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Once again we will be gathering at Bluff Point. For more years than I care to remember wooden kayak enthusiasts have met at the beach at Bluff Point State Park in Groton, Connecticut. We will be gathering again this year. Come see what builders have made over the winter. Test paddle kayaks that you are interested in building. Talk to other people who like wooden kayaks.
Like any project, you can build a kayak quickly, or you can take pains with every step. While I am a big advocate of working quickly so you can get the kayak finished and start paddling, when I build custom boats for clients, I work with a bit more patience. This video shows some of the steps I took to make a bespoke kayak for a client. Many of the steps shown here are the hard way to do things.
Smoothing the interior of a strip built boat is always a challenge. A random orbital sander usually doesn't fit the curved surface well and risks digging horseshoe shaped divots in the wood. What I find works well for me is a really sharp paint scraper shaped to match the surface, and hand sanding with very rough sandpaper.
There are a variety of ways to install a recess around a cockpit. Some people like to install the recess first and then fit the strips to the existing shape. I have found it is more efficient and the results are better if I strip the deck first and then cut a hole to accept the recess.
How to Set Up a Router Table to cut Cove and Bead Cedar Strips
Cut the Bead First
I like to cut the bead first because it will not get dinged up with any rough handling. The cove is more delicate due to the narrow edges. By cutting the bead first there will be fewer opportunities for damage between milling the cove and assembling the strip on your boat.
While the weather is warm enough, I try to get out for a morning work out in some boat. Here I am in my Mystery racing kayak. This was about a week ago. Now the river is starting to ice over.
A 2 minute preview
I've been putting my new design extensive sea trials as I work on finalizing the builder's instruction manual. I'm really pleased with how the boat is performing, it has very nice glide, decent initial stability and great secondary stability, handles waves gracefully and seems quite fast. I ended up adding a small skeg (as I expected) that allows the boat to track very nicely while maintaining good maneuverability.