Wood kayak repair

I recently purchased a Coho from a guy who built it, built another and sold the first to me.

There is a small ‘crushed’ spot right under the seat. I wold say it was dropped or rocked a bit too hard. The damage is minimal, consisting of a small, small (1/2 inch by 1/4 inch) spot on the bottom that still has solid glass but diminished epoxy. Inside the hull is a blister the size of a half-dollar (remember half-dollars?). It does not take on water but there is some moisture under the glass on the inside. I was in the process of preparing it for new varnish I figured I better clean the wound, dry the wood between inside and outside and apply some new epoxy before varnishing. I may epoxy the entire bottom. Any advice what materials to use and how far I should go before varnishing the entire boat. Does it make sense to varnish the bottom over fresh epoxy. I have access to some West Systems two-part epoxy and a good spar varnish. I searched your site but ‘repair’ was not found.

Also, the Coho is far too tippy for me. I went over the first time I took it out and had trouble getting my legs out, the cockpit opening is simply too small to raise my legs, or even one leg, while sitting. am 6’3", 265# and would like to build my own boat. It must be wooden and stable and roomy.

This is a great paddling forum, but you’ll find many more knowledgeable people who’ve built kayaks at West Coast Paddler. I built a pygmy arctic tern 17. ( http://www.westcoastpaddler.com/community/viewtopic.php?f=7&t=3547 )It’s slightly slower than the coho, but also more stable. Other larger paddlers who wanted stability in a decently fast boat built the new borealis xl model.

If the builder did a good saturation coat before laying the cloth then it might not be soaking into the wood after all. If the wood actually has water in it then it might get moldy and deteriorate. You can carefully sand down past the varnish and fiberglass layers to the wood grain, let the wood dry with gentle heat, apply a fiberglass cloth patch with epoxy, add several “fill” coats of epoxy till smooth, sand it even, and then coat with spar varnish. I don’t see the need to epoxy or even varnish the entire bottom. It’s just a half-dollar shaped blister you’re fixing, right? Once you wet-sand the area with progressively finer grit sandpaper you can also buff and polish the area to evenly match the rest of the boat. If it’s been a few years, then maybe the whole thing will need a new coat of varnish…

Dry It OutFirst…

– Last Updated: Jun-03-10 8:37 PM EST –

...because epoxy is just as good at keeping water in as it is at keeping it out. I'd remove the damaged glass, and allow the wood in the area to dry completely. I'd then coat both sides with epoxy resin, applying one coat, then another when the first has become tacky to the touch. Once that's cured, wash the areas with warm soapy water to remove the amine blush, and place a fiberglass cloth/epoxy patch on each side of the repair.

By far the best source of building and repair info on the net for stitch and glue kayaks is Nick Schade's the Kayak Building Bulletin Board - wonderfully knowledgeable people who are endlessly willing to answer questions and provide advice. They'll also be able to suggest other designs that may be more suitable to your size and paddling experience.

And by all means, go ahead and build - a good S&G kayak built from plans costs us about the same as the sales tax on a commercially built kayak in the same size and weight range...

Important to take care of this
If the outside ding is not broken through the glass, it sounds like you need to sand off the varnish around it, make sure it well dried out, and put on a couple of coats of epoxy. Fill it well and then sanding smooth. There should be no reason to epoxy the whole bottom.

On the inside, you need to seal it as well, and you have the option of adding a layer or two of fiberglass as a patch, if you think some strengthening is needed.

In any case, you need to seal both sides well with epoxy - water getting into the wood will discolor it, and may effect its strength over time. One beauty of these boats is that they are very repairable (as are commercial fiberglass boats).

I would suggest you get help from the original builder. From building the two boats, he has experience working with epoxy and glass.

For more help, go to the kayak builders’ forum, http://www.kayakforum.com/cgi-bin/Building/index.cgi

Cheers, Alan

Arctic Tern 14 & 17, Chesapeake 17

Sand, Dry, Dry, Dry, Repair
I have built several Pygmy and CLC S&G boats; VK1NF is giving you good advice. The most important thing is to make sure it is completely dried out before adding new epoxy and fiberglass. Make sure you get good exposure to the entire damaged area when you sand. The Pygmy kits are usually built with System 3 epoxy but I don’t think using another brand for the repair will cause any problems. You might want to check with the epoxy manufacturer to be sure.

If you want to build a more stable, bigger boat, Pygmy has a new design called the Borealis XL. You might also consider something like the Wood Duck from CLC. Waters Dancing has an extremely stable boat line called the Solace XL but they are not shipping to the US right now because of liability insurance issues. They do plan to resume sales soon I think. They are located in Canada.

Good luck with your repair and your new build too;


big-guy boat, the Queen Charlotte?
Pgymy’s Queen Charlotte looks like it would be a very stable kayak and can carry a lot of weight. Would you Pygmy builders recommend a Queen Charlotte for the poster?

G in NC

Borealis XL
I’d go for this new model. It sounds like a good “big guy” boat. My one gripe with these designs is the lack of knee room (low deck where I want to raise my knee, like I can with my NDK Explorer).


Arctic Tern 17

Wood boats.
Pygmy makes an Arctic Tern that is more stable than the Coho. There is also an Arctic Tern HV which may be your ticket. Give them a call when you are ready.

more info
Someone suggested the Queen Charlotte. It would be worth consideration because it is very stable. It is an older design but still a very popular boat. The QC was listed as Pygmy’s most stable boat but I am guessing that the new Borealis is more stable because it is 25 ½” wide which is a 1 ½” wider then the QC.

Some have said the Arctic Tern is more stable then the Coho. Actually, Pygmy lists the Coho as more stable (slightly) then the Arctic Tern. Having built both and paddled both, I prefer the Coho overall, although I love the quick turns that you can do with a leaned turn in the Tern.

The Arctic Tern Hi or the new Coho Hi would give you more knee and foot room, an extra 1 ½”. I have built the Arctic Tern Hi and for me it was way too big (6’2”, 215#).

Here is a link to some info on the Pygmy site that gives some data on stability, speed, etc on most of their models. Unfortunately, the new Borealis is not listed. But a phone call to them would get the answers you need.


Perhaps what is most important to keep in mind, is that some boats that feel right for one person, feel quite different for someone else. Just looking at the boat stats does not tell the whole story. A quick paddle will tell you much more about the boat. My best advice is to paddle the boat before you buy/build it.

Good luck