Repairs & Modifications

Epic V8 Pro Ultra

I paddled the ChattaJack in 2018. There was a V8Pro Ultra at the Epic tent upside down with a very battered hull. The owner had omitted the tie-downs on his racks and the ski had gone airborn. Besides the smashed hull the bow had been ground, stringer dislodged and other scuffs and abrasions. I picked it up for $500! Kevlar is a challenge to work with but the project boat came out looking like new. I measured every bit of epoxy, carbon, and gelcoat that became part of the boat and added no more than 7 ounces. This boat is in my private stable as my go-to ocean and rough stuff boat!

Epic V10 Ultra

This ski had holes in the bucket from excessive leg drive, delamination of Gelcoat on the gunwales, areas of core delamination and water penetration in the bottom.
After finishing all of that I attempted to replace the rudder lines. The stbd side would not tail through and parted. The rudder tubes had disintegrated which is not uncommon in older boats. In a ski it is non trivial. You have to make access aft of the bucket to fish from, and to secure the new tubes to the deck.
This was an older boat, well used so the entire boat had to be wet-sanded to get to a truer shade of white. Boats pickup tanins from the water and fade with UV exposure. The Gelcoat color-match was a challenge.


Stellar SEL Surfski

This ski came off a poorly designed rack, dragged nose down on the road and suffered stress fractures and delamination from the straps that held on at the midsection. The bow though terrible looking is mostly a cosmetic repair but the midsection was another story…The fracture just aft of the foot brace is at a major stress point. Epoxy injected into areas of delamination stiffened the area before carefully sanding through the gelcoat and slightly into the fiberglass but not the kevlar. Carbon fiber laminations for strength and a painstaking gelcoat match and fairing did the trick. 

Epic 18x Overhaul

I traded a used paddle for a very tired Epic 18X. It had several areas of core  delamination, a terribly positioned screw lid day hatch with no bulkhead, and the old style articulated stub rudder. I wanted a rugged usable boat for the Everglades Challenge which meant a traditional rudder and an accessible day hatch.

I hollowed out the old rudder, and glassed it back in as a hard tail. For the day hatch I needed to remove the security lug, 4 deck tie downs then repair the entire deck area with 2 laminations of core material before cutting out the new day-hatch modeled after the newer 8″ hatch Epic uses. Next, I added a bulkhead to make it totally dry storage. I resprayed the hull with gelcoat but opted for 2 part polyurethane for the deck. After 5 years the deck is shiny like new despite extensive car topping. This is now my go-to work boat and has been cross country 3 times now. I refer to it as the 18x Oysterbar Edition!

Mounting A Sail On KayakPro Marlin

I had rigged my KayakPro with a Flat Earth sail for the 2016 Ultimate Florida Challenge, and the 2017 Everglades Challenge. I require the sail stow down the center of the deck otherwise it interferes with my stroke. The deck is so narrow that far forward the only way to have the rig properly supported was with a spreader. The reality of an EC is that most of the time the sail is lashed to the deck. the original spreader when down presented a large cross section (pic 1) and diverted every wave to my face. For 2018 I redesigned the spreader so it is low profile when down. A huge improvement:)

Epic V10 Ultra Repair

After hurricane Irma the St Johns river was so high I had to duck under the train bridge! Two miles from the ramp hugging the shore out of the current the boat just stopped with a sound that could not be good. I had no idea what had happened, there was no way to get out so kept going. When I noticed the boat settling in the water I bee-lined for the nearest out, a house under renovation half a mile away. I  arrived with the gunwales awash! Roofers gave me a couple of sections Peel & Stick roofing membrane which got me home. It was an easy fix. I fashioned an epoxy-fiberglass backing plate then secured it. Filled with West Systems Microlite, an outer layer of glass and gel coat matching. Peel & Stick is now a standard in my EC kit!
When the water went down it turned out to be the top of a steel cattle fence stake.

Weed Guards

I wasn’t thrilled with weed guards provided by manufactures so started making my own. I make them with epoxy and 100% twill carbon fiber. Every Surf Ski needs a weed guard. Even if you have a weedless rudder weeds or fishing line can get between the hull and rudder. Some skis have a small notch built into the hull to deflect weeds but they are notorious for letting fishing line in the gap.

