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Your canoe is the vehicle that not only gets you from place to place, but if you're in the wilderness, it becomes your lifeline. Canoes must be maintained with this in mind. There is no "Auto Club" to rescue you from a poorly maintained canoe!

Maintaining wood surfaces on the canoe is determined by the original finish.
If the wood has been oiled only, sanding very lightly and rubbing another layer of oil over the affected area will be sufficient.
Touch up any major scratches and rub areas with paint or varnish about once a year. It is unnecessary to repaint or revarnish the whole canoe. This only increases the weight and may lead to premature cracking because of excessive finish. Always sand the old finish before adding any new paint or varnish when touching up spots.

Painting and Varnishing:
Sand the area with 180 or 220 grit garnet sandpaper. Use wet sandpaper for paint and dry sandpaper for varnish. This helps the new finish to bond and prevent peeling of the new finish layer. Apply 1 or 2 coats of paint or varnish, following the paint or varnish container instructions. Sand lightly between coats.
Spar Varnish is recommended for marine applications. Make sure it has a UV component in it.
Any paint that you use should be able to handle submersion in water.

Repainting Fibreglass Canoes:
On the last several fiberglass canoes that I repainted, I did the following:
- sanded the old paint to rough it up a bit
- applied two coats of Endura two part coating (this is one of those that has two parts which have to be mixed, then applied with a small roller) The paint that I used is used on aircraft.
- I sanded very lightly between coats
The results have been very good. The paint so far has been quite durable. At least two of the canoes that were done this way survived fairly rough conditions and show few marks.
I did not paint the interior of any of the canoes, so cannot give an opinion on how this particular paint holds on the rougher surface. I had to do some major patching on some of the canoes, but figured that the interior was no big deal as far as appearance was concerned.
As for using a primer, if the original paint is fairly solid, as it has been for me, I wouldn't think that it would be necessary if you sanded first.
Endura two part coatings are made in Alberta, Canada. It costs more than many of the marine-type paints but I have found that it is worth it.

Minor Cuts or Tears in Canvas or Duralite/Verolite Canoes: Cuts or tears in canvas can be repaired quite easily by this simple method:
  1. Dry out the damaged spot using sun or carefully applied heat (hairdryer).
  2. Using new canvas, cut a small patch with about 3/4" overlap around the tear.
  3. Lift the edges of the cut/tear and push the patch underneath.
  4. Glue the patch canvas down with 5 minute epoxy glue and let it dry. If you place a weight such as a bag of sand on it or strap it flat, this will improve the final result.
  5. Cut a similar patch and glue it onto the outside of the cut. Sand the edges lightly to feather out the patch.
  6. Finish with a couple of coats of paint to seal out the moisture.