Annapolis Wherry: repairing a split seam

Hi all! I am looking for advice on repairing LapStitch. I hope it's okay for me to post here---I've built someone else's stitch-and-glue kayak before CLC existed, but I don't currently have a workshop.

I just bought a brand new Tandem Wherry. I must have been rougher than I should have been when putting the boat down on a dock: I opened up the seam running between the lowest two planks on one side, two cracks around 2' long each where the bulkheads don't support the seam. I never even got a chance to put her in the water! Corollary: she's dry.

How common is this kind of split? Looking over the forum I see one or two posts that look similar, but not many.

The shop that built her is a 4-hour drive from me, but on a lovely coastline, so if they're willing to do the repair while I camp out I may take her up there. But it's a long way, so:

While I don't have a shop, I could maybe do a repair here, given a suitable weather window. I have access to both sides of the split, but it's a hard area to clamp. I'm thinking:

  • Sand off the finish down to bare wood or glass, whichever looks like it hasn't delaminated. Any tips for not sanding too much?
  • Re-drill and stitch the seam back together as if doing a new build, with lots of epoxy. Dry-run first? How best to clean up for a good fit? Any tips for aligning the holes to pull the right direction?
  • Remove stitches, sand.
  • Fiberglas tape both sides. What size tape?
  • Re-finish etc...
  • ?

Given that I am not well set up for this, I should also ask: any recommendations for professionals closer to Boston who might want to take on this job for me? I'm assuming all of us amateurs would rather be on the water than doing repairs, but if I'm wrong I'd happily pay someone in the Boston-ish CLC builders' community for the help. Pointers?

Thanks for any advice!

5 replies:

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RE: Annapolis Wherry: repairing a split seam

If the cracks you're seeing are just that - cracks - there may be no need to do any stitching to bring things back into alighnment.

Can you see light coming through the cracks at any point? If so then I'd call them splits instead, where planks stresses are such that the forces on both sides are moving the plywood in different directions.

If the cracks have happened where a panel's rabbet joins the adjacent panel the assembly may have been faulty from the start. Properly epoxied and filleted, the nature  of lapped joints like this ought to be tougher than the plywood along both sides.

If you're at all hesitant doing the necessary repair yourself, we're I in your shoes (what you've described oughtn't be too tricky to resolve in the hands of someone with sufficient experience and facility) I'd most certainly sound out the shop that built your tandem.

They have the experience and are familiar with how this craft was assembled. It shouldn't take long at all - at most perhaps a couple of days - if you take on any finishing repairs that might be needed once you're back home.


RE: Annapolis Wherry: repairing a split seam

I sprang a seam on my Passagemaker Dinghy once early on by getting something jammed on the inside right along the seam (long story).  Maybe 18" in length.  The joint closed back up once the pressure was released, but she leaked some water (the boat was afloat at the dock when this happened).

Since it was the glue which let go, not the wood, and it closed back up without any clamping or other coaxing, I simply mixed a little of the epoxy/cell-o-fill "mustard" like we used to glue the laps originally, spread the seam out a little, and used a syringe to work that into the crack.  Once that cured, I cleaned things up to smooth everything out and touched up the paint inside and out.  Dry as a bone now, and even I can't tell exactly where I did the fix.


RE: Annapolis Wherry: repairing a split seam

By the way, this is exactly where you are more than welcome to post a question like that!


RE: Annapolis Wherry: repairing a split seam

   I'm building a Tandem Wherry presently. On the outside of the hull there is fiberglass cloth covering the bottom plank and the adjacent planks, so 3 planks in total. From your description it sounds like the splits happened at the seam between the glassed and unglassed planks. During the build, the builder saturates the glass with epoxy and when it's soft-cured the cloth is cut away at the seam with a razor knife. It would be possible to go a little too hard with the razor at that seam and cut into the planking, leaving a weak area.

If that's the case and you have a clean split along that seam, I would hand sand it back with 120 grit and a block and run a length of epoxy saturated glass tape (maybe 2" wide) along the entire length, inside and out. If the split was a result of overzealous razor knife work, you may want to do the seams on each side just to be safe. Follow up with an additional epoxy fill coat or 2 and paint/varnish.

For sure reach out to the shop. Barring a very hard drop on the dock, I don't think that should've happened. if it was properly built.

RE: Annapolis Wherry: repairing a split seam

   Edit to my above post: Becuse of the hard edges on the lap joint, you probably won't get glass to lay down flat if you try to bridge that seam on the outside. May have to go glass on the inside, thickened epoxy on the outside.

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