Friday, June 30, 2006

Kisseynew & the Yukon River Quest

I just checked the results of the Yukon River Quest which is currently underway. The race has already been won by a tandem kayak from the US, but in second place after the last checkpoint is team #84: Kisseynew - Denesuline Dalutweh! Martin Bernardin, the fellow behind Kisseynew Canoe Company, and his team are paddling his strip-built voyageur canoe and look like they are headed for a finish time of about 45 hours. They are probably actually done already, but the race results haven't yet been posted. In the meantime...

Go Kisseynew Go!!!

p.s. I just found the gallery of photos from the race here.

Update (July 4th, 2006): The official results have been posted and the awards made. Team 84 Kisseynew - Denesuline Dalutweh finished first in the Voyageur class with a record-breaking time of 42 hours, 56 minutes and 13 seconds, and won the prize of $1500 (which almost covers the $200 per person entry fee).

Congratulations Guys!

N.B. - I originally had the name of the team mixed up, interchanging the words Denesuline Dalutweh (which refers to the name of the first nation to which 3 of the paddlers belong). I had simply copied it from the YRQ website which had it mixed up as well. As it appears above is the corrected name, sorry for any confusion. Thanks to Heather for pointing out the mistake.

While I'm editing this post, I might as well add that one of the members of Team Kisseynew has written an article about his experience in the 2006 YRQ. You can find Ryan Martin's article here, and some photos here .

Thursday, June 29, 2006


The kayak is now "one".

The inside seams have been fiberglassed using the method described on the Outer Island Kayak web site. The basic process is to cut strips of fiberglass cloth (I made my strips 2 - 2.5" wide, 6 ounce cloth) and use small dabs of hot glue to tack the cloth in place along the shear line of the hull so that the cloth will end up evenly spanning the seam. The deck was then carefully laid over the hull and the ends taped into position. The hull had pulled inwards so the hull and deck did not mate perfectly and I needed to even things up. I found that trying to use tape and straps to bring the hull and deck flush was not that effective, partly because this method can only push the deck inward and does not allow the hull to spread to meet halfway. Also, since the hull overlapped the deck, the pressure from tape and straps pushed the edges past each other rather than causing them to meet. Instead, I used a method I had seen described on the KBBB where u-shaped pieces of wood are tacked to the hull with hot glue near the top edge, then a wedge is driven in past the deck which causes equal pressure pulling the hull outwards and pushing the deck inwards. I found this worked very well and it was easy to convert a bunch of plywood scraps (former strip-holding jigs from when I thought I would build this boat "staple-less") into u's and wedges. I placed a bunch of these jigs along the seam on each side, wherever things needed to be pushed into alignment and used fiber-reinforced strapping tape to tape the halves together. I then attempted to use clear packing tape (too thin, too cheap) to seal the seam but could only manage to do this between the jigs.

With everything aligned and taped up, I turned the boat on it's side and hoisted one end up with a strap from the ceiling such that epoxy poured onto the seam through the hatch opening would run downhill and into the end. I attached a sawed-off brush at a 45 degree angle to the end of a stick and used this to reach in through the hatch openings and push the pool of epoxy where it needed to go to wet out the cloth, ensuring it reached the extremities. With one end epoxied in this way, I raised the other end and did the rest of the seam, then returned the boat to level (still on side). I added a second layer of glass (3" wide, 4 ounce cloth) in the cockpit area for extra strength.

Once this mess had cured for about 24 hours, I knocked the alignment jigs off with a mallet then scraped/cut/sanded away the excess hot glue and all the epoxy that came through. Because my packing tape was crappy, I had trouble getting it off. Because the jigs were in place before I put on the tape, it did little to prevent epoxy from coming through the joint and caused it to pool in many places. As a result, most of my jigs were epoxied in place, though since the epoxy was still only partly cured, they came off without too much trouble.

With the starboard side taped, I then turned the boat over and repeated the process for the other side.

