Use or Not with Damaged Gel-coat

Trailering my new to me Xplore over a rough road I’ve managed to pop some gel-coat off the deck. Will I risk further damage using the boat and getting that damaged area wet before I repair it sometime this winter?

Probably not
If things are all done properly, there is nothing that will be damaged by water.

However, if gelcoat is randomly popping off the boat just from trailering then at least one thing has not been done properly.

If this is a new boat take it back and get one that’s not defective.

How deep and exactly how did it pop?
Off to the glass or equivalent layer is something I’d suggest you fix sooner rather than later, just to reduce the possibility of water finding invisible cracks that can let it get between layers.

But as in the first reply - we have bumped our fiberglass kayaks over plenty of bumpy roads without losing gel coat because of it. If it is due to road travel, I’d look hard at the boat and/or how you are hauling it.

Repair or not repair

– Last Updated: Oct-07-12 1:43 AM EST –

You do not want the core material to get waterlogged, lest everything under the gelcoat turns into a nasty fungal goo. Nomex core layups will soak up the water like s sponge. If you are not going to fix it right away, and it is a low wear area, try sealing it temporarily with silicone sealer.

Duct tape
I have used some clear waterproof duct tape to cover areas where glass was showing and it proved to keep the area dry. The damaged spots were as large a quarter and below the water line. I put a little piece of paper under the tape to see if water did get in as soaked paper would be quite obvious, but it stayed bone dry. It lasted a few months of paddling before I got around to fixing the gelcoat.

probably not
I’ve spent a lot of time on boatbuilder boards. The word there, on silicone, is never use it on any area that may need any kind of repair. This is because it can never be fully removed; there will always be some kind of trace left behind, interfering with the bonding of your materials.

The Xplore
It’s not a new boat. I bought it used at New York Kayak Co. and have informed the owner of the issue. He says Tiderace would fix if a manufacturing defect but not if it was a result of impact.

The boat does not sit well in the J-bars I had on the trailer and did bounce a bit. Also the rounded hull puts the seam directly on the pad of the J-bars. I was taking the boat off the trailer to put a set of saddle racks on when I noticed the damage. The damage is behind/at the bulkhead resting very near to the rearmost J-bar. From the visible hole hairline cracks run at a forward angle to the seam from where a single hairline crack runs down a few inches alongside the bulkhead.

As I wrote in the first post I did haul the Xplore over a half mile of rough gravel road. Did it three times. The bouncing may have been the impact that caused the damage. If I can figure out how to fit the boat in the house I will attempt a repair this winter. In the mean time I have an Eddyline Fathom that will see some use this fall.

I agree
Yup, never use silicone. My used Romany S came from the factory without a seat and the original owner had used silicone to glue a foam seat in. It took hours of scraping and another layer of glass around the seat area to get rid of the silicone and damage fom scraping it off, but you can still see where it used to be as something in the silicone soaked right through the fiberglass (it looks like a wet spot). Nasty stuff!

Doesn’t look too bad
I have had very similar damage on the hulls of my boats. Those cracks are very common from impacts around the bulkhead. If you do the repair yourself be sure to sand a bevel that goes down to the glass along the cracks (isnad the cracks out). Also bevel the damaged area. I use a dremel with a ‘V’ shaped grinding bit. This will make it look worse, but gelcoat shrinks as it cures, so it needs to be built up a little higher than the surrounding area. If you just put gelcoat into the area as it looks now, it will draw away from the edges as it cures.

Until the repair is done I would have no issue just taping it up and going for a paddle.

How much padding is on the Jbars?

– Last Updated: Oct-07-12 12:42 PM EST –

I am not terribly familiar with the fine points of J-bars - we spend a brief time playing with saddles and rollers and then went back to old-fashioned stackers (for all and any kinds of kayaks). But one thing I noticed in the photo was that I couldn't see a thick wad of anything between the boat and the Jbars. It may just be that this boat carries better if some good pipe insulation is added to the bars at the bottom, to absorb the shock of the rear end bouncing around.

Another option if it is physically possible may be to move the boat a few inches forward, to reduce the bounce over bumps on the back end, but I can't tell if you actually have room to do that from the perspective on the photo.

This may be a hairline crack that no one could have ever noticed, and trailering gave it just the right hit to make itself known.

You hit it
I’d put 3/4" minicell on those racks given the bouncing that trailer is doing compared to a roof rack insulated by shocks and 4000lbs of vehicle.

ah, and on that trailer
…check to see if it’s over-sprung, as many light trailers are. OP may be able to remove a leaf from the springs, to get a softer ride.

If there is a core material, it will be
closed cell and not able to get “waterlogged.” I have a slalom boat where the deck is foam sandwiched between single layers of Kevlar and epoxy. That skin gets cracked occasionally, but no waterlogging occurs.

Also, claims by some that damage to a Kevlar hull will result in water soaking all through the laminate are false. It just does not happen. Cloths encapsulated in epoxy or vinylester resin do not get “waterlogged.”

Celia cited the possibility that small amounts of water could get into delaminated areas. That can happen, but it’s no great problem as long as the boat is dried out and repaired within a reasonable period of time. Reasonable means within a few months.

No biggie
I have a Current Designs Solstice GT that I bought used from Rutabaga in 1996 with a similar mark like your first picture, and another one three times as big.

The kayak had been used in their outdoor program and had seen rough handling in the two or three years before it came to me.

I was very worried at first, and ordered the gel from Wenonah, but questioned my ability do do a good job repairing it. Months, and then years went by, and nothing bad happened even with heavy use.

The boat has been to Florida a half dozen times and been to Alaska twice, and has been paddled all over Wisconsin and the damage looks no different from the day I bought it.

Do nothing, and enjoy. Ask a mountain biker, scars are cool !

No room
There isn’t much padding. I already put on a pair of saddles for the Xplore. The Fathom fits well in the J-bars with the flat chine (?) resting level on the bottom. I will put some more material on there.

No room to move the boat forward and have already talked to a friend with a welder about extending the tongue. Pulling a leaf off sounds like a good idea.

Thanks for the responses. I was pretty sure it wasn’t the end of the world. I’ll get the trailer set up a bit better and, when I get around to it, try my hand at spreading some polyester gel-coat.

gel coat repair isn’t hard
Doing a repair that will hold up is fairly easy, and you should do it sooner rather than later lest the cracks and repair area increase. It is making it look pretty that is time consuming, and the smaller the repair area the easier that is.

gel coat is quite simple to work with
The consistency of paint, except it sets up rather suddenly after several minutes. It’s as easy to drip that in as any other type of glue, goop, or sealant, so I would never understand trying to seal it with something different. The most time consuming part is picking the stuff up, setting the kayak and supplies up to do the repair, and putting everything away. You have to pick up the stuff and prepare the area for whatever goop you put in anyway. I found the seemingly widespread trepidation towards working with gelcoat for these type of repairs to be completely unfounded.


– Last Updated: Oct-10-12 6:53 PM EST –

A potentially huge problem is that your trailer is not providing any shock absorption as does the suspension of a car. With that combination of wheel, spring, and axle, you need 500+ lbs on it just to smooth out the ride. I tried this (including taking the extra spring leaves out) and it still beat the hell out of the boats.

Speaking from experience, I would not haul a composite boat on a trailer like this, unless it was one that I didn't care for very much.