Hull Protection

My main trips involve shallow rivers in Missouri. Periodically the hull scrapes the rocky bottom. Are there any treatments out there that can help protect damage whether it’s just scrapes or something more serious?


I’m sorry, I should have added that I own a Tarpon 120.

I use my Tarpon as my go-anywhere
boat. Rocky rivers, oyster-bed laden coasts,dragged or paddled hard over logs. It will take a lot of wear.

To answer your question , the only way to protect it is stay away from scrapers as much as you can.

hi ,just curious…what part is scarped up specifically ? you can buy a epoxy/ fiberglass kit to install on keels to minimize damage to bow/keel/stern area. and some boat marinas and Cabela’s sell a hard rubber strip , in varying lengths x 4" Width , to install along keels. Any scrapes along the rest of the underside of a boat are pretty hard to prevent, all you can do is epoxy the scrapes on a fiberglass boat to seal them or use a heat gun to “melt-in” the scrapes on poly.

The hard rubber strip sounds
interesting. It would enable folks to drag the boat on concrete ramps.

Use of wax or 303 can make the boat
marginally more slippery. It might seem that this would make no difference, but in the days of aluminum canoes and whitewater, waxing a boat made a noticeable improvement.

I own a bunch of poly, Royalex, and composite boats, and as noted above, the best precaution is learning to read the water and to avoid unnecessary scraping.


the name of the hard polymer composite keel strip is “Keelguard” by Megaware.It comes in lengths of 4’ to 12’ and is 5" wide, approx. 1/4 thick, and comes in 14 colors and is fairly expensive … i think my 5’ strip was over $100 @ cabela’s store.

don’t worry about it
Plastic boats, like the Tarpon, can put up with an amazing amount of bashing and scraping. You will get minor scratches in the plastic, but these are all cosmetic.

I would take it out and paddle and consider the scratches you do get as signs that you are having fun with the boat.

That’s similar to the cost for a Kevlar
felt skid plate kit for a composite or Royalex canoe. We may never know what either should cost. There’s not enough competition between suppliers.

Hull protection
is the job of the gelcoat. I have been around boats for as long as I can remember, and kayakers seem to be the only owners I can recall, that are so obsessive about the appearance of their boats. I find myself leaning this way occasionally, but I think it’s because I hear it so often. Kayaks seem to be treated like family heirlooms by so many of us. I know some who routinely sand out scratches from their composite kayaks, thereby reducing the thickness of their surrounding gelcoat to the depth of the scratches! This is ridiculous. Just fill the scratch, if it’s deep enough to worry about. And if the color isn’t a perfect match, so what? As for poly boats, they will probably outlast the material they are built of. But plastic welding isn’t difficult at all, if you can live with a slight color mis-match. Practice on an old chlorine jug, first. Remember p-tex snow ski bottoms? Just get out there and enjoy yourself, and let normal wear and tear take it’s gradual toll. That’s what you bought it for.

or install
a hull below your hull

No worries
It’ll probably take more than a decade of that kind of abuse before you have to worry about it. If you want to avoid it, though, tie on a painter line and wade through the shallows towing your boat along. With fast currents and slick rock, this can be quite treacherous – just stay in and push through in those spots.


if it quacks like a duct…
If you’re not too concerned with looks, you can use a couple layers of duct tape to give some extra protection in the same area where a skid plate or that plastic strip go. That’s really the only area you have to worry about, along the keel, from the end to about 1/4 the length from each end. That’s where you’re likely to wear a hole through the hull eventually.

Scratches elsewhere tend to be distributed around enough so that no one spot will be holed, unless you have a bad accident and make the hole all at once. But there are two spots along the keel that will get repeated damage from scraping. The stern hole usually comes first, but if you protect only the stern then you’ll get a hole on the bow end. But it takes a long time and a lot of abuse to make a hole.

If you are concerned with looks, you can get a skid plate or that plastic thing they’re talking about. To me, it’s not worth spending $200 to protect a $600-800 boat. It takes 5-10 years to make a hole, so you’re better off using the extra $200 to get a new boat a year or two sooner. Just let it scratch while it’s new, then start using duct tape after it begins to show wear in those areas.

1. Use an inexpensive junky canoe.

2. Learn to better paddle the channel.

3. Put more water in the river!

maybe if you just completley
cover your hull in duct tape!!

Don’t drag it
Most wear happens when people drag the boat across roads or rocks. Some dragging is unavoidable but if you pick up the boat by it’s bow carry handle and pull it, all the weight is on the same spot on the hull and it will wear quickly. Tarpons have a molded in skeg that could be damaged fairly quickly from dragging on rough surfaces.

"Most wear happens when people drag the boat across roads or rocks."

I disagree. I think most wear happens when you almost make it across a shallow water obstacle, and then make contact for the last little part of the way. Often this isn’t a conscious choice - you don’t know you’re going to scrape, and then you do, and it’s over before you have time to do anything about it. On a typical small river type trip, I think this circumstance happens many more times in the course of a trip than dragging your boat down the boat ramp or across a stream blocker. Also, you have the full weight of the paddler bearing down on the point, which you don’t have when dragging the boat over obstacles, and you’re generally travelling faster too.

good sunglasses…

– Last Updated: Jan-02-09 7:40 PM EST –

what said..., but beau-guest's info sounds interesting.

Minimal damage
I keep the wear and tear to a minimum simply by picking the boat up and carrying it istead of dragging. I certainly don’t obsess about it since many things are unavoidable. Not to insult anyone but I laugh when I see people run their boats on shore at full speed so they don’t have to get their feet wet. I see no problem on sand but rocks?


been there done that
Throw away Necky Looksha.

After two years a hole in the skeg…could not be fixed.

Its like peeling away a candle with your fingernail. Sooner or later you will have nothing of your boat.

Best not to say “Heck its just plastic”.