Armored protection for composite kayaks

by Tony Johnson

Several NRs and friends recently got together with the EXPLORE NORTH COAST club in Trinidad. I used my composite kayak, a carbon Necky Chatham 16 for rock gardening, leaving the plastic at home. The Chatham took damage in several areas, mostly the keel at the stern and bow. The damage was from sharp blows making contact with barnacle covered rocks when the stern just didn't make it over in time. The bow also was damaged when I decided to pull back off my run a couple times because the timing was not right.

I enjoy rock gardening and would like to use my composite boat from time to time. So I had a goal  to provide protection with the thinness material available, as I did not want to straighten out the tracking but keep the boat loose.
Stainless steel water bottles. I chose to use only the Klean 
Kanteen brand as it's a better stainless steel
I did tests with aluminum, stainless steel, and different composites, roughly a 25 lbs force with a dull chisel. I also tested 5 different epoxies on the aluminum and stainless and how much force it took to remove it from a composite form. Nothing came close to the stainless for abrasion and sharp blows. Weight was close to a thick composite layup and the aluminum. I used stainless water bottles to make this armor.
Stainless steel bottles cut
 I did find out that not all stainless bottles a created equal. There are over 100 different types of stainless steel. Some are more prone to corrosion than others. The best bottle I found was made by Klean Kanteen. There bottles are made from pure 18/8, food grade stainless that will not rust. The adhesive I chose is called Flex Set. Its an amazing adhesive that can also be used on polyethylene. I'm very encouraged with this armor.
Here I initially wanted to use aluminum (on right) but decided stainless (left)
steel would be more durable.

Here you can see the difference in thickness comparing the aluminum
to the stainless steel

                                    Here is the completed keel, armored with stainless steel

I will be putting this armor to the test, posting an update on how this stainless armor works out. I've already cut and shaped stainless steel for the bow. If my tests are any indication of its durability I will also install the stainless on the bow.

I think barnacles have met their match! Huzza!!