Gel coat repair or marine tex epoxy...?

So here’s the problem…I knocked off some gel-coat off my Bell Rob Roy going backwards over a ledge at Erbie Ford on the Buffalo River last week.

The damaged spot is about 3" long x 1/2 inch wide. The kevlar fabric is showing, but no structural damage. I also scraped another spot about 6" long by 3/4" wide, but it doesn’t go all the way to the fabric. It’s more scuffed than anything else.

Here’s a link to 3 photos showing the damage…

I went to West Marine to buy a Gel-Coat repair kit. The salesman there suggested that I use Marine-Tex epoxy instead. Of course, once I put epoxy on, I won’t be able to put gel-coat on top of it. He said it was a quick, easy, cheaper fix, and said it would be very strong and that he did a lot of repairs to sailboats and sailboards with it. He likened it to the strength of JB Weld.

What would you do and why? Go with the Gel-coat repair or the Marine-Tex epoxy?



Marine-Tex epoxy
I used it on a old Lido sailboat. It worked great,easy, fast, hard and sanded well. Are you going to paint over it?

No, not necessary to paint it
The hull is white (or a slight off-white) and the Marine-Tex is white also. I wasn’t worried about an exact match. Thanks for the input.

I normally just go with epoxy, and, as you said, only when the damage is down to the fabric. The epoxy bonds well with other materials and is relatively easy to work with once you get the hang of it. If you were concerned about the looks of the boat, gelcoat repair would be the way to go, but since that doesn’t seem to be your primary concern, the epoxy sounds like the way to go.

Well…looks are somewhat important…
I mean, I don’t want it to jump out looking like a patch. But if it blends in fairly well, I’ll be happy.

Dave, I LOVE this boat. It isn’t quite as maneuverable as the Swifty or the Sandpiper, but it turns a lot better than I expected. Now if I can just learn how to control it BEFORE I get going backwards over ledges…

marine tex it
gel coat sux

Gel coat
Gel coat alone is only good for small cosmetic scrathces. For larger areas, mix it with West System white fibers, to thicken and strengthen the mix, add your hardner, and apply. It is a nice mix to fill larger holes, and will be strong enough. It sands and buffs out well also.

gel coat
I am going to buck the trend here and say gel coat.

you state you have no structural damage so you do not need to put a structural patch over the area.

with most epoxy you cannot gel coat over it so if you want a covering that looks good when you sell the boat gel coat might work better. you will have future scraps, bumps and jolts that happen to the boat in the future so how many epoxy patches do you want on your beautiful boat as time goes by? Gel coat is easy to work with. Like anything else there are a few tricks (but not many). You might want to take your boat to someone that does fiberglass/gel coat repair and have them show you how it is done. That way in the future you will be able to fix the kind of problem you have now----gel coat not structural.

breakdown of epoxy
failed to mention that most epoxy breaks down when exposed to the sun. If you have your boat outside and keep it upside down the epoxy might breakdown

need to stop doing two or three things at the same time.

for those of you with epoxy don’t worry the epoxy breaks down only if not painted. I think TexasLady said something about not painting the repair if she did it in epoxy. If you use epoxy check to see if sun will cause damage. If so just paint it or use gel coat

a couple of thoughts
I’m glad you like it. I paddled one for a few minutes and thought it was a very well mannered boat. I saw the photo of you in the boat and thought the two of you looked like a good match :slight_smile:

Just a couple of thoughts on the repair. If you opt for the epoxy, you could add white pigment to it. Some of the boat manufacturers do that. It would give the patch a bit of a white tint, although it would not match the gel coat. You could also tape the area off after the epoxy hardens and spray some white paint over the patch. Oof. That sounds awful, doesn’t it? Remind me not to give you makeup tips! Anyway, it works better than it sounds, although you might want to experiment on something before you try it on your boat.

I think (but don’t know for sure) that the epoxy would hold up okay if you kept some sort of UV protection on the boat - 303, marine polish, or something like that. I have a 20-year old Wenonah in their ultralight layup (no gel coat) that is doing just fine, and when I bought it, it didn’t look like the previous owners had lavished lots of attention on it.

Good luck with the repair, and I hope you enjoy the boat!

Marine-Tex Epoxy comes in White
so I don’t have to add a tint or worry about color. It might not be the exact shade of white, but that’s okay.

I plan on keeping 303 on the boat regardless of which repair I do.

I’m wondering if the Marine-Tex epoxy is stronger than the gel-coat. If it is, maybe I should go with that, but I’m also thinking I could try the gel-coat first, and if it doesn’t hold, or I knock it off again, then I can put the epoxy on later.

And you know what? I think I heard a foreign language last week on the river. I’m not sure, since I’d never heard anything like this before, but it SOUNDED like they were saying…“Hey Jill…slow down…we can’t keep up!” LOL

I’d go with that
Since you have no structural damage, but semi large patches to fill - the gel coat with filler sounds like a good compromise. Use the sheet plastic over the repair trick to minimize sanding.

The epoxy is a bit dull compared to gel coat and will leave more obvious (though not realy bad looking) repairs. The small repairs I’ve used it on do not seem like they’ll buff up to the same gloss - even though VERY smooth to the touch.

Epoxy for structural, gel coat for cosmetic.

Gel coat…

– Last Updated: Apr-09-04 9:59 AM EST –

... is not always easy to match either, I have used Marine Tex and had no problems leaving it in the Florida sun 24/7, and it is much stonger the gel.... GH

I’d opt for gelcoat…
…since that’s what’s on the boat and it’s easy to work with. Regardless of what you choose for the repair, here are some pictures of the process:

I have done a lot of repairs on sailboats. The marine tex is good stuff and will work.

Gel coat is more work, but is easier to get a really smooth surface with almost no sanding(at least for me). If you use gel coat you need to get some PVA also. Gel coat will not set up in the presence of oxygen.

You sand the area, apply the gel coat then spray the PVA on out of a spray bottle.

You can get the gel coat in a clear jelly like form (Gel coat jell??) and add a white tint compound to it. It spreads on smooth.

Fiber Glass Repairs
Shelly Johnson’s new (well fairly new) book has a section on kayak repairs. The directions and pictures are straightforward and clear.


Fiber Glass Repairs
Shelly Johnson’s new (well fairly new) book has a section on kayak repairs. The directions and pictures are straightforward and clear.


Thanks everyone…
I’m probably going to go with the gelcoat repair first. I can get the gelcoat repair kit in the correct matching color from Bell. I also realized my hull isn’t white, but almond, so I’d rather have it match as close as possible. I’ll keep the Marine-Tex epoxy in mind later on, but for now, I’d rather keep the gel-coat. Thanks for the advice everyone.

gel coat
gel coat is the right way to repair your boat, it can be layered (allowing each layer to set) to build up. raw fiberglass absorbs water and gelcoat is it’s proper sealant.marinetex is for hackers and emergency repairs…Lee