You can easily fix your neoprene spray skirt that has a tear in it. Kayak spray skirts are prone to tearing as you flip underwater and brush with rocks. The most likely place to experience a tear is right at the coaming of the cockpit, where the neoprene gets stretched thin over a sometimes sharp edge. This can happen when you hit the corner of your cockpit against a hard object or the jagged rim literally cuts its way through. But it’s not a big enough deal that you have to go out and buy a whole new spray skirt. You can easily repair the tear yourself with just one simple product.
It goes without saying that you want your repair to last a good while. This means it must not only be water-proof but stretch-proof as well. If your repair is non-stretchable, it is purely cosmetic. Alternatively, you could sew up the tear and apply a dabble of aquaseal to it, as some people do. But I don’t like putting puncture holes into an already torn spray skirt — even if they are covered up in a layer of aquaseal. There is a better option.
Aquaseal NEO Neoprene Contact Cement
This neoprene cement is a God send. It seals quickly and flexes after drying as well. Best of all, it’s the only product you need to use to repair your torn spray skirt. It helps that it’s cheap too and only costs a few bucks. It works well for the any of the repairs needed on your neoprene spray skirt. You do not need to graft pieces of neoprene into your patch, the cement works well used by itself.
The seal is abrasion-resistant too. Which means you can even repair the edge of your skirt that goes over the coaming — aka the most abrasion-prone area. It’s arguably the hardest part of your spray skirt to repair. Not coincidentally, it’s the also part that often needs the most repairs made to it.
The neoprene cement should be a wider known solution for spray skirt repairs. If you decide to pick yourself up a bottle or tube of it, you’re sure to find other uses for it. You can also repair torn wetsuits or neoprene booties and re-seal a leaky dry suit gasket. It’s a good product to have on hand and could help extend the life of some of your gear.
Applying Neoprene Cement to Spray Skirt
The directions say to clean the affected area first and let dry.
Once cleaned and dried, apply some cement on the underside of the tear. Make sure to have something underneath so the cement doesn’t stick to your tabletop surface.
Then apply some cement with the applicator or squirt tube to the top of the tear. Be sure to fill in all of the gaps and crevices.
Now press and hold in the two edges of the tear together so that a bond can be made. Let sit for five minutes. At this time you can also wipe off any excess cement but be careful not to take too much off and expose the tear.
After the first coat, apply a second coat for reassurance. Follow the same steps as before, applying first to the underside and then the top. Wipe off any excess and let fully dry — at least a half an hour before stretching the material.
Make sure the area you’re working in is well ventilated. Try not to inhale too much of the vapors. Set some fans going to circulate the air around the room. Leave a door open to the outside if possible, or open windows.
The ideal time to make this repair is when humidity levels and heat are low.
Preventing Further Tears
Your patched area should hold out for quite some time, though it might not look pretty. The Aquaseal patch is in fact tougher and more abrasion-resistant than the original neoprene.
If your spray skirt keeps getting torn near the cockpit rim, you may want to check for sharp edges on the kayak itself. You’ll likely find jagged, scratched areas that can be smoothed-out to prevent recurring tears. You can just file or sand some of these areas down.
Even new boats can come directly from the manufacturer with rough edges around the cockpit coaming. Smooth these edges out as best you can so they won’t tear your spray skirt as it flexes over them. Be sure to check the underside of the coaming as well for sharp edges.