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The weather is nasty outside (-4 Farenheit, windy, with Lake-Effect snow), and while I love XC-Skiing, this is the time when I enjoy building a boat and thinking of the time of year when water is liquid.  So, I am building a 18-1/2 foot solo sea kayak.

Wood boats are beautiful, and if I didn't build them I could hardly afford one.  When causual canoers see one of these they frequently are curious about their construction and sometimes wonder if I'm afraid to get them dinged up.

Well, for lack of something else to diary, here is a quick view of the steps used in canoe building.

I start with about 50 board feet of Northern White Cedar, a couple of boards of Ash and Mahogany, and two sheets of 3/4" plywood.  The first step is making a lot of sawdust, ripping and shaping that cedar into 1/4" thick strips with a bead on one side and a cove on the other.  I like White Cedar because it is very easy to bend, being more flexible than red cedar.

Then, after poring over plans I decide on one and make the forms:

This is tracing out the half-form template onto the plywood that will then be cut and sanded true.

Next comes doing some of the forming work - like steaming wood and bending it on a form to create the internal and external stems at the bow and stern.  You can never have enough clamps when building a canoe.

Now the real work begins.  The forms are mounted on a "Strongback" which is just a long box or T-bar made of wood that hast to be straight and true.  Mistakes here can have bad consequences for the performance of the boat you are building.  In the first picture, the stations, each one foot apart, are set up on the strongback.  The second picture shows the forms mounted at each station - these have to be parallel and straight.
Setting up the stations
Forms Set Up
Now the fun begins.  Each strip of wood that you made at the beginning is laid down on the forms and glued together to form the hull of the boat.  Here is the stripping about half way through.  Each strip is held to the form by staples - some people make jigs that can clamp each strip down for an even finer finish.
Stripping out the Hull.
And, then the tedious work begins.  Staples are removed, and the hull is sanded to a fair shape prior to fiberglassing the exterior.  I use West system epoxy with a good 6 ounce fiberglass.  Actually, the wood acts only as a spacer between the fiberglass sheets - that is monocoque construction where the skin provides the strength.  That way one gets a very strong hull with minimum weight.  Here is the hull being fiberglassed.
After a little trimming and finishing, the boat is ready to take off the forms and see what needs to be done in finishing off the inside.  Then the sanding and fiberglassing continues.  Once that is finished on goes a couple of layers of UV absorbing varnish and the fitting out starts.  The decks, seat(s), inwales and outwales are all added and finished, and finally the canoe is done.

Below is a picture of the final result.  A 16-1/2 foot day tripping Peterborough design that weighs 32 pounds.  Since its launch it has taken its share of dings and scratches, but nothing that I can't fix.  And, it is a nice boat to paddle, though not for the beginner since, while it has good stability when loaded or leaned, the initial stability is a little tender.

Well, here's hoping that I get the sea kayak done in time for spring paddling out on the big lake.

Originally posted to P E Outlier on Mon Jan 06, 2014 at 04:38 PM PST.

Also republished by Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  OK! I'm impressed! Nice job! What a beauty! (19+ / 0-)

    Tipped and rec'd.

    I love nature, science and my dogs.

    by Polly Syllabic on Mon Jan 06, 2014 at 04:58:31 PM PST

    •  Lovely work. (5+ / 0-)

      That's a sweet cedar-strip build!

      My boats are zero-elegant plywood dink-skiffs of the 11+-foot by 42" persuasion. Stitch-and-glue. Too heavy, to be honest, but barely car-top-able. Suitable for rowing or a tyvek sail. Every few years the itch comes along or there's kids need a look at woodwork.

      Couple itty-bitties:

      -- Might be useful to explain building and using a steam box. E.g., Home Depot has the steamers (for removing wallpaper) and 4" or 6" drainage pipe and caps.

      -- A warning for doing glass inside. I'm a total coward about that.

      There's hundreds of designs for two-panel plywood boats. A few for one-panel row boats that work fine for kids on ponds. Good places to start.

      •  Stitch and glue plywood makes great kid boats (6+ / 0-)

        I built four of the tortured plywood "rob roy" canoes (plans by Glen L), two from a high quality 1/8th inch marine plywood, and two from a low quality luan underlayment.  The thinner plywood boats weighed 27 pounds finished (glass inside and out), oak gunnels and thwart, seat right on the bottom.  The luan boats weighed 32 pounds, also glassed on both sides and finished the same way.  The two lighter boats went to my kids, who dragged them to a local pond, left them in the bushes, ran them down creeks, etc.  It's what kid boats are for.  The boats survived for years, until the kids were well into adulthood and too big.  The luan boats went to my brother's kids, and were abused far more vigorously, but also survived quite a while until the glass failed.

