Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Seakayakpodcast now live!

Earlier in the year Simon Willis the outdoors author and presenter of Seakayakpodcasts.com interviewed me when I was on holiday at Loch Fyne, Scotland.

We chatted for over an hour about building cedar strip kayaks and the podcast has now been published for the world to listen to.

I hope you enjoy it; Simon has built up a good collection of entertaining podcasts on many kayak related subjects, its exponents and characters, and I am honoured to have been included. Please have a look at his site, all the podcasts are available for free download. If you have an iTunes account you can also subscribe to them.

Friday, 16 July 2010

Cedar Boats website..

I've finally got round to building the Cedarboats website aimed at UK and European builders of cedar strip kayaks and canoes.

At the moment I'm hosting it on my me.com account thanks to Apple; but it will be moving to its permanent site, cedarboats.co.uk very soon.

In the future I hope to be able to supply materials and kits for boat builders, custom designed boat plans, host short courses in kayak construction and build bespoke boats.

Please have a look and if you know anyone who has built a boat and would like to display it on the Gallery, or is considering building one and needs some advice, get in touch via the link on the home page.

There's an article in Ocean Paddler Magazine Issue 22 this month.

Monday, 7 June 2010


We went on our annual jaunt up to Loch Fyne a little earlier this year and were well rewarded with fine weather and few midgies.

Our rented cottage is right on the shore of the loch and it was a doddle to get the boat out, and I was on the water most days for a couple of hours.

There's little tidal flow in the loch, so it feels more like paddling on a big lake, and there are good trips in all directions, islands to explore and lots of wildlife and stunning scenery.

Plenty of jellyfish in the water this year..

At times it was like a mill pond...

Over the Bank Holiday weekend Kari-Tek held a demo day at Tayvallich on Loch Sween, which was only 20 miles away and a fabulous venue. It was very well attended with a full fleet of boats being tried out by paddlers of all standards. Some people took advantage of some coaching; £50 for 2 days..well worth it if you had never paddled a sea kayak before.

Strangely, I have never paddled a composite sea kayak before and took the opportunity to try out the Rockpool GT and Alaw, as well as the P&H Cetus and Scorpio.

I was very impressed with the handling of the Alaw straight away, it turns quickly, and fitted me so well I may buy one.The GT and Cetus are good fast boats, but I felt that my big cedar strip boat Tootega will do the same job for me at my pedestrian paddling pace.

The Scorpio felt much like my old Valley Aquanaut HV, but its spoiled by its thigh grips and the truly awful P&H skeg system that is a pig to operate.

Many thanks to Jeff and Ann for organising the event.

Some more pics:

Crinan Canal

This horse is used to transport the ammo to the cannon...

Sedna beached on one of the small islands in Loch Fyne.

And finally a picture of me in the new boat at last. It paddles well, and seems faster than Tootega and is certainly a lot easier to get on and off the car as it's a lot lighter.
As it's quite a low volume it wouldn't be suitable for say a weeks camping trip, but as a day boat its fine. The low slung bow tends to go through waves rather than riding over them and consequently a slightly wetter ride, but the Kajaksport hatches are fine. However it doesn't feel as manouverable as Tootega which I would prefer as my boat for open sea paddling.

Saturday, 3 April 2010

Sedna coming together....Update 13th April

All the hatch surrounds are finished as well as the carbon fibre coaming.
A friend who is a carbon fibre wizard is moulding me a skeg box, and I am ordering bits and bobs from Karitek to complete the skeg system.
The deck and hull have been joined, and the bulkheads [one WRC one made from the cutout for the rear hatch! and 2 x Fomex ones] fitted too.
The hatch rims were glued on using Sikaflex 291..horribly sticky stuff!
I have built up a seat and cheek-plates from carbon fibre and glass mat, and have sanded down the seam and applied 3 coats of Goldspar varnish over the last few days.
On the scales the boat weighs 18.2 kg.

I have to admit to taking the boat to North Wales this weekend to try it out at Abersoch.
Initial impressions are that it paddles well; pictures of the finished boat to appear in the next few days....! [ 225 hrs]

Thursday, 1 April 2010

Sedna Update April 1st...Hatches and coaming build.

Building the coaming is one of the more difficult bits to make on a kayak. There are several methods, some use strips of cedar or ash, others use plywood; I'm trying out a new method.
Using spacers cut from 3mm Foamex [pvc sheet] I tacked them around the riser with spots of hot glue.

... superglue was used to stick on another sheet of Foamex from which the inner was removed so it fitted neatly onto the spacers and was level with the top of the riser. It was covered with duct tape to act as a release from the epoxy.
Previously I used polystyrene foam to build up the shape but the foamex is a harder surface and easier to use the squeegee on without getting bumps in the layers of glass.

The spraydeck lip was then built up from layers of 200g cloth. I added some black epoxy tint to the later coats, which will prevent light spots under the final layers of carbon fibre.

Finally the coaming is positioned onto the riser and taped down while the epoxy sets.
I fabricated the hatch surrounds from foamex too, then covered with duct tape again..

It's a very big hole to cut out of the rear deck, there are only 1.5" left on either side!

The surrounds are made from about 8 layers of 200g cloth. They have to be strong; a 1m wave crashing onto the deck has some weight in it, so lightweight construction goes out the window in this instance

Plenty of thickened epoxy and lots of clamps hold it in place whilst setting. After some filling, filing and sanding, a layer of carbon fibre [reassuringly expensive] is applied over the surround. Here's the front hatch so far.

