Saturday, December 20, 2014

Starting The Build

I have decided not to put too much personal stuff about myself in this blog, so I'll just say that my health has improved enough that I'm motivated to start work. I figure that y'all are mainly interested in an upbeat blog about Wood 'n Water, so I'll skip the "Like sad and weepy part of our story-ory, my droogs" and get to it. :)
After having tried both, I'm glad to be using an external strongback. I made the I-beam of a 2x4 and a 2x6. I thought the old stands were rickety, so I made new ones of a different design:
Nice & solid.
Wood. I considered trying redwood, was talked out of it, went for Cedar and Basswood. Again, I found it difficult to resaw the "3/4" boards and get a good two 1/4" pieces, even with a thin-kerf rip blade, so I ended up planing them down to 3/16". I remember that this will cause problems with some of the fancy curves, but I have a while to figure it out...
Basswood was a surprise. In previous builds, I contrasted the cedar with pine, which was nice, but the wood tends to mellow down in color to almost the same tone as the cedar. The basswood is white. It has a rather nondescript grain-so much so, that I was able to plain-saw the boards. Some of it shows a little iridescence, like maple. Inexpensive, too, I laid in a healthy stack of strips for $30.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Outer Island II

I knew I'd build another kayak this winter.
My Original Plan was: to build the Cape Ann, use it, and the Outer Island, then decide which one to keep. However, my summer was disrupted with health issues, and after having used the Cape only a few times, I decided that I never really liked it much. Its a good kayak, however, I didn't visualize its dimensions accurately for my needs. I thought it would be my "small-go-to-weekday-boat", but in fact, it was larger in volume and heavier than the O.I.  I just sold it via Craig's List.
Now that I have the room, I'll build another O.I, this time to the design length. I still have the station forms from the last build, and I won't deal with building techniques I didn't like, such as the internal strongback, and bead-and-cove stripping.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Wood's Island

I used the Cape Ann several times, in order to get the "feel" of it, in preparation for a camping trip to Wood's Island. It seemed like every time I took it out to see how it would handle in rough conditions, the water was calm. Nevertheless, after postponing one trip due to the weather forecast, I decided to take it to Lake Champlain, whether camping or not.
There is also a geocache on Wood's that I wanted to find, so I used it as an excuse. On Saturday, the forecast called for a 50% chance of an afternoon shower, but I went for it anyway. The weather cleared up on the way, making for a pretty drive.
St Albans is an odd, out-of-the-way town, that looks like it used to be "more" than it is today. It smelled like corn. 
I put in at Kill Kare State Park, using my camping reservation to get free parking, although I no longer had any intention of camping (heck, I  paid these guys $20 already ;) By now the weather was HHH, so I way-marked the launch with my GPS, and navigated to the geocache: 2.3 miles. It was a pretty easy crossing, about 1/2 hour.
 This is a beach made of flat chips of shale. I decided to land here, and hike to the cache. I'm actually glad that I decided to blow off camping-Wood's is nice, but not nearly as nice as Knight. The loop trail goes very close to most of the campsites, which are not nearly as good as on Knight. Saw some huge & amazing trees, however:
On the way back, stopped at Burton Island for another cache. It's a more "typical" concentrated campground, but nice.
I overdid it a little. It was 7:00 but the time I loaded up the 'yak, and much too late to think about driving home. Overpaid for a motel room, and had a rough night with my back. An amusing sight on the way home:

Wednesday, June 4, 2014


The obligatory Portrait
And the obligatory "trophy shot".
Measured 17', oddly 3" longer than the design length. Weighed in at a whopping 45 lbs.
We went to the usual lake for the maiden voyage, on a beautiful day.
This was a brief trial, but I made some observations. The higher volume seems to make it "bob" more than the O.I. Tracks well, and responds to leaned turns. The secondary stability is pretty good. I had my GPS mounted to the rigging-it seems to cruise very easily at 4 MPH, but I had trouble maintaining 5, and couldn't hit 6. I think the waterline length is actually longer than the O.I.

Saturday, May 31, 2014


Normally, I find outfitting to be the most fun of the build. This time, while it was still fun, I felt a little time pressure.

I covered the carved seat with spandex.
I decided to put the hatch toggles on the sides of the hatches. It doesn't seem to matter much, but I was pleased to find that a 7/16 weatherstrip seals it nicely. i used a simple knotted line for a grab.