        The Glen L picture shows the boat carrying two kids.  Don't be fooled; it's a one person boat.  I was uncomfortable paddling them because at about 240 lbs, it wasn't designed to carry my weight.  My kids had no such problem, and I had no reservations about letting them paddle through Class III rapids in the rivers we ran.  

        •  The dinghy-skiff 11-footers carry (5+ / 0-)

          a theoretical 400+ pounds. They're wider.

          But I wouldn't go down rapids.... OMG that's not my idea of survivable.

          What these boats do really well is sailing up river, then dropping rig and coming back down as a drift boat close in to shore.

          Fishing tackle, optional. Camera's good too.

          •  Interesting - got a picture? (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            waterstreet2013, blueyedace2

            I like the concept.  What does the rig look like; what does it take to tack?

            •  Google [ plywood skiff stitch-and-glue ] (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              Then open the images link. It'll knock yer socks off.

              The reason I like keeping it under 12 feet is that legal standards let you use it without getting a number or registering for a title. Of course you can put a name and other ID on it. You can also hide ID on board.

              The sail rigs go all over the lot. Most aim to carry 60 sq ft and gaffs are popular. A cross-pole setup with a loose bottom seems to be a fad.

              Tyvek's stiff/ugly/loud badness is compensated by the 9-foot wide roll costing $150 for 150-feet. Lots of it around. It lasts forever, apparently.

              -- is a major resource.

              Here's an little cutie. Bit on the heavy side:


              Minimalist stitch-and-glue would get that hull to 85#. A Dacron version might be 35# or so.

              •  Some weight reduction ideas (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:

                I should admit my bias.  Years ago, I bought a set of plans for a skin on frame dacron covered canoe, and discontinued construction midway through the frame construction.  I just did not have any confidence that the boat would be safe.  It wasn't that I was concerned about the ability of the dacron to sustain the kind of scraping and poking it would get at launch, I did not feel confident that the very light frame members would survive much in the way of stress in a vigorous seaway or if I were tossed around by powerboat wakes.  

                If you are concerned about weight, there are a number of things a builder can do to reduce it short of going to a dacron skin on frame technique.  Dry white cedar, for example, weighs about 19 lbs per cubic foot, dry spruce about 28 lbs per cubic foot, mahogany and oak (depending on the species - and there are a lot of them) somewhere in the mid 40 pound per cubic foot range.  Years ago, I bought a central American hardwood similar to mahogany that weighed a bit over 60 lbs per cubic foot - so some of those hardwoods can really add weight.  Simply substituting cedar for the oak and mahogany the Glen L site lists in the bill of materials can drop the weight of those components by half.  I have used marine grade plywood in the 1/8th inch range satisfactorily (although it is considerably more expensive than the 1/4" luan underlayment Glen L builders probably used) - again with a weight reduction of about 50%.  

                It looks like Glen L is expecting the seams to be taped, instead of putting a fiberglass skin on the whole hull.  Looking at the boats though, it looks like at least some of the builders opted for a complete skin.  If that is the choice, some more advanced techniques for applying fiberglass skin dramatically reduce the resin component - although I would probably take the boat to a local shop to use their equipment instead of developing the vacuum bagging capacity on my own.  I checked one such shop out when I was having trouble getting a mahogany planked stripper I was building to take the fiberglass skin.  The cost would have been doable, but the problem of transporting unglassed hull was daunting.  

  •  That is beautiful! (11+ / 0-)

    I have long wanted to do this.  I have been canoeing since my teens, and love it.  Have a "plastic" Old Town, but would really love to build one of these.  And a kayak, or two.  And a surfboard.  And...

    How did you get that nice graphic design down the side?

    "Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana." --Townes Van Zandt

    by Bisbonian on Mon Jan 06, 2014 at 04:58:57 PM PST

    •  These are stenciled . . . (15+ / 0-)

      . . . by my wife.  Besides helping me with the fiberglassing she enjoys stenciling patterns on my boats.   She uses a laundry marker that doesn't bleed out and stencils the wood just before we do the fiberglassing.

      On one boat I tried a simple inlay, but I like some of the stenciling better.

      •  To keep the sea canoe light (7+ / 0-)

        you might try using veneers of Atlantic white boat cedar in two or three overlapping diagonally crosshatched layers possibly including a layer of carbon fiber without the fiberglass rather than the strip planking.

        You are certainly correct that the structure of the monocouque hull is light and strong, particularly with the west system,  but if you have a design that want's a deck as for a sea canoe the ability to wrap the monocouque all the way around can be even stronger providing a lot of lateral bracing without frames.

        While I think your wife's stenciling and or a simple inlay are a very nice touch your level of ability allows you to go even father. I'd encourage you to try a little marquetry and maybe experiment with something in the way of a keelson, rudder, centerboard or lee boards if you have stability issues or don't go with the veneers.

