottom and many blisters, can I keep it in the water until November and then do the job?  I'd hate to waste $700 on a bottom antifouling job now, then just have it scraped off in 4 months.


What do I do?????

The boat is out of the water now, and i fear I must make a decision least that's what everyone in the boat yard are telling me.


I have been through this with three boats, including Puff.  She had blisters when I bought her and it made a great negotiating tool for me.  The key is the severity (size) and number of blisters.  In most cases, the hull integrity is not jeopardized.  I just did Puff last year, drilled out the blisters, let dry (3 months), filled and epoxyed over, and bottom painted.  The paint people, Pettit, and Interlux have websites and literature that will walk you through entire procedure.  West Systems is another.  It is not difficult, but it is time consuming.  

If you are a boater and you don't have blisters now, just wait a while and you most likely will.  I would not think that waiting 4-5 months before doing the bottom would be a problem as long as you are confident about the hull integrity.  Doing the bottom at most shops is a great money maker.  They usually have the lowest paid do it as it is any entry level job.  I know one shop that pays kids $25 a blister to drill out and fill and charges the boat owner many thousands of dollars.  I am afraid that they use the "fear factor" much to their advantage.

dave davis

I also have a 1988 boat and it's in the water 12 months a year except when it's hauled about every 1-2 years. As mentioned above, the size and density of the blisers will determine your action. Last year I had about 200 very small blisters about 1/8 wide and 1/8 deep. I  punched them out with a pointed drill and let them drain. I also helped them drain by using a vacuum cleaner. I then filled them with about three coats of 3M Marine Water Barrier Coating. I have inspected for blisters underwater but I really wont know until my next hail.Good luck, I'm sure others will offer you other actions you might take.
May all your blisters be small. dave
Dave Davis San Francisco, 707, Wind Dragon, 1988, South Beach

dave davis

There is a great article in Practical Sailor this month which covers lots of research on this subject. I have contacted them to get the authors name and to get more info. :p
Dave Davis San Francisco, 707, Wind Dragon, 1988, South Beach