Foredeck lines. I think/hope that these will hold my compass & GPS.
Simple knotted line for carrying loops.

A popular type of backband.
This type of backband has two straps in the back to hold it up. I didn't want to make a mess trying to cut slots in the cockpit coaming, so I just drilled holes & used cable ties.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Carving The Seat

I probably wouldn't have made a blog entry about something as "pedestrian" as carving a seat, but I found a trick online that made it  much easier.
I basically botched the first attempt at varnishing-room to cold, uncooperative weather, re-coating too soon, etc, so I felt that I needed something that I could do in the meantime. 
I simply googled "carving a foam seat", and found a totally different way to do it. "Everybody" says to use the angle grinder, but I find the thing too damned hard to control- it has  too much power. The home made gizmo on the right is an old hacksaw blade folded in half & screwed to a board. Using it like a shave hook, it carves the foam quickly & easily. The surform rasp & sandpaper finish the job.

Side-by-side view of the Cape Ann , with (what I hope is) the final coat of varnish, and the Outer Island being re-varnished. The C.A. is of much higher volume than I imagined. I had originally planned for it to be a smaller "go-to" boat for "weekday use", but its considerably larger in volume than the O.I.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

More Cockpit Work

After the recess was done, I decided to lay up layers of plywood for the riser. It worked O.K, my spray skirt fits, but I decided that I hate the look of the plywood layers.
This is going to be painted.
Also, after cutting out the hatches, I found that I had made quite a mess with drips & runs of epoxy while joining the hull & deck. Grind, Scrape, Sand, etc. However, I can see that this kayak is going to have quite a bit of carrying capacity.
The coaming & lip primed & painted with polyurethane paint. I found it easier to varnish the cockpit recess without having to varnish the coaming & lip. That was always the site of annoying runs & drips.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Cockpit Recess

I decided to go a little "fancy" here. I didn't want to lay up a zillion little strips like last year, and I was out of cove-and-bead material anyway.

I made the cockpit rim first, and traced a cutout. I had the idea  of making a plywood insert, but it was too hard to bend & shape to the hole. 
This is what I went for instead-a whole bunch of horizontal strips. It was fairly easy.
After all those little strips were in place, I sanded it all down, cut out a rough opening, and fiberglassed inside & out. It takes out the across-the-boat curve, but there is still a considerable fore-and-aft curve near the back of the cockpit.

Monday, April 14, 2014

More Fiberglass & Epoxy

I decided on a "light" layup, with no "football-shaped" piece on the bottom. I actually considered using only one piece for the hull, but broke down and added two strips at the bow & stern. I nearly got this done without ripples, but still had some on the gunwales. I think I'm beginning to understand what causes them, but I can't quite describe it-some combination of saturation time, amount of epoxy, squeegeeing, etc. 
The inside deck went pretty well. I thought I had taped over most of the gaps, but still found some epoxy had dripped through.
Closing the clam. It was just as difficult to re-align the hull and deck as it was on the O.I. This time, I used "homemade" 4-ounce tape on the seams. as usual, considerable epoxy dribbled through the gap. When doing this on the O.I. build, I found that the "brush-on-a-stick" wouldn't quite fit to the ends of the bow & stern, so I made a "squeegee-on-a-stick":
This seemed to work a little better.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

The Shepaug Tunnel

I found this place on the geocaching map, considering hiding a cache there, but of course there already was one. The cache's page had some interesting links to the history of the area, so, intrigued, we headed for Washington.

Washington? Washington, CT? I had barely heard of it. I needed a map and directions. It may be the most out-of-the-way place in CT. We took two highways and three secondary routes to get there, up and down hills, passing through cute villages like Bridgewater (CT's only "dry" town) and Roxbury. Washington was just plain nice. Everything seemed nicely laid-out, tastefully cute, with a mild aroma of Old Money. We immediately knew it would be a great day.

We stopped at a very nice cafe for delicious pastry & coffee. The people were impossibly nice.
On to the hike. I need to stop being such a slave to my GPS. Tools are good servants and lousy masters. This area has dirt roads Closed In Winter. We parked at the end of one, and hiked in. GPS showed the most direct route down a trail that skirted the edge of a hill, and was surprisingly icy & precarious. Before long, we realized  that the trail paralleled a normal road, so we scrambled down to it. It was quite icy, but at least it was flat. At a certain points we saw bicyclists and cars on the road, making us think that there must have been an easier way to get here.

