Building a triple.

-- Last Updated: Jan-19-13 6:45 AM EST --

Hello folks,
New to the board. I'm sure this question has been asked, but I couldn't find with the search engine.

I'm about to move back to Canada after ten years. I already have an inflatable Sea Eagle Fast Track which I love. But, recently, I've been researching stitch and glue and strip kayaks. I'd like to build a sea kayak and start doing some excursions with my two boys age 8 and 5.

Obviously, a triple kayak is the best choice, but I don't really know which one I should build. I'm pretty good with my hands, so I don't think building will be much of a problem if I get buy some plans.

I love the look and design of cedar strip kayaks, but I can't find any triples. The only triples I've come across are the Chesapeak and the Osprey --which are both nice.

Hopefully you can answer a few of my questions...

So, here are my questions:

Are there designs for a triple strip Kayak?
What is a better kayak, strip, or stitch and glue?
What is better, the Osprey or the Chesapeak?
Are there any other plans that you would recommend?

Thanks in advance!

Do you need a kayak.?

– Last Updated: Jan-19-13 10:11 PM EST –

A canoe might work.

$.02 the Pygmy is a better kayak than the Chesapeake but both are huge boats.

Obviously you will be most of the motor. You might consider moving rudder controls to the middle cockpit and paddling from there or making rudder controls interchangeable from rear to middle. A rudder is recommended, pivot footbrace rudder controls are better than push/sliding style. Push/sliding style are an abomination IMHO.

Finished weights will be more that advertised.

Children/short people need higher seating position in doubles to clear decks when paddling.

Utilize for building advice 24/7

Do not make bows as pointy as shown in catalog photos, that is a danger in the water and invitation to frequent repairs when ends inevitably hit immovable objects. Rounded and glassed bows don't chip through to plywood like pointy bows.


– Last Updated: Jan-19-13 10:44 PM EST –

Lee makes a good point - you may be better served by building a strip canoe big enough for the three of you. I have no experience with a canoe that big, but Newfound offers some nice designs, cedar strip kits, etc. and are not too far from you in NH.
Guillemot Kayaks offers a high-capacity double strip canoe that would probably suit your situation:

It won't be long before those boys want their own boats - maybe consider fuselage-style kayaks for them when that happens, they're light, inexpensive, quick to build:

Thanks guys!

I’m pretty set on building a triple --simply for the fact that I like to build stuff… andI can show it off! And I already have a dandy inflatable kayak.

And I built a 20 foot fiberglass canoe from an Old Town mold a few years back.

Also, I want something that is a little more sea worthy than a canoe. I’d like to do weekend camping trips at first and eventually even longer.

When the boys are old enough, I’ll certainly be looking at the types you mentioned.

Thank again.

Re seaworthiness
Without another adult sized motor your ability to control a 21’x30" boat in wind and waves isn’t a whole lot better than a canoe but with another adult you definitely will be able to go places.

Sea socks are a good low weight method to address flotation as a capsized tandem with bulkheads will still take on a huge amount of water compared to a single. A tandem is a good place for an electric bilge pump if you’re concerned with the consequences of capsizing. You could turn it into a water cannon for fun.

Most recommendations for reducing weight involve using less epoxy but the trick is to use it where it matters. There’s a pretty clear correlation between cosmetic durability and thickness of the fill coats over the glass and under the varnish/paint.

When I say cosmetic durability I mean resistance to water staining intrusion into the wood from dings on edges of coaming,sheer, hatches,etc. Also any water vapor intrusion into the ply through the epoxy from closed compartments or items left sitting against the interior then left to steam in the sun.

Basically multiple thin even coats of epoxy are better than a couple thick ones where the drips and bumps are sanded down.

If you want to go the extra expense s-glass is stronger and more durable than e-glass and damages are confined to a smaller area. Only problem is that it doesn’t wet out as clear as e-glass but hulls are a good application for it.

