Student Looking for Affordable Kayak Kit

I am currently enrolled in the engineering academy at the Villages Charter High School. For our final exam we have been given the freedom to create any project that has is relative to our education throughout the Engineering I, II, and III courses. Due to my passion for kayaking, camping, and hiking in the local Central Florida springs I chose to dedicate my time toward constructing a kayak, however; my family and I are currently under a financial burden. I was wondering if you all had any suggestions for cost efficient kayaks fitting my situation?

I weigh 165 lbs., I’m 5’10 and wear size 10 shoes.My cost range is $500-$900.

Thanks for taking the time to offer advice!

Ever Thought About…

– Last Updated: Mar-30-16 12:02 PM EST –

You could build a Skin-on-Frame kayak..

Look up Chris Cunningham's book "Building The Greenland Kayak" plus there is more info on the web... Start by doing a search for SOF here...

Or if looking for a quicker project try a fuselage-style SOF...

Either way will be well within your budget as long as you have access to the tools required....



– Last Updated: Mar-30-16 2:12 PM EST –

I was going to suggest as well. For a paddler your size and weight, a Sea Bee 13 makes a lot of sense to get started.

You might look at the Guillemot boat building forum:
There's a lot of good free advice there, and plenty who have built a Yost fuselage-style kayak.

Good luck with it,

PS the Sea Bee is the boat used to demonstrate fuselage construction in the Yost step-by-step building manual, so even better:

Skin on Frame kayaks

– Last Updated: Mar-30-16 2:33 PM EST –

I agree, your best option would be to build a skin on frame (SOF) kayak. For a great introduction to these types of kayaks and how they are built, check out kayak builder Brian Schulz's websites. (this links his old one which has great photos and information):

The Yostwerks link that the previous poster gave you also shows great examples of SOF's of various types that ordinary people have built from a variety of new and recycled materials. I remember that one woman built a kayak using the tubing from old aluminum crutches for the frame!

With your budget you could easily build one. In fact there are companies like Kudzucraft that not only sell materials and instructions but even have kits with pre-cut frame parts within your budget"

The book "Building the Greenland Kayak" can usually be found on line for under $12 -- it is a great guide. Besides boat building it contains instructions for carving Greenland style wooden kayak paddles and how to make your own inflatable flotation bags, which you stuff inside the hull to keep the boat afloat if you capsize it.

Also look for YouTube videos about skin on frame kayaks -- there are quite a few. Brian Schulz of Cape Falcon Kayaks has posted some informative ones himself.

There is also a free forum site with a lot of SOF kayak builders on it. People on there can help you with materials and techniques:

These kayaks are fast, lightweight and tough. I have owned more than a dozen kayaks and my favorite is still my 18' long 31 pound Greenland style SOF.

Good luck with the project!

a plug for CNC kits

– Last Updated: Mar-30-16 9:04 PM EST –

I've never seen one in person but they make a gorgeous kit:

It's a nonprofit that makes free plans for true Greenland designs, you supply materials and elbow grease. The owner chimes in here on occasion which is a bonus, and you may be able to get some input on the engineering content of your presentation. Anyway, if I built a boat this would be the one.

I have seen several Shrikes
although I have not paddled one - yet. They are beautiful and loved by their owners. I have the plans, but this year I am concentrating on getting to know my Yost style Sea Rider. Looking at the Op’s size I think that a Sea Rider or Sea Raider would be best from those designs. I have looked at Cape Falcon and Kudzus designs and have purchased Jeff Horton’s book on fuselage frame kayaks. I think the Brian or Jeff’s designs may be more user friendly for the normal user than the Yost style kayaks. I chose the Sea rider as I wanted as low volume a kayak as i thought I could fit in without steam bending ribs for a Greenland style qajaq.

For cost, a skin boat can be much less expensive than a stitch & glue or strip boat. I have less than $300 in mine and that includes paint and purchasing NRS air bags. Fiberglass and epoxy are expensive and would probably run $400 - $500 for a wood cored composite hull.


– Last Updated: Mar-31-16 2:58 PM EST –

If you're REALLY into engineering, how about engineering a SOF-analogue: a plastic wrap, or heavy-duty (3+ mil) garbage bag, on found-wood and/or metal frame, kayak? I know of one which went beach camping on one of the islands of Florida Bay several years back, and it paddled well and held up just fine.

That would certainly challenge your engineering capabilities, and exhibit your own engineering skills as well. You could follow conventional SOF plans, modifying them to adapt alternative materials.

But if you're -understandably -hesitant to build from scratch from the ground up, I concur with previous suggestions of going with the more conventional, modern SOF kit approach.

In either case, you'll end up with a classic sleek, and very lightweight boat to


-Frank in Miami

extra questions
Thank you guys for all of the great advice!! I’m leaning towards making a SOF sea bee, I think it will fit my needs greatly because of my time and money constraint. I haven’t built or owned a kayak before and I was wondering if you guys had any extra advice or suggestions for essentially a complete beginner?

It’s amazing to see how friendly and welcoming of a community you all are!

follow directions
Just follow the directions on the Sea Bee, it’s a very nice boat and pretty simple to build. Tom’s (Yost) directions are pretty easy to follow.

Wood doesn’t have to be fancy, I’ve built several with pine from HD for stringers and exterior grade plywood from the same place, as long as the edges of the plywood are sealed (thick paint will work for this) they last a long time.

I’ve taught classes building this boat, people with no experience at all can and have built them.

Bill H.

Ditto what Bill says. And introduce yourself at the building site linked above - they are nice people too and have helped students in your position in the past.


In what state/city are you located? Once you’ve built the boat you will want to get some good instruction in kayak paddling and safety techniques. If we know about where you are we could recommend local resources for that. Kayaking, like most any sport, is not really intuitive – you’ll do better if somebody instructs you in the basics.

Area of Living
I live in Ocala, Florida and am completely willing to take courses on kayaking. Thank you again for the advice!

Single chine is good

– Last Updated: Apr-01-16 9:46 AM EST –

Slush was kind enough to recommend our Shrike, but that would take a beginner 100 hours and cost about $500. I built my first fuselage frame with no help and no knowledge in the 1950s when I was eleven years old, just using $10 plans. My tools were junk. My eleven year old granddaughter just built one with me, taking 40 hours. For simplicity I recommend a single chine design. The Sea Bee offsets I found are for multi-chine, a more complex build. The single chine offsets will be somewhere, but I couldn't find them. The Yost website (kudos to Tom Yost) has several single chine designs that might suit.
Nick, of

Re: Single chine Designs…

– Last Updated: Apr-01-16 12:00 PM EST –

Check out Tom Yost's Sea Rider...

It's a single chine kayak that works well for paddlers your size...


PS: Let us know how it all works out...