Board First Aid
What to carry to fix pesky SUP dings
Most of us keep some sort of first aid kit in our cars or packs for minor cuts and scrapes, but do you have a board or boat first aid kit handy?
If not, you should. And here a some key things to keep in that kit:
1. Puka Patches or stickers
Puka patches are thick, clear, extremely adhesive patches for instant ding repair. They can be applied immediately, even in the water, when the board is wet. They are great for small, “cleaner” dings – the kind sustained by punctures caused by rocks, normal wear and tear and the dings often caused by transporting boards. Once applied, they are extremely difficult to remove. And while a regular sticker will work, puka patches are much more durable. They come in two sizes – 2″ x 3-1/8 and XL which is 3-1/2″ x 4-7/8″. There are five patches to a pack, and a small buffing pad is included. Puka patches are easily slipped into a PFD or board shorts pocket so you can have one handy at all times.
Solarez UV epoxy comes in a tube and is great for filling and sealing deeper or more complicated dings or gashes to the board. Be careful to use the Solarez that comes in the blue tube – the yellow is polyester-based and can melt EPS styrofoam. Solarez is easy to work with – in a shaded area, out of the sun, you simply apply the epoxy to the ding – after sanding and/or cutting away jagged, damaged bits of fiberglass. Then set the board in the sun and in five minutes or so, the epoxy is cured and is ready to be sanded down. The nice thing about Solarez is that any kind of mixing of expoxy is not required.
Bondic is a handy bonding agent that can be used for many purposes besides minor ding repair – I’ve fixed flip-flops with it, as an example. It comes in a small tube, with a fine applicator tip, making it perfect for very small dings and small scratches. The kit also includes a small UV light for curing, so you can repair your board even on days when the sun’s not cooperating. If the ding is tiny, you might not need to sand it down, otherwise sand after application and curing, as you would an epoxy. It comes in a handy tin carry case.
4. Popsicle sticks
Popsicle or craft sticks are handy for applying just the right amount of expoxy.
5. Plastic wrap or clear packing tape
Use this to cover your epoxy application to help fill in the ding and smooth out the epoxy to keep subsequent sanding to a minimum.
6. Exacto Knife or Box Cutter
This will help you prep the ding for the epoxy by cutting away damaged bits of fiberglass and foam.
A couple of grades of sandpaper (P80 and less) help remove the damaged bits of board and help create a surface for the epoxy to adhere to. Use it before you begin the repair, and then after the epoxy application to remove excess expoxy.
8. Latex gloves
Epoxy is, by nature, sticky and messy. Wearing gloves protects your hands and keeps thing clean.
9. UV Light
Sometimes you need a little extra help – maybe you don’t have a sunny day. Solarez makes a great hand-held UV flashlight to help speed up curing.
Other items that are handy to keep in your board first aid kit include extra leash strings, spare fin nuts and bolts and spare POV camera mounts (because someone you paddle with might just need one.)
Get a good waterproof box, like a Pelican case or Otter Box to keep all your repair supplies in, and always keep it in the same place in your car.