Tuesday, March 20, 2018


These went routinely, but I did an experiment and made a discovery. I made a foam bulkhead and a 1/8" plywood bulkhead with the same form as a template, and weighed them. The plywood bulkhead was actually lighter  than the 3" minicel!

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Exterior Hull Work

Glassing the hull went routinely, although faster than usual.  I decided to err on the side of "too much epoxy" rather than too little.
The skeg box opened up with the router. I glassed around the edges with 2 oz. cloth.

While sanding, I noticed that not only did I hit the 'glass n a few spots, but I actually went through the glass to the bare wood! I'm trying little patches of saturated 2 oz. glass and two coats of epoxy as a remedy.
It seems to be working.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Interior Hull Work

The usual grinding away with the disc sander, except this time, I decided not to go too crazy smoothing the parts that won't be seen. Fiberglassing went well enough.
The skeg box in place. I made it before starting the build. This time I used 5mm okume ply instead of shop birch, and stuck a piece of plywood in the slot to help it hold its shape. I was careful to saturate the bare plywood with clear epoxy before gluing it down. I hope this one holds up better than the last one!

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Completing The Deck

This went more easily than expected, only requiring two small "whiskey planks. I used mostly pine, and some accents of plain-sawed cedar. 
This is also where I really got to see my design. The deck is flatter than I had envisioned, and there are two fairly prominent humps forward of the cockpit. It also looks shorter & wider than I thought it would be.
All part of The Learning Curve.
I faired it (basically) and took it off.  Relatively heavy, with all that pine.

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Starting The Deck

After building and rough-shaping the external stems, I flipped the boat over, by the usual rope-suspension method. I ran a 3/8" strip of cedar the length of the centerline. I saw that the curve from the cockpit to the foredeck was a little steeper than I thought it would be, so I decided to build up two of the forms with strips of wood:
I have done this in the past, when I saw that a strip wouldn't run fair between two forms, but this time, it was a result of the design. I keep learning more things about the design that I created when I see it actual size; for example, I could have made a more gracefully curved deck. It also looks bigger and more voluminous than I visualized. 
Another Redux! After running a few strips into the bow & stern, I realized that the pattern I was using would be difficult/look ugly, so I took them off. After getting over it, I hope that the do-over will have the same result as the last time.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Finishing The Bottom

Went about the same as usual: center strip of pine, filled in up from the sheerline, and down from the centerline. I found that I'd need somewhat longer external stems than usual, and I had to heat-twist most of strips at the ends.
For the stems, I made a bunch of 1/8" pine strips, heat bending required. I found that enough heat to bend the second strip was enough to melt epoxy and un-glue the first strip so I made a template for pre-bending the strips. We are having a cold snap, and its only 50 degrees in the basement.
It looks like a chubby little kayak.
As expected, the external stems were longer than in other builds. I built them up with four 1/8" strips of pine, but when I shaped them down to fair, I revealed something that I thought they'd cover up. Keel Easy! ;)

Monday, December 4, 2017


After I realized that several things were going less-than-optimally, I decided (somewhat painfully) to start over again, from the design.
I widened the bow and stern entries on the design, so that I can actually strip to the forms. I also reduced the upturn of the ends, so I don't have to deal with such a "mad" curve.
I'm going to use an internal stem this time, because I don't like joining the ends of the strips past the bow & stern. It also prevents the mistake of gluing the form to the boat.
I'm probably not going to have enough strips, but I can deal with making more strips easier than I can deal with the number of mistakes that have piled up.
I went back into Kayak Foundry, and reshaped the bow & stern entries to be a little less "fine". I wondered if I could re-use the middle forms, then thought better of it, and remade all the forms. As I expected, forms 1 and 15 came out wider.
Planning an internal stem posed a problem-how to mark the taper? In the past, the plan had included a convenient line. This time, I used a strip long enough to span forms 1 and 2, or forms 14 and 15 to gauge the taper, making sure that it would run fair off the end of the stem. The taper I ended up with looked good, quite a bit like the taper of my Outer Islands.
A new way of dealing with the "cheater" strips occurred to me.
I glued in one full-length strip, with a little curve at the ends, and let it run straight out the end.
I then filled the gap with Cheater Strips. This was much easier than the way I used to do it-putting the cheaters down first, then the full-length strips on top. I wish I had thought of this years ago!