Some comments I have at this juncture:
  • Sheer clamps as used on some kayak designs look like a pretty good idea right now. Sheer clamps are strips of wood which extend the length of the boat along the sheer line, providing a surface to which the deck can be attached. Sheer clamps are common on boats which have a fairly flat deck where the deck and hull meet at a sharp angle (not the case in a guillemot).
  • Purchased 2" wide fiberglass tape with selvaged edges may produce a neater job than my version of cutting my own strips from regular width cloth on the bias since this would avoid all the loose strands and frayed edges.
  • I'm not sure how I'll clean up the rough/sharp surface of the inside seam. I guess I'll have to shape a sanding block of some sort and attach it to a pole. It'll have to be narrow enough to fit most of the way into the tips. I'm not worried about aesthetics here, but the sharp bits of glass fiber that protrude along the seam will shred whatever I put in the hatches.
  • The current weight is 35 lbs (no seat, bulkheads, etc) according to the bathroom scale.
I had hoped to be finished with the kayak by now. This weekend we are getting possession of our new house and thus, the rest of the work to finish the kayak (outside seam, hatch closures, bulkheads, seat, foot brace, back rest, thigh braces, varnish, padeyes, deck lines) will have to wait until August once we are settled in the new place. In the meantime I have one heckuva mess to clean up/pack up in the garage.

See you in August!

Thursday, June 22, 2006

I won, I won!!

Recently, Bear Mountain Boats had a bit of a contest on their boat building forum where they requested forum participants to share their perspective on building small boats, asking the following questions:

  • Why have you built your own boat?
  • What method did you use and why?
  • How do you respond when people say to you 'that's nice but I would never put it in the water'.
  • What was your biggest concern before starting to build it? How did you overcome this?

I answered the questions (or at least those applicable at this point) and was thus entered into a drawing for the prize of a boat building class hosted by Bear Mountain in Peterborough, Ontario. I recently received a message from Joan notifying me that the first person offered the prize declined and I was next on the list. Woo Hoo! Now the only problem is to figure out how to get myself to Peterborough for a week (cash in some air miles?). Luckily the prize is a bit open ended so I can wait awhile before claiming my prize, perhaps next winter once I've built up some more time off from my job.

Thank you to Joan & Ted for writing the book that got me interested in boatbuilding in the first place and thanks' for providing the forum where I can learn of techniques from a community of builders.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Preparing to Attach Hull & Deck

Here is some good reading, courtesy of Outer-Island Kayak in anticipation of my next major step. Now I have to decide if this method tacking the glass tape in place with hot glue is better for me than the epoxy-saturated roll of fiberglass tape method described in Nick's book and also well-described in the One Ocean Kayak's shop tips.

Regarding my previously posted "To Do List", I can take a couple more items off the list.

7. Build hatch lips . The hatch lips have been trimmed and permanently installed
9. Make & install soft padeyes . I made the padeyes and cut the slots in the hull for them to be inserted into after the final varnishing steps.
10. Make & install regular padeyes (to be used for internal tie down points). Done. I used some scrap 5/8" mahogany pieces to make padeyes to secure the backband and hatches to, and also a hook which will become the better part of a paddle park alongside the cockpit.
19. Drill holes at bow & stern for grab loops. I grabbed a drill bit from the rack that looked about right and proceeded to drill a 7/8" hole in the boat. As soon as I saw it I knew that it was way too big, but at that point the only thing I could do was proceed to drill one at the other end too. As it happened, I had some 7/8" dowel on hand for some long forgotten other project (too bad it wasn't walnut or something fancy) so I cut a couple of short pieces, drilled a smaller hole through the center (maybe 3/8") of each dowel piece ( a drill press would have been handy), then epoxied them into place. With the dowels trimmed flush to hull, my oversized holes now look like a contrasting feature rather than a f$%& up.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Pedro's Woven Rope Carrying Handles

Pedro Almeida over at the Kayak Building Bulletin Board has come up with a new and interesting version of a rope carrying handle. He uses a series of knots to bring together four separate cords to form a carrying handle for what looks like a comfortable grip. For photos of Pedro's kayak and deck rigging including the carrying handles, visit his Flickr site here.

Pedro has very graciously written a set of illustrated instructions and has provided that to the boat-building community. You can find his instructions here.

