Hull repairs in the field

You are on a Wilderness or open-water expedition and you get into a situation which results in a punctured hull. One hole is 1" in diameter while another is 3" in diameter. Let’s say the boat is fiberglass or fiberglass/kevlar. You are able to reach an isolated shore to make needed repairs.

What do you have with you to tend to such a problem and how do you go about making temporary repairs that will allow you to continue your journey?

for the smaller hole duck tape should do the trick,just put some on inside and outside.Just thinking now,but for the larger one you could probably use the duck tape again only you’d have to reinforce it somehow,possibly with some thin pieces of wood and fabric

While I’ve not had to do this,…
…from my limited fiberglass repair experience, I would say that if you can make repairs with a roll of duct tape in the field (carry a whole roll), do it. I’d much rather do that than try to mess with fiberglass repair in the field. Unless you had ideal conditions, which you probably wouldn’t, doing a good fiberglass repair in the field with limited materials and resources seems like it would be quite a challenge.

West Marine has a tidy little fiberglass repair kit

that will get someone started but I don’t think it has all the needed equipment. You’d want some acetone for cleaning and clean-up, lots of latex or nitrile exam gloves and scissors for cutting the cloth, for instance.

I don’t think there is any substitute for doing some fiberglass repair work at home before you have to do it in the field.

My understanding is that kevlar is more difficult to work with that fiberglass.

gutter repair tape.

waaayyyyy stronger and more structural than duct tape. it’s a thick rubbery compound with a thick aluminum backing.

Home Depot


Go to your local kayak shop
I’m surprise no one with more touring experience come in. There’s definitely an emergency repair kit that would do the job. And it could be used in the field, because I’ve seen it in action!

It’s basically the same two part epoxy stuff used for permanent repair, but maybe with a faster hardener. So it was done in a matter of 15-30 min.

Maybe you should go ask your local kayak shop?

plumbers epoxy putty
will do the job OK. For a killer expedition I would pack the kit from north sea resin which uses a uv flashlight to cure and will cure underwater.

Duct tape, bituthene all that jazz

Duct tape
Don’t leave home without it.



Sacrifice the kitchen cutting sheet from my cookset for reinforcement, and seal with duct tape.

a single repair kit…
that contains about a thuosand little things…

cut up a roll up sled into 6x6 squares and edged with denzo…sandwiched that in wax paper and then slid the whole thing into a zip loc…put that in a zip loc with gloves in it…so i get the gloves and then get the patch…anyways…secure that with self tapping wood screws…then duct tape around the whole deal.

have a glass repair kit in the boat…have the 2 part putty in the boat…have a little saw blade, multi tool…long zip ties…that way if i have to repair a long crack that may be shifting around a bit, i may be able to punch a whole through with the awl/knife/razor, zip tie the 2 sides of the crack together and then try to patch…

float bags are carried…lotsa duct tape…you can use the paddle halves as “splints”…lotsa things you can do when you have to…

or Surf Shop
and buy the repair kit for about $35 dollars less.

Have used duct tape
several times. Make sure you carry a dry towel in your emergency kit. Tape does not stick to wet surfaces

You also don’t need to get to shore to effect this type of repair.

Have the paddler in the leaking boat climb out of his boat onto your front deck, facing you.

While you drag his boat up between the two of you, he can scull on the other side. That will keep you from capsizing away from the other boat. The other boat will keep you from capsizing towards it.

It sounds much more difficult than it really is.

Cut to fit, wedge into hole, watch out for sharks.

Learned that tip from the MD Duckheads.

I have video to prove it
I had such an event happen to me. It was on a 4* weekend and my boat split about 5 inches.

fortunately for me, I was paddling with Flatpick, as he carries several repair products. He used Gutter Repair Tape on the boat and it held up great. In fact, I’d guess we paddled that boat for another 6 months or so with the patch still on it.

Today, I have these same products in my gear kit. The only place I know to buy small quantity of gutter repair tape is:


3" diameter
assuming there’s no retrievable material it’ll require enough glass to replace the lost material AND extra to bridge the whole to the surrounding material. I doubt that you’d have 3" circular holes as much as you’re likely to have 1’ long crunched areas.

Either way get four packets of West Systems fast epoxy/hardener. I forget the exact volume but that’s close to 1 1/2 oz of stuff. I know there’s putty but I wonder if that’s the ideal material for cold conditions. A small packet of cabosil(thickener) would help.

A 4’ length of 3" wide 9oz tape should be sufficient to patch a 3" hole. I’m picking tape for ease of use,not that it’s the best material. Three 3" pieces of tape to fit the hole, two 6" pieces for the exterior layed parallel to each other over the patch, four 8" to be layed in two parallel pieces at 90degrees. Mix up epoxy and thickener, lay exterior tape and patch on plastic bag and place over sanded/dry/cleaned hole, duct tape into position, work on inside with tape letting gravity hold tape down. Wait until cured,or introduce heat if it’s very cold.

Sand mess with some 80 grit on the outside.

wonder how this works?

4mil sounds thin
that must be a typo

Did you read the new Sea Kayaker Mag?
They reviewed a repair kit that sounds great. Can even use it on plastic.

North Sea Repair Kit
The kit mentioned in Sea Kayaker is the North Sea repair kit that somebody mentioned above. It sounds pretty good.