        I'd expect to see it decked, maybe ship a mast or two almost like a kyack and that would be a nice place for you to indulge your aptitude for design.

        Live Free or Die --- Investigate, Incarcerate

        by rktect on Tue Jan 07, 2014 at 12:08:44 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  There's folks do this with Dacron. (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          PeterHug, salmo, blueyedace2

          No kidding. This yields a medium canoe in the 20-pound range.

          Yes, I'm tempted. Haven't done it yet.

          Considering the skill level to do strip construction, plus needing a cabinet saw or a first-rate band saw to make the strips, Dacron is tempting. Maybe doubling the Dacron layer.

          •  You can do it with hand tools (0+ / 0-)

            using veneers, staples, wires, west system, fiber reinforcement; there are kits for kyaks, maybe sea canoes also so little skill required.

            You can also do strip plank, usually used on slightly larger craft but very sturdy, sand it fair with a belt sander and successive grits, glass it like a surfboard, add a layer of veneer inside and out if you want it to look fancy.

            A step up from that might be lap strake or carvel planked,
            step a couple of masts and give it some thole pins for rowing, maybe consider the outrigger or cat designs.

            Live Free or Die --- Investigate, Incarcerate

            by rktect on Thu Jan 09, 2014 at 05:42:43 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

    •  If you're serious about byob, (11+ / 0-)

      I'd highly recommend Chesapeake Light Craft  Although I lofted and cut my own from plans, their main product is pre-cut kits.  Still beautiful and still a lot of work, but a nice middle ground. I built one for each offspring, and they're wonderful boats.  Hoping to build one for myself eventually.

      You can't spell CRAZY without R-AZ.

      by rb608 on Mon Jan 06, 2014 at 05:18:37 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Nice web site. Their Pocketship (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        rb608, salmo, blueyedace2

        is 14-foot, which we'd scale way down to the 11-foot scale and leave off the cuddy.


        Oh... that's their Jimmy Skiff, though that's still a 13-footer. At 96-pounds that's heavy for car-topping. It's 50" wide, so downsizing and blunting the bow can get it to 65 pounds.


        Here's a classic:


        The real cost is still under $100. You gotta get life preservers and you're better off getting rowing oarlocks even if you make your own oars. Three coats of epoxy paint can double the boat's lifespan.

      •  Started on a CLC kit, their Chesapeake kayak. (5+ / 0-)

        Got the hull glued together and sanded, next step is the fiberglassing.

        Unfortunately, Mrs. WD is highly allergic to the fiberglass resins. It has to be done within a certain strict temperature range to prevent outgassing, which means it can only be done (in the garage) at certain times of the year.

        Haven't figured out how to do that yet so the project is on hold.

        Highly rec the CLC kits, though. And their tech support if you have a question or problem is first rate.  

        When atlatls are outlawed, only outlaws will have atlatls.

        by wheeldog on Tue Jan 07, 2014 at 07:23:47 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  It was immediate gratification (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          salmo, waterstreet2013

          how quickly the hull went together and actually looked like a boat.  I was also surprised how relatively simple it was to shape the glass over the hull and epoxy it cleanly.  Most of my hours were spent sanding and messing with the little pieces like the hatches & combing.  Congrats on the project; you're gonna love it when you're done.  

          (I did one 16LT and one 17LT.  Both beautiful.)

          You can't spell CRAZY without R-AZ.

          by rb608 on Tue Jan 07, 2014 at 07:48:45 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  In the interim (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            rb608, salmo, waterstreet2013

            we bought a couple plastic boats last summer, the LL Bean Mallard model, which is actually made by Perception.

            I like Perception boats, my whitewater kayaks were Perceptions and they are fine craft.

            We like these a lot, paddle easily, stable, light enough to hoist onto the rack on top of the vehicle. We looked at a bunch of them, needed a cockpit big enough for me and the dog (the border collie goes with us).

            For plastic boats they're pretty nice. Don't have the esthetics of wood but they'll do for now.


            When atlatls are outlawed, only outlaws will have atlatls.

            by wheeldog on Tue Jan 07, 2014 at 08:13:17 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  The spouse & I use an Old Town (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              salmo, waterstreet2013

              Loon 16 tandem.  The spouse doesn't paddle due to an arm problem; but the Loon paddles well enough that I can move us pretty well, even with all of the crap we lug around.  The CLCs are a whole 'nother level though.

