Applying a Patch for Stress Reinforcement

This is a video of me repairing a Souris River Quetico 17 that is owned by all of us while residing in the US Forest Service.  This canoe had a million miles on it and showed signs of working ridiculously hard during the Pagami Forest Fire of 2011.  It was oil-canning and had some major, over-flexed stress marks/cracks that while they were still not leaking, would eventually need attention.  On this canoe, I ended up levering the bottom out to close to it’s original shape and then applying reinforcements to the chines (where the side meets the bottom).  The damage to this canoe would indicate to me that it was dragged over a fair number of beaver dams or other obstacles.  Very reparable and I will be releasing more vids of this repair/restore in the future.

Remember the principle is always the same with applying patches.  Clean, sand, wipe the dust, apply resin, stick on patch, apply more resin, smooth out the bubbles, check and re-check.

Come stay with us this summer – Northwind Lodge – Red Rock Wilderness Store

Canoe Definitions

tumble home on a a canoe
Tumble Home on a canoe looks like this

Definitions of Canoe Terms

Gel coat – silica sand in a vinylester or polyester resin base which is applied to the canoe to reduce abrasion in kevlar or fiberglass canoes.  Adds weight and sometimes cracks up on impacts.  Gel coat is on everything from canoes, to speed boats, to shower stalls.  Makes a nice clean, smooth finish but also hides serious flaws and sloppy workmanship.  Avoid canoes which have gel coat on the inside – too heavy and who knows what your getting?

Royalex –  (extinct)  Trade name for an ABS plastic foam sandwich material which in the canoe world, has a vinyl color on the outside, a thin layer of harder ABS plastic next ( whitish-green color), ABS closed-cell foam next (grey, foamy looking) ABS plastic layer (whitish-green again) and the inside layer of vynil color.  It comes in big sheets, is heated in a oven and then sucked into a vacuum mold the shape of a canoe that comes down from the ceiling to pick it up.  It cools rapidly in the mold which splits open and drops the newly formed canoe to the floor where it is trimmed and gunwales and seats installed.

Polyethylene (P-tex) – available in linear or crosslinked design.  Linear is just one sheet of tough polyethylene which has been formed to make a canoe using heat.  Incredibly tough, but makes a cheap, bathtub-like canoe which usually needs the support of a keelson (long pipe or tube that lays in the keel in the bottom of a cheap canoe) and other aluminum tubing to keep its bottom from flopping up and down in the water.  Cross linked polyethylene canoes are usually formed from poly pellets in a heated, rotary mold which spins and rocks as the first layer (outside layer) is dumped into the mold and melted into a canoe.  Then the middle foam layer is added and finally the inside layer of pellets is added. Whole thing then cools and out pops the craft.  These are heavy and indestructible canoes and about the same price as lighter weight aluminum canoes.

Cloth Layup Canoes – canoes which are made from essentially some sort of cloth that comes off of a big roll.  Layers of cloth is cut into a rough shape, laid into a female mold and resin is pour in on top of the cloth and then squeegeed  thru the layers using paint rollers and rubber squeegees. These canoes are made out of various blends of cloth including but not limited to kevlar, carbon fiber, fiberglass, duralite and tuffweave  (both proprietary cloths made by different companies as a less expensive alternative to more expensive exotic cloths like kevlar, et al.)

four sheet construction
This is what four sheets of cloth would look like. They are laid into a female mold and wetted through with resin. The resin hardens, the mold comes off, and the result is a cloth-layup canoe. Could be kevlar, fiberglass, polyester, or old T-shirts. The cloth gives the shape and reinforcement, the resin seals out the water.


Vinylester resin – a two-part resin used to hold cloth layup canoes together in the shape of a canoe.  Generally thinned out with liquid styrene to make if flow more easily at room temperature.  Cures at room temp.  Bonds to fibers at about 500 PSI .

