To be honest, I was a little bit afraid of what I might find. Her centerboard has always worked perfectly, but that doesn’t necessarily mean all is well below the surface.
So I summoned up some courage, removed her pivot bolt, removed the centerboard and brought it to the workbench.
The board looked pretty darn good. A quick inspection revealed no major issues. No soft spots, wood rot, or significant damage anywhere, thank goodness. Just a bit of normal wear and tear.
The first thing I noticed was some missing black paint. My centerboard was constructed of Alaskan Yellow Cedar, sheathed in epoxy and fiberglass, sanded, and painted with Rustoleum alkyd enamel spray paint. One of the lessons I learned while building Ellie is that paint will only stick to epoxy if the epoxy is well sanded until it looks “frosty”. Epoxy cures to a smooth, shiny and slightly waxy finish that paint simply will not adhere to. Everywhere you see missing paint on my centerboard, you will also find glossy epoxy.These areas will get a more thorough sanding before they get repainted.
Paint was also missing in areas that get some wear and tear. The entire leading edge of the board is missing paint. I sail over the Snohomish river bar very often. The bar is sandy, shallow and thick with seaweed. You can see where the sand and seaweed has worn off the paint.
And one ding on the bottom of the board. I'm not quite sure where this came from. I may have hit a rock at some point. This will need to be filled with epoxy.
The hole where the board pivots is in perfect condition.When I originally built the board, I made a "bushing" here by drilling an oversized hole in the board. I filled the hole with a mixture of epoxy, chopped fiberglass, and silica. After that cured I drilled a smaller hole through it for the centerboard pivot bolt.I did the same procedure in the centerboard case.This creates a hard, waterproof bushing that will never wear out. The procedure is described in detail here.
It’s easy to forget to maintain your centerboard. Don’t let a small job become a big problem!