Buying Used

I am planning on looking at a couple of used fiberglass kayaks this weekend. I know that one of them was damaged in shipment, but repaired. I was wondering if anyone had some words of advice as to what is an acceptable repair.

Any other tidbits of what else to watch out for in a used kayak would be greatly appreciated.

If you don’t know — don’t buy
If you don’t know much about fiberglass kayaks pass on one that has had major repairs until you know what to look for.

Fiberglass is probably the toughest material to judge when it comes to being properly repaired. Get someone who is experienced to take a look at it.

What Kind Of Damage And

– Last Updated: Mar-01-07 5:59 AM EST –

How was it repaired? Worth asking.

Fiberglass repairs really aren't hard to do. The bulk of it has to do with sanding/feathering out (opening up, in some cases) the damaged area, usually holes or cracks. Then epoxying, layering glass and then covering the external section with gelcoat. If it's a significant damage, you will see an internal patch of glass and epoxy, at least two layers. Look for smoothness of the patch and lack of visible air bubbles which weakens the patch job. The gelcoat should likewise be smooth and bubbleless. There should be at least an attempt to match the gelcoat color. The gelcoat is probably most likely to be screwed up with wrong mixing and may not be as strong. The gelcoat, however, is really a UV covering for the underlying epoxy and glass and does not (should not be depended on to) give the structural strength. If they gelcoat is done wrong, it may crack or seperate. This an easy repair job for someone.

The beauty of a fiberglass boat and why it retains value is that it is very amenable to repairs and can last years if not decades of use.

If a repair section drops the price on a boat I really like, it's probably a good opportunity. If the damage is catastrophic, e.g. a shearing off a boat section like the bow, I would be more leary that the repair job was able to align the boat sections right. But this would be highly visible if the alignment is off and the repair on the inside of the hull would be very obvious.


PS. Bring a flashlight so you can really get a good look inside the hull at the repaired area.

Dealer/shop or individual?
Either could have done good/bad repairs, but dealer/shop may be more inclined or better able to back it up.

A lot of shipping damage is more cosmetic than structural. Some sound repairs may not be pretty, some pretty repair may not be sound. Some will be both. Depends on who does the work.

I wouldn’t automatically rule out any kayak over this, particularly not when the seller is upfront about it.

Ask a lot of questions.

Good hunting!

Buying Used
Thank you all for the much appreciated advice.

The boats are being offered by an outfitter that was listed on P & H’s website.

The Vela is listed $1400.00. The gentleman said the damage had been repaired, but the boat had a couple of “chips in the gelcoat”.

There is also a 2007 Capella 161 (I believe it is Kevlar) for about $1200 of list that had a couple of scratches, but is black on black. I am not sure if I would want to be able to fry my lunch on my deck. That boat is probably too big for me anyhow; as I am only 5’2” and 105 pounds.

Thanks again for the great tips!

If the Vela was repaired well, it should be fine (yeah the Capella 161 is too big for you), since P&H makes really solid boats to start with. But you really need to get into a Vela too - are you still on for doing that this weekend?

Yes, I am trying to get out of here in the next couple of hours for a weekend trip to lovely Georgia.

I really have my fingers crossed on the fit and condition of this Vela.

It is under my budget which is really nice.

I was also going to make one stop on the way to try a Prijon Catalina. Not too crazy over the specs of that one, but the more I sit in, or try, the more I learn.

such a deal!
don’t get distracted if it looks worn/scratched. That’s the way a glass boat is going to look if it’s used. Even a hull that has gel coat cracks doesn’t indicate serious damage to the underlying laminate. For perspective my old worn glass boat had two structural cracks that I never repaired. About two dozen gel coat cracks that didn’t make the laminate soft or require repair, about a dozen scratches through the gel coat into the glass hull. With all of that it has nearly the same structural integrity/durability as new.

Such A Deal
I just spoke with a kayak craftsman who said “go get it” He was recomeedned by my local P & H Dealer. He went over the costs of worst case repairs; he said I am getting myself a great boat at a great price, and that even if we need to work on it, it is still a deal on a hard to find boat.

thats why looking for “small” plastic boats is such a huge compromise when you are a light person. Like I said my friends 95lb wife just couldn’t accelerate that 16’ Perception Shadow up to cruising speed but had absolutely no problem going crusing speeds in the 13’ Pygmy I made. It was like and day.

look for black spots and feel for
weaknesses. Look in all the hard to see places. Feel around with your fingers pressing hard and compare one section to another. Look along molding, around holes and in folds. Don’t be afraid of offending the seller, take lots of time and go over the entire boat. Keep in mind that if it was an easy to fix problem that the seller would have already fixed it. You can expect to spend half an hour going over the boat.

is it feasible
(time and distance) to get that kayak craftsman

to go with you to evaluate the Vela? Offer him something for his time. Few people will even approach the kind of FG build experience he has.

He may find other flaws that either kill the deal or save you even more $$$ for repairs you will have to pay him to make. He may reassure you that this is an exceptional deal.

Kind of like having a local mechanic look over a car you want to buy.

Try to find out why the outfitter is really selling it. Why isn’t this kayak going into a demo fleet? If it’s just “a few chips in the gelcoat” why isn’t it being sold closer to retail?

