First time stitch and glue builder

Discussion in 'Boat and Accessory Building' started by jarhead, Jan 2, 2015.

  1. jarhead

    jarhead New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 2, 2015
    Messages:
    5
    I am planning to build a kayak for my wife for her birthday. I have decided that a stitch and glue kit would probably be my best option. The first few of what I am sure will turn in to numerous questions are as follows.

    1) Brands to steer toward or away from? So far Pygmy and Chesapeake are the two that keep coming up. I am in Saskatchewan and if there is a comparable Canadian brand that will save me some shipping costs I would not complain.

    2) All of our paddling/touring has been in our tandem inflatable, I am considering a double or even triple (so that I can still paddle as a single without having trim issues) if that is not too much to pull off for a first time builder. I have some carpentry experience, but have never built a boat before.

    3) I am welcoming any and all input/previous experiences. Before I dive in too deep I would love to hear from others. Any comments, questions, tips, concerns…

    Thank you all in advance
     
  2. mick_allen

    mick_allen Paddler & Moderator

    Joined:
    May 15, 2005
    Messages:
    2,781
    both pygmy or clc shearwater doubles will give you fine boats. Dan's got a build log of the pygmy dble on the building pages that you could check out as well:
    http://www.westcoastpaddler.com/building/index.php?cat=2
    Triples at 30" wide are quite wide with high (ie lousy body ergonomic) cockpits so would mainly be for just tooling around.

    [You've obviously been successful paddling a double, but many couples find singles suit individual paddling styles. That way, you could build 2 of quite differing types.]
     
  3. Astoriadave

    Astoriadave Paddler

    Joined:
    May 31, 2005
    Messages:
    5,261
    Location:
    Astoria, Oregon, USA
    I built a Pygmy double, same hull as their triple, and Mick is spot on about paddling from the center. I tried it. Too deep and too wide. OTOH, building your own allows you to shift bulkheads towards the center, maximizing dry storage. The space between paddlers is wet, and not easy to make good use of, because the aft paddlers legs and the rudder pedals are in there. But, we installed D rings and strapped a couple big dry bags in place stacked vertically, and deck loaded lighter things in the center, so we could do multiday trips in style. We loved that double. Despite its beam, perhaps because of its fine ends, it was a very quick boat, and a very light carry. Wish I still had it.

    Ballasted with gear in the nose, it is a tolerable craft paddled from the aft cockpit. Also, I solo paddled it home once or twice when the front paddler was ill. I think a double of this type is a terrific way for two paddlers of differing strength or commitment to paddling to enjoy the experience. We surely did. Previously, we paddled a Folbot Greenland II double, which is close coupled, demanding the paddlers paddle in sync, and loved that boat, also. Short, but wide, and does the job, Charlottes, west side of Vancouver Island, all over the Columbia River.
     
  4. Dan_Millsip

    Dan_Millsip Paddler & Admin

    Joined:
    Mar 8, 2005
    Messages:
    9,288
    Location:
    Beautiful BC
    No experience with CLC boats but I can give a big thumbs up for Pygmy kits -- they're very good handling boats and are fairly simple to build -- my double build is documented in the link that Dave provides above.

    I paddled the double on many, many solo trips -- I'd put a few gallons of water in milk jugs in the front hatch to trim the boat and while harder than paddling a single kayak, it was doable and got me lots of places. Paddling from the rear was no problem but as has been mentioned, if you plan to paddle a triple, the width in the center cockpit will be a concern. The biggest concern I had paddling the double solo was wind -- but it's not so bad that it's unmanageable. Having said this, two single kayaks would be my preference -- it's way easier and more enjoyable to paddle a boat that is faster and more maneuverable. After building my double, I also built a Pygmy Coho -- a fabulous tripping kayak.
     
  5. JohnAbercrombie

    JohnAbercrombie Paddler

    Joined:
    Dec 7, 2011
    Messages:
    1,280
    Location:
    Victoria, BC
    +1 on that from me.
    :big_thumb
    I built an Pygmy Arctic Tern 14 for a friend, and it was quite straightforward putting it all together. We went down to Port Townsend and paddled 3 or 4 different Pygmy boats, and the AT14 was our favourite for a fun paddling boat, but a long way from a double/triple, so not really relevant.

    There's a Canadian company which produces kayak kits (Waters Dancing), but they seem a bit 'derivative' :wink: . A friend who is an excellent paddler and builder put together one of their kits and did some modifications to the rocker. He paddled it up to Alaska (from Victoria) last year.

