Dealing with a Soggy Cockpit Sole - Part 1

This past weekend I had a few friends (with better tools than I) come up to St Augustine to help me out with a few big projects on Windsong.  The most important task was to start repairing the waterlogged core in the cockpit sole (floor).  When I took Windsong around the state, I noticed that the cockpit sole was pretty mushy, and obviously delaminated.  I figured I would have to either stiffen it, fill it up with some epoxy, or completely re-core the sole depending on the extent of the damage. When clearing and cleaning the bilge, I would dump buckets of dirty bilge water into the cockpit so it would drain out.  Otherwise I would need to bring a 5 gallon bucket of bilge water out and up the companionway to dump over the side.  Since I currently don't have any stairs and getting in or out of the boat is a chore...the cockpit sufficed for drainage.  Unfortunately, the dirty bilge water did a good job of staining the gelcoat.  Luckily we were able to clean much of that off before this project began.  Picture of said sole from the outside, after the steering column was removed:

Sometime after I removed the engine and began to tear apart the engine room, I finally got an idea of the actual problem in the sole.  I always noticed some drips of water coming from the underside of the sole, and could never figure out where the moisture was coming from.  I eventually decided it was just condensation, and oh how was I wrong!  I discovered the true extent of the water logging after I removed the overhead engine room light that was screwed into the bottom of the cockpit sole.  Once I removed the two little screws holding the light in place, I released the floodgates:

Water flowed out of these holes for a good 5 minutes straight, no exaggeration.  The cockpit sole was a complete water tank full of wetness.  I knew then and there that I needed to do something about it, not just a quick repair.

My plan was to remove the bottom layer of fiberglass from the inside (engine room), replace the core, and glass back in.  Working from the underside would ensure the top skin is undamaged and finish work would be minimized.  The glass underneath is rough and unfinished, so the repair work need not be super neat.

This weekend I was able to get my friend's router to use for cutting the bottom layer of glass out.  I'm not sure if this was the right tool, but it worked nonetheless. First we had to remove the cockpit drains, something I was hesitant to do since they drained out a lot of rain.  While I was busy underneath, I had one of my crew make a plastic covering so rain wouldn't enter the cockpit anymore.  They plumbed to the only remaining seacock/thru-hull.

Here are the drains pre-removal:

Here I am all bundled up and ready to make a mess cutting up the glass.  It is the only "before" picture of the sole's underside I have:

I used the router to cut around the edges. After some prying, the bottom glass layer came off:

Wet, wet core...had to use a scraper and hammer to really get it all out:

After much scraping, most of the core has been removed.  Only a small layer is still remaining which I will grind out before adding the new core.

The most incredible part was the fact that even MORE water was hanging out in there.  After removing the glass, there was a stream of water coming out of the lowest corner for another 5 minutes or so.  I couldn't believe what I was seeing, so I made sure the crew witnessed it.

After a day, the area is mostly dry but I'm going to let it fully dry out for another week or so before attempting to add the new core.  Stay tuned for the rest of the project!