Repair of Navarro Loon 17

I bought a this canoe as a project boat. It’s in lousy shape–if the the craigslist ad hadn’t been misleading (unintentionally, I think–the seller didn’t know what he was doing) I wouldn’t have bothered, but I had to make a long drive to get it, and…

I bought the stupid boat anyhow. It’s a Navarro Loon 17 canoe with some significant damage to the hull from falling off a moving car. The gunnels are falling to pieces because the boat was neglected, and I think most of the wood will have to be replaced.


Should I replace the gunnels first so the hull will keep its shape while I fix the fiberglass? (There are some small damaged areas on the hull under the gunnels.) What kind of wood would be ideal for the gunnels? What kind would be obtainable and adequate?

Would you go for cheap-but-ugly repairs to make the boat seaworthy, or do you think it would be worth while to spend the extra time and money to make the repairs pretty?

Some of the wood ribs will have to be repaired or replaced–how do I go about that?

I guess I really never understood
the thinking behind Navarro/Merrimack hull construction. I mean, I get the basic concept behind combining traditional wood canoe structure with modern composites, but it seems unnecessarily finicky and too close to not-worth-the-trouble to effect aesthetically acceptable repairs or restorations of badly neglected hulls.

Good luck. Perhaps you could try Rob at Vermont Canoe for some pointersif not the current maker of these canoes.

Pics might help.

my experience has been
primarily with a heavily dammaged fiberglass canoe that was quite floppy without its rotted gunwales but was still stiff enough to be worked on without the rails. I suspect your boat with wood ribs will not be excessively flexible without the rails. I would take them off first.

I put structural quality of the patches first and cosmetics second since I dont believe in fully hiding the repairs. I think future buyers should be able to detect some cloth texture at the patch to see that the patch was made with cloth and well squeegied out.

I cant help you with the ribs. I have no experience there. good luck

Loon repair
My brother has a Loon which is a great paddling boat and worth repairing. Only you can decide how much effort you want to put into. Western red cedar can easilly be steamed in a box and made to fit the hull once you repair the fiberglass. Try WCHA Wooden Canoe Heritage Assoc Website for details.

I had an older Merrimac that had some delamination from being stored outside. Epoxy in a syringe could be used to fix a lot of those problems.

I bought a Mansfield
that was constructed the same way with the “faux ribs”. It was my first canoe. One of the gunwales was busted and the faux ribs were badly weathered. I was worried about the boat losing its’ shape with a gunwale off so I actually took the lines off the good side and made a plywood jig. I clamped the jig to the boat, removed the broken gunwale and laminated a new one in place. Then I flopped the jig over, clamped it to the other side and did the same thing. I no longer think that the jig was necessary, but it did provide some peace of mind.

As for the ribs, I did not think they were structural so I just sanded 'em and gave 'em a few coats of varnish. I used the boat for 7 or 8 years and then sold it. Far as I know it is still in service.