Epoxy Resin – a two part resin that holds cloth into shape of canoe.  Applied under heated conditions and requires heat to cure it in its purest form.  Bonds to fibers at 2000+ PSI

Skid plates – A “shoe” or covering made from kevlar felt material.   It’s a thicker cloth that acts more or less as a sponge to hold a larger quantity of resin in one place for the canoe to use as guard in the bow and stern areas which take the greatest abuse on any canoe.  Skid Plates or Bang Plates save the bow and stern from abrasions received while landing the canoe or pushing off from shore.  The bow and stern take the most abuse since the entire weight of the canoe ends up on a little strip about 1/2″ wide by 4″ long if you slam into shore.  The bows of  kevlar and plastic canoes without a good skid plate don’t last long in these situations so you see a lot of “wet foot” canoeing where paddlers jump in up to their knees to save that delicate bow or they install the skid plate themselves.  A few companies build them right into their canoes.  On other canoes, it’s up to the canoe owner to install or have them installed if needed.

Skin-Coat hulls – are made of,  in most cases, just the resin that’s been squeegeed thru the cloth layup of the canoe when it was built. The shine you see on a skin coat is resin which cured making a duplicate of the female canoe mold.  Many major companies make skin coat canoes because they are the lightest in weight.  Unfortunately, the resin doesn’t provide a lot of abrasion resistance and rocks literally can tear into the bulky/coarse weave of kevlar cloth as the canoe passes over them.  When you flip over most used,  skin coat kevlar canoes and examine them closely, you’ll see that there are fibers about 1 mm long sticking out along the scratch.  To prevent fiber tear-out in kevlar canoes, some builders apply a thin layer of fiberglass over the kevlar.  Fiberglass is easier to repair, holds up to abrasion much better and ultimately protects the main cloth (kevlar, carbon, etc.) from excessive damage.

Flat Canoe Bottom
Flat Canoe Bottom – Feels secure, but can tip suddenly when canoe is leaned to far.


Shallow-arched bottom of canoe

Shallow-arched bottom of canoe- feels tippy and jittery but can lean over much farther than flat-bottom without rolling over completely.


cantilevered canoe bottom
Cantilevered canoe bottom – unsettling feeling when canoe is not fully loaded.  It feels tippy with a light load and will either “dump” to the right or left and then stabilize.  More suited to white water for leaning the canoe over to maneuver quickly.

The best canoe bottom is a combination of flat and shallow-arched shapes.  Then it has good initial stability and the ability to lean over without rolling (secondary stability).

Canoes with “rocker” can turn and maneuver. Non-rockered canoes don’t turn easily and travel faster through the water because they are not pushing that upside-down “hump” you see in the exaggerated diagram.


tumble home on a a canoe
Tumble Home on a canoe looks like this – the top sides of the canoe hull in to allow for more comfortable passing by of your hand on the lower part of the paddle.

I don’t care what anybody says.  Tumblehome does absolutely nothing for the canoe’s stability.  It exists to allow your bottom hand clearance when holding the paddle.   Also, tumblehome promotes sloppy paddling technique as you are able to keep the paddle in a “sweep” stroke position as opposed to as perpendicular to the water as possible.

So there you have it.   More information than you probably need, but it’s free.








Basswood Falls 2 – The Revenge

Sometimes, (well, all the time) it is better to take the portage.

This is an actual, true canoe story (Late July 2010). It’s for whoever wants to read it, but I especially like to dedicate it to all of the naysayers, internet experts, and “in-your-own-mind afficianado wannabes” of all things canoeing/Red Rock related. So many of you elitist internet opiners purport to “know” so much about Souris River Canoes and claim that I do not, this story’s for you. I invite you to drink it in, epoxy resin and all. I am particularly amused by those of you who go through our website with a fine tooth comb and pick on details which have been evolving since 1998 or so. I admit that some of my older stuff is not up to date and may vary from my current way of doing repairs and discussing the differences between canoes, canoe construction repairs and etc. However, for the most part, it’s pretty close to being right on the money.   I enjoy the opportunity to, yet again, demonstrate why one would want to own a Souris River Canoe in kevlar over all the other less worthy canoes out there.   No matter how you choose to pick at my writings and opinions, if you don’t paddle a Souris River Canoe for wilderness/boundary waters use, you might think/believe you’re in a good canoe as long as the weather is nice and nobody screws up in a big way.   Change the weather or contribute boldly to the “screw-up factor” and you might find yourself in a bit of a pickle in the middle of nowhere. Now just to be clear, a Souris River may not always be your saving grace either so don’t be stupid intentionally, but based on what you are about to see and read, I remain convinced that it absolutely can’t hurt to own one.

