West River paddled 4000+ miles - Now overhauling

I just got started on a total overhaul of refinishing my (one of the first available) West River 180 models. I have paddled over 4000 miles in this boat. Yes, it really is true! Daily training for races adds up over the years, and it has been quite a few. (This is a very fast boat and given 4-5 inches of water depth, I have never paddled a kayak that can "pop" up and fly through the shallows like this one.)

Originally, I varnished the entire hull (no fiberglass on the deck to keep the weight down) with utmost care and it was SO shiny and beautiful, it was difficult to put in the water. Then came unavoidable beach landings and scratches. Then rock gouges. Dropped a few times. Then a high surf beach landing (flipped) that cracked the deck at the hatches.

Lots of little repairs along the way. Then you forget about the worries and just paddle - good times.

 But the last year or so has seen much neglect out of my control and epoxy has flaked off, wood has been contaminated, sun damaged, grey spots, totally bleached out. It's a mess, but oddly, not shameful. 

It may not be as good as the first time, but it's gonna be awesome. The plan:

New glass and graphite Epoxy on the bottom and partway up the side (waterline,) so it'll be blackish. (I like fast so this may even help here.)

Painted from there up to just above the deck. (Still deciding on color)

Stain the deck, epoxy and varnish.

So far, almost all of the glass and epoxy came off the bottom with scraping and sanding. The top sanded down and did not go through to the ply - the grain should be nice.Will probably weigh less than originally (which was pretty light.)

So far, so good. I just wanted to share with someone (even strangers) who understand... 

Perhaps I'll be able to post some before and after pics.


Happy paddling,




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RE: West River paddled 4000+ miles - Now overhauling

Thus far my experience with Minwax water based stain on test areas: TERRIBLE!

 And I think I'll paint the hatch covers.

Oh, and I gotta have one of those overlays! Also been looking at some of those copper inlays. So much creativity to be had.

Just can't overdo it or it would look gawdy. :-)

RE: West River paddled 4000+ miles - Now overhauling

I used Aniline stain from Lee Valley (http://www.leevalley.com/en/wood/page.aspx?p=20081&cat=1,190,42942), Red Cherry on my WD12, very happy with the result.

RE: West River paddled 4000+ miles - Now overhauling

Thanks for the tip. The "Natural Antique Cherry" looks nice too.


RE: West River paddled 4000+ miles - Now overhauling

Check out dehager's site.  He also used a dye and won best in show at OkoumeFest this year. 


I agree that the Minwax water based stain does not work well unless you use the pre-stain which raises the grain so it is more absorbant (at least I think that is what it does).

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