"Spider cracks" in gel coat

Found a solo-plus with spider cracks in gel coat. The boat is approximately 10 years old. Does this condition compromise its integrity? Is it worth investing money into? Should I just keep looking?

I have had several composite boats that had "spidercracking " around where the boat was tied on to the car. They never gave me any structural problems.

In my kevlar Jensen I wrapped it in a strainer and was able to straighten it, replace the gunnels and go on to have the boat win some more races even with the cracking from the wrap. The lay up in my Jensen is Cross rib so it is more forgiving then some others.

Look at the interior of th eboat and then make your decision. Gel is a sacrificial layer for those of us who store the canoes out side :wink:

cracks in gel coat may not mean anything
what’s important is whether the hull is soft at the cracks with visible damage on the inside. Cracks in gel coat don’t necessarily indicate damage. If you pick up a brand new glass canoe and press the sides you can hear cracks all over it without seeing them, it’s not out of the ordinary to see gel coat cracks.

I don’t know how much used canoes go for where you are but the next question is whether the price is fair. 1/2 retail seems ok to me.

Spider cracks do no harm
it’s just the gel coat. I seal them with crazy glue if the gel is loose. Just make sure you look at the inside fabric for damage. If it’s not broken…don’t fix it.

I haven’t seen the boat yet but was told by the owner about the cracks. It is a long way off so I was trying to determine if traveling the distance would be worth it.

Price: Funny you should mention “half” retail because that is about what I could get it for - actually a little less.

Another vote for super glue
I took N.T.s advice and have repaired a minot delam in a paddle and a spider crack in a resin-thick area of a composite caneo’e stem.

Works great!


spider cracks in gel coat
are pretty much cosmetic, but they do indicate thatthe spot has been under strain or subject to impact at that point, Very often the strain comes from the gel coat itself. If it is applied too thickly, expansion and contraction of the hull due to temp will cause gel coat cracking. The advice already recieved from previous posters certainly confirms my experience.

If you buy the boat and want to repair the cracks, West Systems has a nice pamphlet on fiberglass repairs that explains one method. If the cracks don’t bother you, just paddle and don’t worry about them.

Spider Cracks
You won’t know for sure until you inspect the boat. You’ll need to check the inside of the hull carefully in all areas where you see spider cracks on the outside. This may require cleaning the interior surface 1st so that nothing is hidden. Look closely with a bright light from all different angles. If after inspection you’re convinced that the cracks are only skin deep, go for it.

Marc Ornstein

Dogpaddle Canoe Works

Custom canoe paddles

Soft spots
How soft is soft? I think on my boat where I see spired cracks, it feels perhaps a bit softer. But I can’t tell for sure - it is very close to how the rest of the boat feels. There is no visible damage on the inside. So, the question is, how soft is soft? the gel coat certainly adds some rigidity so I expect an area with spidercracs to be somewhat softer without that indicating a serious problem…

Is the above thinking flawed though?