Surviving a Wooden Boat Catastrophe

This demo model Kaholo 12-6 got crunched. Most of us wrote it off, but CLC boatbuilder Travis Guthrie said he could make it right. Can he?

There was a gaping hole and a crushed frame in this Kaholo 12-6. The incident was not observed so we're not sure quite what happened. Most likely someone heavy stepped on the Kaholo while it was on the beach.

Gaping hole, crushed frame

Travis epoxied the frame back together and cleaned up the torn edges.

Epoxying the frame, clean up edges

Next, doublers were epoxied to the bottom panels, giving us something to glue the bottom to.

Doublers added

The broken piece is aligned with the hole.

Aligning the broken piece to the hole

The broken piece snaps back into place remarkably well! 

It fits!

Mating surfaces are slathered in epoxy. Then a circus of stretch-wrap, clamps, and lead weights holds the broken piece overnight.

Weights and clamps

The next day we marveled at smoothness of the repair. Only a light sanding was necessary...


...And a bit of epoxy filler.

Epoxy filler

Travis sheathed the whole area with a single layer of 4-ounce fiberglass cloth. 

Fiberglass sheathing

Feathering in the fiberglass. Of course the repaired Kaholo will have gained a few pounds, and that section of the bottom isn't going to be varnish-grade because of the damage to the wood. Keep going to see how we deal with THAT!

Feathering in

John's rule of wooden boat repair: "Sometimes it's better to make a virtue of a blemish rather than trying to hide it." A little bit of rescue-board vibe looks cool (and intentional).

From the top and side the repair hardly registers. 

Back into the demo fleet for more abuse! Compare this to the first photo, when things looked bleak.