New Boat New Project

Came across an ad on FB marketplace for a “homemade” kayak that looked like a composite sea kayak. Guy didn’t know much about it but believed the previous owner had built it. Wasn’t a lot I could discern from the pictures other than it was probably a composite sea kayak in the 17’ range. It was about 30min away and the price was pretty cheap so I reckoned it was worth checking out since I wasn’t doing much else that day.

Back at the start of the pandemic he’d picked it up from a guy in Tulsa who’d repainted it. He’d been using it in a small local river nearby, and it shows. Coated in mud and scraped up pretty decent (which is shame because somebody did a nice job painting this boat). Bought it anyways as I think it’s salvageable and the negotiated price was right. No HIN, but the sticker inside the cockpit indicates it’s an Arctic Hawk licensed built by Wilderness Systems in '96.

Definitely needs some work repair work. There’s some deep gouges in the bottom, but the worst of it’s what’s on the side in the las picture above. None of fiberglass material is cracked through thankfully. Never done any of this sort of work before, but this’ll be a cheap boat to learn on.

Cleans up nice though. Also had my poly Looska IV out to get washed and 303’d. It was interesting to compare them side by side. I’ll be curious to paddle them back to back and see which one makes the cut.

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Some more pictures of it after it was thoroughly cleaned. Nice paint, but I reckon the bottom will have to be redone. Can see light through some of the scrapes (material isn’t cracked or worn through yet).

This boat appears to be FG to me but I’ve seen some articles/posts refer to it as kevlar. Not sure which is correct. Does it really matter which it is as far as repairing scraped up spots goes?

Also looks like some sort of epoxy was applied to the bottom of the seat at some point. There’s not any trace of it inside the hull. Any idea why it would’ve been applied and is there any reason I shouldn’t remove this before refitting the seat?

Got him to throw in this neoprene spray skirt and paddle as part the deal. Never tried a low angle paddle with this narrow of a blade profile, it’ll be interesting to see how I like it. It’s a single piece paddle that appears to be fiberglass shaft and blades that are feather almost 90 (which is way more than I usually go). Also the shaft is ovalised for the right hand which may be a deal breaker because I’m used to keeping my left hand in grip and letting the shaft rotate in my right (I ride motorcycles frequently and am used to keeping the left in grip to turn the throttle). No markings of any kind on the paddle. Anyone recognize what it is?
Skirt say Aquaterra on the outside, tag inside says Brooks Wetsuits. Fairly thick neoprene and for what I’m guessing it’s age to be seems to be in nice shape still and perfectly usable.

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Seems there was talk of another WS Arctic Hawk earlier this year around . . . Viriginia Beach or S. Carolina. Maybe that’s where I found a posting by a pawn shop that had one for sale whole researching facts after seeing the post. Hope you get it up to speed. Maybe the seat was repurposed from another boat.

I’ve seen better paddles, not sure knowing the origin would be of much value.

The look of the paddle definitely matches a few of my early Werners. I have a Camano, San Juan and Kauai from maybe 94. All built with that look. I imagine would recognize a camano ( still in production ) and it isn’t a Kauai. Could be a San Juan. Larger blade than the Camano.

I owned a WS Arctic Hawk in glass for a bunch of years and paddled it several thousand miles. I loved carving turns and healing it over on those chines. Weather cocked pretty hard though and with following seas, it pearled pretty easy and that raised front hatch rim would throw icy Lake Superior water straight into my face. Nonetheless even in glass it was a nice simple lightweight boat, and I miss it sometimes.


Could’ve been from another boat, but it was also bolted in and seemed a perfect fit. Just seemed odd they’d bolt it in and a gob of epoxy. Seems like a sand / grit trap to me so I’d like to remove it if it’s not crucial to the integrity of the seat/hull.

And yeah I’ve got better paddles than this one (my favorite and most commonly used is a carbon fiber ONNO), but it’s in decent shape and knowing what it is might help me with future horse trading. Beyond that yeah, knowing who made it really doesn’t have much value. I wonder if it might be an old Werner Little Dipper.

I’m thinking San Juan

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Aquaterra was Perception’s line of touring kayaks during the late 80’s and early 90’s, a name they adopted for a while to distinguish them from their more familiar white water line. I’ve owned a vintage Aquaterra Chinook and a Scimitar, both long sea kayaks tht I picked up at garage sales for good prices and eventually sold off to other paddlers.

As many companies used to do, Perception added branded accessories to their catalogs (like your sprayskirt) which they subbed out to other manufacturers. Brooks makes primo gear so that spray skirt is worth having.

I agree that paddle looks like an older Werner, from back in the day when fixed offset feather blades (as are still used in whitewater) were more common for recreational/touring paddling. Feathering is much rarer these days in touring. Blades are too long and narrow for it to be a WW paddle.

Congrats on rescuing that nice boat, BTW. I scored two higher end composites myself, one last summer and the other the summer before (that one a post-Aquaterra Perception Avatar, a model that they only made for one year.) That one needs some fiberglass and gel coat repair too. Gotta love finding a great boat stashed in the back of a barn or garage that the seller has no clue about. I have paid more for a good paddle than I paid for either of my barn finds. Gratifying to clean off the muck and cobwebs and find a gem.

