Gel-coat blistering on kayak deck

Hello. Yesterday, we picked up my wife’s new kayak (Capella 163) and today, I just noticed that the stern deck has a little blister on the gelcoat, about the size of a nickel. It has not been in the water yet, it is still on the car rack. It will probably get its maiden voyage tomorrow some time. I did a little reading about gelcoat blisters on kayaks, and it seems that some repair may be involved. Being a brand new boat, not even in the water yet, this is a bit disturbing. The guy we work with at our local dealer (who has been fantastic with us) just went on vacation today, but I wrote him an email anyway about this. Hopefully he will reply soon, but he will be back in the store next week. Meanwhile, if anyone has thoughts on this, regarding what causes this, what can be done, what I should do about this, etc. I would greatly appreciate it. Thanks.

gel coat blisters
You have a void in the laminate just under the gel coat and there are probably more. This is indemic to all hand, or contact, laminated hulls.

Repair in simple. get a small container of matchying gel coat from the manufacturer.

Also get latex gloves and a small tube of MEKP at the local hardware store, and find sandpaper, a small discardable cup and a stir stick.

Break the bubble out, sand the exposed laminate, mix a small amount of gel and mound it in the void.

After it kicks, snad the area flat with 80, 120, then 220 dry sandpaper. Then wet sand 320, 600, 1000 and 1200 grit, then buff with rubbing compound.

Or, let the dealer deal with their vendor’s mistake.

For better info and piucs, email me.

Your freakin’ me out
I just answered this on the other fourm . . . or Am I having flash backs!

I wouldn’t do anything until you talk to
your rep and the manufacturer. Anything you do could void the warranty. Not all gel coat issues are simply repairable by gel coat repair. It could be that the gel coat blistered because of improper preparation of the cloth underneath. Blisters are not the same as scratches.

Let the dealer…
worry about it. I’ve owned lots of boats and once “chased” a gel coat blister all the way up the chine of a new boat, from the stern! This was a “summer” boat which means the layup of roving glass and resin didn’t harden evenly and seperated. The gel coat was only a symptom. The more I chipped and sanded, the more problems I found. Ended up hauling the boat back to the manufacturer to be repaired, which they did, but it didn’t match and had waves/little bubbles in the finish. Let the dealer handle the problem, or better yet, ask for a replacement. One seperation means there are probably others.

Will contact dealer
Thanks for the info. I am going to let the dealer handle this. This is a completely new boat, not even on the water yet. Just picked it up yesterday, and it has just arrived from the manufacturer (Capella) to the dealer’s store. I emailed the person we work with at the dealer, but tomorrow, I’m calling the store directly. Thanks.

CEWilson, next time you have to deal
with this … set boat up so blister is level as poss. and try injecting a tiny bit of neat epoxy first … just enough to see the blister bulge … blister will push excess epoxy back out and cure solid.

One should never have to start with 80 grit for any gelcoat repair unless it is a real hack job.

Skip all those heavy grits and inbetweeners and just for right to 220 wet / dry if you need some heavy sanding, then go up to 320 wet only if you need a little more contouring / flattening. Otherwise jump right to 600 OR 1000 then to 1200+ if you want to polish. This is and how the pros ( not your average joe / local shop owner ) do it.

Running through all those other grits is a waste of time, money , energy and creates a high probablity of burning through the area surrounding the repair.

Please Call P&H and/or your dealer
If you haven’t already - please contact your dealer - and we can coordinate with them. IF you have any trouble - you can call/email us direct. It sounds like an isolated cosmetic blister - and easily reparied - however - we want to do it properly. Don’t hesitate on paddling your boat - as there is no structural/long term concern.

Please note - we are currently receiving a container today (friday) so its a little busy - and we are off for memorial day. (I am assuming our are in US or Canada).

P&H office: 828 254 1101

(ask for Dinver or Dave)


I hope all this helps - enjoy your holiday weekend!


Pyranha, P&H, and Venture Kayaks

Asheville, NC

Contacted Dealer

Thanks. The dealer is Alpine Experience in Olympia, WA, and I contacted them today. It’s a holiday weekend, so they will contact P&H on Tuesday. We are bringing the boat in on Wed for them to look at and possibly take pictures. It’s just that this is a first-time owning a kayak, we just picked it up for my wife last Wednesday, and right off the top, there is a defect that needs to be dealt with, which will take up some of our time to do so. Very discouraging. I really didn’t expect this. Though I know it will be handled. Thanks.

Just Remember …
These are handmade boats made one at a time. There are none that are completely flawless in every way. Your flaw happens to be in an obvious place and when repaired will be hard to find. Especially after that first 4" scratch you put on the hull…

Some wood boat builders agonize over flaws visible at 6" when boats are viewed from 6 to 10’ away.

I understand, but…
Thanks. I know that visually, this is a small flaw, and if it were just that, I’d say let it go. But from what I’ve read from many people, gelcoat blisters can sometimes go away on their own, but sometimes can get worse over time, and eventually, you do have to repair it or risk further damage to the boat. I don’t even get too upset about scratches on my Jeep Grand Cherokee (and there are many), and I have not repaired them yet. But with a brand new kayak, owning one for the first time, it would be nice to not have to address this issue and just enjoy the boat (which my wife will do anyway). My Capella 173 comes in this coming week, and I hope all is well with it. I will assume that to be so. Anyway, this issue will be handled this week by the dealer. They are great and so is P&H. Thanks.

Many boats come out of the tooling with minor bubbles that get caught and repaired right at the factory and noone ever knows. This is truly no big deal and will get fixed. It is NOT a reflection of poor quality. These are excellent, well made boats…you just have a very minor air bubble.

That’s what I assumed and hoped. Thanks for confirming.

This is exactly right.
An air bubble in the gelcoat does NOT suggest poor quality, and it could very easily be isolated. This is the nature of composites. It’s also very easy for the these to be missed at the factory because over time the resins and gelcoat both shrink somtimes leaving these voids. I do agree to return it to the dealer. Depending on the color, these repairs can get hairy.

Ps. I also agree not to start with below 200 grit sandpaper :wink:

I beg to differ slightly
P&H boats ARE generally excellent quality, largely because their boats are vacuum-bagged. While finding voids in a hand layup is not unusual, in a vacuum-bagged boat it indicates that someone screwed up pretty significantly and it could indicate a broader problem with the boat. I would examine the boat very carefully inside and out and if there are any other similar defects, I’d expect the boat to be replaced, not simply repaired. This is a new boat after all and you should not be expected to except defects. If it’s simply a case of one cosmetic blemish, it’s your call as to how you want to handle it.

I wasn’t aware that P&H was vacuum-bagging there boats. Are you sure?