Wood FiberGlass Repairs

First time Poster here so forgive me for any Mistakes I make.

I just bought my first kayak it is a Wood Fiberglass Kayak of some age, that requires some minor repairs most it cosmetic but could use some Expert Advice on how to fix the non cosmetic damage before it’s too late.

The Front Hatch is starting to split along the edge it’s wood of course. I have an idea of what I should do but need some help before I do anything. First Image Text.

There is some Bubbling on the Out Side by the cockpit which is fiberglass I think. A picture doesn’t show it well enough due to its dark coloring is that serious or just a a Blemish that requires some paint removal and replacement?

Also the Rear bulk head leaks it is of course a plywood bulkhead. I believe all I’ll need to do is add some Resin to it but again expert advice would be nice.

Also if someone recognizes what kinda boat it is and who makes or made it that too would be very much appreciated. Second Image

The Story

Despite the minor damage this boat was too good to pass up the boat is 18’long with a 16’9" waterline with a 26" Beam and 12" deep. Cockpit is 30"x18" Front Hatch Hole 10"x9" Rear Hatch Hole 15"x13" the boat has a Hard Chine. The Person who had the boat advertised it as a 16’ Wood Fiberglass ocean kayak (pretty long 16 footer I think) for $450 since I wanted a kayak we checked it out. When we got there the guy said he would drop it to $350 (keeps sounding better and better to me) after we flooded the boat to see if it leaked in the bulk heads (rear only) and I climbed in (watch out for the shines on the aluminum trim on the cockpit) I decided that the boat was worth it even if it only lasts a short time its cheaper then renting a kayak every time I want to go out. 9 rentals equals cost of my boat with some change left over.

Damage To Front Hatch


Pictures of boat



Any Help you all can give me I would very much appreciate it as I’ve only ever rented Plastic rotomould boat my experience with wood fiberglass is non existent.

Thanks in advance

First time Kayak owner



– Last Updated: Aug-11-07 2:32 PM EST –

On the bulkheads you should be able to get a product that comes in a caulking tube like Lexal and simply bead around the seam where the bulheads meet the hull using a caulking gun. Something like a wooden tongue depressor could be used to smooth the bead out and drive the caulking material into the spaces.

On the deck you could keep it simple and lightly sand then revarnish. If you want to beef up those splintered areas then you could mix a little epoxy resin with a little wood saw dust mixed in and carefully fill the chipped-splintered areas. If you are really intent on stiffening that area up then a single layer of about 6oz. glass and epoxy could be layed over that spot then cut it with a sharp razor blade when it starts to set up along the edge of the opening for the hatch. The wood would have to be sanded first. Afterwards lightly sand then revarnish after epoxy has cured. Laying a small piece of glass onto the inside of the deck through the hatch opening wouldn't disturb the visual quality of the deck as much.

In the end they will get banged and scratched so as long as its' structual integrity is there, don't let that hold you back from paddling it at will.
if it doesn't have a perfect seal or bulkhead up front, then just stick floatation (air bag, foam etc.) up there and you will be good to go. Flipped one of my homebuilt boats over this morning and it looks like a road map, but it was all fun following all those roads.

Quick Fixes
Thanks I was gonna use some Epoxy resin and wood on the deck later I hope to expand the forward hatch as I can’t fit a dry bag in the small size of the forward hatch opening but that’s for the off season. As for the bulk heads the front is still good. The leak in the back is minor It’s nothing thats gonna stop me from paddling I’m gonna go out this afternoon to make sure there are no other LEAKS I can’t find on dry land before I paddle down the South Thompson on Monday. The hatch and bulk head and bubbling paint on the side are the only things on it that might give me trouble in the future the rest can be fixed with paint and some fiberglass as the bottom of mine looks like a road map too.

I still need to figure out if the bubbling paint is all the way in to the wood or if it’s just the fiberglass separating from the wood frame.

Any Idea’s???

kayak forum.com
Go to the builder’s bulletin board on kayakforum.com:


This is where all the experts hang out. Post a query with a photo, and within 24 hours you’ll have detailed advice from the most experienced wooden kayak builders. I relied on this board quite a bit when building my own. I often received thorough and detailed answers to my questions within 2 hours of posting.

I’m going to submit my guess and say that your boat is a Chesapeake Light Craft boat. Maybe a Chesapeake 18?

The cockpit shape looks a little different but perhaps the newer kits have been modified.