              You can't spell CRAZY without R-AZ.

              by rb608 on Tue Jan 07, 2014 at 08:26:53 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

          •  Make sure the weather is well inside the limits (4+ / 0-)

            Give yourself some margin on the temperature ranges for the epoxy.  And make sure you do the glassing on a dry day. The only failures I have had applying glass and epoxy (fortunately not on a stripper) were attributable to falling temperatures after the resin was applied and high humidity (a late afternoon thunderstorm).  The boat was under cover in both cases, but the conditions prevented the resin from hardening in one case and caused the resin to blush in the other.  Grinding away sticky, half cured resin is not fun.

            •  Yep, hear you on the temp thing. (5+ / 0-)

              Humidity where I live is not a problem, especially at the time of the year when the temps are within the spec ranges.

              Temps are the thing, though. I mentioned the outgassing--don't want those thousands of little tiny bubbles in the resin.  

              We've gone through a couple canoes also.

              The one we have now is the Mad River Adventure 14. Pretty nice--again it's stable and paddles nicely. Seats are comfortable, with the folding, padded back rests. Stability is important, with the border collie bouncing around from side to side--"Look! Fish! Look! Fish over here! Look! Ducks!" --you get the picture.

              One thing I like about the Ad 14 is sitting in the back I can use either a standard canoe paddle or a two-bladed 'yak paddle to propel it. I like that.

              I think, though, with the new 'yaks we may sell the canoe and stick with them.  

              When atlatls are outlawed, only outlaws will have atlatls.

              by wheeldog on Tue Jan 07, 2014 at 08:56:51 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Yeah, sea kayaks are just right (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                waterstreet2013, rb608

                My sea kayak, with a 21' beam, just paddles so sweetly that it is the go-to boat.  Of course, an energetic border collie might change that.

              •  I feel bad for my canoe. (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:

                We have a big Old Town Discovery 174 ("The Big Red Barge") that hasn't gotten seriously wet since we built and bought kayaks.  When the kids were small, it was perfect for the whole family (we once strapped a car seat in the bow ahead of the front paddler.)  Everybody needs their own boad now, and the BRB sits forlornly in the yard waiting for her seats to be re-caned.

                You can't spell CRAZY without R-AZ.

                by rb608 on Tue Jan 07, 2014 at 10:10:01 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

            •  And, depends on the Epoxy (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              rb608, salmo

              West system epoxies seem to have a good tolerance to temperature and humidity, though too low and uncured resin is an issue.  I've never had a problem with blushing with it.  I've also used MAS epoxy and like it for its long pot life, but with it I have seen blushing during times of high humidity.  Washing the surface with non-foaming ammonia seems to take care of that.

              Good reminder - I think this afternoon I will finish glassing the hull of the kayak.

        •  I built two of those (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          and inspired my neighbors to build five more.

          you have lots of sanding ahead of you but it's all worth it.

          The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, but wiser people so full of doubts. -Bertrand Russell

          by elkhunter on Tue Jan 07, 2014 at 02:28:04 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  A fabulous canoe. (7+ / 0-)

    Beyond my skill level, but I can still appreciate it as someone whose done a lot of paddling on the Chesapeake.

    See also

    And for a number of historical articles on building your own boats ...

    Thump! Bang. Whack-boing. It's dub!

    by dadadata on Mon Jan 06, 2014 at 05:02:14 PM PST

  •  Shouldn't your name be P E Outrigger? n/t (7+ / 0-)

    I wish I didn't know now what I didn't know then.

    by peterfallow on Mon Jan 06, 2014 at 05:07:36 PM PST

  •  Tip o' the hat to you. (7+ / 0-)

    I've built a couple of stitch and glue kayaks, and there's nothing like paddling a boat you crafted.  Nice work!

    You can't spell CRAZY without R-AZ.

    by rb608 on Mon Jan 06, 2014 at 05:13:56 PM PST

  •  Beautiful boat. Wow. (9+ / 0-)

    I built mine some 30 years ago now and its still rewarding to take it out and paddle. Congratulations.

    I am pretty impressed that you were able to get it under 40 pounds.

    Pardon me for the self promotion, but you might like a diary I did about canoeing:

    Peace, Love, and Canoes!!!

    by OldJackPine on Mon Jan 06, 2014 at 05:27:25 PM PST

    •  I like your diary. (5+ / 0-)

      It catches some of that hard to express feeling of being out, on the water, in a canoe.  Sometimes, but not often, it is a feeling of being one with one's surroundings and boat, and it is a sublime feeling.

      •  Thanks. Nice to learn about another paddler... (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        waterstreet2013, salmo, PeterHug

        among the DK community.

        Where did you get the northern white-cedar? Given the comments about lake-effect snow, "the big lake" and the use of NWC I'm guessing your home waters are in Michigan.

        I'd love to see photos of the sea kayak coming together.