Ask about the damage several times during your visit. See if the answers vary a bit. Ask to see the boat’s papers. Ask to see the bill of lading.

If he can’t produce either that’s a red flag. If he can, read them carefully.

And finally, be prepared to walk away. In fact, I recommend it. Let him see you get to the door.

Be a little disinterested.If you act from the start like this is THE boat and this is THE time, you will naturally discount any little warning signs, especially if you are on your own.

It’s just the way to negotiate. You can be firm and friendly and be respected for it.

Good luck!

a deal on a hard to find boat.
You are the right size for the Vela. IMHO, the Vela is one of the neatest boats for smaller paddlers. It is quick, responsive, and has beautiful lines. P&H has the best reputation for quality control of any Brit manufacturer.

The one time I demoed a Vela I became infatuated with the boat. I got into it to paddle twice that day, but there was no way for me to safely wet exit the boat (or enter with my shins intact). My wife now has that Vela and loves it.

As I recall there is a segment of TITS 2 with a paddler in a Vela. Nifty boat if it works for you.

There aren’t many of them around.

people get upset about gelcoat chips
But you can take advantage of that (I have).

LES7500, if you walk away from the vela, how about a private email?

that wouldn’t be me!

– Last Updated: Mar-02-07 5:25 PM EST –

gel coat chips are what a lot of people do within hours of loading or launching their FG kayak.

Just running some numbers on this and it looks pretty compellingly in favor of the outfitter at an asking price of $1400. Start w. MSRP and dealer cost, dealer discount for early season bulk order, plus the settlement for damage if the kayak was damaged in transit, or if P&H damaged it before it got on the truck,and gave him merchant credit.

I also wonder why the outfitter doesn't want to make money off this boat using it in his fleet.He could make much more renting it out over a Florida season than he's asking for it. Why isn't it good enough for his patrons to paddle it?

Yes, my antenna is up, but it's not my deal and definitely not my business (only in that it is a topic of discussion here). Don't know enough to be conclusive...LES will have her shot at evaluating close up and asking questions.

So I will park all that for now and embark on a a weekend that includes Quiet Water Symposium and my first pool session. Promises to be really enjoyable! Wishing everyone the same...

Over reaching cautions
Come on FF, this ain’t rocket science - no complex/hidden high tech parts. Not like she’s going to be dealing with a used car lot hiding the fact their cars are flood damaged!

“Pretty nice for him.”

Pretty nice deal all around if it’s in even just fair (usable) shape.

“He is an outfitter and doesn’t incorporate it into his demo fleet… why not?”

Maybe because Vela is a bit or a rare/niche kayak, and not going to generate enough orders to keep it taking up space as a full time demo? Also not a very good candidate for a rental fleet.

They sell kayaks, and it makes sense to sell this one. Everyone comes out ahead. They would risk their reputation, and relations with P&H, if they were to sell anything with serious problems.

If it were an older kayak in on consignment from an individual I’d be very careful (but still not rule it out or prejudge until seen). If they got it direct from P&H with shipping damage - that’s been adequately repaired - it’s a no brainer (if fit/feel is right).

no not rocket science

– Last Updated: Mar-02-07 5:37 PM EST –

and I did revise my post after you saw the first version...

it's not rocket science but it's not like ordering a pizza, either.

you are an experienced kayaker though (you may demure, but you are at least above average).

It can be daunting for someone new to evaluate and buy a used boat. Your eyes are different. You have done some building. No offense to LES, but I would value your evaluation differently over hers (or mine, for that matter)

and while we are both being real, it's entirely real that humans do things out of motivations that are out in the open and others that are not. It's perfectly valid - and smart - to assess why a seller is selling and if there is room to negotiate. People who don't do either are not rocket scientists... they are suckers.

I do evaluate things more carefully than most. It's what I do for a living and probably the kind of person I am... my views are my own, they are neither better nor worse than someone who decides spontaneously to buy based on the color or the need to own NOW or whatever criteria THEY feel is valid.

Generally I've made good decisions for me and I've given up long ago trying to make decisions for others. I was just playing with this scenario, I'm obviously not going to take part in it.

Now, back to my weekend. Have a good one.

It’s not a used car
I’ve bought used and I’ve been careful, especially if it’s a private sale. However,this is from a reputable dealer whom I happen to know who’s also selling a high end kayak. It does him no good sitting in his inventory. As has been pointed out, a Vela is somewhat of a niche boat with specific people and skill levels it’ll comfortably match. I own one myself and it’s one of the few boats around that just might fit LES and give her good value for her money.

No offense, but you’re making the dealer sound like some kind of shady character hot to foist this particular boat off on the innocent. P&H makes some of the best boats around with a rep to match with its dealers, and he’s not going to risk anything to loose that. The world of kayaking is small as you’ve probably found out and word travels very, very fast – for both good and bad.

Happy paddling.

$1400 is very good deal for a Vela
The few used Velas I’ve seen for sale around these parts sell for over $2000.

It is of little to no use as a fleet boat because it is a small experienced paddlers’ boat.

However, for those folks for whom it works, it is hard to think of many better performing boats.