After nearly a decade of wonderful paddling experiences with the best waterfront view any boy, or in my case ‘Paddlingboy” could ask for it is time to give back. My kayak, Dragonfly named partly due to the pair of chinese dragons etched into the wood with a soldering iron and later reinforced by the rather large dragonfly that landed on the bow and dried its iridescent wings for almost a half hour as I paddled the scenic shores of Desolation Sound. My kayak, Dragonfly needs some love. Her many rough landings on abrasive beaches, collisions with partly submerged rocks, logs and all manner of other abuses has left some permanent marks upon her slender sleek body. After so many years on the water like most of us, the years leave some damage, and some that just cannot be ignored any longer. Scars so deep her fibreglass was showing!
A few weeks ago the make-over began with a full-kayak sand down. Scratched and chipped gelcoat and layers of varnish all came off with my new sander and some elbow grease. Now, it is time to get down to the really scary stuff. What to do about the hull? The answer was given to me by a paddling buddy of mine who in the past year os so has built three, count em’ three cedar strip kayaks. One for his paddling and the other two smaller versions of the original for his kids. I had the awesome fortune of test paddling one of those beauties last spring and the answer to my issues were the bottom of those kayaks. He had treated them with layers of jet black buffed to a shine gelcoat. The combination of the wooden deck and black hull was sexy. I was not too sure when he first told me of his plans to do so, but the end result was convincing to say the least. The cure for all my dings and dents was to cover over the wood panel bottom of my kayak, a kit-build Coho from Pygmy Boats in Port Townsend, Wa.
The keel needed a touch up so I taped out that section of the hull first and gave it a roll over of black gelcoat. The subsequent layers will overlap and give that more vulnerable part extra thickness. That was a breeze. What came next took an ounce of courage and a pound of commitment. Blacking out the wooden hull fully. I took one deep breath and let the roller roll over the first panel of wood. Yikes, I have done it now. No going back…I fretted and spent the rest of the afternoon a little freaked-out by what I had done to my baby. I could always sand her down again I told myself, but I knew better.
This morning a second full coat went on and the blotchy base coat slowly melted away to a more deep coating of black. I feel relieved again and hope she likes the fact that I will be spending many hours with her in the next few weeks hand sanding her to a smooth finish.