How to Tell If a Surfboard Is Waterlogged? Read This First!

Our surfboards take a beating from time to time, whether it is from transporting your board to and from the beach, hitting a rock, or knocking into another surfer.

One major consequence of these beatings is small cracks and dings in your board that allow water to enter.

This, left untreated, can result in your surfboard becoming waterlogged, but how can you tell if your board has become waterlogged?

An untreated waterlogged surfboard is ultimately death to your board. The following article will discuss how your surfboard could become waterlogged and what you can do about it.

So How to Tell If a Surfboard Is Waterlogged?

The best way to tell if your surfboard is letting in water is by checking if it has gained weight after a surf. Alternatively, you can dry off your board and pay attention to any water pools or drops that occur after some time.

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Can a Surfboard Become Waterlogged?

Waterlogged surfboards are a common occurrence as, over time, our boards tend to become damaged.

When damage is not repaired, saltwater can enter through small cracks and dings, allowing the foam to absorb the water and become heavy.

This can occur rapidly through large holes but can also become slowly waterlogged over time if the cracks are minute.

An untreated waterlogged surfboard will eventually become too heavy and begin to sink.

What Is a Waterlogged Surfboard?

According to the Cambridge Dictionary, the definition of waterlogged, when referring to a boat or other floating devices, is “full of water and therefore unable to keep moving or floating.”

A waterlogged surfboard, similar to a boat, can become full of water and will no longer perform in its designed manner.

A waterlogged surfboard can refer to a board that is so full of water that it no longer floats but is also used to refer to any surfboard that is letting in water. This can be small amounts, but the term remains the same.

The Reason Why Your Surfboard Is Waterlogged 

There is only one way that your surfboard can become waterlogged; through a small hole or crack in the epoxy or fiberglass.

However, it is true that there are countless ways in which your board could receive these dings and cracks.

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The most common way to get a ding or crack in your surfboard is from transportation. As we move our boards through our house, into our cars, and out of the cars on the other side, there are multiple locations to bump your board against.

It is for this reason that it is important to use a good quality surfboard bag.

Other common ways in which you could damage your surfboard could include:

  • Colliding with other surfers in the water.
  • Hitting rocks as you surf.
  • Duck diving too deep on a shallow break and hitting the ocean floor.
  • Having a fin or your leash ripped out.

Once there is a small crack in your board, it is important that it is fixed before you enter the ocean again.

Not fixing even the tiniest hole will lead to water eventually filling up the inside of your surfboard.

In short, the reason for your surfboard becoming waterlogged is that you have not attended to damage on your board before hitting the waves.

How to Tell If Your Surfboard Is Waterlogged

If you think that your surfboard is letting in water and that it may be waterlogged, there are three things you can do in order to confirm your suspicions.

1. Check the Weight

The easiest way to tell if your surfboard is becoming waterlogged is by paying attention to the weight. 

Before you head out for a surf, weigh your board. After getting back home, make sure that your surfboard is completely dry and free of sand, and then weigh it again.

If there is a difference in weight, then it is safe to assume that water is entering the board.

You should, however, keep in mind that small cracks will let water in slowly and may not make a big enough difference to notice after only a single surf session.

2. Look For Leaks

If measuring the weight does not give you a clear enough answer, your next best choice is to clean off your board with fresh water after a surf and dry it off.

Once your board is completely dry, store it in a cool space out of the sun and leave it for a few hours.

When you return to your board, look around for water pools or droplets that have formed on the ground or in areas around the board. 

Another thing to keep an eye on is forming salt crystals. If you spot either of these two things, then it is likely there is a small hole in your surfboard, and it is letting water in.

3. Suck On the Holes

Finally, if you have a crack or ding on your board and you are not sure if it is letting in water, put your mouth over the hole and suck in

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If you find that water droplets are entering your mouth, then you will know that there is a hole and water has made its way inside your board.

When doing this, caution should be taken as broken fiberglass can be sharp and will cut you if you are not careful.

Can Waterlogged Surfboards Lose Buoyancy?

Small amounts of water inside your surfboard will not make too much difference. It’s likely you will not notice the small change in weight, nor will your surfboard sink or perform differently.

The problem occurs when more water continuously enters the board.

If too much water makes its way inside your surfboard, it will eventually begin to feel heavy and, at some stage, will no longer support your weight.

If you leave your board in the water with holes in it, the board will eventually become fully waterlogged and sink.

A waterlogged surfboard is less buoyant than a dry surfboard. This is why it is important to take good care of your board and fix any holes and cracks that may occur.

How to Fix a Waterlogged Surfboard?

Fixing a waterlogged surfboard is not difficult, but it will take some time. You should also take note that unless you completely remove a side of the board’s fiberglass, it is likely that not all of the water will be removed.

That being said, this is how to remove water from a waterlogged surfboard:

  1. The most important step to drying out a waterlogged surfboard is to stop surfing with it. 

If you only have a single surfboard, this may seem tough, but it is the price you will need to pay to get your board back to its performing self.

  1. Rinse your surfboard off with fresh water and dry it off fully. As you are trying to remove the water, it is important that more water does not enter the board.
  1. Use the third method mentioned above to find out which dings and cracks are letting in water.

Suck out as much water as you can with this method; it will speed up the drying process.

  1. Place your board on a flat surface and cut away the section around the leaking ding/ dings.

The more water that is inside your board, the longer it will take to dry. 

This means that the more fiberglass you cut away, the faster it will dry out. However, this also means more work you will need to do in order to fix the hole.

You should also remove any damaged material that is inside the board, such as decayed and rotten foam or broken pieces of fiberglass and resin.

  1. Once you are happy with the size of the hole, place your surfboard in a cool, dry place with the hole facing down.
  1. After this, all you can do is wait. You could wait for a few days, possibly up to a few weeks for the board to dry out. 
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The time it takes to dry will depend on the size of the hole, how much water is inside your board, the humidity in the air, and the temperature of each day.

Note: It is possible to slightly speed up the process by setting a fan to blow on the hole. It is best to slightly offset the fan so that it does not push water back into the foam.

Some people also shove paper towels and cloths into the holes to help absorb the water. Keep in mind that if you do this, you will still need to remove the towels and allow the foam to continue drying.

Once the foam around the hole is completely dry, it is time to get out your surgery kit and begin fixing the ding.

How Long Does It Take For a Surfboard to Dry Out?

Drying out a waterlogged surfboard can take anywhere between a few days and a couple of weeks.

The time frame depends on multiple factors, which include:

  • How much water is inside the board.
  • How large the drainage hole is.
  • The humidity and temperature around the surfboard.
  • The method you use to remove the water.
  • The size of the surfboard.

If your surfboard has a large hole but only small amounts of water inside, then it could take as little as one or two days for it to dry out completely.

This process can be sped up by making a second hole and attaching a vacuum pump to suck out all the water.

Once the water has been removed, it will take a few hours to a couple of days for the foam to become completely dry.

On the other hand, if you have a 12-foot board that is completely waterlogged and do not use a vacuum to such out the water, you may be waiting for weeks to let the water slowly drain out with the help of gravity.

In this case, it is best to cut away a larger section of the board’s outer layer which will allow more water to leave in a shorter amount of time.

Final Thoughts

Untreated damage on a surfboard could lead to water entering inside the board. If this is ignored, your surfboard will eventually become waterlogged.

Waterlogged surfboards are heavy and lose their buoyancy, sometimes to the point that they no longer float.

If your surfboard is letting in even just small amounts of water, you should stop using it immediately and begin the drying out and repair process.

Remember, a surfboard that does not float is a surfboard that cannot be used to surf.

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