Fiberglass repair, Allagash Guide canoe

I’ve just picked up a well worn 13’ Allagash Guide canoe to repair/restore. Never having done any canoe repairs before I’ve been reading as much as I can but am interested in getting input from folks who may have seen/repaired similar damage.

The floor of the boat has a wooden inlay, with a very course weave fiberglass over it. In many places it is completely worn down to the fiberglass. I’ve seen conflicting information on this sort of situation regarding just coating with spar varnish versus epoxy. It still feels quite solid, hoping to preserve the look of the inlay as much as possible. Attaching a photo of the floor below.

The hull is in decent shape overall considering its close to 40 years old, lots of scratches in the gel coat that I’ll be trying to polish/buff out, but along the keel there are areas the gel coat is completely worn flat and through exposing the fiberglass. Looking for suggestions on the preferable approach to repair of this sort of damage as well.

Gunwales to be replaced as well, but that aspect I feel I’ve got a good handle on. I have a lot more experience with wood than fiberglass!

Thanks for any and all advice!

That a wood core, most likely balsa. It’s sandwiched between layers of fiberglass. If the top layer is intact, and not worn through, I would give it a light sanding, and a good cleaning, then a coat of epoxy. Then paint, (or varnish, IMHO the paint would be more durable) . The outside of the hull I’d epoxy on stips of fiberglass to cover and protect the worn out areas.
As for the gunwale replacement, make sure you have lots and lots of clamps. Then get some more.

The fiberglass itself doesn’t doesn’t look worn through fortunately. There are some dark spots where there are openings in the weave of the cloth, I’m guessing the dark spots are either mold/mildew or decay in the balsa? They are small areas so hopefully sealing them in with a new layer of epoxy will suffice. Feels structurally solid.

I’m going to go the varnish route rather than paint as I like the look of the balsa floor inlay.

With the damage on the keel was wondering about a keel strip versus fiberglass cloth or both?

And yes I have a lot of clamps and anticipate wanting more!


The inside of the boat looks pretty good. Light sanding and then you can add a layer of marine epoxy on the worn spots. Then a couple of layers of varnish over it with good UV protection.

The gel coat is old and worn out. I would repair the ends of the keel and worn spots on the hull with thickened marine epoxy, sand and then paint the hulll. Forget about gel coat altogether.

Update: thanks for the feedback and advice! Inside cleaned up nicely, and went the route of filling, sanding and painting the hull rather than trying to salvage the gel coat. I have new ash gunwales and maple inset decks made and ready to put on but I managed to injure my arm last weekend so it’s going to be a while before I can put them on


Nice job on the hull. The paint protects the hull from UV better than any other treatment.

Nice job on the paint, nice color! What paint did you use?

I used rustoleum oil based on the interior sides and exterior. Rolled and tipped. Spar urethane on the floor. I have two coats Of the green on the hull right now, might put on a third as some light sanding marks are showing still but I think I’m getting nit picky at this point!