Finding a fixer-upper

Hey everyone:

After a paddle on Monday, I was walking through the racks at the local kayak-storage place on the beach and looking at all the different boats (something I find really calming – I’m sure you all can relate). Anyway, I was struck again by the number of old sea kayaks that have been sitting out in the elements for 10 or a dozen years or more. That started me thinking – maybe I can pick up another boat on the cheap from someone who just doesn’t get out on the water much.

Since I don’t have any experience with fixing up a FG kayak, I thought I’d ask the board a couple of questions:

  1. What’s that worst that can happen to FG from 10 years sitting outside? Is there a “point of no return” and how do you recognize it (besides hitting the hull with a hammer, which was suggested to me by an old time WW boater)?

  2. Has anyone resurrected an old boat? How much work was it? I have no real experience, but plenty of optimism ;>)

    Thanks very much in advance for any help.

Without Structural Damage …

– Last Updated: Feb-01-06 6:37 AM EST –

from miscellaneous run-ins here and there, I would think a glass boat sitting in sun will see deterioration of the gelcoat. The gelcoat protects the underlying glass laminate. You can alway bring an old glass boat back to life by sanding it down and redoing the coat. Sanding an old boat down would probably expose any structural issues like cracks and delaminations. Something you want to know about. Repair of these can be pretty straightforward though time consuming. Then you gelcoat again, sand and buff and she would look essentially like a new boat again. That's one of the the biggest advantage of composite boats over plastic.

Do not buy plastic kayaks sitting in the sun for 10 years. UV damage to the integrity of the plastic is beyond repair. It become more brittle. At some point, dropping or hitting something will result in a cracked hull.


what sing said!

If it’s glass–it should be fine
As long as the underlying glass hasn’t been degraded by exposer to sunlight–gel coat missing, they should be just fine. Glass is easy to work with and repair.

plastic boats, the older heavy plastic canoes are probably fine. the blow molded plastic stuff–be a little careful with.

I restored
an ‘82 Mohawk 14’ solo f/g. It was a really faded yellow and had a f/g seat and aluminum thwarts.

I sanded it down, added a little extra f/g to the bow and stern (sort of like f/g skid plates) and painted it with marine epoxy paint. I spent a total of $50 or so on thwarts,a new seat and decals from Mohawk and so far about $60 in paint (needs a touch up now and again).

I am currently working on an '86 Mad River ME royalex, that was set up as a tandem and had been wrapped at some point in its life. The plastic is in good shape although there are some worrysome spots here and there that I have reinforced with JB Weld. Again about $50 worth of seat and thwart, a new lacing kit $20, and assorted hardware and glues, I probably have spent less than $100.

Both are a blast to paddle and always get comments or compliments on the water.

Hobie has been in direct sunlight, year around, since 1986. It still wins races and is still strong. Does not want look as good as new but with a little buffing it could.

I’m wondering if there’s a reliable…
…fiberglassing shop (boats, RVs?) in your area who could give you an opinion on a specific boat?

As to optimism: without it, we’d all stay home on the couch, considering such things as alligators, rain, and 4’ waves.

If you have a racing boat builder
near you, they can usually give you a good price to redo the gelcoat. F/G shops and body shops usually are very high. One guy tried to tell me that my 14’ Mohawak was going to need $700 of gelcoat. Thats why I went the Marine paint route.

Gel coat not that expensive
You can find gel-coat at a marine shop but it’s cheaper at an auto parts/paint supply shop. People charge more to spare because it’s a little different than spraying other top coat/finishes. As for the F/G being in good shape it should be ok. If you spot a bare place it may have a delamination but more likely just worn. We have fiberglass parts on these T-38’s that I work on that are older than me with never a repair done to some parts/panels.


looking at kayaks…
I always enjoy going to stores to look at the kayaks and it’s like being in a kayak palace :slight_smile:

Use judgement
If the boat is really cracked up and raunchy then ignore it.If it’s got a couple of dings or holes with faded gelcoat it would be fun to restore the boat to a sea worthy state. More likely the rubber hatches,bungies,backband and deck lines will suffer UV degradation.I bought a VCP boat a few years ago that had been neglected but with new hatches and hardware and some FG repairs and buffing it’s a boat I use regularly now and I don’t have big money into it.

I would mostly be concerned if it’s a model you want. Is it suitable for your purposes?

Don’t just buy it because it’s cheap.

If you want info on a particular boat,you’ll get lots of opinions here.

Composite hulls are almost infinitely repairable unless they’ve been wrapped or driven over by a car.

What models are on that rack?


1983 Nordkapp
I picked up a 1983 Nordkapp 3 years ago for $350. Like you, I found it in the racks at a kayak storage site.

It need some gelcoat repair, new hatches, bungies and deck lines but it’s in great shape. The only downside is that back in '83 7.5 inch hatches were standard front and rear on VCP boats. Getting a 20 degree synthetic sleeping bag through 7.5" hatches is no picnic.

Would there be room on the rear deck to retrofit an oval hatch?

Old boats can be cheap
Hey, I found an old 17’ fiberglass tandem that had been sitting under a tree for many years. It is circa 1980 and was black from leaves and dirt. I got it home and cleaned it up and it looks pretty darn good. It make a great buddy boat, and the bet thing about it? It only cost me $50!

here is a pix:

No model in particular…
I’ve seen a few CDs, Neckys, Nimbuses.

What interests me is the possibility of picking up something relatively cheap.

I know, for example, that you can get a heck of a lot of sailboat for a few thousand bucks as long as you get something made 30-35 years ago. I’m wondering if the same effect holds true for kayaks.

lots have been retro-ed…I believe that the cost for the rim and the cover is a little over $100 now

Best wishes