Also, seek out LeeG on this board. He is very knowledgeable about glass and epoxy repairs on boats, and is generous about sharing what he knows.

Bubbling paint

– Last Updated: Aug-11-07 6:32 PM EST –

Not sure about the bubbling paint, but do know a bubbling pint when I see one.

Actually it could possibly be one of several things. Might be the just the glass work was done without tipping the resin when it was applied to free it of bubbles at that stage. If that is the case it isn't a structual issue. It might be that the paint they used isn't all that compatible with the resins they used thus bubbling or the paint might have needed a primer first, but it wasn't used. Visually it might not be pleasing , but on a quess, I suspect it isn't any more then that to worry about.

Kayak Forum is where the technical answers are best found.

could be a Cape Charles 18
the dimensions match and I think the first plans/kits didn’t have keyhole cockpits but not exactly sure.

Is there any kind of reinforcement under the deck in the form of a couple strips of ply at the fore/aft edges of the hatch holes?

Besides the obvious waterstaining through the edge grain of the plywood at the hatch it’s possible that without underdeck reinforcements at the hatches the deck will open back up again.

I’m assuming there’s varnish over the epoxy on the deck. If there wan’t it would be sun damaged by now, whitened and foggy looking.

You cant simply slather more epoxy on at the hatch edge without sanding the varnish off,then you have to sand and revarnish the exposed epoxy.

It looks like the deck is unglassed. I wouldn’t attempt any repair of the hatch holes without first reinforcing the edge of the cut deck. The first Chesapeakes I saw in 1997-9 didn’t have deck glass and only strips of ply fore/aft of the hatch could easily crack at the edges if one was to push big bags through the hole, bending the sides of the hatch down.

My suggestion would be to get some 4mm ply and cut 1" wide arc sections matching the hole. These sections would mount underneath the deck. Let them protrude into the hatch about 1/16" so that you can sand it down flush to the existing hole. This would give a reinforcment around the hole in the deck. Simply cutting holes in unglassed decks was a design boo boo in the early CLC kayaks reflecting a fundamental lack of understanding about kayak rescues or packing a kayak with drybags.

It might be able to do it in two pieces but four is ok too. Sand the underside of the hatch hole with 80grit then epoxy the arc sections in. Use a C clamp every 2", with taped pieces of wood under the C clamp to prevent making cicular depressions in the deck. YOu can use pistol grip clamps or spring clamps but it gets crowded.

When it’s all cured up sand out the inside edge flush with the deck and out about 2". Seal the underside then seal the edge with three thin coats of epoxy then when cured sand down with 100-200 grit then varnish. It looks like your kayak got one coat of epoxy and it was sanded right through to the wood before varnishing. The raised edges on the ply makes me thing the deck can flex there and there’s no underdeck reinforcing.

Actually that’s the kind of thing you might as well do if you’re considering re-varnishing the deck since the effort to finish the area right around the hatches and revarnish can all be done at once.

PVC pipe C-clamps

– Last Updated: Aug-11-07 9:53 PM EST –

If you don't have a number of C-clamps, you can take a short piece of PVC pipe and cut a number of rings (each about 1 1/2") off of it then make a single cut through the side wall of each ring. Now pry it open and clamp it onto the pieces of wood you need to glue to each other with preassure. Different diameters of PVC pipe and different widths to the rings will give you a number of cheap clamps for various situations. I have a large coffee can full of them.

See what I said about LeeG?
He knows his stuff.

Reply to LeeG’s comments
Thanks LeeG. The forward and aft hatches are not re-enforced so its a very soft deck if weight is put on it so I’ll be doing your re-enforcing most assuredly.

It’s funny the longer you spend looking at your boat the more little things you see that don’t fit right. Like say your hatch covers. Any idea on if I should replace or rebuild them or fix them. They do not match the arc of the deck and have a cheap black foam to create a water tight seal but its too old and compressed now to do that. Thinking I’ll just replace the black foam with some kinda RUBBERIZED foam that would make contact with the deck thus making the hatch watertight.

Figured out what the bubbling paint is. Someone did a BAD FiberGlass Patch Job. So its nothing I need to really worry about. I love when you have family that works at a naval repair yard.


– Last Updated: Aug-12-07 11:45 AM EST –

just get some more gasket material,,at Home Depot it's in a plastic package, brand name is FrigidKing or something like that. Make sure to cut the tape so it ends on it'self tightly. 3/4"x 7/16" or thereabouts. Don't see how the hatches are held down on your boat.

