Stress cracks

These are on the hull on the stern side of the rear bulkhead. Any concern?

Looks like hairline cracks in gel coat. Sometimes these happen without any damage to the underlying structural layers. Can you see the interior of the hull opposite of where these hairline cracks are? If so and there is no visible sign of damage I personally would not worry about them.

I have had hairline cracks like these occur in the gel coat on canoes that have been present for many years and have not gotten any worse or resulted in any delamination of the gel coat.

I agree. Those stress cracks look minor and nothing to worry about. They almost look more like marks than cracks. Looks like someone has a big rock at their put-in that they keep bumping. You could put pieces of Gorilla tape over them for added peace of mind.

Although I have no personal experience with it several people on this site have recommended Captain Tolley’s for minor stress cracks. Penetrates and seals according to the web site. Not for larger cracks.

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Thanks. I’ll keep an eye on them.

Keep the hull dry if it gets below freezing in your area so that ice doesn’t expand in the cracks.

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Those a classic “spider cracks”, which are caused by the difference in flexibility between the gelcoat and the underlying layup. They’re purely cosmetic, but it’s still a good idea to check that there isn’t any structural damage by checking the area from the inside. They occur very commonly in the areas around bulkheads. If they bother you, one option is to sand the area and re-coat it, but they’re probably just going to come back with use. I would just ignore them, which is what I do on my own boats. Otherwise, you’ll spend more time fixing gelcoat than paddling.

As others said, they appear to be spider cracks. Gel coat cracks means water may have an easier, unseen route to contact fibreglass or carbon/kevlar. Most spider cracks don’t, however water reaching the fibreglass or c/k is not a good thing. It’s a good idea to seal them once they are dried out if you can go a couple weeks without paddling that kayak. I’ve never heard of Capt Tolley’s as rstevens recommended, but I will sure try it in the future. Looks simple compared to spot sanding and applying a small gel coat patches.

It’s for sale so I’ll let the new owner decide what to do.

I would try buffing them out (the entire area) with polishing compound and a real good random orbit buffer. If that doesn’t hide them sufficiently, try wet sanding gently with 1000 grit wet, or dry. Then hit it with the buffer again.

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Capt Tolley’s is good stuff. I used it to seal some spider cracks on the bow of my kevlar kayak. Purchased the boat used but didn’t notice them until I washed and waxed it.

It also did a great job sealing a leak in the edge of my Cyprus.


I’ll order some just to have it.

Ordered some Capt Tolley’s earlier this evening.

Buffing is not going to work, as they’ll go completely through the gelcoat. The only way to get rid of them is is to sand off the gelcoat and re-coat the area, but as I said, that’s probably just going to be a temporary solution.

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I took the easy way out. Sold the boat to a fellow paddler who already has some Cpt Tolley’s.
I’m down to 3 boats! One loaner and two I really enjoy.

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You will notice that I didn’t say polishing would fix the crazing, but that it might hide it. I’ve done it on more than one boat. and it does hide it except in bright sunshine.–sometimes. He did say he was going to sell the boat–right?

I’ve been putting off for a couple of years actually fixing some minor stress cracks in the gel coat on one of my boats. I polished it and I can 't see them any more unless I look real hard… Out of sight, out of mind… I’ll get a round toit one of these days.