kayak surgery lee g and other builders

it’s simple
it’s called BALANCE. the design must have balance to be friendly.


you said it
balancing forces so that the boat pivots underneath one instead of a couple feet forward, balancing volume so the kayak travels well going forward into waves as well as traveling with them. You guys must have had a lot of fun designing the 165/170.

My kindergarten like attempt at designing was one 18’4" x21" four panel s&g. It was a learning experience with some unexpected characteristics. Somehow the rocker was a straight line from the paddler going aft with keeline having a gentle arc forward from the cockpit to the entry. The pivot point sitting still was about a foot or so forward and the stern slid around easily. Reasonably maneuverable for a long boat with sharp ends. Once I started paddling above 3mph the kayak leaned back a few degrees and settled into a different trim with firmer tracking and the pivot point moved back a smidge. Truly weird but it was actually a nice characteristic that made for decent maneuverability while sitting still and made for decent control to compensate for weathercocking and firming up tracking under speed.

The bow was too pinched even though I pried the side panels apart as much as possible before glueing. The rocker kept the tight bow out of the water but that’s when I realized what a compromise pre-glued 3/4" sheerclamps brought to a simple four panel hull.

leave it alone

– Last Updated: Oct-29-07 8:28 AM EST –

I don't think changing a few inches in the ends will make much difference. I know what you're talking about, after I built the Merganser 18, after paddling a 17 and building/paddling a 16 it's obvious that the hull likes to take a track even while turning. The ends don't slide at all as it's anchored well along it's entire waterline. I think that's a characteristic beginning paddlers will appreciate and for point and paddle efficiency. Unlike a Caribou, Arctic Tern or QC where the ends can slide a bit on a lean. When I made the merganser 17W I carved out 3/16" x 6" of the entry of the bottom panels before stitching together thinking that would bring the bottom panel together more and loosen the bow on a lean as the other three Mergansers were trackier than I wanted. It did bring a significantly wider v entry, it was obvious the chine joint in the last foot wasn't happy with the change but I was able to get the two to stay together for the softer entry.


What I did at the bow made the entry a round curve right at the waterline. From the side it almost looks like the waterline is at the midpoint of the curve instead of above it in the line drawing.

Being a wider boat it does sit a bit higher in the water and is more maneuverable but it weathercocks whereas the other ones hardly at all, if I lean BACK and to the side it''ll suddenly slew in the prefered direction but the surprising part is that it weathercocks more than the other Mergansers. Presumably it would weathercock even more without my cutting away the entry. The bow can slide in a way that the regular Mergansers can't but it's not a smooth transition like a Caribou or Tern.

This is a roundabout way of saying that the entire hull shape matters, and not just the ends. Just looking at the waterline drawing you see the chines below the water, look at a Caribou, Arctic Tern or Cormorant and the come out of the water a lot further from the ends. I think that gives the ends a looser grip on a turn with a smidge more buoyancy or higher prismatic (less pinched ends).



The Caribou hull started as a plywood boat, I paddled one, and those bottom panels come together in a way that is impossible without substantial internal/external forms.

It won’t bend easy

– Last Updated: Oct-29-07 12:03 PM EST –

On paper it sounds like a good idea if the boat never had any epoxy or glass on it. You'll find that after you cut your slice or wedge out, you'll be left with a boat with very hard panels and a hole in it. You would have to split the keel seam quite a ways up towards the bow tip. You may have to open up the deck to work from on top too. You could cut out a neat panel on the deck from the tip a few feet back that you would re-epoxy on. After trimming it, you could press it together with screws and outside wood bracing that you would remove later once an inner filet hardens up and holds it in place. You have to have inside access to do it because you have a glass/ filet on the inside seam which you would want to grind away.

If you really dislike the boat, go for it. But as many people said, it might be wiser to build a different boat. Nick's S & G boat will turn extremely easy if that's what you want ... but put in a skeg.

Do you know how to do a bow rudder with an outside lean? You might be able to turn that boat a lot more than your skills are allowing you to do at this point in your paddling.

Skip it
I’d skip it. You’re just looking for trouble with that design, and I doubt that it would result in the performance that you’re looking for.

It’s best to just build a new boat that has the features you want.

ok ok ok!
really, thanks for the great input. i will continue to refine my edging techniques. one thing that has helped my edging is reverting to the pygmy-recommended inflatable thermarest seat. it lets my booty move slightly from side to side as i lean the boat. i quit using the inflatable seat a couple of years ago and went to foam because that same trait felt scary and insecure. now i like feeling looser in the boat. though radical edging is an adventure for me because here in the sunny south i rarely use a sprayskirt. aargh!

On the other hand…
I found that edging my Arctic Tern was easier with a foam seat as my center of gravity was higher. I also put some foam blocks on the inside of the hull so I could better get my knees involved in edging.


i saw a post: sitting on the low side

– Last Updated: Oct-29-07 4:09 PM EST –

pnet is such a great resource! instead of lifting on my high side knee, i'm learning to 'sit' on my downside cheek to edge. most of the time my knees are not under the deck anyway since i adopted a foam block footrest and rotation. i do 'lock myself in' with my knees if i'm dealing with a wave or some wacky current. i think the loose movement and 'bicycling balance' is going to be more fun in the long run rather than getting rigid and locked in.

Your outfitting…

– Last Updated: Oct-30-07 10:25 AM EST –

Did you put in a seat and any thigh bracing? Being in a good outfitted kayak does not mean locked in or a loss of comfort. Actually quite the opposite. Most paddlers like strong thigh bracing but their thighs or knees are just about touching when normally paddling. But if you want to control the boat, the slightest movement of the hips can get translated into the boat and you can lock yourself in with almost no effort or shift in paddling position.

If you're happy, then so be it. But you may open up a whole world of kayak control and fun for yourself with thigh bracing and a well fitting seat and loose none of the relaxed freedom you now enjoy.

Also. there's no way you will be leaning the boat towards any chance of flooding the cockpit. So if you want to paddle without a skirt, you can still do a lot of boat control with some sweeps and leans. It's a lot of fun to play around with some of these techniques and in 6 months you may feel like you're in a different boat.