Seavivor kayak with leaking skin...

It has been folded up for many years and now was told it leaks. Can this be fixed and with what? Is it even worth buying? It’s listed on Grand Rapids craigs for $850 but the owner says he will adjust the price because of the leaks. Was looking for a folding with a little more performance than my Pakbot Puffin Swift without spending BIG money. What does everyone think?

Thanks, Jaws


– Last Updated: Jul-15-15 1:46 PM EST –

That depends on where the leaks are. If along seams, they can be sealed up with Aquaseal in the upper skin. If on the hull bottom, you can patch with the same rubberized fabric that you use for skid strips. The only more complicated issue would be if it has been stored in such a way that the fabric coating on the entire skin had degraded to such a point where it would be allowing water to soak through. But per this old news items, the boats were built with a proprietary military spec urethane skin that only the builder (Logan Fleckles), NASA and the Pentagon used.

So I can't speak from experience on how it holds up or would be repaired. Since the sole builder died 3 years ago the company no longer is in business,

I think $850 is pretty steep for a boat with a questionable hull. having a new skin made would be prohibitive if not impossible. I have recently seen intact Folbot folding doubles for sale WITH SAIL KITS and good hulls for less than that. In fact there are two on Ebay right now listing at $700 and $800 respectively. A Seavivor might be a collectible for some folder fans but perhaps not practical for someone just wanting a functional boat. Have you looked at the Pakboat site lately? Alv has been having some good deals on some of the larger kayaks including some demos and discontinued models.

I have an older Puffin too (just got a new deck from them for it) and used to have an XT-15. In fact I will be in Grand Rapids next week, visiting relatives and my former home. Might bring the Puffin along for a paddle for old time's sake at Reeds Lake in EGR.

Pakboats and suggest you might better spend your money with a Pakboat Quest.

Any idea whether that Seavivor is still for sale?

Kind of doubt it – the post was two years ago. If you are interested in a folder, I may have a 14’ Pakboat Puffin Swift for sale in the near future. Smaller than the Seavivor but lighter and easier to assemble. The kayak, though 7 years old, is like new and definitely less than $850.

I know it’s a long shot, but Seavivor’s a niche product with a very limited potential market, especially after the manufacturer’s death and company closure. If still for sale, I’m guessing the seller would take a good deal less than $850.

I’ve just purchased a Craigslist Folbot Aleut, which is a terrific small folder, but very slow. My old Pouch E68 got me used to longer, faster aquatic travels. Had a Pakboats Puffin - one of their early models, and although I think very highly of Alv and Ralph, and reckon their QC has improved markedly, Pakboats Puffin line is something I’m not interested in right now.

Pakboat’s Quest line is nice, especially for the price… I picked up a Quest 135 (13’ 7" x 23") a couple of years ago and it is quite comparable to my Feathercraft Wisper (15’ 7" x 23.5") in quality and performance (and cost less than a quarter of what the Wisper was 8 years ago!). The Quest is sleek and fast, with adjustable footpegs and anodized frame. Easier to set up than any of the three Feathercrafts I’ve owned. I would not hesitate to take it out in rougher water or coastal conditions. I have yet to see their new Quest 150 (15’ x 24") in the flesh but it has gotten some good reviews so far.

Here’s a link to a photo album I made showing assembly steps for the Quest 135 if you are curious to see some closeups of the kayak components.

Those photos are excellent. I see Pakboats is still using the bronze colored shock-corded tubes and bands of rubber to hold clips together. The seat’s very different from the one that came with my Puffin. The completed kayak looks a lot “tighter” than I would have expected. How have the sponsons held up? I had multiple sponson failures with my Puffin. Again, thanks for the photo link. Chris

Great photos! Pakboat should put those in their instruction manual.

I hope you don’t mind - I looked at a couple of your other kayak albums (and they are uniformly excellent although as kfbrady wrote, the Pakboats 135 album should be included in the manual. Especially interesting are the finishing touches at the stems).

I actually shot that sequence of assembly for the 135 to help out a new owner of the same model who was as baffled as I was by the lousy instructions that come with the boat. I had help in my first set up myself from two owners of the larger but identical in structure 155 model with whom I had made contact through the Pakboat forum at

Christov – I’m curious about your experience with Puffin sponson failures that you mentioned. Can you give some more detail? I’m dealing with that now with the two Swifts and it is driving me nuts. Maybe I am wasting time trying to fix them??

My vintage Puffin 12 (which is old enough that it has the plain silver frame tubing and single sponsons) had obviously been used quite a bit before I bought it 5 or 6 years ago. I’ve not used it a lot since, maybe a dozen times, but it has never failed to hold full firm inflation all day. Same for the 135 and for the XT-15 that my ex-boyfriend had and which I just sold for him a few months ago (after setting it up and taking photos to aid the new owner in assembly.) I have always been able to inflate them to pretty high pressure, by mouth for the Puffin (which has the long tubes with the twist valves on the end) or with the Pakboat supplied pumps with the fancy dual valve versions (forgot what they are called.)

