Restoring an Older CD Caribou: Help?

Hi Folks,

I have a CD Caribou that I purchased new around 1998 (I think). It has seen a lot of use. I love the boat, have always loved it. But for some years, I didn’t paddle much, due to small children coming along etc. Now, the kids are old enough to enjoy paddling, and have their own kayaks. I just bought my wife a new boat (Eliza), and I have been paddling an old Alto we have, because the Caribou is in rough shape.

I want to restore the Caribou, if feasible. The deck is in decent shape. The bottom is beat up pretty bad. There are a couple of holes that were repaired, and it is scraped up pretty bad. The rigging of course is old. Etc. (I could upload some pics but not sure that is even done here?)

I was hoping to get some help/input on the best ways to do this. I’m pretty good with fiberglass (sailboat work over many years). I would like to shave a few pounds off the boat, get it re-coated, etc. Was thinking of priming (epoxy primer) and spraying with a coat of two-part poly yacht paint (like Awlgrip).

I was also thinking of removing the skeg and all parts associated with it (cut it out with a saw and glass over the opening). Save a couple of pounds and I never really used the skeg anyway. Also thinking of removing the compass on deck, which is large and certainly heavy.

Also, was thinking of taking off the rubber rub rail that goes around the boat, filling, sanding, and just painting the whole hull. If I could lose 5 pounds by doing all of the above, I’d get the about down possibly under 50 lbs, which for an old guy like me, would be nice.

Any thoughts? Is this the best place for me to raise all these questions? (I used to be a member here years ago, but it has changed a lot since then.)



Go for it.
You’ve got a plan and it sounds like you’ve got the skills, so go for it.

A few thoughts:

Fore-to-aft weight affects weather helm. If you take out the skeg box and compass you could alter the trim to the point where you wish you still had the skeg. Unlikely, but possible. So before you start cutting take the time to float it with you in it and have someone measure or mark the bow and stern waterline so that you can ballast to get the trim back if necessary.

Using good (expensive) paint is a waste of money. Good paint is only slightly more resistant to scratching than cheap paint.

to know …that “RUBBER” bumper isn’t a bumper…it’s the seam tape that holds the deck on the hull. It’s covered with gel coat mixed with micro-balloons as a thickener so it stays put for application.

just thought you might want to know before you remove it…just save a little weight

Best Wishes


Remove the skeg?
When CD added a skeg it was considered an improvement and added value to used Bou’s, but it’s your boat.

I also love my Caribou and was lucky enough to buy it back after selling it in what must have been a total mental collapse.

I got word today that my other favorite boat, an Arctic Tern 14 may also be returning. :slight_smile:

Good luck on a worthy project, GH

Great replies, thank you.

I was generally aware of the weight distribution/ weather helm issue, will keep that in mind, thanks.

Re cheap vs expensive paint, good point. I’ve always used 2 part polies and had great luck with them (on sailboats). I do think they harden better and hold up well, but yeah, I guess anything will scratch.

Re the rubber strip… dang, I didn’t know that. Good to know, as you say. I wonder though… I’m guessing there’s enough resin and micro-balloons in there that taking the “tape” off won’t lead to the boat falling into two pieces? If I then ran a strip of glass and epoxy around the joint, then sanded and faired… then primed and sprayed… do you think it would be strong enough? I realize it may not save much weight (if any). But I like the idea of the sleek look anyway, and also spraying the overall boat would be easier/ cleaner… ???

Re the skeg… I have a vague recollection that Back in the Day, there was disagreement about the value of the skeg on this design? Didn’t CD actually make two versions of the boat, marketed at the same time? I recall (rare) that back in the '90’s and thereabouts, there were quite a few people who said the skeg was a waste of space and weight. Like I said, I rarely ever used mine (surfing it did come in handy at times though). Maybe I’ll leave it in place. Anyone have any thoughts about what the skeg rig weighs? If I did a narrow cut around the skeg trunk and removed the whole thing, plus cable etc… and then carefully glassed over the opening and faired it out… I wonder how much weight I would save?

Also, anyone have any idea how much that compass weighs?

Sorry for the long posts. As Shaw would say, I didn’t have time for a short one…

good paint
"used 2 part polies and had great luck with them (on sailboats)"

I guess it sort of depends on where and how you launch and land.

But if, as you say the existing gel-coat (harder than any paint) is beat up, and you’ve holed the boat in a few places, I’m guessing that you are not exactly gentle with your boats.

The “Strip” is NOT rubber

– Last Updated: Aug-26-14 2:01 PM EST –

Its a vinyl "H".

Look closer at the seam inside and you will see ...

