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Repairing a Punctured Boat during the MR340 (Read 2355 times)
07/24/16 at 07:32:52
gaelicfire   Ex Member

Repairing a Punctured Kayak in the Field

Many of you know I punched a hole 10 inches by 1 inch in my boat at Cooper’s Landing this year.  I came too close to a submerged rock and a swirl pushed me into it, completely my fault.  I swore loudly and barely got the boat to the rap as it sunk under me.  After calling for a repair kit and thanking my lucky stars that I had clear Gorilla Tape I did the following:

1)       Curse loudly and get out gingerly, you do not know how structural the problem is at this point.

2)      Drain the boat, do this carefully, it is heavier than you may think.  I had my ground crew hold the bow as we tipped the water out of the hole.  It may be worth pulling heavy items such as water bags out before attempting this.

3)      Dry everything practical within 1 foot of the hole, this is important, you want the best possible bond for the tape, then allow the boat to air dry for a couple minutes to deal with residual moisture.  In the meantime get your tape and grab a pair of scissors.

4)      Inspect the damage.  Check for soft spots, structural issues and damage you may not have seen at first glance.  Make note of the extent of the damage so you do not miss anything with the patch.  If the damage is too severe the tape job may hold up while the hull splits so make sure you are thorough. 

5)      Get a beer, it will make you feel better.

6)      Start taping.  This is important, lay the tape as flat as possible for the best seal.  Use scissors for cutting, a knife might leave a rough edge that the water could start trying to flow under.  If the damage is horizontal as with most kayak punctures while underway you want to tape along the length of the hole first, then at least another 2-3 inches past the damage on all sides.  If the hole is too wide for this approach start with vertical strips running from back to front, 2-3 inches past the damage.  This is the minimum you can get away with, if at all possible do more as outlines below but this is as far as I got before heading out for another 26 miles.

7)      The “Permanent Patch.”  You will want to put a larger more durable layer on the boat.  Starting from the back lay down vertical strips of tape extending about 12 inches past the hole in all directions.  These must be smoothed down for proper adhesion and should overlap about 3/8th to ˝ inch.  Starting from the back with put less stress on the tape when you are underway.  Follow this with horizontal stripes from the bottom to the top overlapping in the same manner.

8)      Squeeze out every air bubble you can find with smooth hard plastic, l the handle of the scissors will accomplish this and it is important to avoid any seepage.  Be especially careful of the front and bottom edge of the repair as they will be the most stressed while paddling.

9)      Pray/ drink/ curse, anything to relax for a minute.

10)      Float the boat.  You need to test the repair and check for handling etc. so put the boat in the water and note where the repair is relative to you seat so you can watch for problems.  Assuming all is well get in and again float for a couple minutes with all your equipment to again check the repair.  Pull the boat back out and check for the following:  In muddy water check for streaks of mud under the repair indicating water running under the tape.  In clear water check for blistering.  If you have a dark boat check for milky white streaks that may also indicate water infiltration.  If you see water under the patch extend the patch another 12 inches all around following step 8.  Also make sure you dried the inside of the boat because the water could be left from the initial sinking and is simply trapped in the boat.  Do not seal the water in.

11)      Paddle.  You should be good to go at this point.  Gorilla Tape is clear so you will get some condensation on the inside of the patch, do not panic that will not be a problem.  If the patch fails it will happen 1 of 2 ways.  It could peel if not properly sealed, if it does you will hear the extra drag in the water, pull off and reevaluate.  It could also get water creeping in through air bubbles, this will be a slow process that will expand exponentially over time so check the boat again 20-40 minutes after getting back underway.

This Gorilla Tape patch was applied at Cooper’s Landing and Jefferson City (Step 7 at Jefferson City) and I paddled through barge wakes and waves for 120 miles on it with no issues so it will hold and is very strong.  I hope this write up helps some of you in the future if you find yourself in a similar situation.

This patch took 2-3 rolls of Gorilla tape in my case, the basic patch took 1 roll and the larger patch took 1-2 rolls, so throw some Gorilla tape in your hatch today.

I have attached a document to the end of this write up so you have a print version available.

Repairing_a_Punctured_Kayak_in_the_Field.docx (Attachment deleted | 368 )
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Reply #1 - 07/24/16 at 09:00:36
Jaybee   Ex Member

And the amazing part is that you managed a 4th place finish!

Since I have the exact same boat as you, you know that I was looking at the damage and repair with interest. This will be a difficult but possible permanent repair and I wish you the best of luck with it.

The only point I would add to your repair process is to emphasize how careful you need to be in moving a boat that is filled with water.  A thin surfski relies on 100% of its structure for strength.  Even a small damaged area combined with the extra stress of water in the boat could cause the boat to buckle and snap if it's lifted out of the water without full support.
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