Hull Sanding

I have a Wilderness Systems Pungo. The hull has gotten a lot of scratches and cuts over the years. Can these be sanded out? I’m not concerned about speed, it is just a recreational kayak after all, it’s just that it looks like crap.



To sand them out, you would have to
weaken the hull. They really are of very little consequence. All of us with poly boats learn to just ignore them.

don’t sand 'em. scrape 'em.
If you want to do anything about them, just take a scraper blade (the sort used for taking thing shavings in woodworking), and scrape off the raised burrs. It’ll smoothe the surface some, and make it look a little better.

Either that or just forget it.

Sanding it will probably make the whole bottom fuzzier.

Don’t waste your time
Polyethylene boats scratch if you look at them hard. That’s not meant to be a knock against plastic boats, it’s just the nature of the beast. You’re better off to spend your time paddling rather than in a futile attempt to keep the hull looking nice. If you use the boat, it’s going to get scratched.

Hull Sanding
I had some deep gouges on the bottom of my OT Cayuga 160, I filled them with P-tex, the stuff you melt on the bottom of skis to fix gouges. When the P-tex hardened I sanded it smooth. Doesn’t look beautiful but it is smooth and the gouges are filled.

As for the scratches there is not much to do, you’ll never get the shinney surface back and most of us don’t care.

I call my Tarpon the go-anywhere
beater boat, for good reason.Rocky rivers,oyster beds(not on purpose), strainers - bring 'em on.

Owners of pricey boats will envy you
Find yourself some paddlers with glass and kevlar boats. Invite them paddling where there are lots of rocks and logs. Be sure to laugh as you bash over logs while they fret about hull damage. Get up a good head of speed and coast right up on that rocky beach while the others stop in knee deep water and gingerly lift their boats to shore.

Enjoy and appreciate the beauty of that scratched up, almost indestructible hull. I agree with BNystrum. The heck with sanding. Go paddle.


rocky beaches
The only difference between running a plastic kayak up on a rocky beach, and running a composite one up the same beach, is that the plastic one gets scratched. :slight_smile:

I totally agree that most paddlers of composite boats wade in and baby their hulls, but it’s not because they’re delicate.

Why do they do it then ?


– Last Updated: Feb-11-09 11:24 AM EST –

I think many just like to baby their good-looking boats. I can understand that. I think the difference between glass and plastic boats is not toughness as much as care. People just take better care of glass boats.

I've seen many plastic boats dragged across a parking lot on their keel. Does that mean they're tougher? No, it just means they're more often abused. (I've also seen two plastic boats with holes worn through the back end of their keel, from just such dragging).

You COULD drag a glass boat across a parking lot, and it would hold up better than a plastic boat, but people just don't because I think people with glass boats care more about their boats, in general. (If you've ever tried to sand fiberglass with an angle grinder, you'd realize how abrasion-resistant the material is, compared to plastic, which can nearly be gouged by a fingernail.)

Try a razor
I have heard that if you take a regualr old bic razor you can shave off the burrs and smooth out some of the scratches without sanding or weakening the hull

My fiberglass boats…

– Last Updated: Feb-12-09 10:02 AM EST –

...go places where plastic boats fear to tread. ;-)

I can honestly say that I have never refused to take my 'glass boats anywhere simply because they might get scratched. They have the scars to prove it. The way I see it, if I go paddling and I don't leave an offering for the "gelcoat gods" on a rock somewhere, it's been a boring day on the water.

OTOH, I've seen people go to extraordinary lengths to avoid scratching their boats. I actually watched one guy exit his boat on the water, pull towels out of the hatch and place them on the beach before taking his boat out of the water and setting it on the towels. Mind you, this was just a standard fiberglass sea kayak, not a racing boat or anything that would justify such ridiculous pampering. Frankly, I don't see how he could possibly have any fun when he was so worried about scratching his boat.

He'd be a good guy to buy a used boat from, though...

pampering …
I have friends that treat their plastic boats that way, they don’t have towels but I bet If I mentioned that they would the next time we went out! I just recently got my first composite boat and I’m treating it much nicer than my old plastic Tempest but give me some time, I’ll loosen up I’m sure.

No beach towels for my boat thank you.


This has worked for me…
For the gouges on my poly boats I’ve (very successfully) used this technique.

Lay a piece of Baking Parchment Paper (the kind you use for keeping cookies from sticking to the pan) over the gouge or deep scratch.

Take a clothes iron on a low to medium setting and move in small circular motions over the paper.

Don’t get too hot with the iron or keep it over one spot for too long as you don’t want to damage the shape or integrity of your hull.

Lays the plastic back down into it’s groove nicely!

Dont do it!!
Sanding means you are thining the hull out. Wilderness Systems has made the kayak with what they intend to be a durable thickness that is not too heavy. As the hull thins from the original design, it gets less stiff and the kayak can deform severely.

If anything polyethylene can do best, its take scratches and impact. Its very impact resistant, and will still be strong after recieving scratches- because it will still be just as thick as before. But sanding it will weaken it. If I can live with my Wilderness Systems Pamlico 140’s scratces considering I have obssesive-compulisve disorder, you should be able to too.

Happy paddling!

and the composites
can puncture

Not towels, but I’ve carried sections of pool noodle down by my feet, and use them under the boat when I’m dragging it up someplace nasty.

I ended up sacrificing them to cover the bars on a shuttle hired last September. That’s the wrong time of year to shop for pool noodles around here, so I am presently noodleless.

An unexpected benefit of pool noodles was the ability to use them like rollers to pull a loaded boat up out of the water without trying to lift. Bryan says just drag the boat, but I can’t stand the scritching sound if you are pulling onto rock or a concrete boat ramp. To me, it’s like fingernails on the blackboard, if anybody remembers blackboards.

I don’t think I was as bad as the fella with the towels, but I made an effort to keep the gel coat on the boat. Yes, guilty.


Why are you dragging your boat?
That’s one thing I don’t do unless I can’t avoid it, except on sand beaches, where it really doesn’t matter (I need the gelcoat on the hull for more interesting endeavors). Even still, the most I ever drag a boat is enough to get it above the high water mark. Even a hefty Brit’ boat loaded with day gear can be lifted and carried a few feet to avoid dragging it. That’s also one good case for never paddling alone, as two people can haul two boats at once up a beach quite handily.

Search the archives on this site . . .
using “scratches” and “polyethylene” as search terms and you will find previous posts that address how to lightly “torch” the hull with a propane torch to bring the scratches down to a faint shadow of what they were before. Eventually, though, you will probably decide it’s not worth the trouble.