-- Last Updated: May-28-13 7:13 PM EST --

Hello all,

Just picked up the Mad River Heritage 16 (Duck Hunter). I have borrowed canoes for the last 5 years and finally I got one of my own.

The gunnels have been replaced with red oak. I am wanting to sand and seal them up again before getting out on the water. What do you all recommend as far as the sanding and sealing process goes?

Secondly, there is a worn spot in the stern about 3 inches long and an inch wide that is down to a second layer of I'm not sure what. It is a lighter green shade. I would also like to patch/seal this before getting into any dragging. Any recommendations?

This is a great site I have been searching for the last few months so thanks in advance for the insight!

That light green shade is the outer
ABS structural layer. It’s sensitive to UV, which is why Royalex is skinned with vinyl, a plastic that stands up to UV pretty well.

No reason for extreme haste, but until you decide on some more permanent cover, you can just paint over the bare ABS with a spray paint like Krylon Fusion.

Some people put on Kevlar felt skid pads. That’s not hard to do, and on a sport canoe the slight loss in paddling speed won’t matter. I use layers of fiberglass and epoxy, but that’s more complicated and I won’t describe the process unless you express intense interest.

I’ve used red oak for paddle T-grips. It does better with varnish, which fills the pores. Usually wood gunwales are oiled, and you can do that, but it will take repeated oiling to fill the pores. Oak is more brittle than ash (the usual) but plenty strong enough for a sporting canoe.

If you choose varnish, more thorough sanding may be needed. Use a “spar” varnish that contains UV inhibitors. If you choose oil, Watco Exterior or Tung are possibilities.

Ok. Looks like I will be picking up a rattle can for the hull.

As for the gunnels… I am supposed to be floating a week from Friday. I would go the varnish route throughout the next week but with work and getting to the storage unit, it would be difficult.

I guess my question now is would it be ok to oil the gunnels to prepare for my upcoming trip and then do a sand and varnish job in a month or so when work slows down? Will the oil negatively affect the later varnish process?

You could use a wipe on varnish …
… as a temporary protectant for a short period. It dries very quickly. You would have time for a few coats. Then, later when you have more time, you could put on several coats of a full varnish.