Sawyer Canoe - Identification & Repair

Hi all,

I’m new to this forum and this is my first post.

I received a Sawyer canoe from a friend and just took it on a trip to the Boundary Waters, and I discovered it has a slow leak. There is actually a crack under the stern seat that had been repaired in the past with some caulk and some kind of putty on the outside, but now is leaking again. Here are some questions I have:

-First, I’d like to know what the exact model of the canoe is. I believe the serial number on the side of it is SAW010560278. Here are some pictures of it:

-Second, I’d like to know what the canoe is made out of. I thought fiberglass, but someone mentioned something to me about “Goldenglass.” I’m not sure what that is.

-Finally, I’d like to know how to repair the canoe. From what I’ve researched, I’m thinking laying down some fiberglass inside, and repairing the gelcoat on the outside. But do I need to cut out the bad section and completely re-fiberglass it? Or can I just put down some on top of it? Here are some pictures of the damage from the inside:

I really appreciate anyones help or input.


Robbie G

Give us length and beam. Also I do not
see how you will get away with just patching the inside, because the damage is right where the flotation cell meets the bottom of the boat.

I don’t know the layup specs on Goldenglass, but someone will fill us in. If it implies some Kevlar or polyester, then the damage will have left the laminate spongy. That’s another reason to do both an inside and outside repair.

Let’s see what others think, and then I’ll tell you how I did a similar repair.

Golden Glass
is a layup that is mainly glass with some kevlar reinforcement that Swift and Sawyer used. The pictures don’t look like it’s a Cruiser, it might be an Oscoda?

is a proprietary term used by Sawyer for its mostly fiberglass boats that have a little kevlar reinforcement.

The inside of mine is painted…its a 190 and thats definitely not your boat. We cracked the hull on an old dam and found you do need to fix the inside and outside.

From the coarse roving and heavy grey interior coating, this does not look like a Goldenglass layup. It looks like a basic fiberglass layup, one with much matt and roving and very little cloth. The heavy grey interior coating was used by Sawyer to hide the voids in the layup where there was not enough resin used to fill the coarse roving.

From what looks like a 1978 serial number, this is probably the 16’ tandem model that was replaced by the Dave Yost designed 190 Pocket Cruiser sometime in the early 89’s. These obsoleted models became the separate Oscoda line and were made in very low cost layups. The hull numbers still had SAW as the beginning since they were made by Sawyer, though they had only Oscoda decals on them for Oscoda dealers.

Definitely repair this hull inside and out, and be prepared for more repairs in the future. This are not great layups, they tend to flex a lot from side to side as paddled. Test to see if you have a good one by having the bow and stern paddlers lean in opposite directions. The stern paddler will see the flex if you have a ‘soft’ one.

And to keep it intact as long as possible, do NOT tie it down tightly by the ends. Tie it down at the foam blocks across the hull. Use the ends tiedowns only to keep it from swinging side to side. Overtightening those ratchet straps at the ends may give you a much bigger crack to repair.


Sawyer Cruiser?
I think the canoe in question is a Cruiser. The serial number simply tells us is was built in Feb 1978. Noting that it has 3 thwarts and a roundish bottom the only thing from 78 that matches is a Cruiser. 17’9" long x 33" wide. It predates both Goldenglass and Oscodas. Wonderful canoe to paddle, we sold tons of Cruisers in their day. The laminate is gel-coat, mat, 10 oz cloth, woven roving, interior gel-coat. A break like that right under the forward edge of the float tank is very common. Canoe was probably dropped over a ledge or two in it’s day. The only right repair is to remove the float tank and do the structural repairs from the inside. Remove all the delaminated fabric, rough up the good fabric, clean thoroughly with acetone and repair with about 3 layers of 10 oz cloth starting with a piece that just covers the break and increasing each layer in size. Turn the fabric 90 degrees so the weave does not mirror the cloth in the hull. In other words make 3 ‘diamonds’ of increasing size. Replace the float tank and do cosmetic repairs on the outside. Gel-coat is not easy to work with and probably will not match. I would use Bondo, then sand and spray paint with a good exterior enamel. This is not an easy repair since the float block must be removed but if you don’t take it out you will most likely not get all the break repaired and it will soon leak again.

Rule of thumb: always do structural repairs on the inside, cosmetic repairs on the outside.

Good luck;


Wow, the number of responses in such a short time are definitely a pleasant surprise!

So I took some measurements today, and the canoe is 18 feet long and just over 33 inches wide, so I’m thinking LDC might be right about it being a Cruiser. I took a closeup of the “nameplate”:

I noticed that the “weave” of the fiberglass is very wide/coarse on the inside, and finer/tighter on the outside (under the chipped gelcoat). Compare Inside:

To outside:

So LDC, are you saying the grey painted on the inside is gelcoat as well?

So now on to fixing it. I’ve never done any fiberglass work before, but I would like to try to take it on. First of all, I’m not 100% sure it does go into the float block. Wouldn’t it be worth trying to fix what’s in front of it first? And could I just put some fiberglass on top of it on the inside and gelcoat the outside? Or do I really need to cut out the bad fiberglass first?

Thanks again for everyone’s replies & help!

Robbie G