    A lot of first-time builders fall prey to the 'a little bit of extra glass and epoxy' syndrome, so I'd recommend being especially vigilant about keeping the weight down on a double/triple...it's not fun if it's an epic getting it loaded on the vehicle.

    There's lots of S&G expertise here and at kayakforum, so you will have 'backup' on your project. Pygmy have a great reputation for phone help, though I didn't need to use it, as the kit instructions seemed pretty good, and I'd a lot of epoxy experience by that time.
     
  6. jarhead

    jarhead New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 2, 2015
    Messages:
    5
    Thanks all for the feedback. I think I will steer clear of the triple, I hadn't considered the width issues when paddling from the center cockpit.

    Two singles would be nice, but lets just say that while we do trip around a lot in a double, their are not always two of us paddling, if you catch my drift.

    I definitely want to build a bigger boat that would give me the stowage and payload for multi-day trips. So far, I am leaning toward the Chesapeake Double.

    No one addressed any concern thus far, but I want to ask once more. As a first time builder am I biting off more than I may be able to chew by building a double on my first build?
     
  7. JohnAbercrombie

    JohnAbercrombie Paddler

    Joined:
    Dec 7, 2011
    Messages:
    1,280
    Location:
    Victoria, BC
    I don't think a double will be any more complicated to build than a single - just more time (two cockpits) and a bigger working area needed.
    No matter which boat you are building, if you haven't done some glass/epoxy work before, I'd advise buying some extra materials and doing some 'practice pieces' before you get to work on the boat. Filleting and glassing a toolbox/tool tray or something similar? That said, most first time boatbuilders just dive in to the project and things work out just fine. :big_thumb
     
  8. drahcir

    drahcir Paddler

    Joined:
    Mar 26, 2010
    Messages:
    427
    Location:
    North Idaho (Sandpoint)
    I've never built a boat, but have friends that have. I also watch this part of the forum, sort of vicarious boat building. I am impressed and/or amazed at the final products. That said, it seems nearly universally true that the project time is significantly longer than expected - especially for first time builders. So you (the OP) might find the target birthday one year too soon.
     
  9. Astoriadave

    Astoriadave Paddler

    Joined:
    May 31, 2005
    Messages:
    5,261
    Location:
    Astoria, Oregon, USA
    Jarhead,

    While a properly cut stitch and glue kit is well within the reach of someone with basic carpentry and epoxy experience, with a kayak, you don't get a second chance for some of the steps after the resin sets up. There are also several aspects of glassing which really demand some experienced hands along for the first session or so to show you stuff not easily conveyed via print or photos. I went into my first Pygmy almost totally cold, in 1996, and would have had a much faster, easier time if an experienced glasser had assisted me the first large glass job I did. Pinholes, in particular, are a bugaboo, and if they are not thwarted, water absorption will rot the panels. Easily avoided if you know how. I later did the Pygmy double, and a 20 ft inboard power boat, also in marine plywood. The latter would have been a disaster without extensive glassing experience on the Pygmies.

    I would also strongly recommend a small project, involving gluing and glassing, before making the leap. System Three sells a trial kit for about 10 bucks which will set you up for that, perhaps with the addition of some 6 oz glass from a local marine supply store.

    Two other thoughts:

    1. if you are already experiencing the only one person is paddling syndrome in a double, I think two singles would be very difficult for times when you must get from point A to point B, ahead of a storm, or to avoid adverse current, etc. Sure, you can go by yourself. But maybe paddling together is more about togetherness than getting to a spot on the chart.

    2. I would strongly recommend the Pygmy double over the CLC double. Both are beamy in the center. The Pygmy is substantially easier to complete. Sheer clamps and a curved deck are trickier than the multipanel decks which Pygmy designs favor. There is also a huge database of assistance on Pygmy boats, both of the blog sort such as Dan's excellent pictorial record on WCP, and the dozens of folks within email reach or by posting your build here or maybe a different site.
     
  10. mick_allen

    mick_allen Paddler & Moderator

    Joined:
    May 15, 2005
    Messages:
    2,781
    this might be based on a prior appreciation of clc kayak build methods - which now include a wide range of kayaks by other designers than the original Chris K. The shearwater double, for example, is designed by Eric Schade and has multi panel decks sim to pygmy and does not seem to use sheer clamps like the old original clc`s used to have. There is a passing reference to original curved decks in that a small central part of the deck is curved between the cockpits, but in comparison to the pygmy`s there is more of an ergonomic design for both the rear and espec the front paddler`s ease of use.