Here is a case of one of our rented Souris River Quetico 17’s that took a little trip between upper and lower Basswood Falls, Summer 2010. What is it about those falls…?

From what I could glean from our rental customer was that he and his son were crossing a fairly quick moving stretch of not-too-deep water trying to get to the other side of the river for the benefit of a shorter portage on the Canadian side of the river. They were between Upper and Lower Basswood Falls.  As they were crossing, the lad developed a limp wrist (or something) and his paddle turned broadside to the swift, but flat current. My guess was that the water then pushed suddenly on his paddle blade which see-sawed the blade under the canoe using the canoe’s side as a fulcrum. The kid, upon noticing his paddle being sucked under the canoe fought back. He reacted by pulling on the paddle handle in a pry which caused the canoe to lay over on it’s side and dunk the upstream gunwale below the water’s swiftly moving surface.   The canoe filled instantaneously with water as it acted like a big scoop catching the flowing current. This resulted the canoe suddenly ejecting the paddling duo and their associated contents up into the oncoming current as the canoe pulled away.   It was heading broadside downstream towards Armageddon…The end of days…

And, Armageddon struck quickly.  It consisted of a large, unmovable rock sticking out of the water and it was determined to cancel this canoe. The canoe agreed with the rock and wrapped right around it in the blink of an eye. Nothing like 5 MPH water to flatten out an obstacle – or a canoe.  The sides splayed out like a candy wrapper as the canoe went from being a curved vessel to a large, flat-in-the-middle, piece of kevlar which caused the yoke to complete rip the bolts through the wood where it is attached on each side of the canoe.  That had to make for some nasty tearing/popping noises. From the looks of the nine cracked ribs (two of them rather badly) and the stress marks below the seat and along the rivets of the bow seat, I’ve concluded that the bottom of the canoe met the bottom of the front seat with the help of the water and the rock.  If the front seat had not been there or if it had given way, the canoe might have turned inside out.

Our misfortuned paddlers were able to wade in and peel the canoe off the rock.   Remember, (and don’t forget it for a minute) they were in the middle of nowhere and their kevlar canoe has just wrapped around a rock like a piece of foil around a chocolate bon bon.   In most situations, this is bad, very-very-bad. Bleak.    Definitely not good.

After our guys waded out and peeled the large kevlar candy wrapper off the rock and dragged it back to shore, it had no wooden yoke in the middle because the sides of the canoe flattened outwards as the water pushed it against the rock. For a short time, the canoe went from 35″ wide to 58″ wide with not much remaining freeboard. In order to make it look and function more like a traditional canoe, they took a rope and tied it around the outside middle of the canoe and pulled the sides back into normal. Presto, chang-o! The canoe came back into it’s normal shape broken gunwales, cracked ribs and all.

The canoe looked canoe-like. They set it on the water with their MacGuyver-esque rope-fix.   Wouldn’t you know it: it floated and paddled just like a regular Quetico 17…WITH NO LEAKS!!!!!!!!

They paddled it for three more days in fact. Out of the woods and back home to Red Rock. Not too many foam-core, kevlar canoes or aluminum canoes or plastic canoes that could actually do this. In fact, an outfitter just last year was posting pictures on one of those canoe bulletin-boards of a Brand X kevlar that suffered the same initial fate as this Souris River. Only it was carried home as a pile of styro-foam and crap. Their rental party got out of the woods by begging for rides and then they had to buy the styro-crap-pile from the outfitter. Our party paddled their Souris River Canoe out in one piece… proudly. And now it’s back in rentals. I don’t know about you people who actually retain the ability to reason and think, but this type of story always sells me on Souris River Canoes. All the rest of the styro-crap out there is just that – styro-crap. Based on this type of experience, I wouldn’t personally own styro-crap.   And, I haven’t even talked about how Souris Rivers handles on the water compared to stryo-crappers.   A trip just came in last night with the two rental customers raving about what a great canoe the Quetico 17 was for them. When you hear it over and over from countless customers, it must be true.