This method is explained in more detail by Ross Leidy in his Whiptail build on his excellent Blueheronkayaks website.

[171hrs so far]

Sunday, 31 January 2010

New kayak Sedna in progress..updated 24th March

Here's the stage by stage progress of my new strip-build design, Sedna.

I started off by purchasing 21m of clear Western Red Cedar Decking from the Deck Supply Company

I won't go into the construction method in great depth as that has been covered in earlier posts on the blog, but here's the forms on the old strongback....I won't be using it again, it's well past its sell by date now. I am hoping to build this kayak economically and recycling as much old material as possible.

...and the first couple of strips along the sheerline are on.
This time I'm using much wider strips, 24mm and 20mm x 5mm thick and should get it stripped far quicker than last time.
The strips are shaped using a block plane to produce a rolling bevel rather than using bead and cove strip, so glue weight should be less. I'm aiming for a very light boat this time round.

...9th Feb: finished stripping the hull...

17th Feb...the deck is well on the way...the wider strips are making it a much faster build, 42hrs so far. I'm not doing a pointy end this time, a shaped block of maple will be epoxied on later.

Stern view. There isn't enough clearance to fit a Karitek skeg box this time; I'm going to have to manufacture my own design. So far I have used 1/3 of the glue and staples used on the last boat.

Finally finished stripping the deck today, and after a preliminary sanding slapped some filler into the staple holes. The area around the cockpit was a pig to strip. [52.5 hrs]

I cut the hole for the layback today and planed most of the hull and deck to fair the strips, and then a quick blast with the orbital sander. It's a lot different from my other boat, less rocker, narrower, and definitely leaner all round. The cockpit is quite high at the front as I like to have plenty of room to wiggle my legs around; I also have a cunning plan.....[57hrs]

I started fitting the strips to form the layback. For every 3 strips I fit a full length one to keep them aligned and provide support. I'm using cyanoacrylate and wood glue to do it quickly.

I've ordered a set of KajakSport hatch covers and rims. They will add a little extra weight [1.5kg] to the boat compared to the way I did the hatches on Tootega, but I want ones that are easily replaceable and more watertight. Unfortunately they are a lot harder to fit as the rims have to be glued to a flat surface, so some extra creative fibreglass work will be taking place.

28th Feb: layback finished. [76hrs]

1st March: Sanding and filling then removed the deck and hull from the strongback and forms. Out of curiosity I weighed them on a spring scale: 9.5kg!
Allowing for say 6kg max of resin, 2kg max for glass cloth, then fittings, seat and bulkheads, I should be on course for a 20kg boat as planned. [81hrs]

5th March: spent most of the day filling and final sanding of the hull. I gave it a wipe down with a wet sponge to remove the dust and raise the grain. This gives a good idea of the colouring of the wood when resin goes on.

On the way back to the workshop I bashed the stern against the door frame and cracked it. Grrrr!! [88hrs]

9th March: The resin arrived yesterday and having been in a warming cabinet overnight is lovely and thin.
Last night I gave the hull a sealer coat of resin onto the bare wood, and this afternoon I heated the workshop up whilst I draped the 100gm fibreglass cloth over it, and trimmed it to shape.

It's half the weight of the cloth on Tootega and using a varnish roller, I covered it in less than an hour, and used a squeegee to remove the excess resin.

The experience gained from the last boat is really helping; it's easier to estimate how much resin to work with before it starts to thicken, and I'm pleased to say this layup went really well, only one or two tiny bubbles, and only 300ml approx of resin used, which is good!

It wetted out beautifully...

3/4 done. I hardly had a drip. Thin resin is sooo much easier to work with! [90.5hrs]

11th March: Got the glass on the deck today; its quite a stiff weave, and I had to cut a few darts by the cockpit to get it to drape well, but a double thickness will be fine in this area. [92.5hrs]

Been busy recently, here's some pictures of recent work to the end of the hull, softwood blocks are epoxied in which will spread the load for the toggle ropes.
Some people do an end pour with resin but that's heavy ...man.

The interior of the hull and deck have been glassed, the cockpit area with a central piece of 200gm cloth [never again, 2 x 100gm much easier to do] and some extra reinforcement to the ends too. I gave them a swipe of fill coat to make it easier to slide stuff inside the boat.
The interior is a lot neater than my previous boat.

I have also laid the keel strip and a couple of filler coats of epoxy to deck and hull.

Next up: sanding...more filling and sanding, building the coaming and the surrounds for the Kajaksport hatches.
[133 hrs / boat weight....12.8kg... materials cost so far: £475]

Saturday, 30 January 2010

All pumped up!

Being at a loss for things to do boat wise, I decided after some thought and and advice from fellow paddlers on the UKRG to fit an electric pump to my kayak.

I fitted a Rule 5oo gallons per hour bilge pump which is connected to a 12v 1.3Ah sealed lead acid battery located in a housing in the day hatch. The water squirts up the hose and out of the white skin housing at the rear of the cockpit.

The small black box thingy is a Water Witch electronic switch which senses water between 2 stainless steel contacts, turns the pump on, and off 20 secs after no contact is made.
The battery should provide 38 minutes of pumping time, which will do me.
Total cost £48. In tests the system works very well.