building a small strip kayak

Does anyone know a good guide book to

build a small strip kayak as a first

boat for my 9 year old boy? This will

be used in streams and small lakes.

A kayak actually scaled to fit the size and weight of a 9 year old would probably be dangerously unseaworthy. Actually this 9 year old will be growing fast and you don’t want to build a new boat every year. The kayak below is as small as they should get, but will serve a child well for many years as they are growing. Many folks make the mistake of scaling a paddle to the size of the person(height, arm length, etc) This doesn’t apply well to children. They need to be able to reach the water comfortably. The weight of the paddle is crucial. Needs to be very light.

I don’t get it
I’m no expert in boats for children but why would a scaled down kayak be unseaworthy?

I agree children need to comfortably reach the water but isn’t that why the kayak needs to be scaled down?

Although short in length the Little Auk is a fairly wide boat designed for adult size paddler (maybe on the smaller side but still adults) therefore with a decent amount of freeboard, I do not see a child comfortably reaching the water paddling this boat.

Here’s a possibility:

And another:

I don’t get it either…

– Last Updated: Sep-23-05 10:58 AM EST –

A properly scaled boat should be fine for anything a 9-year-old can handle.

Storm SLT scaled down a bit more?

Pygmy Osprey 13 or Shearwater Rising Star might be stitch & glue options.

child sized boats

– Last Updated: Sep-23-05 9:34 PM EST –

Consider one situation. The environment in which the child is paddling does not adapt to child-size. Waves are going to be what they are, and wakes from powerboats the same. The lower freeboard and volume of a kayak scaled to a 9 year old may well be swamped.

Another. There may be 9 year olds that will learn quickly to do a fast wet exit or even a solid roll, but they are few. Scaling a boat to a child means they will have the same tight fit that an adult has in a bigger boat. Can your child deal with an under water exit if the hull rolls? Are you going to be paddling close enough, all the time, to assist in time if that happens.

Children need the extra seaworthiness, easy entry and exit. The boat suggested is a bit wide and tall for a small child, but as little as that child weighs you could set the seat much higher in the hull without disturbing the center of gravity much -so they could reach the water easily.

Also, shorter boats have less directional stability-they don't track well. Very frustrating for a child.

Hell, when we were 9 we were spooning around in the old Grumman canoe, sometimes solo. We had a blast.

Different kind of child

– Last Updated: Sep-23-05 12:32 PM EST –

I guess you're imagining a different kind of child than I am. A 9-year-old who's grown up in and around the water should have no problem doing a wet exit, and will probably think it's a game if presented as such.

The same goes for needing "extra stability". In my experience, what frustrates kids is being in oversized boats that they can't control. They figure out the balance a lot faster than adults do.

Every time someone asks about kayaks for kids, the Carolina 12.0 gets rave reviews from parents, and it's got a 21" beam

frankley I don’t agree
with having a scaled down boat for children because:

1: in poor weather conditions a nine year old just starting out doesn’t have the ability to control any boat reguardless of size.

2:my own daughter who started solo paddling at 10 does very well in my capehorn 17 ,in wind(5-10 mph) she puts the rudder down and goes where ever she wants , also she loves my wenonah advantage at 16’6" and is almost as fast as i am in my prism due to the long waterline and very little wetted surface ,she also handles these boats better than most of the adults that I have let try them.

3: i though about building a small kayak for my kids like the original poster wants to but then thought why ?, if i build one for them i want it to be something they can use and enjoy when i am long gone

just my 2 cents worth ,


Fair enough
If we all had the same experiences there’d be no point in having a discussion board.

I think the Cape Horn 17 is too big to paddle comfortably, and I’m 42.:wink:

These scaled-down kayaks seem “seaworthy” to me!

ok you got me
yes the cape horn is big for a kid paddler , the front deck is too high ,but the point i was trying to make, as were others is that kids don’t need a 6 foot bath tub to try to paddle around, a 15-16 foot lower volume touring kayak would be something they could use now and when they get older.


– Last Updated: Sep-24-05 9:25 AM EST –

You're right about the importance of deck hight -- my short-torso 5' wife was *much* more comfortable when she finally got a boat that fit properly.

One wooden boat to grow on is the Pygmy Tern 14 -- not too big for small folks, and makes a fun playboat for medium-sized adults.

If you could only predict how big they'll get....

Gullimot S
The Gullimot is a low volume boat to begin with and the S is scaled down 6% for smaller paddlers. While a little oversize at first it will be a boat to grow into.

The old Perception Umiak now known as the Carolina 12 is scaled down for kids and very small paddlers, I believe it is 12’x20" and would be a good guide for sizing.