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Emergency Boat Repair

Here is something I recently learned that may be a benefit to a few of you out there…when things go wrong and in a pinch you need to repair your boat, what do you do? First thing first. Go out and get yourself some plastic rods and carry them with you. You never know when they are going to come in handy. As I just learned first hand and about to put on a 3-day South Fork Salmon trip, I was in need of a way to repair my freshly cracked creek boat. Luckily, one of the guys in our crew had a rod of plastic. Without that, I believe I would have missed out on one of the most amazing trips I have been part of to date.

Here was our situation: camping out at the put-in, didn’t have our own vehicle, limited gorilla tape, a stove for cooking food, utensils, utility knife and a rod of plastic. This is what took place.

Step 1: Carve out some of the plastic where the crack is. Make sure to put a hole at each end so the crack doesn’t continue to spread.

Crack carved out, ready for plastic

Step 2: Turn on that stove. We had a stainless steel spatula so we heated up the end of that to use to heat and spread the plastic.

Hitting up the stainless steel spatula

Step 3: Test out the temperature. Be sure to not get it to hot as this could make your situation far worse than what it currently is.

Step 4: Put the hot end of the utensil to the plastic rod that you have pressed against the boat where you are going to weld. As it melts, spread the plastic.

IMG_0503 (1)
Spreading the plastic

Step 5: Repeat until the entire crack is filled in with plastic.

Step 6: Reheat the utensil and try to get the new plastic as even as possible so you don’t have many snags.


Step 7: Wait for it to cool completely.

Waiting for plastic to cool

Step 8: Gorilla tape (we couldn’t do this on the inside of the boat due to the nature of the boat but I would recommend taping on the inside if you possibly can)

Step 9: Duct tape the shit out of it.

Step 10: Pray and hope it holds for your overnighter! Good luck.

If anyone has any other tips to add, I am sure everyone could benefit. Please add your comments.


I started kayaking in Wisconsin of all places, because this is where I am from. I then moved to San Diego and took on kayak surfing along with heading to the Kern River when water was available. I then made the move to Asheville, NC and have been hooked on this sport since my Wisconsin days. With whatever it is that you do, do it because you love it, not because society tells you should or for other outside factors. Don't simply exist, live!