Kayak Construction Tour

Before you view the construction process you might want to read the following answers to some questions that are frequently asked. In fact, while we're out paddling we get asked these questions so often by complete strangers that at times it almost seems as though the world at large has conspired to test the limits of our tolerance and sanity.

How much do they weigh?

They weigh 60lbs. a piece. When they were just wood, before all the gallons of epoxy and finish were added, they were as light as a feather. But at 60lbs. one person can carry them on their head with no problem for short distances. However, John and his brother-in-law David carried them that way for a couple hundred yards once and nearly died. But when two people share the weight on their shoulder they can be carried forever.

What kind of wood is that?

Well, some of it is marine grade plywood and some of it is solid wood. As for the species of woods ~ the really pretty deck wood is sapele. It's a relative of mahogany and can be easily mistaken for it. You can see the similarity in the fact that the cockpit coaming (the wood around the cockpit that the sprayskirt attaches to) is made from mahogany, and so are the rubrails. But sapele has a more striped, ribbony appearance. The light colored wood for the hull is okoume, another african wood that's popular for boatbuilding plywood. The wood that was used for the interior rib frame is sitka spruce. It has a really high strength to weight ratio and is easily bent.

Why is the back hatch cover a different wood than the front hatch?

Because we ran out of wood. We couldn't justify buying a whole new sheet of plywood for just a couple of one foot squares. At first the cosmetics of it panged us greatly, but now we don't even notice.

How long are they?

Seventeen and a half feet. They just barely fit in our garage.

How long did it take you to build them?

Who knows? They were built over a four month period, from November of '96 to February of '97, but no one was logging the hours. There's not a lot of time-consuming woodwork involved. The things that take the most time, and are most tedious, are the sanding of epoxy and the finish work.

Are they fiberglassed?

The hulls are.

How much did they cost?

They cost somewhere between $700 and $800 a piece. The wood wasn't very expensive ~ about $50 a sheet of plywood. The major cost was the epoxy ~ around $50 a gallon. And the seats and rudders were expensive.

Did you buy a kit?

No, they were built from scratch ~ cheaper that way, and besides, no one sells a kit that looks as pretty as these. The plans were purchased from Chesapeake Lightcraft.

Were they difficult to build?

Not very. The trickiest part is probably making the scarf joints in the plywood.

Would you build me one?

You wouldn't want to pay the price. Look at the construction photos and get inspired to build one for yourself instead.

On with the twelve-step construction tour

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