Holes in fiberglass canoe

Hi everyone,

I bought a used 18’ fiberglass canoe yesterday. It was in good condition when I bought it. When I came back to my house I dragged it on my grass thinking that this would be fine but I just noticed that I made a few small holes in the fiberglass. This was probably caused by small rocks but I was wondering if fiberglass canoes are typically as brittle.

When I look at the inside of the holes I see another layer of material and it seems like there is a gap between both. Is this normal? The sidings also sound very thin when I knock on them.

I was considering to fill the holes with leftover epoxy that I have but would welcome any advice if there is

a better way.

Pictures look like dings in the gel coat and not in the fiberglass itself. I’ve filled many like that and larger with some filled epoxy. Not a bad idea to put a dab of paint over the epoxy after it cures.

If that happened from paddling and then dragging on grass, you have an old brittle fiberglass boat. Be careful. Do not load it up and go on any serious overnight trips.

You are definitely showing some failure in the fiberglass, not just the gelcoat. Do not try any rocky rivers with this canoe and don’t go too far from home.

I would really need to see the inside of the boat to assess the damage.

Look inside, if you see black spots on the inside it means the glass is delaminating. That can be dangerous in certain circumstances. I have also seen livery boats (rentals) with delamination spots be used for years.

Fix the outside with something like G-Flex and keep an eye on the inside. If there are spots and the start to grow it might be time to consider a replacement.

all we can see is holes in the gel coat. What does the interior look like? However there should not be a gap between the gel coat layer and the fiberglass layers… Yes there is an s. Sidewalls often have fewer layers of fiberglass. There are many shapes of glass sheets cut in a canoe. Some blankets some partials and some footballs for the bottom.

Thanks for your responses everyone! I broke loose pieces of paint around one of the hole and it seems that it is indeed the gel coat that punctured and the fiberglass seems to still be in good condition.

I will fill the holes with epoxy and paint them and hopefully this will stop water from going underneath the gel coat.

I looked at the inside of the canoe and there are no black spots so I dont think the fiberglass is delaminating. I still think it is brittle since three of the four ribs on the floor are cracked but I’ll fix that as well!

They look like “blisters”, the gel coat gets damaged, water gets in and freezes, it’s something you deal with if you have older fiberglass boats. I have a half dozen to fix on my sailboat. Sand the rough edges and anything loose, fill with gel coat, cover the repair with some heavy plastic wrap till it cures, buff out the patch and wax. The single hardest thing about gel coat repair is matching the color, the rest is easy.