Troubles (advice?)


New Member
I built a cedar strip canoe last winter and have enjoyed it immensely this spring. However, on my last trip out I discovered a "problem" that looks really suspicious. I have two small blisters --- (delamination?) on the underside of my canoe. They are in close proximity to one another. One is about 3/4" round and the other is about 2 1/4" long by 1" wide. They appeared this last weekend after I had the canoe out on the water for a little over an hour. This is my fourth time out and I know they weren't there before. (As much time as I spend wiping down and staring at my boat it would be impossible to miss them.) Anyway, when we flipped it over to put it on top of the car I saw them immediately. It doesn't seem like there is any water under them. I think I know what I have to do to repair it but there are two real concerns on my mind. Why did it happen and is this "only the beginning" ?
As you will be able to see from the picture, it seems to have occurred over a piece of cedar that is darker - heartwood? - and probably soaked up more epoxy, starving the cloth and therefore not making a good bond to the wood. Still... with 3 more layers of epoxy (4 total) and 4 coats of varnish, this still seems like an impossibility? I haven't cut into the pockets yet. I have a couple of questions about that. Is it possible to just cut a slit in this blister and fill it with epoxy and press it back in place? (Sand, re-varnish) Or do I have to cut it out completely and patch with new glass?
One more question... I was hoping to take this canoe for a (only 3 days) camping trip in Voyagers. Really been wanting to do that all spring. But this has me worried that a full day on the water would result in me pulling in to camp in the evening to flip my canoe over and find the entire hull bottom covered with air pockets, looking like a leper! What would a person do if they were in the wilderness with another day or so of canoing to do and you found this damage? Is there a way to do a quick "patch" or fix so that you can keep going? How bad is it if you break through the glass and the wood gets wet? Even thinking about fixing this spot has me frustrated with the possiblity of not being able to use the boat for another several weeks as I wait for epoxy to cure and varnish to dry.:(
Any advice or ideas will be very welcome!! Thanks!

Last edited:
Temporary repairs

If you were on a wilderness trip and discovered these blisters (or a canvas rip on a W/C canoe), you'd duct tape over them and paddle on. Ditto if you discovered them just before departing on a trip.

Always carry high quality, strong adhering duct tape! Canoe repair kits (like those marketed for years by Old Town) are a thing of the past.
Duct tape is the wrong tape

The tape to use for repair is electricians tape. It sticks better, leaves no residue when removed. It comes now in colors,best source is Lowe's. Had a parch on a canoe for six months and it never moved. Added plus is you can apply it to a wet surface and it still sticks. We used to wrap a loop of it around a thwart 10 to 12 wraps. It is there on a trip when you need it.
Thank you for the tips! I investigated the bubble a little more thoroughly yesterday and it appears that the fiberglass is still adhering to the hull. It is tacky under the bubble piece I cut off but it is also very thin and brittle - I can snap it in pieces with my fingers. I stuck the tip of my knife under as much as I could pry loose on the hull and wound up with an area about 4 inches long by 1 inch wide. I can see the weave of the cloth as it looked after my first coat of epoxy. I can't imagine what happened to create this spot but I will keep my fingers crossed that it is an isolated event. I'm going to clean the area with laquer thinner, sand and add some fresh epoxy and varnish over it. My trip is a month away but I will definately bring the tape. In the mean time, if I can get the canoe out on the water after the repairs and leave it there for a while (4+ hours on a hot day) and there are no more bubbles then I will breathe a small sigh of relief. If more bubbles appear in other areas then I guess I will have to deal with the hard truth that I have a situation of uncured epoxy and will have to deal with it in the Fall.