Removing the Decks

by Don Snell

(Note: Don’s original article describes how to remove the entire deck from the hull, however for many jobs you can just lift the rear section of the deck without removing it. For example, to reinforce the transom and to install thru-hull rudder pull down system, you would only lift the rear section up to the rear doghouse.)

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This is a big job, but probably the most important because of all the things that can be improved upon.  A butter knife (or other thin tool) and small hammer can separate the hull and deck fairly easily after all the things attached to the hull/deck lip have been removed (ie. aluminum extrusion holding the trampoline, jib fairlead tracks, etc.).

Examine the deck joint carefully along the entire length you wish to lift looking for any gaps between the deck and hull. Almost every boat has one or more of these gaps. This would be an excellent spot to start the process. However, if you cannot find any then you can start anywhere along the joint – the transom area is a good spot to start.

Very carefully, tap the knife into the gap (if you found one) between the deck and the hull approximately an inch to an inch and a half. Once you are confident you have hit the correct space,  begin tapping the knife so it moves along the length of the joint which will separate the deck from the hull.  Care must be taken to stay in the seam created when the deck was originally attached to the hull.

Difficult spots are at the dog houses(main and rear beam area) as the deck will be attached across on the top of the sleeve into which the aluminum cross tubes are inserted.

If you are going to lift the entire deck off the hull, then another difficult spot is found on boats that have a full fiberglass bulkhead aft of the daggerboard trunk and forward of the rear beam doghouse.  A longer knife or wedge will be needed to drive into these areas at least half way from each side in order to completely separate the attachment.

The dagger board trunk is also attached to the deck and sometimes can be pried apart by separating the hull/deck joint by rotating a couple of putty knives on each side of the trunk area.  If you are lucky it will separate, if not you will have to insert a saw and cut through the dagger board trunk.  With the entire deck separated from the hull a stable area will now be required to place the deck as it is fairly unwieldy and can be damaged from mishandling it you are not careful.

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