Saturday, December 2, 2017


The Usual Stuff, except that I'm discovering that things that look "cool" on Kayak Foundry aren't quite as "cool" on the strongback.  I now wish I hadn't made the bow entry so sharp. 
It occurred to me that I don't necessarily have to strip  slavishly to the forms on my own design, but I have to strip symmetrically and workably.
I how also wish that I had made the bow & stern forms with an internal stem, like the Outer Island. I forgot what a pain it is to join the ends of the strips. I'm not following those forms exactly.
In fact, I'm accumulating so many should-haves that I'm considering starting all over, from the design.

Monday, October 30, 2017


This went somewhat easier than last year, since I was able to re-use the old box beam sections. I used two 8' sections, pulled about 1' apart, to make a 17' box beam. This takes up much less room in the basement than a 20' box. I was even able to re-use the vertical brackets.
I like the two-string system, because it gives me much more confidence in the alignment, and I like the way that the bottom string is longer that the entire boat.
The usual "outriggers" for planing strips.
I used these little support brackets again, at the ends. The Bow & Stern sections weigh pounds each, and need support.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Cutting & Milling Strips

I bought cedar & pine at Beard Lumber Company, bought too much, and got gypped. The price of cedar has gone through the roof, due to wildfires in California (kind of reminds me of the way oil goes up when "anything" happens) and I paid a small fortune. Ah well, shake it off...
The resawing went about the way it usually does, except that I discovered a few things shaky about my setup. I made two hefty new feather boards. I believe that I can reliably make two 3/16 boards out of a 3/4" board without screwing it up too much.
 Planing is tedious, but effective. I will actually try to save the leftover planed boards for the (inevitable) next build.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Outer Island Repair

I had noticed a little bit of a separation where the skeg trunk comes into the hull, so I dabbed a bit of epoxy on it, and continued to use the kayak. 
I noticed that the gap had increased somewhat, so I brought the boat downstairs to take a look.
WOW. When I pried at the gap, I could see that the damage was extensive. It seemed that I peeled away water-soaked plywood until only a skin  of veneer, and the fiberglass on the outside remained. 
I wondered if it was worth it, if I  should just take the box out somehow, and do without. I can barely reach it through the aft hatch, let alone work effectively with a heat gun at arm's length. A lot of work went into the thing, plus the potential of an ugly "plug" leaking itself, so I'm going to try to fix it.
I dug away seemingly endless shreds of moist wood, until I couldn't get any more out, and hit it with a hair dryer until it stopped smelling "wet". I cut a piece of 10 oz, and a piece of 4 oz. glass to the shape of the plywood, and then mixed some epoxy. First, I spread in a layer of dookie, then applied the 10 oz. glass, followed by more epoxy, and the 4 oz. glass. I hope I have the shreds incorporated into a sort of fillet. 
While I was getting psyched up for this, I stripped the hardware from the boat. I figure I might as well store it that way, saving the trouble for next season's re-varnishing.
I hope this works, and I'm glad that I didn't take the skeg box out.
It seems that the problem was that the box really wanted to cave in & get narrower, despite being glued into place. Next year's box is made out of 1/4" marine okume, and I hope it holds up better.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Cutting Out The Forms

Fairly routine, up to a point. Jigsaw, sanding wheel, and tons of dust. 
I realized that the plan dimensions seem to place the forms 12" on center, and that I couldn't just stick forms 2 and 14 onto the bow & stern forms, so I cut a mortise 3/8" into those forms. Things lined up fairly well, except that the stems stuck out a little higher than the station forms. The split forms seemed to fall quite short of the end of the forms, until I sanded the taper. I also faired out the top of the forms, and checked all with a strip. I may yet have to improvise while stripping.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Printing The Forms

You can print the forms directly from Kayak Foundry. Since my printer only takes legal-size paper, it gives you most of the forms on several sheets of paper. with little target-shaped registration marks.
I used push pins to align the marks, and taped the pages together. Some of the biggest forms require as many as six sheets.
I used 3/4" MDF, and very stinky contact cement. All the forms fit on half a sheet.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

New Design From Kayak Foundry

After much tweaking, adjusting, messaging, and no small amount of frustration, I finally came up with this design on Kayak Foundry. It was a tug-of-war between technical specs and aesthetics-I came up with designs that looked nice, but had technical problems. I guess I will never know what its like until I build it.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Mattabessett Paddle