Speaking of repairs, your Hawk is fiberglass, not Kevlar. The fiberglass lay up always looks yellowish like that. Much easier to patch than Kelvar! The only solvent for Kevlar is 130% fuming sulphuric acid (I worked in a polymer chemistry research lab back in my 20’s and used to have to dissolve the stuff for experiments).

If you don’t want to tackle the repair yourself, you might check in with power boat repair shops or even gearhead garages that build custom race cars and motorcycle fairings – they have the materials and skills to patch and restore gel coat on damaged glass.

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Yeah. I bought the Necky Looska IV sitting next to it for more than I got the Arctic Hawk and the gear for, and that was a princely $375 (though it also needed full lines, some miscellaneous hardware and repairs). I want to try and tackle it myself, as I like learning new skills. Besides it’ll be practice for when I go to repair the cheap old town Tripper I scored that needs a gouge into the ABS core repaired and skid plates/keel guards added (which will be practice for adding skid plates to the Dagger Sojourn). And yes, I agree I have too many boats. I live in Wichita, KS and while there’s not much interest kayaking here beyond basic poly boats for use on ponds and shallow flat rivers (and an absence of business that would support anything more than that), thanks to our air craft industry and car culture/auto racing interests there’s lots of resources for fiberglass repair. Though what this boat is made of is probably on the light end of what most are used to working with.

And thanks for confirming what material my Hawk was made of. I was assuming it was fiberglass but I’ve never worked with Kevlar so I wasn’t sure what it might look like (outside of the felt strips you see used for skid plates). And yeah, I’m happy it’s FG after hearing what it takes to work with Kevlar.

So the reason I dropped this in advice is because there’s no shortage of posts on boat repair with varying opinions on what products and methods should be utilized, and I’m hoping coalesce what I’ve learned into a single place to have what I think is my process forward vetted. I’ve read a number of them and I’m still going to read some more before I attempt to do anything, but at the moment I think what I should do about the big thin spot on the side next to the cockpit is:
-Sand the surrounding area down to the base layer/FG
-Thoroughly clean the area with acetone or alcohol
-Cut some dyneema to overlap the originally exposed and weakened area by 1.5-2"
-Wet fabric with g-flex and apply to area, smoothing as needed
-Lightly sand smooth after touching up as needed

Then it’s moving on into sanding down the rest of the hull in preparation for filling gouges with g-flex, getting it all smooth’ish again, and repainting (gel coat?).

Oh and for anyone who’s curious a fiberglass Arctic Hawk of this vintage with a possible repaint (which may or may have incorporated Bondo or some other body filler) weighs in at about 49 lbs. A poly Looska with rudder attached 63lb.

Anyone know how many layers of FG were used by Wilderness Systems when building these boats? Honestly looks like a single layer of resin over a single sheet of 1/4" mesh.

49 lbs isn’t bad at all for an 18’ boat. My wood Arctic Hawk is 48 lbs. (made by Superior Kayaks, so a heavier build than some wood versions).

Yeah I saw Wilderness Systems AH’s listed as 36lb a few places, which seemed optimistic to me, but perhaps that’s a different layup. Either way I pulled the ol’ doctors scale out of the garage so I could see what they each actually weighed as I could tell this one was certainly more than 144 royales with cheese.

Regarding the paddle, unless the feather is at an angle that you already paddle with, resell it. You want the feather angle of a paddle to be in muscle memory. Once you find an angle that works for you, stick with it. Setting the feather angle according to conditions is a discredited concept. When you need suddenly brace, roll, or show off your awesome acceleration, without the feather angle being in muscle memory you are apt to end up slicing the paddle through the water and going for a swim.

As @willowleaf has mentioned feathering a paddle is less common than it used to be, but if you find a feathered paddle works for you, then that is a perfectly valid reason to do so. Some people find a feathered paddle easier on the wrists.

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@DeepBarney, they were made in Kevlar and fiberglass 38 ls and 43 lb. I believe I recall owners identifying Kevlar as a yellow weave. There are threads about specific repairs. Sounded like a cult following for thst boat

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I was thinking if I can’t get the feather angle to work naturally for me, I may just cut it it in half and; epoxy it back together with the feather at 0°offset. Then I could use it when I don’t feel like using my carbon paddle or lend it out to a buddy (there’s not any avid paddlers in my family/friends so anyone who might use it is probably best served by keeping it simple and set to 0°). Of course if I’m going through the work to make an insert to reinforce the shaft where I’ve split it, it would be to much work to make it adjustable for width and feather.

I propose that henceforth all kayak weights discussed on this board be in the unit of Royales with Cheese.


@Doggy_Paddler, I’m fine with that, but is it the weight of an English Royle with Cheese or a French Royale with Cheese. And is it cooked or pre-cooked weight? Dont laung into space if you’re not sure…

I’ll defer to DeepBarney on that one.

All weights are pre-cooked as cook times and BTUs used in preparation may vary between end users (also pre-cooked are more likely to maintain their accuracy with time). French RWC’s are to be used when greater precision is desired due to the superior skill of the average chef. British RWC’s however are still serviceable and likely what your Harbor Freight torque wrench was calibrated with.

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