        Peace, Love, and Canoes!!!

        by OldJackPine on Mon Jan 06, 2014 at 06:26:35 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Northern White Cedar (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Sophie Amrain, salmo, PeterHug

          makes a handsome boat, but is harder to get than Northern Red Cedar.

          I found a supplier in Maine and bought 100 board feet.  I was living near Chicago at the time and the shipper only delivered to businesses so Ralph Frese at Chicagoland Canoe Base helped me out and took delivery for me.

          Yes, I am up near Frankfort, MI. and there are lots and lots of very nice streams to paddle up here.  And then trips on Lake Michigan like Empire to Glen Haven, along the high bluffs of the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore are a real treat.  Gotta respect that lake, though.

          Always nice to meet new paddlers.

          •  It's actually pretty common, but not widely used (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            PeterHug, P E Outlier

            I got about 1000 board feet of white cedar about 20 years ago from a small sawmill near Lowville, NY.  White cedar grows all across the northern forests wherever the bedrock is primarily limestone or similar stone with a lot of calcium.  Look down in the swamps for the bigger stuff.  The trick is to find an area where it hasn't been harvested in a while (bigger trees) and where the mills are small enough that you can make a deal with a sawyer to cut the bigger logs (say 12"+) and put those boards aside until there is enough to bother with.  That will get the clearest material you are likely to find (clear or #1).  Usually a mill like that is processing cedar for the log home trade, and their buyers expect knots in the boards they're using as trim.  You're going to be asking the guy running the edger to pick out the best stock he sees, set it aside, and sticker it up in a pile outside until he has enough to sell.  That mill was operating on units of 1000 board feet, so my order was pretty small, although it filled the back of the little Nissan pickup I was driving at the time, and probably overloaded it.  Purchased as wholesale rough sawn and air dried, it was surprisingly inexpensive.

            I have a bit of it left if somebody needs enough for a canoe - I'm in Western Maine.  I won't be keeping it much longer.

            •  I keep my eyes on some mills around me. (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              At one they were milling some basswood for a special order. I was able to pick up a few board feet of clear stock.   I like its pure white finish and will use it someday for accent areas.  In fact, I may rip some and use it to set off the red cedar on the kayak deck.

  •  I like the weight, thirty some odd pounds for a (7+ / 0-)

    16 1/2 foot boat.

    I have a 17' Gruman canoe with a shoe keel and extra ribs for strength and it's around 75lbs. It doesn't get lighter as I age.

    I read the post, cruised through the comments until I got to clcboats and there I stuttered for a half hour at least.

    If only we had water.

    “Conservation… is a positive exercise of skill and insight, not merely a negative exercise of abstinence and caution…” Aldo Leopold

    by ban nock on Mon Jan 06, 2014 at 05:43:29 PM PST

  •  Nothing half so much (6+ / 0-)

    worth doing

    "Nice? It's the only thing," said the Water Rat solemnly as he leant forward for his stroke. "Believe me, my young friend, there is nothing—absolute nothing—half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats. Simply messing," he went on dreamily: "messing—about—in—boats; messing—"
    Lovely canoe. I live too far from real moving water these days, and miss it.

    Great Questions of Western Philosophy: How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?

    by Mnemosyne on Mon Jan 06, 2014 at 05:56:22 PM PST

  •  Recommended books and plans? (6+ / 0-)

    What an exciting diary and topic.

    That's a lovely job you did, and a nice design.  I like the way you handled the stems.  Much better than a simple fillet.  Nice work with the stencil!  Where did you get your plans?  They look like Hazen's.  There are a number of good sources for plans and directions.  I'll cite a couple for those new to the idea of this sort of project.  I have used Hazen's book too to build a couple of canoes (a 17' x 34" and a 20' x 48",, and I built a Rangely Lake boat from Gardiner's measured drawings published in an old National Fisherman (  There are a host of other sources.  Your's looks like it would track well.  One thing about those strippers, they're all very pretty.

    Around Maine lakes and streams, we see more Gilpatrick Maine Guide canoes (Building a Maine Strip Canoe -  It's a good general purpose design, with enough volume fore and aft to take some pretty rough water and carry a load.  But I like the lines of your boat better.  His boats are generally left with a lot of rocker to make them more nimble - at the expense of tracking.

    I find that it generally takes about 100 hours, start to finish, to make a stripper.  What did it take you?  Building the stitch and glue boats is much faster, maybe 10 hours for the little tortured plywood Rob Roy's (  

    You write about a kayak under construction.  Got any pictures?

    •  The Strippers' Guide to Canoe Building (4+ / 0-)

      was my bible as I learned how to do things.  The boat in this diary is the 16' Canadian by Bear Mountain Boats.  I modified the bow and stern to bring it into a more modern shape and also added an additional 1/2" of rocker.  It makes a good day tripper for Michigan rivers and tracks well but that little extra rocker allows for speedy turns when leaned just a little.

