If you use your boat hard, the gel coat along the keel at the bow and stern will wear through after a few years. The thickness of the gel coat will determine how quickly this happens. Many lightweight boats have thin gel and will wear quickly. Of course you can always launch your boat fully floating so the gel never touches the ground, but what fun would that be?
We have added dozens of keel strips to kayaks. Over the years we have tried many different materials and techniques to find one that is easy, fast and long lasting. Appearance is nice, but we think it is less important than a repair that is easy, fast and long lasting. If you think of your boat as a piece of furniture, bring it to a reliable marine repair shop and pay to have it done.
Most damage happens in the first and last quarter of the kayak. The mid-section does not normally get the wear and tear that the bow and stern do. On most boats we only keel strip the damaged area. Full keel strips are much harder to do, and the work requires two people. The steps are the same, but remember that the cure time of gel coat is short so you need to work quickly.
The photos of the yellow Romany had a single layer keel strip with three coats of resin/gel coat. These are the final photos of the boat.
In the next few pages we will lay out the steps needed to fix worn out keels.
Also see Gel Coat Repair.
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Atlantic Kayak Tours, Expert Center
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