suggestions for first skin on frame?

I’m getting ready to build my first kayak. I am not an incredible (read: passable) carpenter, by any stretch, but I’m willing to learn.

I already tried building a yostwerks design (sea rider) but in the process was learning how to use my new power saw, so after discarding most of the work on the first one, but getting my skills to a passable level, I’m about to start on my second attempt. Of course, in the time I’ve been working on that, Ive been doing a little research, and a little looking around, and was wondering if anyone had any advise before I dive back in.

Ideally, I THINK (disclaimer: I don’t really know what I’m talking about. I’ve read a lot, but paddled a little) I’d like a shorter (15’ish) skinny (20"ish) boat, that’s easy to drive at 3-4kts and still easy to maneuver.

Thoughts? suggestions?

Would it be insanely stupid of me to try modifying a design for my first attempt at a kayak?


– James

“Insanely Stupid” -:wink:

– Last Updated: Nov-10-10 6:24 PM EST –

The problem with modifying a design is that it is hard to tell how the modified design would work - quite a few varialbes involved. I would not say it is insanely stupid to try. Especially if you are willing to do some rework.

Can't recommend a particular design. But on my very first build I went and designed it on my own from scratch. E.g. I did not modify a design but created my own. That would not have been too ambitionus if I had followed a traditional sizing and shaping model (available in books or the net). But instead tried to do a shape that I have not seen done in a SOF. I was not sure if it would work and because I wanted to test a couple of design elements with this boat I actually took some of them a little "over the edge" just to see the effect on the boat.

Based on that, I can tell you that if one spends enough time thinking, one should probably be fine modifying an existing design. There are some guides I've seen about scaling designs.

In my case I had to redo a lot of elements because I simply did not know how they would fit when assembled. I drew my forms in Visio and used plenty of discarded scrap MDF boards to fine-tune the shape before cutting the real forms for the sections from better wood. Too much trial and error involved and the build dragged for longer than expected because of that.

Interestingly enough, my SOF came out more or less just like I envisioned it and paddles very close to the way I intended it to. I combined elements of design I liked from several other kayaks and sized them with hopes to give me certain stability, speed, and behavior in wind chop combination. It worked! I could have gotten even better results had I not "run out of time" and patience - after the first water trial with shrink wrap I pretty much figured out what I needed to change to get the boat to behave fully as intended, but I was so-o-o looking to finish that I did not bother fixing all problems but patched-up here and there and finished it. If I ever do another one I know what to pay attention to better and will address then -;)

So, in conclusion, I think that if there is no available design that appeals to you, and if you are quite familiar with several designs you could take one as the basis and use elements of others to build yourself something that matches what you want and that should be doable even for someone who is not an experienced builder.

Sea Tour 15 R
There are 2 reviews on pnet, including my own. Good all-purpose kayak. 3 knots, easy. 4 knots is pushing it.

Cape Falcon
James, I posted this on your other thread, but I’ll do it here as well. You should consider making an F-1 with Brian Schulz at Cape Falcon. It’s a short, light, maneuverable SOF sea kayak. I have the SC-1, its precursor, and it is about the easiest paddling boat I’ve been in. It was easy to build in his class (1 week), and he customizes it to you. For the price of the class, you get a finished boat and a Greenland paddle - it’s one of the best deals around - read the reviews here.

Cape Falcon

I was looking at his site, and he makes some beautiful boats. (although, to be honest, from a number of the photos, the f1 looks like a bit of a brute) I was hoping to make something myself, and for a little less than the cost of a class, (which is really reasonable, all things considered, but as I’m out of work at the moment…)

but if I fubar another one, I might just bite the bullet and go see him. I was planning on going up and taking a kayaking class from him to try out the boat and talk to him. I had some thoughts about making a slightly narrower boat, for the reasons mentioned in the other post, but as he’s the one who’s been revising a design for years, and I’m a newb, I thought I’d be more inclined to see what he thought, and if customizing one would be the right idea. Alas, as soon as I have a job again, taking 8 days off probably won’t be practical.