But on the other hand, I have been struggling for the better part of a week to get the sponsons on the two 7 or 8 year old Swifts I bought earlier this month to hold air at all. One had an obvious half inch blow-out along one seam, but after glueing it, the sponson still deflates slowly, softening quickly and flattening completely in less than an hour. All of the sponsons, which are tandems with a heat sealed divider along the middle, had that middle seam blown out between the sections. I presumed the couple that owned them left them inflated in the sun and suffered expansion blowouts. They did not mention a problem with the sponsons when I bought the boats but they had clearly barely used them as they look virtually new. I think the boats may have been a wedding gift that they didn’t really have interest in using.

I emailed Pakboat about the problem and Mike replied, telling me to use an iron. I did, and managed to reseal the center seams on two of the sponsons by constructing a jig from a long piece of 1/2" thick steel channel sandwiched and protruding from between two lengths of wooden 2 x 4, At first the ironing over the jig did not work and the seams would blow out again as soon as moderate pressure began to build. Mike had told me to call if I had questions, which I did on a week day and only got an answering machine, so I sent another email, to which he has yet to respond.

By trial and error I later found I had to hold the iron onto the fabric until the coating melted through the fabric, darkening the seam, in order to get it to seal. One of the sponsons held up OK when I first inflated the two I had worked on this way, but one split the middle seam by a foot as soon as the inflation reached just moderate tautness. I was afraid to inflate either of them as tight as I would normally when setting up a boat. I had noticed when I did an initial submersion test that one of them was leaking very slightly right where the middle seam had pulled apart, telling me that the failure had pulled the vinyl coating off the fabric so air could push through the weave. So I am wondering it this is a chronic material failure with the sponsons of that era when they were moving from vinyl to PVC.

Besides asking for more detail from Mike at Pakboat about making the repairs, I asked about buying replacement sponsons – still no word from them on that. I’ve adapted Pakboat parts between models before (you may have noticed my album on the Flickr site about modifying an Arrow deck to fit the old Puffin, a project of which I am particularly proud.)

I could just make new sponsons – there are instructions in Chris Cunningham’s excellent book “Building the Greenland Kayak” for making your own flotation bags from vinyl sheeting and I could cut out the valves on these possibly worthless Swift sponsons and patch them onto homemade ones – I would probably make two separate tubes and pair them by glueing on straps to join them or sewing a nylon sleeve to slip them into, like the sponsons on Feathercrafts. But I hate to put that much work into something I was just going to turn around and sell for a modest profit.

So any of your experience with bad Puffin sponsons might be helpful.

BTW, the new “sling seat” in Pakboats is really nice. It suspends from longitudinal rails that attach to the frame longerons and has an inflatable thigh support in the lower seat and a floating back-band type arrangement for the upper. Super comfortable.

They did have a goof in early production and got the sling components mis-assembled at the factory so that the seat sat too high and made the boat twitchy. I bought an early beta “demo” 135 they were selling at a discount that had that fault. They provided instructions for drilling out the connectors and replacing them with stainless hose clamps but I needed some help from another owner who had to do that also to actually carry out the modification. It works but it is kind of Rube Goldberg and I often worry that the sharp edges of the clamps might eventually rub and damage the hull – I’ve placed patches of Gorilla tape over the hull material directly under the clamps with that in mind.

I do a lot of promoting of Pakboat products and have helped convince at least a half dozen people to buy new ones. While I think they build cleverly designed boats that are wonderfully light and very affordable, I do wish the company was better at promoting their boats (their ads and website are amateurish at best) and that they would make the effort to create better assembly instructions AND provide a means to order parts. If I had not already had considerable experience with their models and other folders, I never could have figured out how to set them up. Once you know the drill and a few simple steps, it’s quite easy, but that certainly is not apparent from what they give you with the boats.

Your resourcefulness is remarkable. Regarding Pakboats marketing, I think they’re trying to keep costs as low as possible, and they are already well-known for their PakCanoes which, by all accounts I’ve seen are high quality. I’m not sure whether the canoes are manufactured in the U.S. and the kayaks overseas?

I bought a Puffin II in either 2004 or 2005, I think - the only new-from-the-manufacturer folding kayak I’ve ever purchased. I think the kayak, really more of a sit-in-the-bottom-on-inflatable-seats canoe, was 14’ long. Double sponsons outboard the ribs along the gunwales - one on top of the other running the kayak’s length thus: =========. Both sponsons on one side deflated during use and I couldn’t get them to hold air after that. Because the boat was new and under warranty, I sent it back, they replaced them. Then seams on one of the seats failed and I sent that back for replacement. There may have been one additional sponson failure. Oddly enough, on really hot days, I couldn’t get enough slack in the skin to do the final assembly at the bow stem. That strange, U-shaped frame-piece, balked to the point I sent the kayak back and got it returned with either Alv or Mike saying they could find nothing wrong with it. After that, I sold the kayak for less than half what I paid for it. To be fair, I think my purchase was of one of the first Pakboats kayaks manufactured in China and, obviously, quality control was not what it should have been.

