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Sea Kayak
#1
Since doing a sea kayak taster day in Skye during the summer holidays I have been wanting to get a sea kayak for paddling around the Kent coast.  After looking around the cost was an eye opener with decent kayaks being in the order of £1500  :o .  I don't really like to look of the plastic ones and after seeing someone with a wooden kayak I thought how hard could it be to build one  Undecided .  So here the story begins.  

There are may different plans you can buy and I went with a set from Guillemot Kayaks.  Having never really worked with wood before I bought a book (The strip-built sea kayak) by the owner of the company which details the build sequence and contains the plans for 3 different kayaks.  Plans is a bit generous as all you get is a table of values which you have to interpret and then draw.  It turns out that building a kayak is pretty hard then.

All kayaks of this type are constructed by placing strips of western red cedar around a series of forms strung on a strongback.

First stage is to change all the table values from imperial to metric (damned Americans and their old fashioned measurements  Tongue ) and then draw the outline of the kayak forms onto paper.

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Only values for half of each form are provided so you draw half and then fold over and cut out giving a full form plan.  For this 17' guillemot kayak there are 16 forms (and 2 end forms for the bow and stern) so lots of plotting, drawing, mistakes, redrawing and cutting.  Eventually you end up with a pile of paper outlines.

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These are then glued on to MDF boards and then roughly cut out.

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Many hours of sanding follows.  This is possibly the most boring thing I have ever done.  Even more boring than the one time I decided to session Warren Road in a misguided attempt to get better at climbing.  This unfortunately was followed by around 10hrs of trying to get the forms aligned on the strongback (a 2"x4" box beam constructed from 18mm MDF).  After lots of attempts using all sorts of laser levels etc and much head scratching alignment was done using 3 pieces of string.  There is definately something to be said for the saying Keep It Simple Stupid!  Eventually all was setup and it looks vaguely like a kayak.  Well a kayak shape anyway  Big Grin .

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So far this has taken about 3 months and now the fun part begins.  Adding the strips.  As of tonight I have got the first two strips applied.  This feels like something of a milestone.

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Hopefully when it is finished it will look something like this.

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#2
I have a wooden sea kayak kit in the attic, I might have to get round to that one day.
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#3
Good work John, look forward to seeing the end result, if it turns out anything like that finished one it'll be awesome! Are you gonna fit a rudder? Sea kayaks that long are a pig to turn unless you are good at edging and turning on the crest of waves. Will you be able to use a spray deck, and will it have hatches? If you fancy getting some practice i have been going out with Whitstable Canoe Club on Sundays and they have 5 17' Vally sea kayaks you can have a go in.
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#4
I won't be fitting a rudder but will be modifying the design to fit a skeg. Turning should not be too much of a probles as the boat has a fairly rounded hull with soft chines. I think trying to go in a straight line might be more of a problem. The cockpit coaming allows for the use of a spray deck and I will be fitting deck hatches fore and aft. Eventually I plan on using the kayak for overnight paddling/camping trips. I am thinking about joining Maidstone canoe club as they provide structured training but if I dont get on there I will give the whitstable club a try.

OT: Do you still want to borrow VAGCOM Treehugger? I am away for the next two weeks but could come on a blean or kingswood ride and drop off the cable when I am back. (Disclaimer, I accept no responsibility if you screw up the ecu coding of your audi  Wink )
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#5
If you are putting hatches in it would be a good idea to put bulkheads in
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#6
Yeah, tbere will be bulkheads in front and behind the cockpit.
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#7
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I always found one of these to be rather fun.
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#8
&quot;Jon&quot; Wrote:I won't be fitting a rudder but will be modifying the design to fit a skeg. Turning should not be too much of a probles as the boat has a fairly rounded hull with soft chines. I think trying to go in a straight line might be more of a problem. The cockpit coaming allows for the use of a spray deck and I will be fitting deck hatches fore and aft. Eventually I plan on using the kayak for overnight paddling/camping trips. I am thinking about joining Maidstone canoe club as they provide structured training but if I dont get on there I will give the whitstable club a try.

OT: Do you still want to borrow VAGCOM Treehugger? I am away for the next two weeks but could come on a blean or kingswood ride and drop off the cable when I am back. (Disclaimer, I accept no responsibility if you screw up the ecu coding of your audi  Wink )

No, the length and pointy bow and stern will make it track pretty strait, i couldn't really tell the difference with the skeg up and down on the Vally which has a similarly shaped hull. It was my first time in a sea kayak and the first time in a sit inside for years so i couldn't try it myself, but apparently they turn best turning on the outside endge. I'll try the one with a rudder next time and try some more dynamic turns with the rudder up now i am a bit more used to sit insides. I would highly reccomend fitting thigh braces, if you arent already planning to. They make a huge difference in helping you to control the boat and make edging and rolling easyer, as do decent foot pegs/bulkhead foot rest. I prefer the bulkhead as i find pegs hurt the balls of my feet when adjusted so that my thighs are hard against the thigh braces as they should be, especially when wearing wetsuit boots with a thin sole like mine. This is probably stating the obviouse, but make sure the hatch bulkheads are well sealed, as creating a watertight seal with a wooden hatch cover will be tricky, unless you can come up with a neat latch to seal it.
The Whitstable club doesn't do structured training as such, but most of them are very experianced paddlers who are more than willing to help out and give you tips and advice and they are a really nice bunch of guys too. They also do regular pool sessions, the next one being on 4th Dec at Joy Lane swimming pool, and the club is 2 minuets from the sea, which at this time of year is good fun Smile

Yeah would still like to borrow the Vagcom if that's ok, no massive hurry though so whenever your down here. Someone on the VW/Audi forum posted up an idiots guide to using it, so *should* be fine.
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#9
Longjon, those boats are fun. I have been out on a very powerful one with the sbs in poole. I initially wanted to build a mahogany runaround like the Riva Aquarama with a 5.7l V8 but common sence pervailed! Well that and building a 19' boat in a 18' garage was never going to work.

Treehugger, although the kayak is 17' overall the waterline length is the important value when considering speed and handling. This one has a waterline length of about 13'6" so is relatively short. By the time the hull meets the water the bow and stern have lost most of the pointyness (proper technical term that  Big Grin ) and therefore has very little v to the hull thus making turning easier. Also the soft chines help as it is the hard chines which improve the tracking. I used a valley is Skye and with moderate crosswinds the skeg made a big difference to the tracking, particularly with winds on the rear quarter. Having said that I had no problem turning the valley with the skeg up. This design is also about 2/3 of the weight of the valley so will have a shallower draught which will also improve the turning.

I will be using some form of foot braces but havent decided on an adjustable bulkhead type or foot pegs yet. Padded knee braces will be built into the cockpit coaming and I will be building in hip braces as well. There will be a hatch lip beneath the hatch covers. This will contain the weather seal and the hatches will be held shut with powerful magnets. This is a well proven design with many of these kayaks being this way.

It will take me quite a time to finish this one (somewhere between 300 - 500 hours) so there is plenty of time for the final design to be adapted but I hope to have it finished towards the middle of next summer. Any comments on improvements or modifications to make it better are appreciated.
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#10
It was quite rough when i took it out which might have made turning harder, will take it out again on a calmer day, would have been perfect yesterday actually but everyone else had creak boats so i followed suit so i didn't leave them all standing as it is bloody fast. Yours sounds like it is gonna be awesome, can't wait to see how it turns out so keep the updates coming.
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