I prefer a 2 1/2″ weed guard because even with a weedless rudder like the Stellar 4″, the rudder has more rake at 2 1/2″ than it does at the root. Weeds shed faster.
I make guards with a minimal cross section to provide the least lateral resistance in buoy turns.
Multiple sizes available for your application from 1″ to 2.5″

If you can break it, I’ll replace it.

20$ in person, 25$ mailed


Kayak & Surfski Instruction

My passion is long distance kayak racing and I have learned a lot about it over the years. Whether you are new to kayaking and want a good start or you have an event like the Everglades Challenge on your radar I can help. There are a myriad of details and experience required when you undertake a long distance event.
I am available to do consultation, instruction, lecture and multiple day training runs either on a selected stretch of the EC or a body of water near you. 

Let me know how I can help.

The Everglades Challenge is an annual 300 mile race from St. Pete FL to Key Largo. Boats are divided into classes: 

  • Class 1 – Expedition Kayaks and Canoes:  Length to width ratio not to exceed 10.99-1, up to 12 sq ft / 1 meter sail allowed
  • Class 2 – Racing Kayaks and Canoes:      Length to width in excess of 10.99 – 1, no sails allowed
  • Class 3 – Sailing Kayaks and Canoes:   Larger sail rigs, outriggers & lee boards allowed
  • Class 4 – Monohull Sailboats and Small Craft:
  • Class 5 – Multihull Sailboats and Small Craft:
  • Class 6 – Solar Powered Small Craft:

Over the last 3 years (2016-2018) there were 102 class 1 & 2 boats on the beach at the start. Of those, 39 did not make it to Key Largo. That’s a 38% drop out rate. Weather is the single largest factor impacting completion. For example, in 2012 67% of Class 1 & 2 boats dropped out the headwinds and conditions were so adverse.

Some other reasons: Lack of experience, physical maladies, exhaustion, improper hydration / food, incident involving rescue, insufficient progress to complete in the allotted time. All of these are preventable issues. With the right planning, conditioning, and practical experience anyone can complete an EC.

  1. Consider your skill set and settle on a boat that will keep you safe in challenging conditions. 
  2. Be proficient in a wet exit/re-entry in tough conditions. Do not rely on your roll alone. Even though you may never need to, it will help your confidence.
  3. You have 8 days to complete 300 miles. Be sure to do a couple 50+ mile days  well in advance. This will expose any issues with your seat and conditioning.
  4.  Know the course, read every post you can, and study the tracks of prior competitors. 

The first EC I completed was the epic EC 2012. Only 6 of 18 boats in class 1&2 finished.  What I needed to know to finish that EC was learned in 2011 having dropped out at CP2 with a blown out wrist and swollen legs from hyponatremia.  I thought I was ready, but I didn’t have the practical experience needed.

I’ve completed 5 ECs and 1 Ultimate Florida Challenge. I placed 1st in 2013/2017 and set the Class 1 record in 2018 that had stood for 13 years prior. I participate in multiple SurfSki events and have studied the forward stroke under Oscar Chalupsky and Sean Rice. 

The EC is not an inexpensive event. Between the boat, gear, registration and time spent on the details it is a huge cost but the bulk of the investment is an intangible investment of your time and aspirations over a year of preparation. Maybe the EC is on your bucket list; maybe you just want to improve your game or get some pointers and practical experience prior. Whether you are in it to travel in a group and enjoy the scenery or push your physical limits I can help you succeed.

Training Topics

  • Planning
    • Review of the course
    • Working with a GPS, Google Earth, Easy GPS and other web tools
    • Creating and saving waypoints & tracks
    • Setting goals / dealing with change
    • Knowing where and when to camp
  • Gear
    • Choosing a kayak or working with what you have
    • Euro, wing and Greenland paddles
    • Rigging a sail
    • Required equipment / optional equipment
    • Clothing
    • Foot wear
    • Food & Hydration
    • Sun protection
  • Water Skills
    • The forward stroke
    • Wet exit and re-entry
    • Ashore and asleep in 30 minutes
    • Tides and wind
    • Negotiating Inlets
    • Hypothermia
    • Lack of sleep
    • Night paddling
    • Packing the boat