A thread
Sounds like you know what you want. I did a quick search at kayakforum and came up with this thread from someone looking to add a strip deck to an Osprey triple, not a bad idea:

If there’s anyplace to ask your question and get an answer, it’s on that forum.

Thanks so much. Great advice. I’m hoping the boys fill out in a couple of years and the old fella can enjoy the middle.

I certainly have to take heed of capsizing. Honestly, ll the hours I’ve spent canoeing, I’ve never flipped one. I’m sure it will happen sooner or later.

I’ll definitely take heed of the advice on building quality.

Is it your opinion that stitch and glue is surperior to strip?



Question re the “in case” situation

– Last Updated: Jan-21-13 3:21 PM EST –

I have no expertise in the issue of building a kayak, especially a triple. The one thought that came up was that you might find yourself very challenged turning such a craft, with only one adult aboard, if the wind kicks up on you. It has a habit of doing that from early afternoon into early evening over ocean water. So planning and timing could make a huge difference in safety for you if you are thinking of getting to places like offshore islands.

My other thought was the rescue scenario. I happen to agree that kayak over canoe is going to be better for the open water you describe, on windage alone, but question being out there with just one boat. I am wondering how you and your sons would handle being in the water at one time and having to get back in. Are they solid enough swimmers etc that you could somehow get them back in either by getting in yourself first, or by throwing them into the boat and keeping it steady while you climbed back in?

It seems that you really have to go them first or them last. You first means you are trying to manage a quite long kayak to get to each of them in the water if they don't hold onto the thing really well. You last means that they are trying to manage it while you climb in. In conditions likely to cause a capsize to start with - it is always a surprise! - both of these could be difficult.

Having two boats, perhaps you with the 5 yr old and the slightly older one in a craft of their own, would leave you (literally) more resources to handle a surprise. You can always tow the other boat if it becomes an issue of tiredness. And it is usually easier to get someone back into their boat from being in your own.

If you were talking lakes and near shore, this stuff matters less. But if you are talking about going well offshore on open water, I would have some real concerns about having only one boat.


– Last Updated: Jan-21-13 11:49 AM EST –

S&g is a faster construction but both take the same time to finish and outfit.

Theoretically strip will provide a better shape, leaving aside what defines better, but for practical use an eight panel hull is getting pretty close to strip.

Four panel hulls are conceptually neat and build up faster than eight panels just as eight panel build up faster than strip. Four panel hulls can be designed well but some seem to have handling characteristics that are a consequence of construction technique and not design intention.. You could call a strip boat an N-panel hull.

4mm okoume ply is very good stuff but like strip the weight and type of glass you put on the wood is a major factor in strength/durability.

While epoxy/wood kayak builders talk about the light weight of their constructions, and sellers of kits talk about the light weight compared to commercial fiberglass composite kayaks they really aren't that far apart in weight once you build to similar levels of cosmetic and structural durability. From a cost standpoint a plastic kayak will be cheaper.

Keep gathering information. Your shop space should ideally be a constant temp above 65 degrees, 60 is doable below that and epoxy cure rates slow down requiring faster and thinner epoxies and more skill. Above 75 degrees cure rate is brisk and batches should be smaller. Above 85 find slow epoxies and work neat and quickly.

Get lots of gloves, keep vinegar and alcohol nearby for cleaning skin and tools. Once sensitized to epoxy always sensitized.

you might consider making a smaller epoxy/wood double and a skin on frame single instead of one big ship. Or two S&G. Skin on frame can make a very light kayak and a smaller double will make for easier transport. Also from a kid perspective it'll be a lot more fun piloting your own craft than being in another grown up vehicle. From skills development the'll learn paddling , rolling and rescues faster

Check out this site

Thinking alike, two boats

I had a cheasapeake triple

– Last Updated: Jan-21-13 12:30 PM EST –

I found it to be very unfriendly if things get a little rough. There is not enough bow volume and not enough rocker so the front third of the boat submarines in wind waves. After a couple of very bad experiences I actually cut into pieces rather than even give it away to another family. I've paddled Pygmy boats and they do much better in chop and rough water.