You are not going to shave off any weight by ( even if you could ) yanking it out of there,

Damage to internal seam (glass ) reinforcement + whatever you added to outside is a total make work project with no benefits.

These boats were layed up heavy with roving so lots of resin in there. The gelcoat was sprayed thin however.

There is a lot of junk weigh in the end pours though.

Got it, thanks. I will leave the seam as is. Much appreciated.

Still on the fence about the skeg and compass…

Weight savings, not the goal
If you want to restore the physical and cosmetic appeal of the boat, forget weight as a consideration. You will never make the boat any lighter than it was from the factory.

I also have a lot of years of experience in working on sailboat repairs and restorations, and the best course of action for you would be to do the proper prep work on the existing gelcoat, including repairing any damage to the glass, filling any surface inconsistencies, etc, getting it sanded down to smooth, then either shooting a two-part marine finish like Awlgrip (recommended) or rolling and tipping with a less-technical finish like anything in Interlux’s hull paint series (some are softer than others - avoid the softies).

you’re probably right
Thanks, Mobrien. I suspect you may be right.

I have a lot of experience with Interlux Interthane Plus, but apparently they no longer market that line. I have some old quarts laying around, including a white. May use that. Interlux seems to be selling a comparable product (?), which they call “Perfection”. Any experience with that? Odd they would change the product name… Interthane Plus was a great coating. I’ve sprayed it and also rolled/tipped it, many times.

Anyone have any thoughts about the so-called “gel-coat” finishes available on the consumer market? I’m guessing these are just epoxies with a coloring pigment…

I wouldn’t rule out gel coat.
I’m not sure I would rule out just doing a gel coat repair on your hull, even if it is in terrible shape. Especially if it is white. Of course if there are soft spots that need some glass, that comes first, but the prep work for whatever finish you pick is going to be about the same, except with a gel coat repair, you don’t have to be fussy at all about sanding the surface smooth before you brush on the new gel coat. If there are deep scratches, I would fix the worst of them first and then go for the cosmetics. It would probably be more practical to work on relatively small sections at a time, because of limited working time. The key for me has been very careful sanding of the gel coat after curing. I start with a light dry sanding with 600 grit to begin to level it out just a bit. It’s probably best to use a block of some type with your sandpaper at this point to keep the surface as fair as possible. Then I go with 1000 grit wet, then 1200 wet, 1500 wet and finally 2000 wet and lightly. Problem areas might require reapplications, but it all goes pretty quickly. Then I go to a very fine polishing compound and use a really good electric polisher with a sponge disc that you can slow way down. I work relatively small areas at a time (3, or 4 feet).

I would check with CD and find out what type of gel coat was used on the boat (poly, or vinyl ester). Don’t forget to wipe the surface with acetone before applying gel coat. If you use gel coat with no wax added, cover it with waxed paper while curing.

I know it all sounds quite tedious, but it really isn’t that bad and the results are worth the little bit of effort.

Awlgrip should not be sprayed without using a FORCED OXYGEN respirator.

Another suggestion
Buy a buffer and a can of auto compound. Polish the boat, put new deck lines and bungees on it, Armoral the seat and rub rail and go paddling.

Don’t over sweat it
Mine is the original skegless FG model. Bought it new in 1998. I have holed it surfing, broke 3/4 of an inch off the stern getting pitchpoled (The epoxy plug in the ends saved my arse that day – didn’t flood), glassed the cockpit rim back on when it started coming loose, and I added a skeg. I also added a keel strip because the keel was really battered.

And it still weighs about 50 pounds. Less than some other kayaks of similar length and beam. My better half’s kevlar Foster Silhouette weighs exactly the same as my ‘Bou, which is glass. If you want to remove the skeg, that will lose a pound or two from the boat, and also require different ballast than leaving it in, because you will have changed the weight distribution.

I agree with Jay – fix the wounds, buff it, and go paddle. Hmmmm…I need to get the buffer out, now that you have reminded me :wink:

Excellent Ideas!
This has been tremendously helpful, thank you all. I’m going to get the boat out this weekend and study the situation. I like the idea of maybe repairing any major problems with glass, maybe doing a few spot gelcoat repairs (it’s not white, it’s beige, so I’ll have to mix some colors), and the sanding and buffing the hull. Replace the rigging, clean it up and go.

I have been considering replacing the seat, possibly with a foam seat and a new seat back. CLC seems to sell stuff that should work for this. I tried to move the skeg the other day and it’s stuck up… will have to figure out why, probably just guk from years of not being used.

I’ll put some pictures somewhere this weekend and post a link. Very much appreciate all the help!