Fiberglass hull protection

Last weekend I kayaked in the San Juans. The kayak I own is back on the east coast (Wilderness Systems Tempest). The kayaks we used this weekend were fiberglass and when we approached a rocky beach, out guide instructed us to get up some speed and hit the beach head on, hard. I was shocked! Then, he grabbed the front with us in it and pulled us further up, over rocks. He said the bottom was covered in some coating that prevented dings, etc. and it definitely did.

I was wondering if there is an aftermarket product that can be applied to protect mine, or perhaps it is model or vendor-specific. Any info would be much appreciated. Thanks very much!

It’s called gelcoat and any boat will…

– Last Updated: Jul-03-07 4:12 PM EST –

...get scratched doing that. Probably not the guide's personal boats? Gelcoat is sacrificial layer to protect the structural integrity of the fiberglass or other cloth beneath it, but that does not mean it should be abused as it will wear through and eventually that kind of action will damage the structural integrity of the boat.

May have had keel strips

– Last Updated: Jul-03-07 11:09 PM EST –

Not the worst idea for rental boats that'll get used hard - an extra layer of something more protective than gelcoat, like additional fiberglass or kevlar, along the keel line. At some point in time you may want to add it to your own boat.
Or they just figure on chewing up gel coat then having it repaired every winter - some places do that.

Agree with above
Outfitters are tough on boats. They may have had extra material added during construction, or some sort of keel guard applied. Newbs don’t really appreciate how tough glass construction can be…they have been told otherwise for years…another sea kayak myth. Good composites can take tremendous abuse. They will look bad in short order, but can hold up to a lot.

I abuse my boats. Just last weekend on Benson Island in the Broken Group BC I spoke with a nice woman who questioned the strength of my CH 16 Infused lay-up. I took a 10lb. rock and dropped it on the deck from head high. I then stood on the fore deck…210lbs. After she calmed down we had a chat about it all. Gel-coat is NON-STRUCTURAL and serves only for aesthetics and UV protection. I’d rather have an extra layer of structural glass or carbon and no gel-coat. I imagine the Wilderness Sys. composites are pretty darn tough. Besides, they will sell the boats at seasons end for more than they paid for them.

shaundeane, what sort of boat do you
have that you would be strongly concerned about an occasional hard runup on a rocky or pebbly beach? Most glass, glass/Kevlar, carbon/Kevlar, or glass/carbon kayaks on the market are plenty hard enough for an occasional hard beaching without significant damage, though I would expect some scratching. Polyethelene kayaks may show more scratching, but are built thick enough that it will not be an issue for a long time.

So maybe you need to briefly discuss what has been happening with your own boat, and whether anything needs to be done about it. Or, possibly you see that outfitters just don’t worry about boats in the same way that individual owners do.

Benson Island, BG
good time out there Salty? paddle around Sail islet, and those reefs? exciting spot.

i’ll drive down to Ukie tomorrow to paddle the rock gardens and islets off the penisula between the BG and Amphritite. some guides have told me it’s sick, i can’t wait.

No swell really
Pretty tame…even for summer. But still a pretty spot for sure. Head to Cox bay and maybe get some small surf…

Some wood/glass boat owners
put a layer of epoxy mixed with graphite on their hulls. I don’t know how much additional scratch resistance this provides. has a clear, adhesive-backed vinyl for use as a rock guard behind your wheels.

I use it on deck where the bungies hold down my gear and along the keel line. works like a charm!

I rolled epoxy and graphite onto one
old c-1. The combo is not quite as hard as expoxy alone. For hardness, mixing in lots of colloidal silica might work. But the epoxy/graphite powder combo is hard enough and the graphite does make the hull slip over some surfaces better than it would on epoxy alone.

The first epoxy coat rolled on should be free of graphite. Then increasing amounts of graphite can be mixed into subsequent coats. This is one of those jobs where you MUST get each subsequent coat rolled on while the previous coat is still tacky, or amine blush will appear at the surface of the previous coat and interfere with adhesion. I used West 206 slower hardener because I was doing this in the carport in midsummer, working over the entire bottom of the c-1.

I do not regard this as a perfect resurfacing method for whitewater boats, because in use, temporary bigtime distortion of the hull is inevitable, and the epoxy may tend to flake off even if the surface preparation had been scrupulous. Both the boats I did (one without graphite) were vinylester, and even though epoxy has VERY good adhesion to vinylester, the epoxy itself is not like a varnish, it is much more brittle. That may mean cracking and flaking under stress.

IKeel strip

When you beach the kayak, only the keel under the bow hit the sand/gravel at first. And only if you drag the boat, the back half of the keel got scratched.

In short, if you have a keel strip, you can afford the convinience of dragging your boat on rocky beaches.

Or if not, you simply sand out the scratched up part of the keel and re-apply a new layer of gelcoat when needed.

I maybe over-generailizing. But my impression is the east coast boat owners tend to baby their boats, while the west coast boaters abuse theirs. Having moved from the west to east, my friends in the east coast are often shocked by how hard I used my boat.

bottom protection
Likely it’s a layer (actually several layers) of epoxy mixed with graphite and silica, the graphite makes it slippery and the silica makes it tough. It’s pretty difficult to damage.

autobarn keel strips
I couldn’t find the vinyl rock guards at autobarn. Does anyone know what the product is called?