Rejuvenating Tired Fiberglass Finish....

I recently bought a used fiberglass kayak that needs some TLC. I really like the hull design, but the boat has some wear. It was a demo boat and was stored outside and got kind of banged up. I know that some will say that cosmetics don’t matter, but I take pride in my possessions and want to do what I can to make it look better.

I got some fiberglass boat boat cleaner and polish and got a lot of the oxidation and marks off, but still have some things I want to improve:

  1. The black seam between the hull and deck is faded / turning white. What’s the best way to restore this to a good black color?

  2. The deck has some pretty scratched up areas. Is there a good way to get them out without completely taking off the finish? The scratches do not go below the paint.

  3. The thigh braces have a chip or two out of the black outer plastic coating which exposes the fiberglass underneath. I would like to fill in these chips and then refinish. What is the best way to do this?

    thanks for your help!


Fiberglass repair
The first one is easy, use some black electrical tape on the seam. If you go slow and don’t pull it (make it thinner than the rest) it’ll turn out just dandy. When it gets banged up, replace it with new tape. This is the what Pygmy boats does for the photo ops with their boats. It accentuates the upcurve of the shear and is cheap. Or you could sit down with a beer and a sharpie and color it in. Might make for a relaxing evening if you don’t have anything else going on.

The scratches on the deck can probably be touched up with a dab of gel coat or something similar. Match up the color and you won’t be able to see them (you will cause you know where they are, but no one else will)

The chips on the thigh braces can be covered with a few coats of epoxy and colored in to match the rest. Give the goo a couple of weeks to fully cure and hit it with a sharpie (or a Magnum 44 if they are really big) You can use the boat while the epoxy is “aging” with no ill effects.

Hope this helps.

Another question…
Thanks for the reply, and I welcome more.

I have one other question as well…the bottom of the boat is in pretty good condition, but there are some small dings and chips at the stern along the keel line (and a couple right at the bow). Again, these are very small and don’t seem to be a big deal, but I would like to fix them just the same.

What would be the way to do this? I would imagine that this would be pretty easy.

Also, mentioned above is that I can use a bit of gelcoat to fix the scratched portions of the deck. Where would I buy this and other materials that I might need for these fixes?

thanks again


this should help

– Last Updated: Feb-22-05 7:24 AM EST –

go to and look fo west systems they have been around since the 1970's
there are countless ways to fix and restore glass.

I have found the following real helpful.
I purchased a used Sirius HF in September, and rehabbed the boat like you…loved every minute of it. In addition to working on the hull/deck…I set up my own rigging (using Brian Nystrom’s pics as a guide)for GP use.

It was GREAT…the boat became mine. Now I am doing the same for a used Mega Diamante I purchased. Unless I absolutely want a new model boat…I cannot imagine at this time…purchasing a new boat…don’t see the need, AND I love working on it.

Better yet…plan to build a low volume boat to work on GP techniques ( )


Check out the following:

Brian Site is really remarkable. Take a look on his site for both the fiberglass repair and the gel repair site…and of course don’t miss some of the other pics!! He mentions which gelcoat to use and why (don’t recall at the moment…mine is stored away).

Atlantic Kayk Tours:

A remarkable resource in general, with very helpful informaton regarding hull repair:



So Matt, what did you get???
Planning any paddles in your new boat?


How about
rejuvenating tired paddlers???

Keel repair
Another option is to use what I do on my boats.

I’m fairly tough on the bottom of boats, so instead of adding more brittle gelcoat, I mix up a batch of “keel goo”:

Your epoxy of choice (West, MAS, etc)

Lots of silica

Pigment to match your hull

I mask off the worn area, sand, wipe with acetone, and paint on a generous coat of goo. It should be as thick as you can get it, and still have it flow off a brush without running. It’s much more durable that gelcoat, and will take impacts better as a result of it being more flexible when cured.

The end result is a color-matched skidplate that you can smooth with some 400 grit sandpaper if you like. I usually have to re-do them about once every 2 years or so if the boat in question gets a lot of use.

My wooden kayak, I just re-paint.


Deck seam, etc.
What to use on the deck seam depends on the construction.

On my QCC the electrical tape would work well (I have a small piece covering an unused (and sealed) screw hole and it’s invisible. Perfect match.

Some boats you’ll get good results with pigmented gelcoat.

On a Tsunami X-1 I restored - I used black Interlux Britesides paint. The X-1 has a wider glass tape type seam (glass was exposed and fuzzing and the paint laid the fibers down and made it like new). Quick and easy.

That boat also got a freshly painted hull (lot of work - two primer coats and four finish coats - all sanded in between). Same type of paint - white.

For minor gel chips use the gelcoat repair kits. Bigger stuff you might consider Marinetex. Not as pretty - but easy to work with and tough if mixed right.

Good to hear from you.

I ended up getting a used Dagger Meridian from Kayak Connection. It is a 16 foot boat with skeg. It is somewhat of a British style boat. I really like it. It is very manueverable and I really like its stability profile—very easy to put on edge and great secondary stablity, and super comfortable.

I might be interested in paddling up there in Santa Cruz sometime. I paddled out there a bit the day I test paddled the boat. It is a nice change of pace from Monterey and seems to have slightly more lively sea conditions than here which is kind of nice too. Maybe we can go paddling sometime.


Greyak, How About a Photo?
How about before and after photos of the X-1, when you get a chance?

Matt, just keep an eye
on the getting together forum. We tend to post when we are planning to paddle. I also sometimes paddle with WSK.

Congrats on the new boat!

Greyak…electrical tape?

Have a question. Do you use black electrical tape on its own…and does it stay on the seam? Or do you use it and cover with a sealer of some kind. Was thinking about what to do with the eroded black seam on the Diamante I am rehabbing. Was actually going to leave it alone…part of the ‘classic old Mega Diamante look’


Wish I had some!
As usual, I just dove right into the work - so don’t have any before pictures except a couple taken in the dark of it tied down out front before the hurricanes. I might have the pics off eBay and a couple the previous owner sent - but they really didn’t show the condition very well.

Eventually, I’ll get around to taking some after photos. I may need some to sell it! Haven’t had time for it - and still need a seat belt (come on already Tsunami - how hard of a request is this!).

With longer warmer days on the way I’ll likely be spending more time with the surf ski. I still want to get in some wave play days with the X-1. It’s sort of like a skinny long board with a big rudder - and while made for rougher stuff - should be a lot of fun in the scruffy surf here too.

If I find I still don’t end up using it much over the next few months to a year (or someone really wants one) it will have to go. I prefer kayaks get used and sell them off even if I like them when they don’t. A waste to just let them sit (ala my beloved Tarpon 160 I let sit a year).

After all that work - I definitely want to get in some play and see what it’s like before letting it go. Flat water test launch revealed it to be more suited to rougher water than cruising. Quick - not fast. Gets up to speed but not a lot of glide (good to hop on waves - not do any distance on flat water). It spins out if you lift the rudder and stop paddling. Kind of cool - I suspect it will make wave handling easier with a loose stern like that (won’t grab/broach easy)combined with the massive rudder. With three hatches and narrow beam you’d think it might be a decent tourer. Maybe - if you like to tour in very textured water. From what I see it’s 100% play hard and get in and out fast boat.

I only have a very small piece on my boat. Just stuck on - nothing else. It’s been there over a year and looks the same as the day I put it on - invisible.

Note: QCC seams are different than most I’ve seen. The finish is alomst identical to (better grade) electrical tape. Smooth surface - and looks a little rubbery - between satin and semigloss.