Triple Pygmy kayak restoration questions

I have a triple Pygmy kayak just purchased used. Last owner bought it from the original owner two years ago and has never had it in the water and stored it in the top of his garage. It was painted on the outside and appears to be in good shape. Paint job almost perfect on the exterior. On the inside however, the varnish has bubbled and is flaking and I can see light through the seams. It’s not cracked but I was thinking of sanding the interior as much as I can and then applying 24’X50” sheets to the floor and putting a coat or several of epoxy over it. It doesnt have to be pretty but I want to make sure its sound.

Additionally there are no compartments in it. So I have been told that it’s unsafe. I have ordered the dense sea foam board 2” thick sheets and was planning on cutting them to fit in the front and back to create two sealed spaces to help with bouyancy and avoid death if it gets flooded or tips. There are two 4inch deck port holes that have screw lids. Not big enough to fit more than your arm through so once this section is sealed these port holes will be for small stuff only and to drain the sections if they get wet. Am I crazy in my thought? How sanded does the interior have to be? Is it the end of the world if I put epoxy over varnish? I plan on varnishing it several times after I complete the fiber glass and epoxy coatings. I am new to all this so forgive the lack of technical terminology.

Here is the exterior

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I’ve paddled skin on frame kayaks without bulkheads for 21 years and open hulled boats like mine and yours can be rendered safe by using inflatable flotation bags to fill out the interior spaces to prevent swamping (displacing water from filling the voids) and add buoyancy. I have several types of them including some that also function as cargo dry bags, which can be stuffed with gear and then sealed and inflated when you need to use the bow and stern for baggage. Using them will be simpler for you and will retain access into the compartments for items that would not fit through the hatches.

Best to get the largest ones you can find so that they expand and fill the spaces without having to be inflated maximally. If you also need to reduce some volume between the cockpits, you may be able to wedge sections of closed cell foam pool noodles within those parts of the hull – I have 3’ lengths of pool noodle shoved behind the backband in a couple of my kayaks to keep the seat back from slipping around. I run paracord through the hole in the macaroni-style noodles to fasten them to the seat supports so they won’t escape in a capsize-wet exit.

Can’t help you with the surface patching issue but there are others on the forum with expertise to share on that.

Nice post few more shots. Thanks

Regarding the interior I’d contact Pygmy and ask for their advice. They seem to welcome questions. I think it may be an easier job than you think, or it may not need anything. I can see light through a couple of my canoes and not just in the seams. I would think that if you can see light through the seams now then perhaps it was always like that.

Wood canoes also omit flotation tanks because the wood itself has enough buoyancy to (barely) float a swamped boat and I bet your Pygmy is the same (wood floats!). Adding more flotation is a good idea. I think your safety has a lot to do with your (paddling and swimming) abilities and how you plan to use the boat (like small lakes vs offshore on oceans); I don’t see anything inherently unsafe about your boat.

Nice looking boat, congrats!

Exterior -

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More of the interior

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I have a Pygmy Coho (single), bought used also. I can see light through some of the seams on mine too, but I figure that you can’t get every edge on the plywood to butt together flawlessly with stitch and glue, so the resin fills in the slight gaps.

Your inside doesn’t look that bad to me, maybe just a little epoxy or small patch on the right above the foot peg. But in the photo you posted of the outside it looks like the keel is scraped through. I think I’d concentrate on putting a strip of fiberglass on the keel first.

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Thanks for the input. That was my thought but then another experienced kayaker said without the sealed hulls its a death trap. Personally I am in love with this thing… it’s 21ft but it’s beautiful. It had a dent in the nose on the right side but I cut a piece of fiberglass and used epoxy to fill it. It wasnt all the way through but was a good dent. I was also thinking of putting a reinforcement along the keel to protect it. That is the only place externally I see wear.

What do you think about putting another layer of fiber glass on the floor interior of the boat?

Beautiful! Since you already repaired that one spot then you know what’s involved with the work. No reason not to add a layer to the inside if you do not mind the work. The weight would be minimal and it would add some extra piece of mind.

I built a Pygmy Coho. You have a nice boat. Do not worry about the interior as long as it is sound and does not leak.
I did not like the idea of cutting holes in the deck for hatches so I used a sea sock. It is a waterproof material that you sit in. It sits on the cockpit coaming. In a capsize the sock fills with water, but not the rest of the boat.
I painted my deck yellow, because it is the color that shows up best on the water. If you are around power boats that is important.
Enjoy your boat. I was frustrated by not being able to take my dog and loading a kayak is not that easy. I sold my boat for a lot more than the kit cost and went back to canoes. Now I like drift boats.

PamRigdenSnead - The later pictures you posted make it look like the fiberglass might be wearing through in places on the inside. If that’s the case, you might at least want to paint on a layer of epoxy resin to keep it water tight.

Thanks for for you feedback. You bring up a good point about color. I didnt even thing of blue on blue. It’s beautiful out of the water but in the water may make me invisible. I like the ideal of a sea sock. Will look that up.

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You would need a sea sock for each paddler, though. I have had them for years for my skin on frame and folding solo kayaks and they are kind of a pain, so much though I have rarely bothered to use one except in colder weather. Hot and sticky (like having your lower body in a plastic trash bag) and they can get tangled in your feet if you have to wet exit. They also interfere with snug fit for spray skirts since they fit over the coaming.

All they do is keep excess water from flowing from the cockpit into the open stern and hull areas and I find having snug fitting flotation bags prevents enough of that to maintain safe buoyancy and reduce the volume I have to pump out.


All they do is keep your boat from filling up with water and swamping.

Full flotation and a good fitting spray skirt both do a better job than a sea sock with less potential complications and bother. If you capsize and wet exit with a sea sock you are highly likely to dislodge the sock from the coaming anyway when you pull the skirt and the hull will take on water. Then you also have a bag of loose fabric that will also be waterlogged to wrestle with as part of recovering your boat. A sea sock is only practical if you are using a solo kayak and have a reliable combat roll. I doubt anybody could roll that triple kayak.

Everyone gets to have an opinion. You sound though like you have never used a sea sock. I liked using one and never had to cut leaky hatches into my sea kayak.