D-rings patches are a convenient way to add mounting points to your inflatable or skin-on-frame craft. These patches are strong, easy to apply, and are commonly used by whitewater rafting outfitters to attach a variety of gear to their boats. They are purchased from outfitting retailers like NRS in the U.S. as well as from fabric boat manufacturers such as AIRE and Pakboats.
We recently purchased and installed some on our Pakboats XT-15 folding kayaks. These patches are typically glued to the outside of the hull, but can also be attached to the inside surface of many skin-on-frame boats.
Our initial intention was to glue the patches to the outside of the hull, but after a lengthy discussion with Alv Elvestad, the owner of Pakboats, we were encouraged to glue them to the inside of the hull and have the D-ring extend through the skin to the outside. He said it would create a nice clean look with only the D-ring seen from the outside. Since this procedure involves making an incision in the skin, I admit, I was a bit concerned. He assured us that the area would remain strong and watertight.
We started by marking the area on the outside of the hull, where the D-ring would be located. We chose an area underneath the under-the-hull strap and not too far from the deck.
Next, we measured the width of the D-ring and marked this distance on the hull.
Then came the fun part. With a pocket knife, we made an opening in the skin and tested the size by pushing the D-ring through.
With a marking pen, we drew a circle on the inside of the skin slightly larger than the patch. This circle is used as guide for applying the adhesive.
Both the patch and the skin should be cleaned with some alcohol.
Next, we applied the vinyl adhesive that came with the Pakboat’s repair kit, to both the patch and the skin and let it dry to the touch.
We pushed the patch onto the skin making sure to squeeze out any trapped air bubbles.
After allowing the adhesive to cure, we skinned the hull. For a final touch, some Aquaseal polyurethane sealant was applied to the outside of the skin where it meets the D-ring webbing.
Here are some photos of the finished product. It was easy, straight forward and took about 30 min. to complete.
Fair winds and happy sailing!