      The last canoe I built was the Freedom 15'3" Solo, also from Bear Mountain.  That was a real challenge since it is asymmetric in every dimension with a tuck-in.  A very nice solo tripping boat and I've found it far more stable than the description.  [On that I used redwood strips for the tuck-in with a scuppered ash inwale and a mahogany outwale.  I have always rabbeted my outwale so that the gunwale caps the hull rather than sandwiching the hull - just a cleaner look.]

      The kayak I'm building is a Shearwater - plans from Chesapeake Light Craft.  I enjoy the hard chine hulls, so the hull is from marine plywood and I will be making a cedar-strip deck.  On my Patuxent I made flush hatches and liked the way they worked, so will be doing the same with this boat.

      Playing around with boats is so full of experience that I try to get people out on the rivers around here - a constituency that I think will care more for this country we live in.  I don't know if anybody has done any studies, but I can't help to think that the substandard amount of vacation time that American's have leads people to be alienated from the natural world and the fabulous recreational opportunities that our country provides.

      •  Thanks again, and some thoughts (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Sophie Amrain, waterstreet2013

        I enjoyed roaming around in the Bear Mountain site.  I've seen a few Chesapeake Light Craft, and thought about building one.  Lovely boats!  I look forward to reading about yours.

        I could not agree more about the need to get people out on the water, or out on our trails, if we want the public to appreciate the natural world and the beauty/recreational opportunities that surround us.  

        I live on a heavily used recreational river (5000 +/- paddlers on peak days), and almost all the traffic is on a few summer weekends.   It is possible to group these people by age, race, and sex.  I offer these observations as anecdotal.  I have undertaken no careful, quantified study of the subject.  Take them with a grain of salt.  

        Most of the recreational users are Caucasians in their twenties and thirties.  Groups of men, and mixed sexes are the norm, groups of women or women alone are less common.  African American and Asian groups are exceedingly rare, although African American and Asian men in a larger group of white males is not unusual.  African American and Asian women participate at very low rates, either singly or in groups.  Youth is a determining factor in use.  By the time most of these young people have families, they don't come out to play.

        Latino groups, usually large, extended family groups, follow a very different pattern.  I got to know some of those people, and frequently see the same group multiple times in a summer, with kids and grandparents in tow.  These are best seen as family reunions, where culture is as important as the outdoor, communal experience.

        There have been studies to try to explain barriers to participation by some of these groups.  Interestingly, one study identified young women as the group most interested in taking up recreational activities like this.  Their barriers were lack of knowledge, lack of partners, lack of equipment, and concern about safety.  This should be an easy one to solve: more outdoor recreation clubs.  

        For Caucasians generally, the barriers appear to be time management, parenting skills, and lack of knowledge. (  For Latinos in Southern California at least, the barriers we might expect - racism, language barriers, etc. are certainly present - but, I hadn't thought of a factor that may be just as important: space to accommodate the large group size preferred. (  In both cases, then the barriers are cultural, not primarily physical, but cultural issues are quite different depending on the group.  

        I hope that there are similar efforts to understand barriers that might apply to Americans of Asian and African American heritage.  I just couldn't find any with my limited search.

      •  I would love to get my daughter out on the water (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        salmo, waterstreet2013

        I think you're right that it would be hugely beneficial to the whole nation to have more opportunities like this, not just to be out in nature but to experience the goodness and importance of non-electronic technology.

        Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

        by elfling on Tue Jan 07, 2014 at 10:32:59 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  You are right (4+ / 0-)

          The thing is making and fixing tools (in this case, boats), and moving them ourselves by carrying them, paddling them, etc. changes our relationship to our world.  We slow down, gather intention and mindfulness, and are empowered.  Not just consumers, we become doers and agents in how we relate to the environment we inhabit.  All that is important, especially for kids.

          •  Amen (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            salmo, waterstreet2013
            We slow down, gather intention and mindfulness, and are empowered.
            That brings that which is external to us into a human perspective.  Whether it is canoeing, bicycling, fishing, hiking or any number of activities that puts experience first in a way that is not pre-programmed is so valuable for us.

            Ever read the book Mountains Without Handrails?  I like that Sax distinguishes between those activities that dominate nature and those that are experiential and accommodates to the natural world.

            I don't really know where we are headed, but I see much in our society that promotes a domination of nature and, at least in my family, a need for the ersatz experience that Disney provides rather than engaging the wonders that our American outdoors can offer.

  •  I might be able to make the kind where you take (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    rat racer, yojimbo, waterstreet2013, salmo

    a log and burn out the inside.  It would still look like a log, though.

