Kayak Repair

In 2014, I bought my first kayak: a used Wilderness Systems Tsunami 125. Based on my research, I believe it is a 2006 model. It had some wear and tear when I got it, and it’s gotten even more wear and tear in the 7-or-so years that I’ve owned it. Last summer, when the keel sprung a leak, I decided that it was finally time for some long-overdue repairs. I don’t (yet) possess any winter kayaking gear, so winter is my off-season, making it a great time for this. One of my winter goals is to get the old Tsunami seaworthy again in time for spring. Here’s what’s on the plate.

Keel repair: The keel leak has broken me of my bad habit of “scraping” myself into the water on concrete launch ramps. Little did I know, but plastic hulls aren’t indestructible. After some research, I learned that it’s possible to “weld” new plastic onto the hull. The important thing is to get the same kind of plastic used for the hull, so I went online and ordered some Wilderness Systems brand weld rod stock. I used my old Radio Shack soldering gun as a heat source, and a putty knife to smooth the molten plastic. It wasn’t all that hard, and everything was going really well, until the soldering gun died. I heard a “pop”, it went dead, and that was all she wrote. I’m pretty sure the leak is patched, but it still needs a little bit more plastic, and some shaping up. I may try using my heat gun, or my 25-watt soldering iron, to finish the job. Then I’ll do a leak test, and sand the finished product a little bit to smooth it out. We’ll see how that goes.

New bungee rigging: My old deck bungees were losing their elasticity, and getting threadbare in spots, so I ordered some bulk bungee cord and replaced them. That’s a rather easy repair, but it can be tricky to cleanly cut bungee cord without it fraying. Similar to synthetic rope and accessory cord, you need to use heat to seal the ends. My favorite trick is to take an old table knife or saw blade, heat it with a propane torch until it is red hot, and then use it to slice through the cord (don’t forget to wear oven mitts 😀). It’s quick, easy, and leaves a nice, clean end.

The bungee cord on the carry handles, as well as the paddle holder, has also seen better days, but appears to be a smaller diameter than the deck rigging. I’m going to need to order some of the smaller diameter cord to replace those.

Bulkhead resealing: This one is TBD. My foam bulkheads have leaked for a few seasons. A couple of winters ago, I tried to fix them with silicone sealant, but the repair didn’t last. This year, I broke down and bought a kayak-specific bulkhead seal kit, and am going to see if that does the trick.

This kayak has taken me on some great adventures over the years, and I’m hoping that these repairs will give it a new lease on life.