When your boat has a leak, you could buy commercial leak patches as a temporary fix. However, in the wilderness you do not have the option of running into the nearest boat and marine retailer to buy what you need. Here are some substitutes that you can find in nature to patch your boat and survive in the wild.
For hundreds of years, Native Americans collected the sap from pine trees and boiled it into a dark sticky mess. This pine tar, or pitch, was then used to cover their canoes and keep them together. If you are all alone with your boat in the middle of nowhere, try to get to shore. you can tap a pine tree in much the same way you would a maple for syrup. Collect at least three cups’ worth of the pine tree’s sap and then set it on a fire to boil. When it condenses down and gets dark and thick, take it off the fire and slather it over the leaking area. Put a layer of pine pitch on the outside first, let it dry, and apply a thin layer on the inside over the same area. Your boat is ready when the pitch is hard and does not move when you poke it.
Beaver Skins and Deer Pelts
The Native Americans of the past also used skins and pelts, wrapped tightly about their canoes, to prevent leaking. Beaver pelts are best because beavers have naturally waterproof fur. The beaver pelts are ideal for smaller holes, and the deer pelts for the bigger leaks. The downside to skins is that you will have to hunt these animals down, skin them, tan their hides, stretch them out in the sun, and then repair your boat with them. Unless you have a few weeks to spare, or you live in the wild already, the pine pitch may be a better and quicker solution.
For the Seriously Damaged Boat
Surviving in the wild means that you will have to dump a boat you cannot patch. If you decide to give up your life as mountain person and survivalist, you can always bring your boat into a boat repair shop like Idaho Water Sports and have it fixed. Professionals who work with wood and aluminum can use modern instruments to seal the holes up and seal off the leaks that spring from the seams of your metal boats.