The Briskly-flowing Shepaug River.

The rest of the hike was easier. There were two parallel roads, one of which seemed to be the old rail line. What I read of the old railroad seemed quaint. A company with three tired locomotives, that chugged through the hills to small towns. It seems to be in the genre of old ski areas, tiny mills on man-made ponds, etc-the tiny,plucky businesses that can't make it in the modern world. 

We found the geocache easily, within sight of the tunnel. 
 It was incredibly cool, literally & figuratively. Carved out of the rock as if someone had used a giant chisel, and full of ice.
The floor was a solid sheet of ice, as smooth as a skating rink. Ceiling-to-floor frozen waterfalls:
We wanted to walk through, but there was a deep puddle in the middle.

Looking out from the other end. We hiked over the tunnel, and went looking to the footbridge. went quite a bit out of the way, due to my stubborn slavery to my GPS, and walked nearly in a circle, finding the footbridge in the distance.
This was also neat-a two-person- wide suspension bridge, complete with cables, counterweights, the whole thing. We could make it bounce.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Interior Work

I finally separated the halves and removed the strongback.

This was much more difficult than necessary. The stern area lifted out fairly easily, but of course, some glue found a way to cement the bow together. Afraid to use too much force, I decided on the spot never to use an internal strongback again, and sawed the bugger in two. It still seemed to weigh a ton.
The culprit. I wiggled, juggled, and went at it with large drill bits, until it came free.
The OI was built with wooden internal stems. I think they are a good idea, giving you something to glue the strips to. Here, I had to use a significant fillet of epoxy & microbaloons. I also used Fairing Filler on some of the gaps & low spots. 
Again, I found it easier to 'glass the bow & stern separately.

After glassing the rest of the interior, I used these spreader sticks, as per the instructions. They're are supposed to prevent the hull from shrinking when the epoxy shrinks. I hope it works,

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Completing The Deck

The Obligatory Whiskey Plank Photo:
Somehow, its getting easier to do these. As usual, I had a lot of slightly-offset strips, but the difference in height between the foredeck and afterdeck is less than on the OI, so no dangerously-thin areas.
With the height of the table, and the length of the 'yak, its hard to get a picture of the whole thing. Lots of fairing to do.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Deck, Continued

I had the idea that I would do most of the deck in pine, but I decided to get a little fancy. I located the cockpit opening, and decided to fill in a shape with cedar.
I used up a lot of old cedar, with a darker & more prominent "figure" than the stuff I used on the hull.
After getting rid of the coves & beads, I'm back to the familiar L-shaped brackets.

And my favorite fastening tool:tape.
As always, I ran out of wood, having made coves and beads on some skinny strips.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Starting The Deck

Turning the boat over was a kind of "dicey" operation. It seemed to weigh about 200 (fragile!) pounds. Again, using the roof racks to hold it.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Fairing The Hull

After completing the stripping on the bottom, I decided to try and fair the hull before starting the deck. I had more reason to regret the cove & bead joinery.  I resorted to wooden splinters and dookie filler. It all came out rather poorer. I think, than if I had used beveled strips instead. So....
I decided to cut off all the coves & beads on my remaining strips, and finish the deck without them. I know how to do it that way.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Filling In The Bottom

I miscalculated the "overage" needed for the bottom, and ran out cedar strips that "came out good". In the meantime, I got much better at making through-the-thickness scarf joints, and decided to quit trying for full-length strips. I finally managed to get the wood re-sawn, planed, and jointed to uniform strips slightly over 1/4" in thickness. 
Then, the Power Supply went on my computer. With two holidays and a snowstorm, I was without it for a whopping 13 days. In some ways, it was a good experience, forcing me to budget time differently.
 Even when heat-bending the strips, I had to resort to this type of thing in the stern area, to keep the strips on the forms. This definitely would have been easier without the cove-and-bead joints.
The same pattern as my last build-stripping down from the keel line to meet the strips from the sheerline. I had more occasions to curse the ferslhugginer coves and beads. I tried hard to get good joints on the tapered ends, but when finished, was dissatisfied, so went for the cut-out spline thing again.
Cutting out the channel is the hard part. 16' is a long way with a razor saw. 

This may have come out a little better than last year, but I still have some gaps. 

Starting the stem work. Lots of shaping & smoothing to do.