The Prettiest Thing We Have Built
May 6/7, 2016
we left the Kayak Build, the bottom had been varnished with
ACE Spar Varnish. It was time to finish this beauty.
I flipped her over and did the top. The color is nice, but I was
hoping for something a little more amber. (yes, that is a full-on
Viking helmet on our water cooler.)
The wrinkles, while regrettable, are acceptable.
This is the problem with doing the bottom first: Any seepage comes
around the gunnel and will be visible forever more on the top of
the boat. I think I'll to the top first next time.
I'm sorry if I am sounding petty and critical, but it is such a
lovely boat, any imperfections hurt my soul. I set her out in the
sun to dry.
While building the first kayak, I had been twiddling with the design.
I needed a test mule to see how to lay out the cockpit.
I am having a very hard time getting into and out of the kayak,
maybe because I got the design from the book: Kayaks
of Alaska written about traditional boats. It seems the First
Peoples might have been slightly smaller than me. I'm considering
switching from the traditional round hatch to a keyhole shaped one
for easier egress.
I am not a kayaker, and had to ask about how people get into and
out of them. There are two methods: Sit heels-to-butt and slide
your feet forward OR sit on the back part of the hatch, extend your
legs, and slide in all at once. Either requires skill and practice,
but the Heels-to-Butt method needs a bigger hatch. I'm going for
the Heels-to-Butt because I am not as limber as I used to be. It'll
be 19" wide at the back and 12" wide at the front (rounded
And that's it: 7pm, time to close up.
I think that's the lowest tide I have ever seen here in Toledo.
Our poor oarhouse - it's just about done for.
Here's the view down the other side. TheJonah is safe -
it's dredged under her.
SeaDawn seems to be sitting on the hard (probably;y the
soft - lots of mud)
Texans. They're everywhere.
For a 'traditional' kayak build, everything starts with the gunnels.
The ribs will be spaced on 6" centers and arranged so they
don't go where the deck beams go. Rather than measure, I just cut
a piece of scrap to 6".
Next, I lined up a piece of rib centered on the mark and drew the
marks across all the gunnels at once.
I drilled the holes that will become the mortises for the deck
beams - again, all at once so all my mistakes are the same.
Patience came for a visit, so I said "Hey! You get to be my
test pilot! This boat has never been in the water before - we've
never built one like this before. Get a life jacket and take everything
out of your pockets - let's see how she floats!" At roughly
40 lbs, the finished boat is a little heavy for an 11-year-old to
Patience has benefited from the ultra conservative designs of Boathouse
boats like the Lazy
Weekend Canoe and Tik
Tak Kayaks: Wide, flat bottoms for stability and safety. She
was not impressed with the liveliness of the kayak.
Still, she moved right along.
That is a beautiful boat.
The second I had dropped the kayak in the bottom, I'd noticed water
was weeping through the weave of the fabric. Apparently it takes
more than one coat of varnish to seal things up. I hadn't told Patience
about it because . . . well, she had her life jacket on.
Time for me to try it out - seepage and all. It is very difficult
for me to get into this boat, but I can.
Oh, yeah! That paddles nice!
I weigh considerably more than Patience, but I still like how the
boat trims. Maybe I could be a couple inches further forward.
It turns out, historically, natives on the Pacific coast didn't
use double bladed paddles all that much, and I wanted to see how
paddling a kayak with a canoe paddle worked. It works quite well,
actually. Modern kayaks use double bladed paddles and rudders, which
takes very little skill. That's probably why they are popular.
Getting in was a trial. Getting out was even more interesting.
First, I tried it without help.
But I ended up needing someone to help steady the boat. Yeah, I
have to change the cockpit a bit.
All in all, we'd been in the water less than 10 minutes, but we'd
managed to collect quite a bit of water.
Hey, Patience! Take a picture of my butt!" Yeah, a little
Back in the Boathouse, and now with a wet butt, I set about cutting
mortises for the ribs. 17 ribs means 34 mortises per boat. I suppose
I *could* have gone traditional and chiseled each one out with a
sharpened narwhal tusk, but I used this spiffy Delta
Mortising Machine instead.
Why spend the money on a Mortising Machine? Well, I timed how long
it took me to cut 17 mortises - 10 minutes per gunnel. That's nice.
You still have to clean out the debris, though. A 1/4" chisel
and a nail bent into a hook work wonders.
That's enough for this week. Join us again next week when we assemble
the gunnels of the next two kayaks.