    Ted Cruz president? Pardon my Vietnamese, but Ngo Pho King Way.

    by ZedMont on Mon Jan 06, 2014 at 09:19:25 PM PST

  •  You drew me in - (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    yojimbo, waterstreet2013, salmo

    Beautiful canoe!
    I still paddle a store bought one, no better therapy.
    Thanks for reminding us that "this too shall pass" weather-wise!

    •  Don't discount commercial boats. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      salmo, waterstreet2013, elfling

      Some of the nicest designs and modern materials are available from people like Bell Canoe Works or Wenonah Canoe.  My favorite solo canoe is the Mad River Independence - a sweet boat than can handle swift twisting streams as well as lakes.

      Even as I look out at the wind-driven snow I'm already thinking of a few outings that I'll post for our local paddle club.

  •  Wonderful work. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    waterstreet2013, salmo

    Thank you for the great story and photos.
    Sure you know about George's nice book - not at all about wood building, but he's got some beautiful photos (and it was built in a treehouse, with wine):
    George Dyson's Baidarka.

    rey destronado / perdió la cabeza / niños perdidos

    by yojimbo on Tue Jan 07, 2014 at 02:05:44 AM PST

  •  very nice :) all the kayaks I've built have been (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    P E Outlier, salmo, waterstreet2013

    skin-on-frame.  I make the frames from sections of 1x2 cedar, held together at the joints with wooden pegs and twine lashings, then cover the frame with a skin of canvass or nylon, waterproofed with a few coats of paint.

    The advantage to the skin-and-frame is that they are much lighter than wooden.  The disadvantage is that they're not as strong, so I have to be careful not to run up on an oyster bank or hit any mangrove roots.

    Happy paddling.  :)

    In the end, reality always wins.

    by Lenny Flank on Tue Jan 07, 2014 at 05:54:19 AM PST

    •  Those are wonderful boats too. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      salmo, waterstreet2013, elfling

      And so very elegant.

      Hell - any boat that gets you on the water is worth the time and effort.  Sounds like you paddle in Florida.  That is a wonderful destination for both interesting rivers and coastal kayaking.  Last year in March my wife and I took our Patuxent (Chesapeake Light Craft) out to Pine Island Sound and spent half a week paddling in the area.  I love paddling the mangroves - though those mangrove crabs are a bit creepy.  But, we stayed at Cabbage Key and did day trips from there.

  •  Beautiful work; I've always wanted to build (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    salmo, elfling, waterstreet2013

    one like this.

  •  Love your diary !! (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    salmo, elfling

    These are great projects for teenagers. Building first, then the paddling/rowing and getting out where there's a natural reality.

    Anything to fight off Kandy Krush!

    •  I think you are on to something. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      waterstreet2013, elfling, salmo
      These are great projects for teenagers.
      Because of circumstance I had come out of my teen years really uncertain about any ability to realize and complete any project.  It took me a while to recognize that I was more than a passive actor.

      I think that projects like building a canoe can get kids to recognize some of their innate potential and that at times there is more to life than the bottom line on a balance sheet.  We have allowed bean-counters to define our lives as mere consumer choices and one way I've found to counter that is through human scale experiential activities.  But I wonder, as the average American becomes poorer and poorer, how they may afford those types of activities using quality equipment that, unfortunately, creates an initial barrier to entry?

      •  Go back 50 years ago and BSA's Sea Scouts (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        program was heavy on boat building.

        Back yard boats were the mainstay. But now it's larger boats and talk of training kids to be professionals for the shipping industry.

        I don't see anything at all connecting today's Sea Scouts with build your owns.

        As to money, it's hard to spend $200 on a plywood stitch-and-glue if you make your own oars. Big problem's finding storage space at the water if the kid can't arrange car top transport.

        Back before iPhone Atrophy, baby carriage wheels on a wide axle were OK for kids to do short-range transport. Two sets of wheels and it's doable for dragging a boat a few blocks through residential streets. Now? Lord knows.

  •  Watch out for rocks! It'd be a shame to scrape (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    salmo, waterstreet2013

    this beautiful canoe on a bunch of dumb rocks.

  •  Beautiful. (4+ / 0-)

    At our county fair this year, someone exhibited a boat he had made. I was deeply impressed.

    Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

    by elfling on Tue Jan 07, 2014 at 10:29:02 AM PST

  •  Someday, i'll get around to building a canoe (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    salmo, waterstreet2013

    I have a copy of this wonderful book, and someday I'll put it to good use.  I'd love to build a day sailer to tool around in the s.f. bay, too, but that project is even more someday.  

    Excellent work.  Such a beautiful object.

    •  It's fun thinking about it, more fun doing it (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      P E Outlier, waterstreet2013

      That's a good book.  The project looks daunting, but each step is actually very simple.  It will take a while, but an hour here and an hour there add up, and the emergence of a boat from the rough beginnings will make it easier to want to spend time on it.  Don't hold back.