Seriously you cut it up?
I never had one out in substantial waves. What struck me about the Kulzychi designed double is that it was simply a scaled up Chesapeake 17. The Ch 17 was a high volume kayak and the Ch Tandem was very high volume. The Chesapeakes were an evolution from the highly rockered low volume end Cape Charles and Patuxents that would bow bury in 12" waves. The Patuxent 17 I made in '94 buried to the coaming in 18" waves.

The Chesapeakes addressed the weather cocking of the Cape Charles but above 10mph or so breeze leaning became less effective. The issue of bow burying was partially addressed

by moving the cockpit back and increasing the entire volume of the hull with high freeboard. But the bows were not high volume at all because the construction technique of a pre-glued sheer clamp prevents the side panels from flaring.

I had built a Chesapeake 16,18,Northbay,Pygmy13, PygmyCoho then an Eric Schade Shearwater 16 and 18. The Shearwaters were four panel hulls but without pre-glued sheerclamps. They looked like med/low volume hulls that would bury easier than the other boats but when I took it into the surf it was great.

Thereafter I built a heavily modified version of the Northbay and discovered how the pre-glued sheer clamps prevented the side panels from flaring while forcing the center panels into a sharp v, which ensures then ends will be low volume WHEN mated to that one piece deck that can’t tolerate an upswept shear.

I gotta lot to learn
Thanks Celia. After reading your post, I realise I have a lot to learn. Initially, I would stick to the shoreline until the boys gain the ability to handle the rougher water. I guess the first couple of years will be quite difficult for me being the engine.

For now, my goal is simply learning how to build one and doing some weekend camping trips. hopefully, We’ll be graduate to a higher level and then I can focus on other boats if this one works out.

Thanks Lee
That’s some pretty technical stuff there Lee. At this point, I would want to stick to the plans that I buy… at least until I get a feel for the build itself.

Still, my greatest challenge is choosing the safest, most functional boat.

They’re all safe

– Last Updated: Jan-21-13 7:26 PM EST –

That's more of an issue of your judgement. The Pygmy triple comes in plans. Don't discount the idea of a double and single. You're not going to be paddling a triple where an 8yr old can't paddle a single. When my girls were 7 and 8 I had boats for each of them. Going to pool practice was fun.

CLC Shearwater double looks good
Pugmy Osprey 13 is a very good little kayak, not particularly maneuverable but light,strong and easy to move. My daughter learned to roll in that kayak when she was 11.

I assume you’ve read the reviews of the Osprey triple here - it sounds like people like it a lot. Of course most reviews are a 9 or 10, so must be taken with a grain of salt.

Having paddled many CLC and Pygmy boats, I would choose the Pygmy design without question. Newer CLC designs look good, particularly the Nick Schade designs, but the Chesapeake is a pretty old and boxy hull. The Osprey series is a more sophisticated design, in my opinion.

A tapered brick
best describes a Chesapeake. They can be paddled to a high cruising speed while carrying a ton of stuff. Kind of like a freighter. But not designed from a paddlers experience in wind and waves.

a Perception Acadia Scout
Or whatever this years model is is a nice cheap light plastic kayak for a kid, then build that Shearwater double. I used to tow the girls around a lot.

Pygmy 13
I second the idea of a Pygmy 13 for the boys. My daughter & I built one for her when she was 8. At 9 the next summer she was good with it on Michigan moving water. She could make it move too. No problem keeping up. She’s out grown that one now and has a One Ocean Storm LT. (The Osprey 13 is looking for a good home). The Pygmy’s are also good for instant gratification. both of the ones that I have built were floatable in two months and finished about 6 weeks later. The strip boat took nearly 11 month from forms to finished.

What ever you decide, enjoy.