The adult responsible in Basswood Falls II – the Revenge was all upset for a number of reasons of which I guessed might have included the possibility of having to buy and take home a rather destroyed canoe.  I mean, it wasn’t really suitable for additional rentals when he brought it back.   I didn’t get too excited.   This wasn’t my first canoe repair rodeo with a seemingly destroyed Souris River Quetico 17.  I figured out the cost to fix this canoe back to canoe shape and charged the guy’s card an additional $833 for the damage. Ouch – that was an expensive rental for him but if it were a styro-crapper, I’m pretty sure it would have ended up a lot worse. Good thing he was in the Souris River. It was so much better on SO many fronts.

One of the first things a canoe expert will always notice about the strength of a canoe is whether or not the seats remained intact after a whitewater wrap. It is not unusual for them to tear out partially or completely. NO rivets pulled out of the kevlar in the sides of this canoe. I’ve yet to see the rivets ever pull out of a Souris River with one exception and that canoe was driven into two ash trees while falling off a truck roof at 30 MPH. One rivet pulled out in that case… and there was other damage…a “smidge”. Trust me (and I know some of you believe I’m making this up for vast personal gain and all of its trappings and benefits), epoxy resin is substantially stronger than the cheap stuff used by every other canoe manufacturer. I don’t care if you disagree with me – I got MY proof right here – and for the umpteenth time. The resin is what holds the kevlar cloth in the shape of a canoe. Strong, high-quality, epoxy resin (epoxy – not vinylester resin) won’t let the rivets pull out of it in most situations. Yes, I’m sure there is some extreme test that could be applied to make my statement wrong and I’m sure some self-appointed internet afficionado will pick apart every letter I type here to point out my untruths and my lack of footnotes referencing supporting articles by intelligent elitist canoe snobs…(oops! Drifting, drifting…pull back, pull back!) And yet, I am completely aware that there are many outfitters who will tell you naysayers about how “some big feller sat too hard in front of a Brand X and the rivets pulled right through the sides” – no whitewater needed, just a big butt. But, you naysayers – you are right – I’m embellishing beyond belief just to sell a canoe… and so you can sleep at night: all the images are photoshopped. None of this actually happened. I drew in the broken gunwales with my stylus and Wacom tablet. It was an episode of Lost they didn’t play.

Another interesting point in this particular wrap was in the external damage that ensued when the outside met the rock. Nine ribs were cracked inside from being bent backwards. Some of them had mutiple breaks. On the outside, there were about 3 areas where the fiberglass outer layer and first kevlar layer were cracked (rather severely) right down to the polyester layer beneath. The polyester layer and the internal kevlar layer was not cracked but stress marks from severe bending were obvious on the inside. You could see how far the bottom flexed (far). In areas of damage, I reinforced with fiberglass tape, kevlar or both in combination.

Another detail that a canoe expert might notice is the absence of where the additional pieces of kevlar were spliced into the sides of the canoe, over the foam on the floor, etc. and how they separate when folded in half backwards. An expert would also notice that all four sheets used in a Souris River Canoe tend to hold together without tearing apart because the Souris River is made up of 4 complete sheets. There are no seams in canoe except for the very ends. (Gotta end somewhere, eventually) Beginning from the outside there is: one fiberglass cloth sheet (for scuffability and sliding over rocks – kevlar doesn’t slide well) , the next layer kevlar cloth, the next layer is polyester cloth, the final inside shieet is kevlar cloth. Four intact, full sheets, bow to stern, gunwale to gunwale make this canoe a survivor. Check it out for yourself. Look at all the pieces the other guys use to glue their canoes together. Side strips, floor sheet, reinforcers, etc. Are joints stronger or weaker than non-jointed materials? Do you want your parachute cord to be knotted together here and there or would you prefer one continuous strand for each strand (from your shoulders to the chute) as you are desending to earth? Sure, they are strong knots, but if you didn’t need them, why put them there? Less splices is better for a lot of reasons, strength being one of them. Enough with the canoe blather…


