Patching small holes in kevlar kayak

I am working on patching a problem on my keel and this is my first experience with fiberglass. I’ve sanded away the cracked gel coat and the underlying fiberglass which had pulled away from the kevlar under that. I’ve replaced the fiberglass on the outside and it is looking good although I haven’t gel coated it yet.

When I looked inside the bow compartment, I noticed that there were two or three pin sized drops of epoxy that had apparently oozed through tiny holes in the kevlar when I saturated the fiberglass on the outside. So, now I’m worried that if I get any water in the bow compartment, the water will seep through those tiny holes into the kevlar, causing the kevlar to soften and the fiberglass to separate again. Then, I don’t know, maybe the hole would open again at the slightest provocation, causing the boat to disintegrate when I’m miles off shore in 33 degree water surrounded by sharks doing a T rescue of bunch of blind children with their adorable puppies and kittens. Or, more likely, the next time I drop the boat on the pavement, the damage might be more severe.

To fix the problem, I tried to add a small strip of fiberglass to the inside of the bow compartment along the keel, but the area was so far forward that I couldn’t reach it to wet it out. I tried taping a brush onto the end of a stick, but the keel area is so narrow there that all I wound up doing is pushing the fiberglass cloth all over and slopping wet epoxy around. I gave up on that and took out the cloth before it set.

So, I’m wondering what I should do. As I see it I have three options:

(1) Try to lay the fiberglass strip again. If that is the best option, hopefully someone could suggest a better way to reach so far forward to the narrowest part of the keel.

(2) Nothing. The holes are very small and there is now epoxy slopped all over the area which should seal out any small amount of water that ever gets in.

(3) Add more epoxy. Since couldn’t reach the area very easily, perhaps I missed a spot. Maybe I should put a whole lot of epoxy in the area just to be safe.

Any guidance you can give would be appreciated.

Don’t worry about it. Kevlar laminate
is not going to soften from small amounts of water exposure. It softens when it is beat to death on rocks.

If your boat was done by hand layup, or even by vacuum bagging, there might have been tiny spots between Kevlar strands that did not wet out. This is most likely to occur when hand layup workers are trying hard to squeegee excess resin off the cloth, to save weight and get the cloth layers tight together.

I have a boat like that, an old Noah done with CAP and Kevlar. There were pinhole leaks through the hull that allowed water to slowly enter. But the boat didn’t soften. To cure the annoyance, I put on two Kevlar layers over the area under the seat where the leaking was occurring.

Because glass cloth wets out so nicely, more willingly than Kevlar, and because one can SEE that the glass cloth is wet out, I’m betting that once you get your boat on the water, you will not have any water leaks.

And I would not worry about internal pinhole leaks or laminate scuffs (your heels) exposing the Kevlar to water and “softening.” Many whitewater racing boats have Kevlar inside, and it is exposed plenty to abuse and to water (from sitting next to wet float bags, etc.), and “softening” of Kevlar just has not been an issue.

The reason a Kevlar laminate may appear to soften, compared to a glass or glass/carbon laminate, is that the Kevlar, under heavy blows, tends to stretch. Carbon and glass just break. They can’t “soften” because they are, by nature, too brittle.

Kevlar Holes
I’m w/Erik - don’t do any more before determining whether additional repair is needed. So the kevlar gets wet… (so what?)

However, if you DO determine more repair is required, think about using a balloon (or garbage bag with a hose taped to it) to drive the patch-cloth against the hull by inflating it up in that narrow area.