Sole Replacement on a Hunter 33 By Jeff Sherman
hen I purchased my 33-foot Cherubini-designed 1982 Hunter, it had been sitting neglected in a slip in the St. Petersburg Marina for over 18 months. Shore power had been turned off and the bilge pump had gradually drained the batteries of any charge. The bilge was dirty with oil and fuel-laden water, and it was obvious that the teak and holly sole had been underwater more than once. When entering the boat after only a few days of sitting, the smell of diesel and mold was pervasive. I cleaned the engine with a paint brush and mineral spirits collecting the run-off with absorbent pads and scrubbed the bilge, but the odors lingered. Top layers of the teak and hollyveneered plywood were peeling off in areas. I thought if I replaced the sole, I might remove much of the offensive smell in the boat, and I would greatly improve the salon appearance as well (Fig. 1). I was able to find 4’ X 8’ sheets of marine-grade teak and holly1/4-inch plywood at Weiss Hardwoods, a local specialty lumber yard in Largo, FL. After taking numerous measurements, visualizing the layouts and calculating for wastage, I figured I would have to buy two sheets to get the job done. I sorted through the stack of plywood until I found two that were closely matched in color and grain. I was somewhat apprehensive as to what I might find under the existing plywood sole. I didn’t know if runners were used or if the hull had been designed with reinforced areas for the screws. It was obvious that the screws had been counter-sunk and then plugged with teak, and yet I was dealing with only 1/4-inch plywood. How much holding power could the screws have? I eventually called the Hunter factory in Alachua, FL and spoke with an individual who was familiar with the 1982 boats. He assured me that removal of the sole would reveal the smooth bottom of the hull into which the plywood had been screwed.Removal of the old sole was accomplished first by drilling out the plugs and removing the screws. I then used a chisel and hammer, and a putty knife, to pry up the old wood which had been glued as well as screwed to the bottom of the hull. Some especially difficult areas required
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Fig. 1 a small crowbar to pry the less decayed portions loose (Fig. 2). After removal of the old wood, I scraped off as much of the old glue as I could and cleaned the hull with acetone in preparation to laying the new sole (Fig. 3). I cut the sections of plywood from the 4’ X 8’ sheets using a jig saw after tracing from paper templates.
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