can I x-ray the bottom of my wooden boat coated with epoxy, etc.?

Amazing site, full of new things to worry about!

Thanks, really, as you have explained so much so easily.

I have inherited a wooden boat built by my husband to a basic Colin Archer design.

I was ill too so she has sat untended on the hard...

Rain got in and I am unsure how far it penetrated...

I have lifted out ballast (slag ingots sitting on - er - bituminous heavy liner) from a couple of cabin floor/hull sections (am no spring chicken so phew!) and wood seems firm but as the dirt/sandy substance surrounding what seems to be the top of the keel is definitely quite moist I am worried...

I do not have the tech drawings so am not sure if that is the top of the keel or something else just above it.

I am trying to figure out how to measure the boat internally and externally to try to understand her construction but really would like to scan/x-ray her - for peace of mind as much as anything!

I note you refer to x-rays but is it really possible to get someone to come along and scan a hull?

Do hope you will reply as I see this is meant for comments...

Yours, worried wooden boaty woman!
my email: seawindlass(at)

Comments for can I x-ray the bottom of my wooden boat coated with epoxy, etc.?

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don't Xray
by: Eddie Jones

You would be better off spending your money on a good boatbuilder to survey the hull and give advice.
Draw the keel bolts so you can eyeball them and KNOW that when you are at sea they will hold.
Also remember that rot spores advance along the fibres of timber eighteen inches beyond any rot that is evident.

X-ray palaver
by: Mike

Hi WWBW (Worried Wooden Boaty Woman),

I wouldn’t bother with the X-ray palaver.

It’s expensive and I doubt if it would show up anything relevant.

These portable outfits are probably OK for showing up problems with metal such as keel bolts but not subtle variations in the wood.

Even iron keel bolts can take decades before rust becomes a problem and yours are relatively new and possibly stainless steel.

Now I suspect that you have already done this but just in case, first thing is to make sure that no more rain water can get in, just a cover over her but one that allows plenty of ventilation.

One consolation, the weather is relatively dry and warm at the moment.

Next job I would suggest is to get rid of that moist “dirt/sandy substance” as it is just retaining the moisture.

It is probably just a combination of sawdust, rust (from the ballast) and general dirt (?).

A wet and dry vacuum cleaner should get rid of it and draw dry air around the bilges at the same time.

If the wood you mentioned is the top of the keel (which I suspect it is) it will have the tops of the keel bolts and retaining nuts sticking up every couple of foot.

If there is any sign of rot in the wood it will be obvious as it will be soft and crumbly on the surface.

If there are any signs of rot cut it out and treat the surrounding wood to kill off any spores.

You don’t say how long she has been sitting on the hard getting wet, if the timber had been treated with anything it would probably take years for rot to set in.

As for drawings and plans, I wonder if she might have been built from plans such as the two below?



However, I wouldn’t have though either of them would have need of internal ballast (?).

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