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Advice on surfski rebuild

Kevin Olney

Mar 30 #26404

A couple of years ago a wind blown tree landed on my fiberglass swordfish smashing the back deck between the cockpit and rudder. Luckily I had insurance to cover most of the replacement cost and upgraded to to a hybrid S version. My plan with the old boat is to repair the damaged hull and hopefully add a storage area behind the cockpit to turn it into a light touring boat.

This morning I cut the thing open. If you haven’t seen the inside of a surfski you can probably imagine how little there is going on in there. Aside from the rudder lines there is a single strip of styrofoam running the length of the boat keeping things rigid. That’s it.

The repairs to the bottom of the hull are pretty straightforward as I can now easily access the damaged area. My questions are:

1. Can I replace the styrofoam with plywood to make it less bulky and more durable? I figure some kind of stiffener is needed but seems to be right in the middle of the access area.

2. How do I make the opening? Do I build a combing and make a cover of some sort? Is there an operable hatch available that’s not too heavy?

3. Do I need to seal the interior of the hull to protect against moisture?

4. Should I just throw the thing away and get a sea kayak??

Thanks for any suggestions,



Waterman Larry
Mar 30 #26405

I like to replace the extruded polystyrene stringer with polyurethane low density foam posts with two layers of carbon epoxied to each post. I’m not happy with the 6” plastic boat hatches I use, but I keep installing those hatches for lack of better. The posts need to be rubust from the back of the seat aft a couple of feet to prevent surfski wave taco. I prefer to run that post as a single stringer bonded to both hull top and bottom and perhaps the seat bach with your access. The hatch goes just aft of this short stringer and the next post on center line goes 1’ aft of the hatch. You don’t need to seal the hull interior. In fact, the West Marine 6” hatch can be removed during storage to dry the water which leaked through that same hatch in a big downwinder.

For entertainment value I have attached a picture of my Gorge Yamahopper Shuttle Craft. Most launch locations are closed, but with this rig, I’m enjoying solo shuttle downwinders.

Good luck with the boat. It looks like a worthy project.

Larry Goodson


David Scherrer
Mar 30 #26406

From my rough experience in repairing surf skis over the years….A couple of suggestions.
Yes you do ned to replace the foam stiffener spline. I use the pink high density foam from Hardware sales. Cut to closely match old spline and attach using foam.
–But I am ahead of myself…Question is, how much time do yo have?
Clean out the existing spline and make all your major repairs inside hull using epoxy and glass cloth.
After the repairs are done attach guide tabs using gulled on tabs every 9 inches or so as a guide. I used pieces of plastic about 2 inches by 1 inch.
Then replace your foam spline. Do not use wood. It will eventually get wet and get very heavy and fall apart. Valhalla skis had that big problem years ago.
Liberally coat the top of the spline with adhesive foam ( from H.S.) and fit on deck. Temporary tape on deck and let foam dry and settle.
Then use glass belt with epoxy about 1.5 inches wide and re seal your seams.
Once done, turn boat over and sand down fractured hull, fill in cracks with epoxy filler and repaint if necessary.
Then give it to Amber!

surfski_rebuild_3_30_2020.txt · Last modified: 2020/09/16 21:50 (external edit)