Overhauling a Grabner H2

by Gael Auffret

Gael’s H2 review here, compared with other kayaks here, and solo paddle up the Scottish Sea Kayak Trail: Part 1 Part 2

After more than 12 years my tandem Grabner H2 IK was showing signs of wear all over. The most visible sign appeared behind the fore half deck where two grommets fed the grab lines (right). Around those grommets the rubber coating had worn off, showing the bare woven core material of the Hypalon fabric.
Another major concern was a crack that developed under the aft backrest bracket (left). This ill-designed bracket has a sharp edge that gets pushed into the skin under the weight of the paddler. After some years of chafing it had worn a small hole that proved difficult to patch reliably.
I must to admit the H2 is not as perfect and tough as I’d claimed so loudly. Encounters with various submerged obstacles and a number of uncontrolled landings had resulted in many scars and scratches all over the hull. I now also own a similar Incept K40 for solo paddles, but as I intended to keep the H2 as a tandem boat, I thought it was time to give it a serious makeover.
I knew Grabner could provide an MRO service as stated on their web site and the French Grabner reseller confirmed he could send my boat to the factory in Austria for a quotation. That came the week later in German, but what didn’t need translatimg was the substantial figure at the bottom of the quote which added up to something like “you’re better off buying a new boat”.
Grabner’s attitude to those requiring a more seaworthy kayak than an H2 was get an Explorer or the framed but now discontinued Discovery, but those IKs are way too bulky and heavy (26kg and 29kg respectively) for transportation when shuttling about – my H2 weighs just 16kg. Plus they are just about the most expensive IKs in the inflatable world (right). I discussed the money issue with the other half of the H2’s crew who happens to also be the purser. She too wanted to keep the H2 and was not as appalled by the cost as I was, so after a short deliberation we decided to proceed.
Three weeks later my local reseller informed me enthusiastically that my H2 was here and beautifully refurbished. Save for the numerous patches it looked like new.

The Grabner folks had done a great job; even the foredeck grommets had been neatly repaired.

All backrest brackets had been replaced with new parts of a much better design. A new pair had been added at my request to enable solo paddling from a central position. Up till then I’d sat in the back of my H2 when solo.

Most cockpit fittings like footrest and D-ring brackets which had started coming loose had been reglued.

There was a keel strip on the bottom as well. Surprisingly the Austrian guys hadn’t paid attention to the colour of the patches (left). While the inside the H2 is yellow, they applied patches in external red. I should have supplied them the yellow patches I’ve got in my repair kit. Anyway, I’m happy the boat is in such great shape again, if not better than before. I can’t claim it’s worth as much money as I’ve spent on it, but I’m sure my H2 will go for another 12 years.

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