Still, I might just make it happen. I’m just stupid enough to head up to the PNW in the middle of winter to go kayaking and talk to the guy. :slight_smile:

– James

Sea Tour vs Sea Rider

I had been looking at the Sea Rider, partially because it’s narrower, and partially because, well, to be honest, it was featured in the wooden section at yostwerks, but this looks imminently doable. (I also like having to make less cross-sections :wink: )

Any thoughts on one over the other?

Also, perhaps you could answer this for me. Why are some of the measurements in CM, some in MM, some in thousands of a foot, etc. etc. I could find no logic to it, and ended up converting them all to mm just so I could keep track and make measurements easier. Am I missing something important there?

Thanks again :slight_smile:

  • James


– Last Updated: Nov-11-10 12:15 AM EST –

Well, I don't think anyone could characterize the F-1 as a brute, even with all the punishment Brian puts it through. It is truly an all-around sea kayak, very easy to paddle, responsive to edging and paddle strokes, accelerates quickly, etc. Yes, it surfs well, but not while I'm in it...

As far as being narrow, it has low drag due to its low wetted surface area and the advanced hull design, and it's quite maneuverable - I'm not sure why you'd want it narrower, exactly. It certainly doesn't feel wide to me. A short boat is going to need some beam to float a given weight, after all. In spite of the short length, tracking is good due to the skegged stern.

I understand about the cost and time needed, although you can camp on his land while you're there, and will come away with the knowledge to make all the boats you want afterwards.

why skinny, also, CF sounds cool.

– Last Updated: Nov-11-10 12:26 AM EST –

Oddly enough my fascination with narrow boats comes from paddling a Night Heron by Nick Schade. It wasn't the speed or anything, I just liked being able to put the paddle in right next to me, and the way it felt like it fit me, and if I wanted it to go over, it just did. On wider boats, I felt like they were always fighting me, as if "stability" was someones keyword for "won't edge"

That being said, I'm a newb, and I've heard nothing but good things about Cape Falcon. As a matter of fact, it was his writeup on the F1 that first sold me on the idea of a short boat. (later reinforced by reading other things)

I figure the least I can do is go up there, and see if I can schedule a kayak lesson with the guy, try out one of his boats, and hear what he's got to say. If nothing else, I've learned quite a bit just from reading his site, and would love to go paddling with him and learn something. Hopefully, by then, I'll feel confident enough in my employment situation to sign up for a class.

(also, by "brute" I was trying to find a polite way of saying that, FROM THE PHOTOS I'VE SEEN... that's one UGLY boat. Still, that's what a lot of vehicles that are built for a purpose instead of to a "look" end up looking like. My favorite motorcycles have always been functionally ugly)

Now the question is, do I feel stupid enough to try and schedule a kayaking lesson in the Pacific Northwest in winter.... BRRRRRR. ;)

-- James

Got it
Right, yes it’s a little homely, I guess. But I made mine so it looks good to me. Actually they do seem more elegant in person, in the ‘form follows function’ way you mention.

The Beauty of Ugly.
I feel really comfortable saying it in person, but the tone never carries well online.

Te idea that something can be ugly in a beautiful way seems contradictory, but in the way that muscle cars and fast bikes are “ugly”, this boat looks “ugly”. I don’t view this as a bad thing. :wink:

It’s a very specific aesthetic, and I dig it. :slight_smile:

– James

width, etc.
Yes, I wanted a narrower boat, too, which is why I tried the Sea Otter before the Sea Tour, which, as I commented in my review, was a mistake. I know there are fans of the Sea Rider, but, the short coaming and lack of foot room didn’t work at all. for me. If you really want the narrow width, try looking at some of the LC (large coaming) models of some of Yost’s other Greenland style boats. I can’t keep the names straight, so can’t recall which.

Yeah, you have to also look at the ones originally designed as folders. Not sure why he did so many odd units of measure. Best way to convert is to set up a spreadsheet, so you only have to apply a formula one time, then copy to other cells. I like metric best, too.

Try Kudzu Craft!
I’ve paddled a couple of them and they’re awesome.

Jeff’s on here often also.

Disclaimer - yes, he’s a friend of mine. No, I don’t receive any money or goods for recommending his boats. I’d like to, though. grin

You could adapt the plans

– Last Updated: Nov-11-10 10:39 AM EST –

for the NH or the Petrel from Nick Schade and make a SOF version. He has built at least one (has the photos on his site) but unfortunately has no plans for the SOF version. Looks beautiful to me, unlike the F1 -;).