    They are different boats with the CLC much smaller, compact and tightly designed (though I must say Eric really fell down with the imbalance of the chosen vertical bow profile - I'd change this in the build) at 18'-6" x 27" wide versus that of the larger Pygmy at 20'-0" x 30" wide, so you do have an interesting range to choose from. [Keep in mind that most composite doubles are usually longer - say the standard Seaward Passat is 22'-0" x 27", CD unity at 21'-0" x 26"]
    Note also, that both don’t show the full amount of fittings required for a sea kayak: perimeter lines, no pygmy hatches & fittings or end handles, odd seats, etc. – you’d need all those.

    pygmy:

    clc shearwater:
     
  11. Astoriadave

    Astoriadave Paddler

    Joined:
    May 31, 2005
    Messages:
    5,261
    Location:
    Astoria, Oregon, USA
    Mick,

    Thanks for correcting my misstatements about the CLC double(s?). When I wrote that their decks were all curved, a little burble in my brain said are you sure about that? It could also be they no longer use sheer clamps, in lieu of stitching hull to deck. Personally, I think a sheer clamp makes for a robust, easier to get right hull/deck joint. However, I've never had problems with the Pygmy tape and stitch method, though some have. And, once you have the two stitched, unlikely things would shift as the resin cures.

    For my tastes, the Shearwater is too small for multiday ventures, because I take a lot of food and gear for a two week trip. OTOH, an 18.5 ft, narrower double would be very sprightly on the water, and a perhaps better choice for someone not intending 14 day trips, in lieu of day trips and the odd 3 or 4 day trip.

    Both designs have very fine ends, compared to some composite doubles, owing to the limits in bending plywood. I found this significantly limits storage in the bulkheaded compartments, compared to a composite boat having high volume ends. The fine ends lead to a slight advantage in speed, however.

    As to cockpit ergonomics, we never had issues with that in our Pygmy, perhaps because I fashioned custom minicell seats, and because Becky and I are long enough above the waist we never banged knuckles on the coamings. The 30 inch beam on the Pygmy is at the center, of course, and both paddlers sit a bit away from midpoint, FWIW. We used longer paddles in the double than in our singles, which would also keep our fingers away from the coamings. The added length allowed us to really power that boat, and we did not experience any strain or stress problems from that. I was using a 250 and Becky a 235, I believe. I needed the 250 to slow my cadence to hers, to get best use of our differing strengths.
     
  12. JohnAbercrombie

    JohnAbercrombie Paddler

    Joined:
    Dec 7, 2011
    Messages:
    1,280
    Location:
    Victoria, BC
    Put two paddlers in that Shearwater and there appears to be less stowage than a medium-sized single. So it would definitely require 'minimal stuff' camping, I think. I'm not at all interested in doubles, but the Shearwater is an interesting design to get away form the 'big and heavy' stereotype of a double for day paddling.
    Are any of you double kayak paddlers going to weigh in on the 'cockpit spacing and overlapping paddles' issue?
     
  13. mick_allen

    mick_allen Paddler & Moderator

    Joined:
    May 15, 2005
    Messages:
    2,781
    funnily enough, it does scale as if the clc shearwater ckpt spread is 6"-7" wider than the pygmy's.
     
  14. Astoriadave

    Astoriadave Paddler

    Joined:
    May 31, 2005
    Messages:
    5,261
    Location:
    Astoria, Oregon, USA
    John Ambercrombie wrote: Are any of you double kayak paddlers going to weigh in on the 'cockpit spacing and overlapping paddles' issue?

    Sure. For us, that was a nonissue, either in the 17 ft Folbot, where we had to coordinate paddles, or the 20 ft Pygmy double, where that was not necessary, although most of the time we did. If you size the paddles carefully, awarding the stronger paddler with a longer paddle and/or with a larger blade face so his/her natural cadence matches that of the other paddler, it is easy to maintain sync. We felt it was a bit like ballroom dancing, and liked it. Our rule was that the stern paddler always matched the cadence of the one in front. Any paddle clash was my fault. And that worked just fine.

    It becomes problematic when the natural cadences are very different, forcing the paddler with the higher cadence to hold back. Pretty frustrating if you are trying to get somewhere.

    From a design standpoint, it is better to closely space the cockpits, to maximize dry storage fore and aft, because the middle space is difficult to pack efficiently. We evolved a system for the Pygmy double that worked well, but I think there was about another 20 per cent of that space unused. We were always leary about tucking in odds and ends, for fear the stern paddler might become entrapped in a capsize. In the open cockpit of the Folbot, that was not an issue. We packed stuff everywhere, all of it in dry bags, as it had no dry storage. Odd cans of beer, oranges, potatoes, etc., filled gaps where we found them. Made it like a treasure hunt when you unloaded the boat.
     
