Old Used Kevlar Kayak problems?

I’m still considering buying an old used 18’ Kevlar Necky Kayak built in 1991. It has been used a lot summer and winter in Maine. The hull is scratched and no major dings etc, but there doesn’t seem to be any jell-coat left on it.(?) It paddled great on flat smooth water. The hull seemed stiff enough over it’s whole length but seemed quite soft if I pushed on the hull with my hand. The seat is tricked-out really well and is incredibly comfortable. The colors are incredibly ugly. I suppose I can get used to the color if I can get a good enough deal. I’m most concerned about the lack of jell-coat though. Any thoughts or suggestions?

Kevlar is very UV sensitive. It is also fatigues relatively easily. This breakdown could account for the “softness” you describe in the hull. I too am a bit confused about the “no gelcoat” statement. Do you mean the boat looks matt, not shiny at all? Do you know how often the boat was used, and where it was stored?

What color is it?
If it is a yellowish-brown, it never had gel-coat to start with, and you are looking at just kevlar and epoxy.



Well, the hull is white and the top is a
hideous green with a kind of lavender trim. Anyway about the gell-coat. I’m not really sure that there isn’t any gell-coat. It’s just got a dull finish, no shine. And it seems pretty soft. When I tried it out I strapped it to my 2x4 rack and it seemed to dent pretty easily although it popped right back to normal when I took it off the car. It seems like it might tear pretty easily but I don’t really know much about kevlar at all. It just seemed pretty soft and flimsy, but maybe that’s normal for kevlar. I just wonder how much of an eggshell this boat is. (?)

You don’t mention fuzz. This is good.
A “Kevlar” boat should not be made purely of Kevlar, but should have a single layer of glass (or carbon) on the outside.

Gelcoat helps appearance, provides an ablation layer for scraping, and protects epoxy from UV. (Vinylester is less UV sensitive.) However, gelcoat adds significant weight, conceals flaws and damage, needs removal before patching. Some of the very best builders have ditched gelcoat.

I rolled West epoxy onto two old, fuzzy WW boats. It will take well more than a quart, and it is not easy. As an alternative, consider a very hard, two-part, UV resistant marine varnish. West sells such a product.

Your concern about the strength of the boat is hard to judge. Local softness in a hull is not a big deal if the hull form will keep the hull in the right shape in the water.

As for your concern about looks, at least no one will steal an ugly boat.

Unless you are purchasing this boat for
100.00 or have some other reason you just have to have it… I suggest looking for another boat to purchase. Cannot tell exactly how hard you are actually pushing on the hull in order to move it but it should still sit on bare racks without flexing or giving the appearance of oilcanning. Check the inside for extreme wear around the heel contact area and especially under the seat pan which is floating off the C/P rim with some side uni cloth connecting it to the hull… it should have something under it still… often times rocks or small ----- get wedged under the seat and just grind away without one knowing it. I have seen new Kevlar ( same build era )boats from this manufacturer go from unwrapped to soft in less than two years… this is with hard guide type use though. Too much kevlar is not a good thing.

Just my personal opinion
It sounds like a piece of junk!

It can be re-done
Obviously if you are really getting a good deal it can be re-done. Having worked with fiberglass, kevlar, and some carbon fiber … find a good automotive paint shop, bake it to remove any moisture … sand … correct primer (can be quite expensive $80 - $100 per quart) … then spray with a good quality epoxy paint with UV inhibitors … and you will have a servicable kayak. I’ve re-done Hobie Cat hull bottoms using this technique and they’ve turned out fine. Bob