Still looks like a canoe. Minus the carrying yoke.
kevlar canoe repair

Broken gunwale, crinkled sides, in-tact seat rivets.
kevlar canoe repair

Gunwales never hold up to this kind of bending.
kevlar canoe repair

Other side broken gunwale. If you bend one side, the other side bends as well due to the thwarts & yoke (cross-bars & yoke) for those of you not familiar with proper terms.
kevlar canoe repair

Center of canoe where thwart should be. Note the cracks which are in all the ribs.  Despite that, the ribs still supported the bottom as this canoe remained seaworthy even after this horror!  I’d like you to name a “foam-core” canoe that could be smashed like this and then still paddled home.  Nothing? …..yeah….that’s what I thought….
kevlar canoe repair

Hard to shoot in pictures but the sides wanted to stretch outward with no rope holding them together.
kevlar canoe repair

Another deep crack – no leaks!!!! All those scratches are what the canoe looks like normally after one summer of rentals. This canoe was put into rentals at the beginning of June. Most others around the middle of June.
kevlar canoe repair

Big crack below front seat, stress mark along the rivets that hold seat bracket in place. Not what will happen to the scatches after I recoat the canoe with West System 207/105 epoxy.
kevlar canoe repair

Ribs that have been repaired inside. The gunwales were already replaced in this pic as well.
kevlar canoe repair

Note the repair under the shine
kevlar canoe repair

Another crack gone. Note the lack of scratches. SR’s refinish beautifully.
kevlar canoe repair

This was the same crack as above where there was stess mark along the seat bracket rivets.
kevlar canoe repair

Symmetry has been restored. And a new yoke…and new gunwales…and new endcaps…
kevlar canoe repair

Here I recoated with West 207/105 hardener/resin mix. That is AWESOME stuff.
kevlar canoe repair

Humpty Dumpty is back together again and since this repair has been on the water now for at least 15 days. The scratches are all back.
kevlar canoe repair

All these repairs resulted in maybe a pound of added weight due to resin being applied.  This canoe rented for the rest of the season and was sold for $1800.  The guy who bought it used if for two seasons and came back later to tell me that it was still performing magnificently and had been on several major canoe trips with him.  Epoxy resin canoes (only Souris River) hold up where other canoes have difficulty mainly because of the superior resin.  Epoxy blows vinylester resin out of the water.

Basswood Falls 1

Basswood Falls I

Why I’m Such a Souris River Canoe Fan (an essay in words and pictures by Joe)

Every now and then, as a BWCA outfitter for well over 30 years, I get to experience a customer who just can’t figure out that there is massive inherent risk in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness and dying is a reasonably strong possibility for all who enter. As It type, I can feel the some readers begin to vibrate as their hairs stand up bristling on the back of their necks. Just because they may have never encountered a problem for their measly 5-14 day, big BWCA adventure, doesn’t mean that bad (stupid) things can’t/won’t happen. If one can’t figure out that falling off a log, slipping on a rock, cutting your thumb/shin bone with an ax/knife/saw, pouring boiling water on your leg, starting the woods on fire, getting a hook in your eyebrow, and getting hit by lightning are all distinct possibilities that could occur due to lack of experience & bad luck, I can’t help that guy. The BWCA is a harsh, rocky, slippery, jaggedy, uneven environment and that’s just the first 10 feet of the first portage. It can get rougher and tougher when you factor in the wind, waves, rain, cold temps, hot temps, and other idiots in the woods. (Incidentally, those of you who live in Ohio, Tennessee, Alabama, Pennsylvania, Vermont, and pretty much every other state; you have absolutely nothing over us in the area of rough, rugged, rocky, unyielding terrain. And yes, a Souris River Canoe will do fine in your neck of the woods. I had to say that because I’m constantly hearing about how “tough” and “special” the rocky terrain is everywhere else on the planet regarding “challenges” a Souris River Canoe might face.)