  15. GeroV

    GeroV Paddler

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2014
    Messages:
    89
    Jarhead,
    you might also consider looking at CLC's Chesapeake double, which is 21' long and also has a nicer bow.
     
  16. mick_allen

    mick_allen Paddler & Moderator

    Joined:
    May 15, 2005
    Messages:
    2,781
    [Doubles or triples aren’t the most elegant of craft at the best of times, but that’s got to come close to the very definition of ‘boxyak’.]

    Yes, we left out the Watersdancing Trillium: 20’-6” x 29”: looks slightly slimmer in profile and plan but quite similar to the pygmy. Maybe not as developed as the others as there are few pictures and hatches and lines seem gestural.

    The schematics below were just what I could glean from the few indistinct pictures, etc. – but it might be a cheaper option and maybe you could make a good demo of what this boat should be:

    here's a sidebyside:
     
  17. jarhead

    jarhead New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 2, 2015
    Messages:
    5
    Ok, I'm now sitting here stuck between the Pygmy Osprey Double and the CLC Chesapeake Double. Both are fairly similar in size, the Pygmy is a little shorter but not enough that it is going to make a difference to me.

    The CLC is cheaper as the kit includes the hatch covers, assemblies, deck rigging, etc. It looks like everything minus the rudder is in the kit.

    The Pygmy kit comes pretty bare bones and adding all the other components rings up quite a tab.

    I know the CLC Chesapeake Double is assembled with sheer clamps and I am not too sure how I feel about that. Is this as daunting of a task as I am thinking it may be? Is the money saved on the chesapeake going to be offset by headache and heartache during the construction?

    I'm hoping to order whatever kit I decide on by Friday, just wanted some last minute advice/input before making up my mind completely.

    And to the point made earlier about missing the "target birthday" I have until July. I may miss it, but I am hoping that finishing by July is not too lofty of a goal.

    Thanks again.
     
  18. jarhead

    jarhead New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 2, 2015
    Messages:
    5
    And Dave, regardless what kit I go with I will be purchasing the System Three Trial kit you mentioned. Thanks for that.
     
  19. Astoriadave

    Astoriadave Paddler

    Joined:
    May 31, 2005
    Messages:
    5,261
    Location:
    Astoria, Oregon, USA
    Jarhead wrote: I know the CLC Chesapeake Double is assembled with sheer clamps and I am not too sure how I feel about that. Is this as daunting of a task as I am thinking it may be? Is the money saved on the chesapeake going to be offset by headache and heartache during the construction?

    Depends on you and prior skills in woodworking, I suspect. A sheer clamp is SOP as a joining member to facilitate attaching deck to hull, many boat designs. It allows a careful dry fit before gluing the deck to the hull. And, it pre-empts forming an internal filet of filled epoxy with a glass overlay, as is needed for a stitch and glue seam. The fillet and glass overlay is a hassle, inasmuch as it must be done with the boat assembled, stretching inside with upper body and arms, perhaps using tools and a glue cup on the end of a stick. A bit tricky, and a bit messy.

    I have done both methods, and would now favor the sheer clamp. However, the sheer clamp must be planed in place so its upper face will mate with the deck, and most builders fix it in place with screws, mandating sheer guard strips which cover the screw heads, protecting the sheer from damage, and you from snagging yourself on a protruding head. You will need a small block plane with a sharp edge, ideally.

    I have not examined the current instructions or the manual for the CLC boat, so I am assuming they are still using a sheer clamp for that boat.

    One other note in passing. CLC used to recommend NO glass on the deck, a poor piece of advice. I have seen a couple older CLC boats with a deck puncture where someone fell on it and sent an elbow through. I would definitely lay on a layer of 6 oz glass, wetted and filled, as the other glass is. Then that heavily curved deck should be plenty sturdy. A phone call to CLC should clear up any questions I have stimulated.
     
  20. GeroV

    GeroV Paddler

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2014
    Messages:
    89
    I just build a CLC Shearwater 17, and the instructions had me glass both the inside and outside of the deck, as well as tripling up the glass on the underside of the deck between the cockpit and rear hatch to make it strong enough to sit on during a wet re-entry. If you look at CLC's website, they have a nice multi-part video on the construction of a Chesapeake 17 which explains the building process pretty well.

    Gero