Canoe Shopping and Advice on Royalex Issues

Hello, good paddling folks. Been registered for a while now and have been reading this board for much longer, but I never really had the occasion to post. Before I continue, I want to thank the posters–especially BOB, wildernesswebb, and kayamedic–for this wonderful resource. There are many others whose posts have been helpful, too, and I’ve learned so much from your collective participation here.

To introduce myself, I’m a long time canoeist who has more enthusiasm than skill, though I’ve been working on the latter recently. Over the years, I’ve mainly paddled the classic Ozark streams–the Buffalo, Current, Jacks Fork, and Eleven Point (with a special affinity for the latter)–but growing up in the Mississippi Delta, I’ve also done my fair share of flat water like oxbows, bayous, and sloughs. Over the pandemic, my son and I have logged a good number of miles on my old boat, an Old Town Discovery 147, and he’s been bitten hard by the tripping bug. I’ve been shopping for two big solos better suited to river tripping as my OT is ready to be retired after 25 years, and I’ve already purchased a 1998 Dagger Legend 15, which I’m very happy with.

I’ve found a second canoe to possibly buy, but I’m concerned about the condition. Overall, the boat seems to be in solid shape with a few places on the stems that will need minor attention. However, there is one spot on the side that looks suspicious as I’ve not seen this kind of issue with a canoe before. Here’s the photo:

I’ve messaged the seller, and he claims that there is no damage to the vinyl skin of the Royalex save a “scuff” here. I’m not sure what to make of it. If anyone has any insight as to what kind of condition issue this is (or if this is easily repairable), I’d really appreciate more information. Thanks all!

Was the boat wet when the seller took the photo? Or is that discoloration in the outer vinyl? There also appears to be a long scratch or cut. Also, Cascades have not been made in a very long time any idea how old it is?

Thanks for the response. The boat was wet when the owner took photos (aren’t they always!) so I think the darker green streaks are water, but it’s the discoloration and texture that has me concerned. I’m not sure when OT discontinued the Cascade; I’ve looked at old OT catalogs that I found online, and I’d guess that the boat is at least 20 years old.

Looks like blistering to me. I’ve not repaired anything like that, but think it is repairable. The OT Cascade makes a great solo WW canoe and has enough volume to camp out of. If you like the Legend, you might like the Cascade even more.

Thanks, Waterbearer. I thought about blistering when I saw the photo, too, but after searching the forum for repair ideas, I didn’t see much discussion if any.

My strategy for both boat purchases (one for me and one for my son) is to lean more toward maneuverability rather than tracking as he would eventually like to trip more demanding water than I have experience with. As we’re both a smidge on the larger side (6’ 1" and 185-195), the Legend and the Cascade both seemed to fit the bill as higher volume solo river trippers even though the latter is somewhat hard to find.

Fingers crossed on this one as we have a trip down the middle Buffalo planned for Spring Break so that he can get the feel of a new boat.

The Cascade is a nice blend of downriver cruising & WW as it will hold a line, but also has enough rocker to handle WW. I’ve had mine in class III+ solo without overnight gear so it is a capable canoe. If it were me, I’d buy it as they are hard to find and deal with whatever repair issues present themelves. I looked for about 15 years before I found another Cascade to replace my first Cascade. The first Cascade is still in use as a friend of mine wanted it for his paddling. My first Cascade was bought used with ends worn through to the hint of foam core. I repaired it with GFlex, fiberglass, and dynel. If you have to cut out the blistered vinyl, repairing with epoxy and fiberglass seems like a good approach. I’m a big guy as well, 6’1, 230 and feel very comfortable in the canoe. Great canoe.

That looks like water reflecting the grass/ground.

To me it looks like some one dumped a solvent like acetone accidentally on the skin. If its that small an area and near the logo I would not worry about it but indeed make it a bargaining point.

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The skin cab be “band aided” with a bit of G-Flex applied in a thin coat. I would just try to clean it and coat it, I would stay away from sanding it, may be some soft steel wool to rough it up first.

Thanks to everyone for the advice. You’ve given me some confidence that I can deal with whatever might be the issue. I’m still in contact with the seller, but it’s a long drive so I’m taking that into account as well.

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If you are going to check out the boat, when you see it I would recommend that you press in on the area firmly with your hand then with your thumbs. If there is any spongy feel to the hull structure in that area I would take it as an indication that more than just the outer vinyl layer of the Royalex has been damaged.

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Just to update my thread, I’m the new owner of a well-loved OT Cascade. As it turns out, there was nothing at all wrong with the area I was concerned with. It was merely a reflection. Vleelawson above with the win.

There are some issues to address: the dowel seat hangers will need to be replaced soon and there’s one quarter-sized indention that has broken the outer layer in the stern stem that will need some G-flex. I’ve never repaired royalex, so I’m looking forward to that learning experience. Though there are lots of bruises, smaller dents, and scrapes, there are no other areas where the vinyl is worn through, so I feel like I came out ahead.

Thanks to everyone for their advice!

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Post a photo of the damaged area that needs to be repaired.

Here’s the spot that may need some repair:

Thickened gflex to fill the depressions. I would add a dynel skip plate as this damage appears to be on the keel line.

If you are inexperienced you might want to fill the depressions first to get a smooth hull. Then add a skid plate.

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Thanks, Waterbearer. I read just about as much as I could find here and on other forums on Gflex repairs before I bought the boat, but I’m sure I’ll second guess myself along the way.

For the time being, I plan on thickening and dyeing to match the color as closely as I can and then add some dynel skid plates possibly next off season. It came with decent enough knee cups glued in and some P clips already installed under the gunwales for float bags. No bags though.

I’m really looking forward to outfitting (and repair) as I go along. This year, my son and I are sticking with easy trips–the Green in KY, Black Creek in MS, and the middle Buffalo as examples–so that we can learn our new boats and better understand optimal gear placement. If we’re lucky enough, we might try to end the season this fall with a cautious run on the Big South Fork if water levels cooperate.

Black Creek in MS is very nice as it winds through DeSoto National Forest. Numerous fine white sand beaches to camp on.

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