Does this fiberglass damage look repairable?

I’ve been watching Craigslist for an affordable used touring kayak for a friend whose 15’ RM Riot Edge got desperately oil-canned and warped by hot weather bad storage. This Perception Avatar 16 popped up this morning on local CL (see photos) which appears to be fiberglass or some other composite. I wasn’t even aware they made that model in anything but plastic. And it has some significant damage. I’ve helped build glass boats but never patched one.

It doesn’t look to my untrained eyes as if the offside hull ding and the gash across the stern would be hard to patch or cause structural weakness (my friend only paddles inland flatwater, mostly large rivers and good-sized lakes.) The $350 price makes me tempted to try a patch job but I don’t want to talk her into this if it’s a potentially fatal flaw. What say you?


Looks repairable to me. I would address the hull first. To me the deck damage is less of a concern. Both should be sealed to keep the water from causing blistering of the fiberglass.

There are others here with much more knowledge about this so I hope they can give you more details about what to do. At $350 she might have it professionally repaired for about the the same cost as the boat or less.

Rarely hurts to dicker over the price, and the damage may give you some leverage there.

Might want to ask how that gash across the top happened. Not exactly usual damage. In case there was an impact further in that is being covered up by the gel coat. Any ability to get a shot of the interior under the gash?

The risk I see with the hit on the bottom appears reparable with a caution. If the glass layers under the gel coat got soaked, you may need to put a FG patch inside as well as replacing the gel coat outside. On a whack like that, water could have gotten into the glass layers. The Romany I paddle has such a repair.

The gel coat patches are large enough to be laborious in terms of layering it up and final sanding. Hopefully you could skip matching the blue up top. Color match can be a PITA. But that is just time.

But for $350… Double the time and materials cost to account for surprises and it could be a pretty good deal. Or a lousy one. Who would be doing the work?

There may still be some fellow oldsters in my outdoor club who used and abused FG whitewater boats back in the day who I could tap for aid in FG repair.

I emailed the seller — at that price it may already be gone but it’s worth a shot. My friend with the warped kayak doesn’t have a good place to store a boat and often has to leave it on her roof rack for days or weeks (which was how her Riot was ruined) so a glass boat would help with that issue.

The hull damage doesn’t look too bad. However the bow damage looks like the bow may have been dropped or run into something. You would have to look closely to see if the damage extends all the way around the bow. If so, internal repair might be necessary and would be hard to access that far forward.

The thing I have learned about CL and I have bought 100s of things and sold 100s on there is when you snooze you lose. If you see an item that is staying posted for more than a short time it is likely not a great deal.

In the case of this boat if it was close by I would go and offer 250 cash and likely a counter offer of 300 would be made. It is risk reward and the most you will be risking is 300 bucks with the potential for a large reward.

Strike while the iron is hot and worry about how to fix it later going with your gut feeling.

Yup, that has been my experience in over a decade of selling/buying/swapping on CL (everything from kayaks to cars and even a house). I sent an email to the seller this morning (the boat was posted early yesterday and the ad is still up). I always let them know I can come over whenever they want (an advantage of being retired!), pay cash and have the rack and straps to haul it away. I cautioned the seller that i would need to assess the extent of the damage (also asked if he would share how it happened to give me some more insight on the potential impact.)

Sea kayaks don’t sell fast in this inland zone, even this year, so I have often picked up good deals.

I think they don’t sell too fast here as well where a decent rec-kayak would go in a heartbeat if priced right.

Buying anything used that needs repairs I 90% of the time pick projects that I know I can do or at least want to learn how to do. I have done a lot of fiberglass projects not many boats though and would take that on for the price. When you are just talking materials the cost factor is good. As soon as you hire a pro it goes the other way fast. I know my time is worth something, but it is likely time I’m doing nothing with anyway and if the project is fun as that boat would be then it is hobby time.

Good luck hope you get it.

If you are willing to spend the time on it, arrive to find no further dings than in the photos, yeah try a slightly lower offer and be ready to drive away with it.

I agree with rstevens about taking a flashlight and getting a better look at the (I think it is actually) stern damage though. There are only a few ways I can think of for that to have happened and they are not pretty. Like starting a garage door down with the boat sticking out still. If any of it communicated to the glass layers or compromised the hull seam, which looks like a possibility on further review, you would need a long skinny arm to get that patched.

Nobody is going to repair that for 350 and make it like new.

If you’re asking yourself if you can make it look like new you probably can’t. Depends on how well you want it repaired. it looks to be worth the asking price.

Not hard to fix. I like to buy quality boats with some flaws. I never buy new boats and always make money on them. Buy it, fix it and you never have to worry about scratching it.