Its been a while since I made a blog post about a kayak trip. I should do it more often.
Got today off from work. Set out from Harbor Park in Middletown.
Heading for the Arrigoni Bridge, site of a tragedy, and my vote for Homeliest Bridge In Connecticut. The entrance to the Mattabessett is just beyond the railroad bridge.
The Matt is a slow-moving tidal river. I soon got to a marshy area, and saw a lady in a small kayak. Had a chat, and paddled together. There is another put-in spot further up the river, and we paddled there together, where she took out. 
After a pit stop, I continued up the river, looking for a couple of geocaches. The water level was getting low, and no luck on the caches, so I turned around, this time against the tide. Good paddle for wildlife: saw several Great Blue Herons, ducks, and fish.
I think that this was the longest actual paddle I've ever been on, in both mileage and time. 

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Re-varnishing The Old Outer Island

Normally, I wouldn't create a post about such a routine task, but this time I decided to try to remove all the old varnish. It was quite a task.
I am learning a lot here. First, I tried the "safer" citrus stripper on the hatch covers. It seems to attack the varnish all right, but it does so unevenly, and dries out quickly.
Back to the "brute force" approach-heavy sanding. You really can tell when you're through the varnish-the sanding dust changes from brown to white. After hand sanding, R.O.S. sanding, 220 grit, 400 grit, powerwashing, steel wool, and more powerwashing, I wish I had applied a heavier coat of epoxy three years ago! I did hit the glass weave in more places than I expected to. In all, I think it would have been better just to sand lightly. There was a not-unpleasant "old varnish patina" that is now gone.
After all that, I applied commercially-available adhesive rub strips to the bow & stern. I think they would look better on New Construction.
I used Epifanes varnish, first coat thinned 50% with the 333 thinner, and second coat 25%. It somehow seems to go on better than the Schooner.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Done and Launched

I decided to break with tradition and try it out at Long Pond instead of the usual spot. It actually stopped raining today!
Weighed in at a svelte 39 lbs, and looked pretty sleek sitting on the grass. I gave it a go around the pond, trying to see if it was biased in either direction, and it doesn't seem  to be. I discovered, to slight embarrassment, that I had no place to attach the paddle leash. 
Interesting: I thought it might be silly to install a skeg on a boat like the Outer Island, but it seems effective, even on this boat.

Thursday, April 20, 2017


I know I skipped a couple of steps: sanding and varnishing. These went routinely. I might have done a better job at these, but after all the builds, and refinishes, I' less fussy than I used to be. I know what it will look like after use, and I know I'll be varnishing it every year.
I decided that the only thing I want to mount on the foredeck is a GPS, so rather than to install deck webbing and contrive a way to hold the GPS, I broke down & bought a deck mount. I found an appropriate piece of foam for a gasket, and bolted it to the deck.
Deck rigging. I happened to put the aft hatch a little farther forward than usual, because I wanted to avoid interfering with the skeg. I was left with just enough room for the deck webbing.
I made the skeg control knob by laminating three pieces of lexan, left over from the skeg.
Toggle. The line isn't really manila.

Friday, March 31, 2017

Cockpit Coaming

Of the three ways that I know to build a cockpit coaming, laid-up plywood seems to be the simplest.
On my last two builds, I used the molded-fiberglass method. It works well, but its tedious, uses lots of epoxy, and the edge of the rim seems to come out kind of sharp, making it more difficult to pull the spray skirt off.
I briefly considered doing the lots-of-cove-and-bead-pieces method again, but I couldn't get psyched for the woodworking, so I went for the plywood. I got a half sheet of okoume, screwed up the cutting, and had to resort to cheaper stuff, but made it right with epoxy & filler.
This will be painted.
Paint job came out o.k. Side braces in place.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Some Details

I glued in the skeg control box. This time, I managed to rout the opening out without hitting the box.
Hatches went as usual. Here, I'm trying some fairing filler:
I gave this a coat of green paint.
And, once again I managed to install the glue-on foot brace studs in the wrong position! Tough work removing them with the heat gun, smoothing the area out, etc. I originally put them in before joining the deck & hull, thinking that it would be very difficult to do by reaching into the cockpit, but it actually made it easier to screw up. It wasn't all that hard to reach through the cockpit, and next time, I'll do it that way.