Greetings, Luke here,  new to the forum. My dad recommended checking it out. My Dad has a Mckenzie drift boat. he has had it for quite a long time and its been sitting in the driveway for years without much use. I started taking it out last year, Floating Warm Springs to Trout Creek. The last trip I went on the boat took on a lot of water. More than usual.  My wife did not enjoy manning the bilge for the majority of the trip. I've taken quite a liking to the boat and am committed to continuing to use it. 

My dad and I got the boat flipped over last weekend and are going to try to repair the leaks. 

I've been looking through the forum and am wondering the best way to go about the repairs. I don't know a lot about repairing drift boats. My father has some knowledge.

Our idea for repairing is, to fix up the fiber glass in areas where its come off, sand it down, apply sealing material, new fiberglass, etc.,

I'm wondering what products work well for this? Also thinking,  if we're starting this project if we should take the time to really fix it up nice rather than patchwork around where we think the water is getting in. 

any thoughts, ideas, recommendations, would be appreciated.

I posted a photo of the boat flipped over where there's some damage and we think the water is getting in. 

best regards,  

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On my drift boat I had water entering between the bottom and the sides. My boats' issue was the excessively stiff bottom I built for it. I removed both outer chine caps and applied Boat Life Boat Caulk, a poly sulfide product that has a good reputation for remaining flexible for a long time rather than drying out and hardening up. The leaking has not continued. Many older drift boats suffer from wet rot, a condition where water finds ingress into the wood and the fungal species that now find a home and destroy the woods structure. There is also dry rot, again a fungal condition with similar results. The issue then becomes that there is no long sufficient structure to hold the wood together and even more water can enter the boat.

The test for either kind of rot is trying to poke an ice pick or screwdriver into the wood. Solid wood will resist the intrusion of the tool. If you can poke the tool in easily then you have a problem. The issue with rot is multifaceted. You cannot see the fungus buried deep in the wood so when you remove wood it is to easy to assume you have removed all traces. It's what you can't see that will return to cause problems. Removing much more wood than you want to is the best idea. Cut back a long ways into what appears to be good wood and then do your repair.

You may have either a wood rot problem or a poor connection between the inner chine, outer chine, the side and or the bottom of the boat.

The good news is that everything can be repaired. The bad news is how much money, time or effort will be required. Back in 2010 or 2011 A. J. DeRosa and his crew posted some great information on doing such repairs. I agree with them that boats can be saved and rowed for a long time. Use the search function at the upper right hand corner of the page and look for "AJ DeRosa boat repair" I just looked again and you will find great photos and thoughts on repairing issues similar to what you have found. I have been hanging around these pages since those days and posts like your appear every so often. It can be very rewarding to get an older boat back in service.

Good luck and keep us posted and show us pictures. There are many, many posts that can be found that cover almost every aspect of repairing, refinishing and building drift boats. Smearing a goop on the outside or inside of the boat is commonly just a poor bandaid that won't last very long. You might end up removing the bottom but it can save your boat and provide many more years of use.

Rick Newman

Early on on Wooden Boat People

Thanks Rick, I will pass this info on to the repair team (dad and myself). Running the rot test sounds like a good idea that I will follow up on. Ill also check out A.J DeRosas posts. Appreciate the reply! I'll keep you posted on our endeavors. 

You are most welcome. I believe I have read every post on the site. It has been very helpful to me and the other 2000 plus members that enjoy the site. Glad to have you aboard!

Rick Newman

I agree with Rick. Rotten wood has to be cut out and replaced. There are different ways to go about this depending if it’s plywood, planking, framing, etc. Learn about “scarf joints”. They’re not difficult to do. Especially if the repairs are going to be painted or if you don’t care about a few scars. 


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