Page updated: 29 November 2011
The SeaHawk is a simple boat and as the SeaHawk is a popular Trailer Sailer, you can expect to view the boat out of the water and therefore be able to see both below and above the water line, inside and out. There are no cabin linings, so little is hidden from view. Even an inexperienced buyer ought to be able to detect any potential problem areas in a boat they are viewing.
Some things you can largely dismiss as a worry and others, that a few owners have reported, that potentially involve varying degrees of work or expense.
I suppose osmosis has to be mentioned as first time buyers will be frightened by the expensive sounding things written about it. However, not a single owner has yet reported any problem with the characteristic blisters in the gel coat that, when pierced, emit an oily liquid with a vinegary smell. It is, in any case, going to be extremely rare on a small trailer sailer many of which spend a lot of the time ashore on a trailer rather than in the water. In short, osmosis is not an issue you should be unduly concerned about.
A number of owners who sail in coastal waters have reported keels that jam. This can normally be attributed to barnacle and similar marine growth. In extreme cases correcting this may require the removal of the entire keel from the boat. See the reports on Jammed Keels in the Owners Section.
If the boat is an early model (up to around #150) with exposed concrete ballast then you should seek a test sail as well as making an out of water assessment. Two owners with boats of this vintage have reported keels that lift easily when ashore but which become jammed when in the water, but there are suggestions that others face the same issue. The current theory is that should the plywood shuttering that holds the ballast in place be allowed to go rotten, the ballast can then become loose, allowing the hull to flex and pinch the keel slot. The owners of one of the boats reported a successful repair involved removing the ballast. The other owner has held off undertaking a repair as his local boatyard reported that the cost of such work would exceed the value of the boat. If you are inspecting a boat of this age then the section on Jammed Keels should be essential reading.
External damage to a keel should be easy to spot and simple, though time consuming, to fill and make good. The owner of Little Auk (#260) undertook such work and his report should help you assess what might be involved on a similarly affected boat.
There has been one report of an early boat suffering a split about 60cms long at the joint between the hull and the keel housing, through which you could see daylight once the ballast was removed! It took the owner 10 hours to dig out all the ballast, and he could only do that after he cut away the cabin sole, which he discovered was of balsa sandwich construction. He continued:
The ballast is concrete and bits of old engine...Reedcraft must have bought a job lot of old rocker arms and water pump impellers way back in nineteen seventy something!
The repair to the split was made with an epoxy fillet at the join with glass tape over it. The same owner also reported:
a crack between the keel housing (where it comes up through the cabin sole) and where it joins what would be the centreboard housing if the boat was a Wayfarer.
A second owner has reported similar crack (seen above). Currently, the best theory for the cause of the damage to these boats is that they were left on a swinging moorings on a falling tide with the keel down. In such circumstances the keel could jam half way down as the boat swung on a changing tide and create such stress fractures.
A resin and catalyst mix poured into such a crack should be sufficient to cure the visible damage, but it might indicate a further problem lower in the boat, such as the first owner found. Tests should be made to ensure there is no further damage within the keel slot. It would be worth making a good examination of this area if the history of the boat suggests it may have been on this kind of mooring.
There has been one report, again on an early boat, of keel strop failure, which holed the boat. Take a careful look!
There are a few parts of a SeaHawk that are of balsa sandwich construction. The most important of these is the cabin roof. There have been a small number of reports of water having penetrated its balsa sandwich. Rectification requires that the inner skin is removed, a new filling fitted and new inner skin applied. Again, such a task is time consuming and tedious rather than technically difficult.
It must be assumed that such failures have been caused by inadequate sealing of the bolts for fairleads, ventilators or other roof fittings. The precise point of failure will normally be difficult to spot. However, some flexing the roof may be apparent and inside you may notice some staining around bolts in the roof.
Again this is not a difficult fault to rectify but is tedious and takes time.