Still no contact from the ad poster though the ad is still up. Aggravates me when people post stuff on CL and then don’t acknowledge inquiries or ever delete their ad if and when it’s sold (an action that takes a few seconds.)

I’m pretty sure I could patch this. I’ve repaired more badly damaged stuff over the years, learning in the process. Don’t care if it looks perfect as long as it functions. And if you saw my friend’s forlorn warped Edge you’d know this would be a serious upgrade for her, even if I just stuck Gorilla tape on the gashes. The Riot is so deformed it only wants to go in circles unless she fights her stroke on one side. She works hard to support two college aged kids and paddling is her major stress reliever, but she’s too proud to take a gift kayak (I’ve offered her one of mine in the past as a long term loaner) – this she could afford and I would be happy to fix it for her. She’s strong and likes distance and speed.

I like paddling with her – she lives nearby and is one of the few folks I can rely on for a good-paced extended river paddle. But watching her fight that twisted kayak is painful.

Update: just checked the ad and the seller has added a phone number and a request for text contact so may not have gotten the email that was his original default option. Trying again.


Aha, got a ping back from him. Turns out Fedex trashed this boat shipping it from CA to PA (I presume he got a replacement and/or insurance settlement). He’s going to set a time I can come look at it once he gets his shift schedule for this week.

Well, that explains the weird gash across the deck. Jammed into something.

Good luck.

It’s brand new?

Maybe dropped a truck overhead door on it. As you suggested, I’d need to check the extent of crushing and whether the seams are compromised.

Not new at all. Must have been a cross country move or something that placed it in FedEx’s inept clutches. Looks like Perception only made the composite Avatar 16 for one year, 2004, so it’s a fairly “elderly” boat. Apparently has a skeg and is nicely fitted out. They shifted to HDPE only for the Avatar series after that, narrowed down the sizes and discontinued the model entirely in 2009. I confess I like the specs and lines of it, hard chines, 16’ x 22", 50 pounds. I can’t resist a project but I will try to be reasonable about the condition and prospects for reasonable functional salvage.

A composite boat can almost always be repaired if you aren’t too fussy about the cosmetic result. There is no way you are going to be able to do any interior patching that far out, even with the deck hatches. You will first need to sand off all the gel coat in the areas of damage to assess the extent of the damage and cracks in the structural fabric and then take it from there.

I have seen 40’ and bigger offshore race boats repaired where 60% and more of a side was gone when I raced. You never would know anything ever happened.

Repairable per se is not necessarily the question here. Fiberglass can be put back together with surprisingly good results from surprisingly extreme damage.

But l would bet those racing boats were repaired in a fully equipped shop. Not on saw horses in someone’s back yard who also has a life.

A local paddler back home basically had to put the last several inches of his kayaks stern back together and on after another driver fails to see that long thing sticking out in a parking lot. He had a shop that was well equipped still took him some months.

I’ve inspected and purchased the boat – got it for $300 since I pointed out it was missing the inner rubber hatch covers. I checked and both sizes in Perception’s hatch configuration from that model year are still available from TopKayaker – they will run me about $100 with tax and shipping.

The damage to the boat is superficial – only chipped off the gelcoat. No hull deformation or any evidence of water getting into the glass. Owner apparently never used it after Fedex botched their handling and paid him an insurance claim. It has been sitting unused in his brother’s garage for 10 years since it was shipped from Montery, CA.

i used to live with a guy who swung wrenches on cycle racing pro, Eric Buell’s, bike building and track crew during Eric’s days on the Superbike and Formula one circuit (before he began manufacturing bikes under the Buell marque). My ex owned an auto body shop and made and then repaired the fiberglass fairings for those bikes, which Eric tended to crash frequently. I helped out in the shop sometimes so I am familiar with the process, though they often used specialized paint rather than gel coat.

My assessment is that these dings just need to be sealed up somehow to prevent moisture from penetrating the structure. The small chip in the white hull is below the water line and a patch job won’t be noticable in use. The scrape at the far stern also isn’t deep and could be sealed and then masked with side seam tape without looking too weird. By the way, other than the two dings, the hull is remarkably unscathed for a 2004 kayak.

It’s a hell of a nice looking boat, though perhaps too snug for me (who does NOT need another kayak anyway). I fit in the cockpit just barely (though it is the same beam – 22" – as my Easky LV) but have never liked being wedged into a keyhole cockpit like this one where you have no sitting option but frogged.

I’m going to have my local consignment place take a look and judge what they might be able to get for it, “as is” or rehabbed.

It would be a shame for a sleek boat like this to continue to languish in a backwoods garage.