Giving an aging boat a new lease of life

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Giving an aging boat a new lease of life

Post by paddlersteve » Wed May 09, 2018 6:06 pm

Hi all,

I'm pretty new to the salty stuff and boats that aren't made out of Tupperware.

I purchased my first sea kayak, a Valley Nordkapp HM a few months ago and now the weather is warming up, I'm beginning to get out it in more. After around 90 minutes on the water, I get anywhere between a shot glass full or a pint of water in the boat, in both front a rear bulkheads. Possibly some in the cockpit as well, but has been hard to tell when stepping in and out in the water and dripping water in. The time I had more in I'd been doing rolling practice and rolled it perhaps 20+ times. There's no obvious holes or damage and I'm struggling to figure out if this as leak somewhere making it's way through the bulkheads, or a number of smaller leaks. The hatches are in pretty good condition, fit snug, are supple and no signs of deterioration.

The top deck and the hull has a reasonable number of star cracks, but not of which I can see are anything more than superficial. I am wondering whether the gelcoat is generally worn down in a number of places and it's become a little leaky. I can't find any areas where it is delaminating.

So the question is:

What's the bet way of giving this boat a bit of TLC?
Can I (is it worth) redoing the whole gelcoat?
How do you go out finding small leaks?
DIY or professional job?

I'm not fussed on aesthetics particularly, so not too worried about colour matching or it looking patched up

I've found plenty of fibreglass repair posts, but none that really gave the answer I was looking for.

Any advice welcomed

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Re: Giving an aging boat a new lease of life

Post by pathbrae » Wed May 09, 2018 7:19 pm

The usual suspects are hatch covers, seams, cracks along the keel line, leaky deck fittings or end-rope attachment points and stress points on the hull, particularly around the bulkheads (and skeg boxes - but that's not going to be an issue with an HM.....) Cockpit rims and footrest fittings can also leak into the cockpit

There's a good bit of advice on the SKUK website ( ... ding-leaks ) about tracing leaks.

Although the hatch covers look OK - are the hatch rims in good order and still properly bonded to the boat? A crack across a hatch rim can let in a surprising amount of water.

Once you find the source of the leaks let us know - there are years of experience in fixing all sorts of damage on tap through the forum.

Old Nordkapps are pretty tough boats so well worth repairing - but I don't think re-doing the entire gel-coat is going to be a realistic fix.
So much sea - so little time to see it.

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Re: Giving an aging boat a new lease of life

Post by Owen » Wed May 09, 2018 7:56 pm

Pick a dry day, put some water in one of you're compartments - a couple of buckets full should do - gently roll your kayak. Watch for any leaks, if it can flow in it can flow out. Repeat with your other compartment. Once you've found your leak there's plenty of folk who can advise you on how to fix it.

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Re: Giving an aging boat a new lease of life

Post by PlymouthDamo » Wed May 09, 2018 7:56 pm

Like Owen, I've found just filling up the various compartments and cockpit with water and then searching for leaks (with a tea-towel, a torch and a marker pen) works fine most of the time. The only time it didn't work was when I was trying to locate a leak in my skeg box - I ended up sealing the hatch with a temporary cover with a hole to take an air-gun coming off a scuba tank. I then turned the boat upside down, filled the skeg box with water and watched where the stream of bubbles was coming from.

One of my paddling buddies reckons hatches leak in the summer because they start full of warm air, which cools/shrinks once afloat causing a vacuum which sucks in water. I wasn't sure about this at first, but over 2 winters/summers, the pattern of having dry or soggy compartments in my boats supports his theory.

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Re: Giving an aging boat a new lease of life

Post by paddlersteve » Thu May 10, 2018 3:26 pm

Thank you all, that give's me a route forward to start investigations. I'll be sure to be back here for advice depending on what I can find.

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Re: Giving an aging boat a new lease of life

Post by Chas C » Thu May 10, 2018 4:05 pm

I had a leaky rear hatch in a P&H Quest, it took me a few years to find it and a day to fix it :-)

I'd looked a re-gel coating the whole hull too but the effort needed and storage during the work was too much, the cost paying to get it revamped would have nearly reached the cost of the new boat so in the end decided to buff it up and live with it until it dies.

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Re: Giving an aging boat a new lease of life

Post by ron-t » Sat May 12, 2018 9:30 pm


I agree with the comment about compartments being too well sealed, you can see it with the way the hatch cover puffs up or sinks down.

A solution is to drill a tiny hole through the bulkhead, so that the pressure inside the storage compartment can equalise with atmospheric pressure outside.

Tiny means tiny - 1mm is more than big enough.

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Gore Vent plugs

Post by nickcrowhurst » Sun May 13, 2018 2:48 pm

For years I've fitted a Gore Vent Plug to each bulkhead. They equalize air pressure and they don't leak. ... -plug.html

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