Shearwater repair ?

I have just acquired an expedition kevlar Swift Shearwater that was damaged on a river ledge. The main area of damage has been repaired but on inspecting the boat yesterday I discovered a “soft” area in the turn of the bilge that runs from the repair back about 18 inches and is about 3 inches wide. There are some gel coat cracks, not through and through. How do I best go about stiffening this area up? I have no experience with composite repair, though I suppose I’ll be acquiring some. Thanks in advance.


What do you mean by “soft”?
Can you actually feel the area move when you push on it? When they did the earlier repair, did they put gelcoat over it (pretty but pointless), or can you see the cloth in the repair? Can you see visual signs of disruption of the Kevlar layers on the inside of the boat?

Someone will jump in and suggest you reinforce the area with a Kevlar felt skid plate, but that would detract from the Shearwater’s efficient hullform.

I suggest getting hold of some 6 oz E-glass or S-glass and some West epoxy in cans with metering pumps. You won’t use much of the epoxy, but you’ll have it around in case you decide to run ledges in a composite lake boat. (I’ve done it, and made the repairs later.) I’ll get back for your info on the nature of the damage.

The earlier repair…
was a fiberglass mat on the inside of the hull and gel coat on the outside. It was a fairly extensive repair and appears to be very strong. The soft area actually flexes when you push on it. If you can picture going over the ledge, the initial impact caused the damaged area which has been repaired. The soft area was probably caused by continuing over the ledge with the right bilge dragging along. The softness is about 18 inches or so long and 3 or so inches wide. I believe the boat had a pretty good load in it. What I picture is a strip of kevlar or glass of ? layers on the inside of the boat, then gel coat the outside. Does this sound right?

After reading my explanation I might be able to make it clearer. It’s compression damage along the left bilge. There are some gel coat cracks which will need to be repaired. I’m concerned with the fact that the area flexes when pushed. It seems much weaker than the same area on the right, which does not flex at all. What is the appropriate way to stiffen the area up? I assume the repair will be on the inside of the hull except of course for the gel coat repair. Thanks, Joe

Contact Swift

– Last Updated: Jan-12-09 4:11 PM EST –

Give Swift a call and ask. I'd think they should be able to give you some advice. There's a 1-800 number on their website for their Muskoka ON store. I've spoken to their manager Carmen before, (though not about repairs) and she is very helpful.

Sounds like your soft area is not

– Last Updated: Jan-12-09 4:20 PM EST –

the area that was repaired..but near it.

Sometimes people let these go because there is no outward fuzzy fabric or hole.

Needs to be repaired as others have noted..if the bilge was bent, the resin is cracked and that leads to soft spots.

It sounds like the original repair did not go far enough.

Domestically there are a Swift dealers in Connecticut and Pennsyvania who might be of help.

I have dealt with Collinsville and they have helped.

Does you Swift have a foam core ??
… if so , could the foam core be damaged ??

I’m having trouble understanding
"the turn of the bilge." But that’s somewhat immaterial because the repair method is similar.

I would not have used FG mat for a repair, but if they did, they did, and there is no point messing with it.

You could start by putting three layers of Kevlar on the inside of the boat, over the “soft” area. Even two layers of Kevlar might be enough. They should be concentric layers, but on the bias so that all fibers in the cloth cross the soft area diagonally.

Once the Kevlar has set, it will give you a firm foundation for working on the outside of the hull.

Here, remember that I am a whitewater paddler, I regard gelcoat as only a UV barrier and scrape-away layer. When I repair the outside of the boat, the repair shows. I don’t attempt to hide it with gelcoat. You may not be able to accept this “what you see is what you get” approach.

Anyway, I would rasp off the gelcoat and remove any soft stuff underneath. I would use a rasp or a sanding disk to dish out a very shallow crater maybe 1.5 inches from the center of the soft area. This might bring you down to, or close to, the Kevlar you put inside.

Then I would cut maybe 3 concentric FG patches, bias cut, the largest extending maybe 1.5, maybe 2" beyond the center of the soft area, or as far as needed to get at least an inch outside the soft area.

The biggest of the patches goes on first, and then before the resin sets, the next smaller, and (possibly mixing another resin batch) the smallest, which should be about the size of the soft area. You can “bag” all three layers with food wrap pulled taut with electrical tape. It is easy to see when glass is wet out properly, but don’t use too much resin. You want the glass layers to sit tight.

When the resin has hardened for a day, you can pull off the food wrap and can use maybe 120 Adalox paper to sand the edges of the smaller glass patches smooth. Don’t smooth the grain of the FG, because you’ll just cut glass fibers and weaken the patch. However, if the patch is too grainy, you can scrub it with rubbing alcohol and brush on more epoxy to fill the grain.

It is possible to put gelcoat over epoxy, but not easy. I recommend just taking pride in a patch well done.

For all the suggestions.

g2d, I guess turn of the bilge is redundant. The soft area is in the left bilge. I’m more concerned about strength than asthetics so I’ll probably go with your suggestion as far as inside the boat and deal with the gel coat fix later.

kayamedic, Swift did the original repair. I’ll probably attempt the repair myself to save some bucks.

ness, I actually talked with Swift and they suggested epoxy putty. I think they’ve seen enough of this particular boat.

pilotwingz, no foam core.

I take it back. The Expedition Kevlar may have a foam core. I’ll email Swift to get the specs.