I hear what you say about close to the center paddle position. That's important as is a low front deck where your hands move by. Make sure you make it oval - hitting your knuckles on a sharp-edged SOF gunwale is no fun, I know -;(.

From my first an only build (read, I'm not that qualified to listen to but you may as well think about it), I gather that if you have the forms you can wrap some wood stringers around to fit them. Just work with the angle to get the basic shape. Nick's designs have upswept bows that you may or may not do in the SOF - doing them may require some wood bending or otherwise attaching curved sections there. I think one can just ignore the extremely upswept part and go with a lower bow/stern. If you need the volume, you can add stringers like the F1 has in certain places.

You can do ribs or do sections like in a Yost - the basic shape of the boat will still be the same. And if you do not use epoxy (just sinew) you can redo to your heart's content till you get the shape pleasing and conforming to your design.

The $100 or so forms plan for a S&G or even a stripped design you like would give you the proper hull shape so you would not have to reinvent the wheel there. All you would need to do is work the SOF construction into a similar shape.

Cape Falcon
Check out his LPB (long pointy boat).

modifying a yostworks design?
I too have been very enamored with the idea of building a yostwerks sea rider this winter. I’ve owned several sea kayaks and built an S&G pygmy arctic tern 17 last winter, so I’m no stranger to using basic tools. I even picked up a used bandsaw from craigslist last week.

I’m in Portland OR and have looked at Cape Falcon and Sea Wolf, but just don’t have the time and $ for classes. After researching all the cheap or free plans on easy to construct (plywood sections) single chine greenland style SOF kayaks, the look of the Sea Rider (in clear vinyl) still gets me excited. I am however worried that it’s stability, deck height, and short cockpit would be a bit tight and uncomfortable for day-boat use. I’m 185 lbs, 5’10", with size 11-12 feet. Has anyone ever modified a yostwerks design with an inch here or there without affecting the paddling characteristics of the original design?

Keep it up John!
Sell a few and I will put you on commission. :slight_smile:

Contact Yost

– Last Updated: Nov-11-10 2:59 PM EST –

I would email Tom Yost, or go on and ask your question. I'm sure these simple mods have been done by many others.

PS - if you just want a slightly wider boat, you can always multiply all the beam offsets by a uniform scaling factor to get the width you want. In the same way, you can tweak the length by moving the sections uniformly farther apart or closer together while building. I wouldn't tweak anything by more than 5 or 10% however.

yeah, I was thinking of moving the center section forward 2 inches for a longer coaming and making it an inch wider and taller, then the next section would be modified by .75", the next by .50", etc… I’m still worried that it might affect the overall hull design and performance. Yeah, I’ll ask him.

This Kudzu craft site has some pretty cool designs with similar construction too. Hmmm

try out the cockpit
When I looked at the offsets for the cockpit, I was convinced I woudln’t even fit (and I’m pretty skinny) when I actually built one, I was surprised at how roomy it actually was.

It might be worth making a brief mockup in cardboard or something else you can do in a day to see what it’s actually like, as it surprised me.

Disclaimer: I’m new to this, I presume people who’ve built a few might be able to judge these things better than I can.

– James

Ad hoc adjustments
Well I think the ad hoc adjustments you describe actually may change the overall shape of the hull. Whether the change would be detectable is hard to say. I was talking about something much more uniform.

For example, the Sea Rider is 19.5" max beam. If you wanted it to be 22.5" wide, that’s a 15% increase in width. So you would have to go into the table of offsets for the boat and multiply all 16 HB (half-breadth) dimensions by 1.150. The other dimensions would remain the same. This will preserve the overall shape of the boat, just making it proportionally wider everywhere.

If you’re going to move a single frame forward or backward, without knowing what it does to the chine location in space, you will be altering the hull shape in hard-to-determine fashion. The only reliable way to do it is to increase/decrease the spacing proportionately. Unfortunately, the Sea Rider forms are not spaced uniformly, so moving them around too much would likely produce odd results in the line of the chines.