It's hard to make the front hatch match the curve of the deck, the bent ply flares out past the ribs or the ribs don't match the deck curve to begin with. The present designs use an extra ring of 3/8" wide 4mm ply on the surface of the deck. The original Cape Charles hatches were box frames that worked ok, the latter Chesapeake hatches were very hit and miss before the present extra deck ring,deckglass and under deck reinforcement. CLC had a demo boat with a front hatch that leaked like a sieve,,like I said they finally corrected that flaw.

If you're actually going to use this boat so that it can handle a rescue that involves climbing on the back deck it'll require more than just an extra ring of 4mm ply at the aft hatch. Midway between the aft hatch and coaming you should put in two 1 1/8" strips of ply, one on top of the other, going from sheer to sheer. It won't be an easy installation as it will require something to press the strips,one after the other, into the curve of the deck. This kind of stuff is done with the kayak upside down and working through the hatch. It probably would be easier to simply sand the underside well and apply three strips of 3" 9oz tape one on top of the other with another one or two right at the forward edge of the hatch partilally covering the reinforcement you installed. Since you've got an unglassed, unreinforced aft deck it'll break if you do any basic rescue that involves climbing across the aft deck. Likewise anyone who rescues you by dragging your kayak across their coaming will damage your foredeck.

re. glueing on old epoxy, you HAVE to sand it well with rough sand paper, give it a wipe with a wet cloth first . I've seen under hatch reinforcements that could be pulled right off because they went on unsanded epoxy. And use thickened epoxy, if you don't have commercial thickeners you can use regular flour.

aluminum trim in the cockpit
what’s that?

what’s what???

":When we got there the guy said he would drop it to $350 (keeps sounding better and better to me) after we flooded the boat to see if it leaked in the bulk heads (rear only) and I climbed in (watch out for the shines on the aluminum trim on the cockpit) "

still lost
as the title said still lost.

Taking a shot in the dark. The bulk head flooding was to make sure the bulk heads didn’t leak like Niagra Falls, which they didn’t fortunately. and there’s an aluminum band on the inside of the cockpit Combing to reinforce it. That band makes for some interesting patchwork of scabs on my shines.

aluminum band
I’ve never seen an aluminum reinforcement in a Cape Charles. Are you saying that undernearth the deck at the forward edge of the coaming is a piece of aluminum or that on the inside of the coaming stack (layers of plywood bent to deck with coaming on top) there is a piece of aluminum?

The design starts with the 4mm deck being bent into position over a laminated deck beam made out of about 5-6 layers of 1 1/8" wide 4mm ply. That leaves a very sharp edge for shins unless the builder rounds it over,or in other modern constructions makes the forming beam temporary. The other area that new builders aren’t cognizant of is the upper inside edge of the coaming, if that’s not rounded over you’ll find out during rescues.

You shouldn’t be losing skin in regular use, if this trim piece can be removed or covered do it.

aluminum trim
The trim is not under the deck. Its on the inside of the Combing the part that your skirt hooks over and it sticks down just far enough that if I don’t hit the support under the deck I hit the aluminum band on the combing. both of which I have plans on padding or replacing as the aluminum is green due to being used in the ocean for so long (SOS scrub pads cleaned up a 1 inch gap so I could find out what kind of metal it is).

I’m gonna be gone for 3-4 days paddling lakes up on highway 24.

Wish I had a water proof or resistant camera.


– Last Updated: Aug-15-07 9:46 AM EST –

there's no structureal reason for it being there. How long is it?
check,,there's a deck beam. You could round that over so it's 1/2 removed and it'll still be strong enough. Assuming the coaming is a 6mm piece of Okoume you've got a hellacious strong curved section consisting of 28mm of okoume (4mmdeck,18mm stack,6mm coaming) sitting on the deck beam. I could see if the coaming was made out of two sections butting at the front the builder might be anxious as the entire stack butts there but with the deck beam underneath it does't matter.
The CLC A.Hawk kit has no deck beam with a few extra strips of glass underneath with a much thinner coaming stack.
The original CLC design using deck beams and thick sheer clamps leaves a couple pounds of wood in the final construction that are only needed for the construction but aren't necesary for the finished kayak.

The aluminum trim lines the entire inside of the cockpit coming