So, after all these years, I still find myself incorrectly concluding that my customers are getting smarter, because I do have many “with-it” customers who sometimes surprise me at how well they really perform. This is despite the fact that most of them pilot a desk or do things totally unrelated to the BWCA and outdoor living for the other 359 days of the year. Some, however, look like they’re gonna be fine, but then, their actions bring out my cynical, old-canoe-outfitter side. All I can do anymore is relish in the fact, that unlike other outfitters, we only outfit Souris River Canoes. There’s a reason for that and it goes WAY beyond our being SR canoe retailers. While some may have concluded that I am simply biased and prone to making outrageous claims in the many pages of, I believe that this true tale might drive home, why I’m such a Souris River Canoe fan. I won’t waste any time on any other canoe. For the safety of my customers and the performance that I know and understand about SR’s, all the other canoes are simply pretty toys with a great marketing plan. Too strong? I don’t think so…

The Event

One of our rental customers brought back a canoe that he rented for 6 days or so. It was a Souris River Quetico 17 that was in fine shape when it went out, but for a zillion scratches, but we all know that scratches on a Souris River are relatively meaningless. I went out to look at the canoe and to move it into the canoe return area so some crazy fool doesn’t drive over it in the yard with his Prius.

When I got outside, I spied the canoe….ooooooh…..not so good. I went up to the guy and his friend and he suggested that I may want to look it over. I didn’t have to look really close. I found it to be reasonably obvious. In fact, I’m pretty sure my dog could have identified issues with the canoe, and he’s a desk pilot, totally. Sleeps under a desk in a foam cup, day-in, day-out. That’s those dang wiener dogs. Lazy little guy. He’s more like a bratwurst now and getting that stinky, old-dog smell. BUT, I’m sure Rex would have noted the unsual shape of this Quetico 17. He’s been around a lot of canoes.

The Cause

I didn’t even get angry. I’m noted for having “Incredible Hulk-like” tendencies when I witness potentially brazen stupidity exercised on our rental gear, but this day was different. I calmly asked him for details. He said that the canoe went down Basswood Falls which is about 8 miles slightly northwest from Red Rock. Knowing that at least 5 people have died in the upper Basswood Falls in the past 8 or so years, I inquired if it was an accident. I mean, surely nobody would choose to end it all by choice. Who would do that? These are ferocious falls and I can think of many better ways to die. In fact, having the word “Falls” in the name is really an indicator as to why you should take the portage with your Le Tigre kevlar Souris River Quetico 17 that weighs a paltry 43 lbs. Other reasons for not intentionally going over the falls would include the fact that you are in the middle of nowhere with everything you own and need to survive – in your canoe. Walking home is not an option – at all, period. One final reason for not taking the falls would be the fact that you are in a rental canoe. Do you really want to buy the canoe and pay for recovery costs as the outfitter may have to hire a dive team to go risk their lives to peel somebody else’s canoe off a large boulder? I think these are only a few of the reasonable questions that need to be entertained by anyone who experiences an urge to commit a “moment of shear stupidity”.

Nope, rational thought on the part of the customer gave way to – I’m not exactly sure what. The guy had the foresight to have his partner take all of their gear down to the bottom using the nice portage that is there. Then he got in the canoe and SHOT THE FALLS!!!!!!!! Still, to my own surprise, I did not have that shirt-tearing-off-my-back feeling with my skin turning green. (Ever notice how the Hulk’s shorts always get bigger and never tear off as he expands? He goes through shirts, but never shorts. Very odd.) I didn’t have to utter the warning, “You wouldn’t like me when I’m angry…”, or anything like that at all. I calmly asked him what thoughts guided him in such a decision and he honestly and with humility, shook his head gently, looked at the ground and replied, “…a moment of shear stupidity.”

