The skeg box in my NDK Explorer sea kayak is made from plastic and glued in the boat. There’s no fiberglass protecting the outside edge. Instead, NDK/SKUK just covered the exposed plastic edge with a layer of gelcoat. Although gelcoat takes abrasion well, it fails in impact and really needs fiberglass under it for any strength. Before my last expedition, I noticed that the gelcoat was wearing off the skeg box and the plastic was actually fractured. On its website Sea Kayaking UK actually offers repair advice for this problem, so it’s not entirely rare.
The problem was that the repair involved cutting out the broken plastic and replacing it with fiberglass. I just didn’t have the time. Additionally, because the elite layup flexes like a wet noodle, spider cracks were forming along each bulkhead (It was suggested that these are pressure cracks from air expansion in the cargo holds, but the front is vented, which means there’s no expansion there, so that leaves the hull flex or stress riser problems from the bulkheads). Those spider cracks were chipping out, so I had a half dozen or so gelcoat chips on the bulkheads. With very little time before the trip, I couldn’t properly repair the problems, so I bought Marine-Tex Rapid Set Repair Epoxy and decided to see if it would work. This is my Marine-tex review.
Marine-Tex claims that the Rapid Set Epoxy is a waterproof epoxy that cures in one hour in 72 degree Fahrenheit temperatures. It’s 1:1 ratio makes it easy-to-mix. It also claims that the epoxy provides a good bond for filling cracks and voids in fiberglass, wood, many hard plastics and several other materials. It can also be used to secure loose hardware and fasteners. The 2-oz. kit is the smallest and easiest to carry in an emergency repair kit. It comes as a set of two tubes. One contains the resin and the other contains the hardener.
Using Marine-Tex Repair Epoxy
To use the Marine-tex epoxy, you mix equal parts of paste from each tube together. Once mixed, it starts to harden. Marine-tex states that you have about five minutes of working time before it becomes too warm and needs to be discarded. I worked in smaller batches to ensure that I had time to spread the epoxy.
Before the trip, I used a popsicle stick to mix and spread the epoxy evenly into the cracks in my skeg box. I also built up the epoxy over the box lip to a height equal with the original gelcoat. For the gelcoat chips, I filled the chip even with the rest of the gelcoat. The paste is gray, so it stands out on a white hull. I wish it came in white. On my first application, I came back in about an hour and it felt like it setup, so I sanded it smooth. Sanding was easy.
My Marine-Tex Review and Experience in the Field
The gelcoat chip repairs held up for the 45 days I was on expedition, but the repair around the skeg box gave way after about 25 days. Considering that the skeg box saw rock hits, was dragged across beaches, filled with sand and rocks, and generally just beat up, I felt the repair epoxy worked well. If the plastic skeg box hadn’t cracked further, I think the repair would have held up the entire trip.
In the field, I re-repaired the NDK skeg box on a remote beach. I found a flat rock on which to mix the epoxy and a small twig to mix and apply the epoxy. The repair went on as easily in the field and it did at home. It wasn’t as smooth, and I didn’t have any sandpaper, but I was more worried about further damage to the plastic skeg box than appearance. The repair lasted the remainder of the trip. In addition to the SKUK skeg box repair, two patches holding my North Water Under Deck Bag to my kayak came loose. The epoxy held the patches for the trip and are still holding the patches.
Going on a Trip, Buy Some, It’s Worth It
Overall, I’m happy with the performance of the Marine Tex Rapid Set Repair Epoxy. It’s something that I can highly recommend for paddlers that use composite kayaks or canoes. I paid $18 at a marine supply store. It’s only $13 through Amazon and the above link.