If you were in certain areas where
there is an experienced repair guy, I would send you there. You are not that far from Maximum Whitewater Performance, and you can reach them through

They may be able to tell you about someone in the Virginia area who does whitewater style repairs. And, they can sell you Kevlar, E-glass, or S-glass. Davey is a past world champion, and Jennifer Hearn was an international whitewater competitor too.

Maybe you should just use E-glass inside. Kevlar is a bitch to cut with scissors, and it’s harder to see whether the resin has penetrated Kevlar than it is with glass. Glass just gets almost glass clear, if you know what I mean. E-mail me if you have questions.

I think your canoe will have a …

– Last Updated: Jan-13-09 9:20 AM EST –

....... foam core . Probably be in the bottom hull section only , and terminating just before the chines begin their curve upwards . It is used to stiffen the bottom . Cores can be compressed and loose their stiffening integrigity in the imediate/surrounding area of compression and fracture when impact damage as you have described occures . This could be most obvious were the core ends and the chine (curve to side) begins .

From reading your description , it sounds like the resin and cloth damage from the ledge impact was repaired (that part which was visible damage). But made me think that the core and extended micro fracturing in the surrounding resin (the 3" x 18" area just beyond the repair) , was not considered for further repair (perhaps because it was not visible or deemed unsafe , but only a bit flexy) .

Just makes sense to me that a 3" x 18" "soft" area just beyond the prior busted area that was fixed , became soft as extended damage as the boat cleared the ledge ( a major flex but no visible fracture) .

The Swift you have seems like a real neat solo canoe with it's length and a bit extra volumn . Probably the best thing to do if you are really concerned with the "soft" flexy area , is to do just what has already been said ... reinforce the area on the inside with glass cloth and resin (epoxy) . I say epoxy because your boat is probably made with "Vinylester resin" , and expoxy will bond well to it , where as polyester resin wil not and you probably wouldn't want to work with vinylester resin given a choice . Try to let the patch cloth overlap the soft area by about 3" all the way around . Read up or ask questions about how to do the reinforcement patch , not a big deal , you can do it , remember prep well ... then go and enjoy that Swift without worries .

ps., ... I'm no expert but most things like this aren't really rocket science and you can fix it and throw your worries about it away . Just reinforce the soft area from the inside , I think ... you might want to prep and put a sealer over the gel coat around those hair lines also to help seal moisture out around there .

I got to this thread sort of late in the
game, but I do want to interject that this was originally my Shearwater. I used it for a couple years and several hundred miles of rough travel then traded it for a new boat and Swift put mine in their rental fleet and only made repairs satisfactory for use as a rental boat. The area they did repair is beautifully done and very sturdy and looks to be stronger than the original boat. They didn’t bother to go after the flex area because they felt it wasn’t necessary if they were just renting it out. How it got into JFallon’s hands is a rather lengthy story I’ll not go into here. The upshot of the whole transaction now is that I’ve purchased the boat back and am trading it for yet another Swift boat, and this time Bill intends to keep my old Shearwater in his rental fleet forever. I’m a happy camper. Here are the Swift boats that I’m very pleased with; Osprey, Shearwater, Raven, Bering Sea, are all John Winters designs, and now I’m picking up the Saranac 14.6 which is a David Yost design. When it comes to Swift boats I’m not sure if I’m a collector or a groupie:-):slight_smile:

On this thread I’m glad g2d and pilot posted their repair suggestions since I now have a kevlar Tempest that needs repair work and I have a better idea how to go about it.

Oops, I left one out
another John Winters design I like a lot is the Enlightened T-16. I paddled mine over 200 miles last spring and it handled me and my gear very well and was not bothered a bit by the weight and the rough water. Too bad that company has closed for the time being. They turned out some really good kayaks at pretty remarkable prices.

I’m totally confused, but that’s not

Is this boat “hot”?

It’s not a “hot” boat
Though it is a great boat. I submitted the original post in good faith and am very appreciative of the information you all gave. I also want to make it clear that the repair that was done on the boat by Swift was a strong and very professional job. I also have a Swift Raven and a Swift Adirondack 13.6 kayak which I think is the best "recreational " boat out there. And there is a Shearwater in my future. Thanks for your help.


I guess that was kind of confusing
nope, it’s not hot, but it is a great boat IMHO. I traded it in then a friend wanted a Shearwater so I talked Bill into selling it, then it changed hands again and now it’s back in Bill’s fleet where its a happy camper.

well then , that seems to settle that …

– Last Updated: Jan-13-09 6:03 PM EST –

.... I must say though , while checking into that Swift Shearwater , I became inpressed with it !!

Even though most of my paddling is tandem , I wouldn't mind going solo in a Shearwater at all ... seems just right for me in easy WW and big flat waters , some length , good width , a little rocker , not extremely low , reasonably stiff , enough volumn for one tripper to carry his own ... not too bad weight for a portage either .

great solo canoe
try it out, you will be even further impressed. I weigh 200 and on one trip carried nearly 100 pounds of camping and fishing gear and water testing equipment and the Shearwater didn’t mind a bit. It is the fastest solo canoe I’ve paddled and the glide is just superb. I can’t say enough good things about it.

Ditto for the larger paddler
I am too small for it and get far more speed with a narrower shorter boat with less skin resistance.

With that smaller boat I can keep up with my Shearwater paddling buddy.

Great boat for the larger paddler. Even better with a spraycover. Those really do seem to make any boat more aerodymanic.