The other odd thing I remember about the Puffin II was that when configured for solo paddling, something about the way I sat on the seat consistently caused the rib nearest my right “sit bone” to pop out of its connection to the right-side longeron. I don’t think there was anything wrong with the frame parts, or the seat in this regard, but it caused me some concern that the frame might in other places come apart during use and leave me trying to paddle a plastic bag filled with water. By the time I sold that boat, I felt like I was a sort of early middle-aged male “Princess and the Pea.”

One of the reasons I’d like a Seavivor is it is one of the few relatively modern folding kayak with wood frame and no sponsons. Some years ago, before or shortly after I became a father with other expenses than recreation to take priority, I spoke a couple of times by telephone with Logan Fleckles, who built the Seavivors to order, and was impressed by his intelligence, good humor, and practical knowledge. A few years ago, I had a 1962 Pionier 450s - a solo kayak - that assembled without sponsons. The skin was a tight fit and the final assembly steps were a little difficult, but it was a tight-fitting skin and the kayak was a joy to paddle.

Regarding sponson failures, I think one or two of the current FKO posters in the Pakboats forum is having those problems, and, interestingly, one of the posters in the Feathercraft forum reports repeated problems with his Feathercraft inflatable sit-inside kayak’s sponsons.

Do you mind if I use one of your grandfather’s aerial photographs as a desktop background? The biplane photos are beautiful.

You are absolutely welcome to use any of those images in my Flickr photo sharing albums! I posted those WWI German aerial reconnaissance plates so they could be downloaded by a historical archive located on the campus of a California university (I’ve blanked out which one.) Though they were found in the basement of my grandfather’s house after his death and he was a Great War vet, we have decided that it was more likely that my father, who served in WWII and often spent his sabbaticals from University in London, where he browsed book stalls and flea markets for historical ephemera, may well have bought the collection of photos.

I get what you mean about the Puffin II since it sounds like it was very similar to my old solo Puffin. I can see where the pressure of the seated passenger’s weight being directly on the floor of the hull would displace and unclip one of the ribs. The newer Pakboat models have several changes that preclude that scenario. The sling seats are now suspended from longitudinal bars that fasten directly to the frame, distributing the weight onto the frame and not the skin. And where the ribs attach to the gunwale bars within those gaps in the sleeves, they have a locking mechanism that you close by a 180 degree flip of a connector tab once all the frame parts are assembled The ribs now can’t just pop off.

Still no word from Mike or anyone else at Pakboat. Their la-di-da customer service can be annoying at times. I asked to order a replacement inflation pump so I could provide one with the XT-15 I was selling earlier this year. They told me they had one to send me but never quoted me a cost nor did they respond when I asked if I could buy some extra black rubber bands to replace one that had gotten lost and to have some spares. The buyer took it without the pump anyway.

When I assemble the Pakboats I always have a bag of short (4") back cable ties and use them to additionally wrap and secure critical joints. They are easily clipped off with a fingernail clipper (which I always carry in the pocket of my PFD to use to cut fishing line off of wildlife that is tangled in it.)

I’ve had some problems with Feathercraft longerons popping out of the rib slots on occasion and will probably use cable ties on the Wisper when I next set it up. The Wisper has been in “drydock” since I stupidly damaged some of the frame by hauling it upright on the too-closely-spaced roof rack of my Mazda two years ago. The pressure on it from highway travel in strong winds bowed it severely, creating a reverse camber in the hull, the opposite of rocker. After multiple slow and steady manual pressure attempts with the bent sections locked into the big vise on my workbench, I think I have them all back close to the original shape.

I think making the sponsons from coated fabric was a mistake for Pakboat. When the coating gets peeled away from the fabric, as it did when the pressure ruptured the middle seam in these on the Swifts, air can leak through the weave. Solid vinyl, as is used in the Feathercraft sponsons (within nylon sleeves) and my Harmony and NRS flotation bags, does not have that risk. I think I will just proceed with making my own sponsons, using solid vinyl (which I can get by the yard. in a range of weights at any Joann Fabrics or Walmart fabric department and cutting out the valves from these old Pakboat sponsons to glue into openings in the new vinyl. Even if I got these old sponsons to hold air, I would never really trust them.

i’ve discovered a company that makes an internal sealant recoating liquid to restore inflatable PVC coated fabric boat sponsons: $49 for a bottle but it’s supposed to work>

You squeeze it into the tube via the valve, then inflate and roll and flip the sponson around the distribute the liquid all over the inside surface evenly, like the way they spin melted poly beads inside the molds to make plastic kayaks. Might be worth a try. Certainly cheaper than new sponsons (if I could ever find out from Pakboat what those might cost.) I know a single sponson from Feathercraft 10 years ago was a whopping $80.