Friday, June 02, 2006

To Do List, Revisited

An update on my previously posted To Do List. There are a few things I can check off the list after the last 2 weeks.

a 1. Build cockpit coaming lip
a 2. Fiberglass the coaming
(I still have to tidy up underneath the coaming a bit, see my comments in my earlier post)
a 3. Sand epoxy smooth on hull and deck (external)
4. apply 3rd fill coat to hull & deck?
5. sand the epoxy some more
a 6. Cut hatches
a 7. Build hatch lips (I still have to finish the lips, but the hard part is done)
8. build & install moby latch system
9. make & install soft padeyes
10. make & install regular padeyes (to be used for internal tie down points)
11. make & install cheek plates
a 12. carve pieces to fit into the extremities to fill the cavities that will be impossible to glass at the seam
13. mate the deck and hull once again and glass the interior seam
14. glass the exterior seam
15. make the seam glass transition "seamless"
16. make & install bulkheads
17. carve seat out of minicell foam
18. build and install backband (I have glassed a curved piece of 1/8" plywood to form the backrest).
19. drill holes at bow & stern for grab loops
20. varnish
21. sand
22. varnish
23. sand
24. varnish
25. install deck lines & bungees
26. install grab loops and toggles

Coaming lip, sanding, hatches cut and hatch lips built

-----I have photos to add but they'll have to wait until a later date--------

I have gotten a few things done in the last couple of weeks. The first on my "to do" list was to build the cockpit coaming lip, the rim around the top of the cockpit to which the skirt attaches. There are a number of ways to do this. Probably the most common way it is done on strip-built kayaks is as described in Nick Schade's book using 1/4" wide by ~1/8" thick strips of hardwood (ash or walnut are common), wrapped around the top of the coaming with about 6 laminations glued in place. While this is reported to be easy enough, dealing with many thin pieces of wood buttered in epoxy (they get darned slippery) and trying to keep everything aligned didn't have all that much appeal for me. Since the finished product is 1/4" thick by 1/2"-3/4" wide hardwood & glue, it seems to me that this might be heavier than other options. A second common method is that described by Vaclav on the One Ocean website, where a coaming is laid up in carbon fiber (and/or fiberglass, but carbon seems to be common) over top of a form built on the boat out of styrofoam. This method seems simple enough, but I don't have carbon fiber so quite a few layers of glass would likely be necessary to get the required strength and stiffness. Something I began to think about was using thin (1/8") birch plywood reinforced with a couple of layers of fiberglass to form the lip. The birch plywood is thin enough to flex into place and conform to the curvature of the top of the coaming (it is curved from the side profile), but when encased on both sides in layers of glass, should be both stiff and strong. Recently, I saw a post on the KBBB where a builder (Gaetan) used plywood (stained to match the colour of the boat) for his coaming lip. The result looked great and that sealed it - that's how it was going to be done.

The process was fairly simple - I rough cut a piece of 1/8" birch plywood to the size of the cockpit rim, leaving it over-sized to be trimmed later. I oriented the grain perpendicular to the boat so that it flexed into place easily. I then tacked the lip into place on top of the trimmed coaming riser using CA glue (I should have been using accelerator too but the spray pump on the little bottle is buggered and I've given up fighting with it). I then trimmed the inside of the cockpit lip to be flush with the riser and rounded off the corner a bit. I then glassed the lip with 2 layers of bias-cut 4 ounce fiberglass which wrapped from the top of the lip, down the riser, and onto the underside of the deck (barely). The 4 ounce cloth had no trouble making the bends and wets out very easily. It is very nice stuff to work with. Once this had cured, the rough edges at the bottom were smoothed out (a scraper works very well as long as the epoxy is not too hard) and the outer edge of the lip was trimmed down to it's final size of 3/4". I then applied a fillet of epoxy underneath the lip at the junction with the riser to smooth out this corner to a radius the glass can manage, then applied 2 layers of fiberglass which again wrapped from the deck, up the riser and under the the lip. I used a trick I read about on the KBBB to hold this glass in place and make things in this hard to work area "smooth as glass" (described by John Monroe and credited to Rob Macks). I used 3/4" flexible vinyl tubing (purchased at Cdn Tire) squashed in underneath the coaming lip and held in place with spring clamps. Once the glass had partially cured, the tubing was pulled out to reveal ---- a mess! It seems I didn't get the tubing in far enough in many places and there were a lot of voids and air pockets above the glass and underneath the glass. I scraped some of the rough edges I could reach, but there is still a lot of smoothing to go underneath the lip. I may try to put another layer of glass in under the lip since I'm sanding a lot of the strength away in order to clean up the mess. For now, it's not easily seen so it's something I'm working on here and there while focusing on other things. In the end, the plywood coaming lip worked really well and was very easy to do, but I need to work on my technique for glassing underneath. One thing I considered was to put a layer of glass on the underside of the whole lip BEFORE tacking it in place on top of the riser while the glass was still green and flexible. This would have been very easy, but I went for what I thought would be the stronger method by having the glass continuous from deck to riser to lip. Next time, I'd probably do it as I originally considered with putting a layer of glass on the underside of the plywood lip prior to tacking it in place, with a fillet underneath and an extra layer of glass on the outside, avoiding all the trouble of trying to work with glass underneath the installed coaming lip.

