Last August I purchased a P&H Capella 163 from Rutabaga in Madison during their end of season sale. I got a really good deal on the boat. I loved the color, and I was excited to have a more maneuverable boat to use for teaching. Unfortunately, as I reported in a previous blog (“The Honeymoon is Over”- Sept 15, 2011), I soon discovered that I had a very leaky rim on my day hatch.
Initially, I was not exactly overwhelmed with the response I got from P&H when I informed them of the problem, but they made arrangements with Rutabaga to make the repair that they felt would solve the problem. Frankly, I felt like they thought I was overstating the problem. I ended up taking my boat back to Rutabaga twice to have them reseal the rim with 3M 5200 Adhesive/Sealant. After two attempts, the rim was still leaking like a sieve.
To be clear, I in no way want to disparage the treatment I received from the staff and management at Rutabaga. They made every effort to help me with this problem and they attempted to repair my boat according to the instructions they were given from P&H. However, I was never really all that thrilled with the manner in which P&H was going about the repair. Given the amount of water that was getting into my boat, I was pretty sure that simply trying to seal the inside of the rim was not going to work. I was also concerned that water would get in between the rim and kayak from the outside and would expand during the freezing temperatures that occur in winter potentially causing further leaks. I was expecting that a new rim would likely have to be installed, but I was told that the structural adhesive used to install the rim during the manufacturing process is so strong that the rim can’t be removed without damaging the fiberglass deck of the kayak. In other words, it can’t really be truly repaired to a “good as new” condition.
After the two failed attempts to repair the rim, P&H finally decided to bring the kayak back to their facility in North Carolina to do a factory repair. They picked up the boat from Rutabaga in late February when they were making a delivery and said they would bring it back when they came up for Canoecopia in March.
A few days before Canoecopia, I received an e-mail and a phone call from Brian Day at P&H with some good news and some bad news. It turns out that when they got my boat back to the factory and started yanking on the rim, they discovered that the adhesive had let go on about half the rim which is why it was leaking so badly. They didn’t know why the adhesive had failed. The good news was that they had managed to clean out the old adhesive and reseal the rim so that it no longer leaked. The bad news was that they had damaged my boat in the process. My understanding is that they used some sort of heat gun in the process of curing the adhesive and it bubbled the gelcoat on the back deck. A clamp they were using to hold the rim in place also left some sort of dent. It was hard to see the deformity in the photo they sent me. However, the other good news was that they were offering to give me a new kayak as a warranty replacement for my original defective (and now deformed) boat.
So at Canoecopia, I got to pick up my brand new orange Capella 163 with yellow trim. After some rolling attempts and a pummeling in the surf of Alabama, I am happy to report that all three hatches stayed dry.