What to look for on used glass boats.

What should I look for when shopping for a used fiberglass kayak. What is normal wear and tear versus something I should avoid, like deep gouges, etc. Anything else to look for would be helpful.



normal wear and tear is certainly to be expected … scratches and such. even a few deeper “gouges” aren’t necessarily a deal breaker as they’re usually easily fixed.

if it were me, i’d want to check for leaky hatches since these are NOT easy to find nor fix.

and finally, take it out for a ride and make sure it paddles the way you want a kayak to paddle and fits you the way you want a kayak to fit you.

normal wear and tear
scratches, gouges, wear spots on bow/stern through the gel coat and into the glass.

The kind of normal wear and tear you should be concerned about if the price isn’t ridiculously good is as mentioned leaks that you really can’t discover unless you take it out.

Gel coat cracks can be normal wear and tear but look on the inside to see if there’s any broken fibers. I saw a Seda Tango double with “normal wear and tear” and it had water leaking straight through the hull where it had been transported too many times on racks without proper cushioning.

All these things are repairable but any cracks with broken fibers on the inside are areas requiring repair. Not all gel coat cracks are indicators of damaged glass.

A rough rule of thumb is that you should be able to get a kayak in excellent condition for about 25%-30% off retail. Otherwise you could go right out and with a little shopping find a brand new one for 10% off and with LOTS of shopping find a nearly new one %25 off because it sat around too long and is a model from two years ago. Not to say you should expect that but that it’s possible. Direct mail kayaks like QCC puts some pressure on retail prices.

The depreciation stops pretty quick after that but paying around 50% of new price for a well worn glass boat that has ‘normal wear and tear’ like the above gouges into the glass and gel coat cracks is reasonable.

From what I’ve seen a common used boat purchase is the kayak that’s been in the garage for a couple years with minor wear and tear with possible damage from handling where it’s levered onto a roof bar or some kind of horizontal edge. In that instance look around for gel coat cracks on the edges of the hull where the chines would be then look inside for any damage. I wouldn’t be that concerned about chips of gel coat missing from the ends where the kayak could have been dropped right on the garage floor or asphalt.

Same as above +
If you can check under the seat pan for micro wear that might not show from the outside… look for small pebbles or sand wedged in there and try to see if they have been slowly grinding away from the inside. Around glassed in bulkheads for any small crack or delams that you might have to fix later… another sort of pita is a cockpit rim which has pulled away from the boat ( some boats use the same style for the hatches too ) . Use yout thumbs to lightly push down on the outer lip of the coaming and feel with your fingers to see if it is still bonded o.k. You should not feel any gaps forming… as above it all can be fixed so if the price is good and you like the boat don’t let it be a deal breaker… + you have all your friends here to help you out.

Thanks for the tips
I am entering unchartered waters here and once again you people come through with good advice. I started out thinking plastic sea kayak but a fiberglass boat in my range ($1500) would surely be welcome.

should be able to find a used boat for
about that price.