I went, “Ooooohhhh!”. Still no green skin. I think it was because unlike a lot of customers who do moronic things to our gear, this young man was neither defensive nor a jerk. He didn’t try to tell me that he received the canoe “in this condition”. Yes, some of our renters ACTUALLY think they can pull this off – “Hey man, that’s how we got it. Those folds and dents where already there. We pointed it out to the lady at the front desk when we first signed for it.” Or, in the event that they destroy the rental canoe, “Quick! Just cover it up with a little dust and Joe will never notice.” Plus, another factor that made it less shocking is that I’ve developed a great deal of confidence and skill in canoe repair over the last several years. It looked bad, but I felt very up to the task of putting Humpty Dumpty back together again sans “all the king’s men”.

I asked him if the side of the canoe met a large rock because the gunwale was pretty wiped out and the rivets were broken out at the rear thwart. He said he didn’t know because he wasn’t in the canoe. It went on without him and disappeared under water. Meanwhile he was testing out his lifejacket and probably meeting up with a rock or twenty along the way. Astonishingly, he did not have an apparent scratch on him and he wasn’t limping. My guy Curt here wondered upon seeing the canoe if the man changed his mind about running the rapids about halfway down. I’m thinking he wanted to get out after about the first ten feet of roaring white water. In any case, we were very fortunate that we didn’t have to bring the guy home in a body bag. Had that been the horrible case, ironically, his last ride in a canoe probably would have been in a Souris River since those are the only canoes the Lake County Sherriff’s department and Rescue Squad paddle. So bear that in mind as the “woodpecker of shear stupidity” tries to drill it’s way into your brain. Your last ride home will most likely be in a Souris River, not some crappy Brand X canoe. It’s pretty likely that you, of course, may not see much. This guy was incredibly lucky and it seems that there are more unlucky people than lucky ones out there based on the current body count for Basswood Falls.

Anyway, the guy went on to apologize for the canoe and increasing my workload. I told him I’d have to charge him for repairs and just over $600 would cover it. It was far cheaper than replacing the canoe and he noted that the canoe did not leak despite some major damage to the sides and a ripped out rear airtank. He also said that it handled very well and they paddled it as you see in the first picture for three more days. They were able to finish out their trip despite a crooked-on-top canoe. They tied the rear thwart in place and pulled the gunwales out a bit because I could see from minor stress marks to the ribs that the canoe was severely crushed inward which is not the usual way for the ribs to flex.

Tremendous current with a billion gallons of unyielding water and pressure. Sure, we can do that! It’s a rental canoe!


Ouch(!) was my first impression of the canoe. It’s a Souris River Quetico 17 in Le Tigre kevlar. Pretty banged up. Also note: the seats are intact. Most other brand kevlar canoes will experience some degree (or complete) rivet pull-out even without going through rapids upside down and sideways. I’ve yet to see an SR in which the seats rip out when all hell breaks loose. It’s called epoxy resin, for those of you who think SR’s are just like all other kevlar canoes. SR’s are in the highest class of kevlar canoes and all by themselves at the top. It’s lonely up there.canoe repair - souris river kevlar canoe

It took the hardest hit in the back air tank. Looks like the end of the canoe was wedged between two rocks and then the rapids took the unwedged end and tried to pry the two rocks apart. I’m thinking the rocks didn’t move. The gunwales sure did, however.

It doesn’t look so bad here due to lens distortion working in the damage’s favor. But you can see the important part – the bottom of the canoe is still in perfect alignment. Any bending/flexing in the parts that are really critical simply pops back into it’s resting shape. Let’s see any Brand X do that! Oh, that’s right – the foam core snaps in two or cracks down the middle in other kevlar canoes.
canoe repair - souris river kevlar canoe

There was damage like this in several places along the canoe. The outer fiberglass layer was damaged and completely broken, but the two bottom layers of kevlar remain intact and more importantly, un-leaking!
canoe repair - souris river kevlar canoe

See how the patches turned out?

canoe repair - souris river kevlar canoe

Symmetry at last. It’s amazing what new gunwales will do to a canoe that naturally wants to spring back into shape.
canoe repair - souris river kevlar canoe

Here’s the final canoe in the sun. Patches,
new gunwales, airtank re-built, and back into the
woods it went for another 20 days of rentals.
Nobody has shot the rapids with it again.
That’s good, because “you wouldn’t like me
when I’m angry.”
canoe repair - souris river kevlar canoe

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