Considering a used Kevlar canoe

-- Last Updated: Sep-11-15 6:05 PM EST --

Never owned or paddled a Kevlar canoe of any make. I'm asking for opinions/advice on two separate questions, one more general in nature and the other specific to a UL Wenonah Champlain

1. In general, other than portaging, what differences should I expect when using a Kevlar vs a FG layup hull?
2. What kind of reduction in value should I consider for hull puncture damage that has been appropriately repaired in a natural skin-coat finish? Champlain is a 2009.
Thanks in advance for any and all responses,

The puncture would not scare me away. You can get some good deals on boats that have had some damage. As long as it has been repaired correctly there won’t be any problems.

hard to generalize
Aramids like Kevlar when properly used in canoe construction offer a higher strength to weight ratio than fiberglass.

Ironically, aramid canoes are sometimes less strong than the same model constructed from fiberglass. That is because most all makers do not substitute aramid for fiberglass to construct a boat of the same weight as the all fiberglass model. Aramid is generally used for weight savings.

In addition to substituting aramid for fiberglass, additional weight savings measures are often used in “Kevlar” canoes, such as substitution of skin coat for gel coat, and the use of a skeleton of foam bottom core and ribs instead of an all-cloth layup. The foam skeleton achieves stiffness while adding little weight, but the core and ribs have little inherent strength.

The weight savings can be quite dramatic, however. In the case of the Wenonah Champlain which is a big 18’ boat, the Tuf-weave version (Wenonah’s proprietary coweave of fiberglass and polyester) weighs 66 lbs, whereas the Kevlar ultralight weighs 45 lbs. But the ultralight will require somewhat more careful handling.

A simple puncture adequately repaired with no residual deformity will have no effect on the performance of the canoe other than adding a little bit of weight and cosmetics.

Follow up
First of all, the asking price for the UL Champlain is $1000.00 OBO.

In asking the first question about differences between Kevlar, Royalex and FG hulls I was trying to get a sense of what I might notice “in the water”, specifically what differences I might expect while paddling various water types and conditions, if any.

I am going to only suggest that
there “may” be differences “in the water” as you are thinking.

While a hull design has the same basic shape, the composites used from one layup material to another may not all have the same buoyancy and “in the water” characteristics.

Royalex versus composite
If you throw Royalex into the mix you can expect to experience a significant difference on the water compared to composite hulls.

Royalex has much more flex than nearly any fiber-reinforced plastic (FRP) composite hull. A Royalex hull will have substantially more give in response to waves and paddle strokes than a stiffer FRP hull. Thus, most paddlers feel an FRP composite hull “paddles better”. Also, some makers specified quite thin Royalex sheet for some of their models which can result in quite a bit of “oil canning” of the hull bottom on the water. Royalex was a thermoformable material that could never be formed to as sharp angles as FRP composite boats so the water entry of Royalex boats was never as efficient as similar FRP models.

The result of all of the flexing that occurs in Royalex is some power loss in the transmission of propulsive force from the paddle to the hull. But the flex of Royalex was not all bad. Most people favored Royalex hulls for whitewater use because the give in the hull made the boat slide over rocks somewhat easier and rendered it less likely to crack on hard impact.

As for the difference in various layups of the same model of FRP boat, my guess is you will feel little difference on the water unless the weight differential is very great. Heavier boats are harder to accelerate up to speed. My experience is that a boat that is 10 lbs lighter will feel significantly “quicker” than the heavier one. But the difference is primarily in starting from a dead stop.

said it perfectly

Pulled trigger on
a 2010 Wenonah Kevlar UL Champlain for seven franklins. Very grateful to previous owner for his openess and honesty about hull damages and repairs as well as his desire to see his “baby” go to a good home. I assured him it has.

Hull repairs to punctures were done by a professional boat builder and look good. The rest of the hull showing its battle scars. I will be adding skid plates but would also like to “refinish” the hull at the same time. Not sure what the process is with a natural Kevlar skincoat.

Looking for advice. Thanks

the Kevlar felt skid plates
are basically useless. If you must, use fiberglass to make them. Kevlar abrades more easily.

And most of the wear will be on the bottom of the boat rather then the stems unless you like to ram your boat into shore.

I suspect you won’t be doing that as that is a big expedition boat and needs to be treated well as its your car on long journeys.

We have an 18.5 foot Wenonah from 1991 and put those Kevlar plates on. Big mistake… A direct hit with a rock punched a hole in the skid plate and all the wear is not at the stems but on the bottom.

You can freshen it with epoxy if you like.

Smoking deal

– Last Updated: Sep-14-15 12:33 PM EST –

If you paid $700 and it was in fair condition you got a smoking good deal. Enjoy the boat. Champlain's are great 'minivans' of the canoe world.

Also I 2nd not wasting time on skid plates. A fresh coat of epoxy may be worth your while though.

… it was a sweet deal! I have been looking all summer for a Champlain. Other than an unused one, some guy on CL hauled from Minnesota to Maine selling for $2400 this was the only one that came up in the northeast.

About that epoxy re-coating, where can I find specific details on what to use and how to go about it. I have no problem doing it myself just want the info to do it right. Call to Winonah?, West system? or some epoxy guru someone knows of. As I mentioned earlier, I have never owned or dealt with a kevlar hull and would like to re-freshen/protect this beauty.

I have had good results wet sanding and using a low viscosity “penetrating” epoxy on hulls that are skin coated or gel coated with clear gel coat.

After a through cleaning I would use waterproof paper and wet sand all of the hull you plan to refinish. What grit to start with depends on how deep the scratches are. If you have deep scratches you may choose to start with around 180 grit and work down.

Be aware that the so-called skin coat is not terribly thick and if you sand aggressively you may start to abrade the Kevlar fibers. Kevlar and other aramid fibers “fuzz up” when sanded so if you see this starting to happen, stop sanding that area. I would go to progressively finer grits down to around 400 grit or so before applying epoxy.

At this point you will have dulled the finish on the hull, it will look “ruined”, and you will curse me and my progeny. Fear not, the appearance will be restored when you apply the epoxy.

I like System Three Clear Coat epoxy which is low viscosity and cures very clear. I have heard others advocate using West System’s 105 resin and 207 special hardener. This can be applied much like a marine varnish using disposable foam brushes or a foam roller. Just like with varnish, watch out for sags and runs. After the first coat I wet sand the surface from around 600 grit down to 1500-2000 grit and apply a second coat.

At this point the boat should look much better but you will still see the deeper scratches, especially if any have abraded the Kevlar fabric. You might now want to cover the epoxy with a good quality marine varnish. Some epoxies will blush on exposure to water even when fully cured, and all will gradually deteriorate with prolonged UV exposure. Varnish will protect against both.

I use a couple of coats of varnish wet sanding with 1200-1500 grit between the coats.

I got sidetracked
you see I was looking for Pete’s writings as this is not the first time the question has come up and I know he’s answered it before.

We did epoxy but it was so many darn years ago all I remember it was…epoxy… the details long escaped.