During my recent Boundary Waters trip I discovered a big ding in the bow of my canoe. It was there before I started the trip, but I really don’t know how it got there. I’d never repaired any watercraft before, but now I had no choice. I drove up to Winona, Minnesota to buy two repair kits at the Wenonah Canoe headquarters (one of the required chemicals was too hazardous or caustic to be put in the mail). I expected the kits to contain only epoxies and resins, but they included rubber gloves, a stirring stick, sandpaper, and just about everything I needed to complete the task. The only tool I needed to get from my toolbox was a screwdriver to pry the lids off cans of repair goop. I spent two days putting skid plates on the ends of the boat and painting resin over the entire underside. Skid plates are strips of material epoxied to the very fronts and backs of the boat to provide additional protection against collisions with rocks. In my case, it was also to seal the hole that was already there.
My canoe’s hull suffers from twenty-five years of rough use. I gently sanded out the most superficial scratches, but more than half were scars too deep to be taken out completely. Now they are forever immortalized beneath a fresh layer of transparent resin. All that remains of my repair work is to test it out, but I have been slow to put my rehabilitated boat back on the water. This fall the weather in the Midwest has been miserable and the fishing poor. The rivers around home are again near flood stage, which should not be the case in October. As much as I want to see whether my repairs hold, I’m not going out in the cold and rain.