      For an "instant" daysailer, check out Harold "Dynamite" Payson.  

  •  I had no idea ....! (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    waterstreet2013, salmo

    Very beautiful.

    He who can make you believe absurdities, can make you commit atrocities.

    by Sophie Amrain on Tue Jan 07, 2014 at 12:59:40 PM PST

  •  canoes are simple, and truly elegant craft….. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    that's all there is to it.  and this one especially so.

    i have a model (about five feet) of a white cedar stripper from little bear canoe company.  about as close as i will ever get to owning a wood boat.

    my real canoe is a mad river duck hunter.  figures, right?  it's the explorer model but the color of muddy water, with ash gunnels and thwarts, and cane seats.  it's taken me to a lot of places.

  •  I spent a lot of time in canoes..... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    ....when I was a kid. I worked in the mold loft of a shipyard in the seventies too.

    I've long pondered making an Iowa class kayak/canoe in the 18-20 foot size but I doubt I'll ever get around to it. I believe it would make about the perfect cruising hull...

    I'm really pissed off this time

    by suspiciousmind on Wed Jan 08, 2014 at 06:34:10 AM PST

  •  Great Diary (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I never had the time to build my own but I sure do admire the craftsmanship of a well build canoe or yak.
    I spent the 90's working as a guide, instructor, bus driver and lifeguard for an outfitter on the James River in VA.
    Shallow at times and always rocky,  a wooden boat would not last long.  Slippery plastic hulled boats allowed novice paddlers to glide over rocks that would bring an old aluminum boat to an instant stop.  Not very aesthetic, but practical.

    I wish I'd taken the time to write down all the stories and wonderful experiences related by the many thousands of clients over the years. They could fill a few books. It was a real pleasure working a job that exposed people to nature and made them happier at the same time

    You're a mammal, listen to your body.

    by post rational on Wed Jan 08, 2014 at 01:05:59 PM PST

  •  more skin on frame links and remarks (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    linked above but here again Canoe Sailing Resources

     An early but exciting book about Ultralight Skin on Frame boat building:
    Ultralight Boatbuilding by Thomas Hill that at Amazon has links to many similar books...

    another skin on frame book:
    Fuselage Frame Boats: A guide to building skin kayaks and canoes

    and a source for plans with a good Q and A and pictures of their designs:

    Geodesic Airolite Boat Designs

    one of their designs, the Classic 14 that a friend made..and I can tell you that it is rugged and I would damage my canvas on cedar 'traditional' canoe about the same as this other words, don't abuse any of your boats, except the much more rugged high strength plastic models made for it.

    Skin Boats:and there are a lot of remarks about the delicate qualities of these boats, and let me remind people these are ancient designs of many peoples around the world..the Irish discovered America..or maybe Greenland or Iceland with a skin boat, North America was very likely discovered several times by people in skin boats who learned to fish far off shore in such.
         Aleutian and Inuit and Arctic peoples fished for large and dangerous sea mammals and other sea creatures in skin boats....some with several people in them as well...sooo while wooden boats of all descriptions may be 'more rugged' in some ways, their extra weight carries a lot of costs, including the extra inertia that helps cause damage in the case or unlucky and poor seamanship...or something.

    Thanks for the interesting diary, very nice looking canoe. I was puzzled by your description in a comment about asymmetry however, what is that about?

    Thanks again..

    This machine kills Fascists.

    by KenBee on Wed Jan 08, 2014 at 02:41:29 PM PST

    •  The documentary film, "Nanute of the North," (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      gives a view of that life in the arctic.

      There's a point where the whole family gets out of the one kayak. Looks a bit like an overstuffed clown car.

      Yes, these vessels are sturdy despite what we're used to seeing. Brilliant design.

  •  Very Nice Description, and a Beautiful Boat! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Does your canoe building method qualify as "Cold-Molded"?  It certainly provides a gorgeous end result.

    I grew up with wood boats, but haven't built one.  We had a 21 foot Mahogany day-sailer when I was growing up, but Dad sold her after us four kids were gone (he lost his varnishing crew!).

    I have a kit for a Pygmy triple that I need to build or sell.  (Wife can't paddle, so I think sell is my best option.)  That's a stitch-and-glue kit, so it should go together relatively quickly.  Emphasis on relatively.

    What I really need is a lightweight row-boat so I can row and my wife can enjoy the ride!  

    Thanks for providing some inspiration.

    "Slavery is the legal fiction that a person is property. Corporate personhood is the legal fiction that property is a person." David Korten, When Corporations Rule the World

    by Delta Overdue on Wed Jan 08, 2014 at 03:35:27 PM PST

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