While the weather was nice last weekend (overcast but comfortable working temperature) I took the opportunity to drag the boat outside to do some sanding in the fresh air. I also took a few pictures, and sat in the boat to determine the approximate location of the front bulkhead (to ensure I cut my hatch in front of it!).

This week, I cut out the hatches. This went fairly well despite my nervousness about cutting giant holes in the deck of boat. The first step was to determine the shape of the hatches. Using the offset's in Nick's book as a guide, I experimented with a number of shapes. I printed these out on the computer to the right scale which meant taping together a bunch of sheets of paper to create my templates. After considering the diamond shape provided in the book and different egg shapes, I settled on a trapezoid shape with round corners and sides roughly parallel to the sheer line. I then masked off the areas to be cut and with my templates transferred to pieces of cardboard, I traced the shapes onto the boat. Looking at things on the boat, I decided that I had the rear hatch too large, so I scaled it down a bit (about 1/2" all around seemed about right) and moved it aft about 6". This all took me the better part of an evening to get something I was satisfied with.

I started the cut as others have described, using a cutting disc on my dremel. I then used a blade from the jig saw and by hand cut through to make the slot wide enough to fit the jigsaw blade. Then with a new Bosch fine-cut blade and the jig saw on a medium speed, I cut out each hatch. The actual cutting went fairly well. I am glad that I decided not to rush out and purchase a new $200 Bosch jigsaw, and I am glad that I did decide to spend the big bucks and get the Bosh blades (about $12 for a pack of 4). In the end the actual cutting was a bit anticlimactic (which is OK, that means it went well).

With the hatches cut, it was then time to build the hatch lips. I used the method described by Vaclav on the One Ocean web site. Ken (aka Spidey) has some good pictures and a good description of the process on his web site. Before heading to the hardware store I should have double checked what size of weatherstripping to use to form the gasket channel, but I didn't so I just got what looked about right. The 1/8" stuff looked too small, so I went with 1/4" x 3/8" closed cell foam gasket tape. I taped the hatches into position from the outside, adding a couple of strips of cedar to ensure the hatches would sit flush despite any pressure that would be applied in laying up the glass for the lip (not to mention the 20 lbs of wet sand I piled on top). With the deck turned underside-up, I used thin clear packing tape over the whole area to ensure that my gaskets would not yet be a permanent part of the boat. I then applied the self-adhesive weather-stripping to the perimeter of the hatch lid staying about an 1/8" in from the edge. With this in place, I applied a fillet of thickened epoxy (406 filler) pigmented black with graphite powder (mostly because everybody else seems to tint their hatch lips and I didn't want to be left out) on both sides of the weatherstripping. I then began to lay up strips of glass over top of this to make the hatch lip. For the first 1-2 layers, I used 4 ounce glass because it conforms better to curves and does not trap air as easily (I think I still trapped a fair number of bubbles), then followed with strips of 6 ounce glass cloth for a total of 5-6 layers. The glass was wet-out 1 layer at a time using epoxy with graphite powder added to make it black-ish. Once all of the glass cloth was layed up and wet-out, I put a sheet of poly over top and piled damp sand on top of that in an effort to push everything smooth. I was somewhat surprised how long this process took. I started at 10 pm, and did not complete the process until 1:30 am. In the morning, with the epoxy partially cured but still flexible, I removed the sand and the sheet of poly, then peeled the gaskets off of the deck and removed the tape. It all went pretty well, though there are wrinkles from the plastic layed over top. Next, I will trim down the rough edges of the hatch lip, scrape out the weather stripping from the gasket channel, then permanently bond the hatch lip to the underside of the deck.