Plans ordered for a shearwater 17

I just ordered plans for my second boat, a shearwater 17, the C17 went great and is an awsome boat. I am excited to plan build this one. I was wondering some tips and helps on kit building this boat. Any links to current and past builds would be great, Thanks!!

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RE: Plans ordered for a shearwater 17

You can read about my experience building a Shearwater 17 from a CLC kit and a similar Merganser 17W hybrid from plans at
You will need to be extra careful to cut the Shearwater panels accurately. Consider using butt joints instead of scarfing the plywood panels, and keep your fillets and end pours to a minimum to save weight. I think you will like the Shearwater. It's a lively performer. -Wes

RE: Plans ordered for a shearwater 17

Here's mine:

 A few random thoughts to consider (some of which may be due to my somewhat modified build):

(1)  My SW17 is very wind-neutral - almost to a fault.  Depending on your seat placement and weight, it's very easy to make the kayak leecock.  Because of the front bulkhead's position, it may not be possible to move the seat far enough forward to obtain proper slight weathercocking, which then requires stowing weight in the front.  If I were building again, I'd move the front bulkhead 2 inches forward for some additional adjustment room (both of weight and footbraces).  I'd also consider moving the cockpt opening forward an inch, but that would require a slight re-design of the rear deck panel and rear bulkhead.  Note that my hatch modifications may have changed the areodynamics somewhat, but I doubt that it is significant.

(2)  The hardward in the kit is perfectly adequate for flatwater paddling.  However, if the kayak will see any use in surf, the standard footbraces are not sufficient.  I snapped mine, and thankfully my heavily reinforced and glassed bulkhead held up to my landing.  Since you're building from plans, I would strongly recommend the alluminum braces (yakima style) or a fixed brace against the bulkhead (appropriately reinforced).  I'd also throw a few extra square layers of glass over the holes for the through-bolts (if you use that method).

(3)  The Shearwater does not need a skeg, rudder or any other tracking device.  I installed an adjustable skeg, which is helpful in heavy wind (particularly given how nuetral the boat is), but it's not at all necessary if you're comfortable keeping a kayak on edge.

 (4) The keyhole "wings" on the coaming are on the small side, presumably in order to accomodate larger or more "recreational" paddlers.  If you prefer a more locked-in fit, you might consider both widening the wings slightly and extending them about 1.5 inches to the rear.  I was able to obtain a tight fit with foam, but larger wings would be have been better and still would have left plenty of room for easy entry and exit.

Enjoy the build, and I'm sure you'll love the boat.

RE: Plans ordered for a shearwater 17

Thanks fot the tips and the sites, they will be very helpful. With building from plans I might have a little play room to modify the cockpit. Would it benefit any to make it a recessed coaming like on the petrel or not? I defenitely want to put in a day hatch and I am thinking of installing one on my current cheasy.


RE: Plans ordered for a shearwater 17

The Shearwater is a light displacement boat with a low rear deck, so there is no advantage to a recessed coaming.

On the issue of balance, I suggest not glueing in the seat until you've paddled a while. Sliding it forward or back only a half inch can make a differerence in weather helm. When you get your center of balance in the sweet spot the boat will behave very well without a skeg.


RE: Plans ordered for a shearwater 17

Jason - Here are some random ramblings that are probably worth just what you paid for them, but here goes.......

Coaming - I don't think recessing the coaming would be worth it, but it's certainly possible.  I find the coaming to be just low enough for reasonably comfortable layback rolls.  As a point of comparison, it's slightly higher than the coaming on my Necky Elaho, but that was basically designed from the ground up as a rough water sea kayak.  On the other hand, dropping the rear coaming (maybe an inch) would definately improve the Shearwater for someone for whom rolling is a main priority, but it would be a lot of work for a modest gain.  If you're looking for a pure rolling kayak, there are better suited boats out there anyway (don't get me wrong, the Shearwater rolls very easily, just not like a specialist boat).  Keep in mind that the stock coaming will be much lower than the one on your Chessie.  You might want to check with CLC, but I believe the coaming on the Night Heron is somewhat lower than the Shearwater, and although I haven't paddled one, I'd expect it to be both (i) a better rolling boat due to the narrow beam and very low decks and (ii) more stable initially due to the flatter bottom hull notwithstanding the beam (the SH17 has very little initial stability and it's a challenging boat in waves over about 6 feet - at least compared to my Elaho - the Shearwater's chines seem to get really "grabbed" by the big stuff).

 Volume - Wes mentioned that the Shearwater is a light displacement boat, which is correct in CLC's parlance.  However, to make sure you get what you're expecting, I'd suggest that the Shearwater is only "low volume" compared to most kit boats, but would be better characterized as "medium volume" as compared to higher-end touring-class sea kayaks.  I keep using this comparison, but compared to my Elaho (which is on the far low end of the "medium volume" category) or a Valley Avocet, the Shearwater is simply huge (at least in the cockpit - the rear compartment is somewhat low volume).  If you really want a low volume boat, the Night Heron fits the bill, but there are very few other options in the Stitch and Glue world (tons of great options in strip-built though).  Either way. compared to your Chessie, the Shearwater will seem quite "low-volume".

Day Hatch - I think installing the hatch will be very easy so long as you mount the hatch directly to the deck rather that recessing it like on my build (I think its pretty well covered in my picassa photos, but note that my hatch recesses and carbon coaming more than doubled my build time).  The main difficulty was glueing the top of the third bulhead to the deck, which you basically have to do "blind" with your hand stuck through the hatch and exactly zero visability of the joint.  The good news is that no one will ever see that bit of work.  Incidentally, the VCP-style hatches I bought from Duckworks are absolutely water-tight and a great bargain.

Moving the Bulkhead or Cockpit - I probably should have stated in my first post that my recommendation is based solely on what I've seen on my build.  I'm certainly not dissappointed with the kayak's performance now that I have the seat moved up, and a tracking aid is definately not needed (it's more of a luxury if you like them).  My issue is that I can't move the seat any farther without crimping my legs against the bulkhead, and I'm only 5'11".  If you're shorter than than or perhaps don't have as much wieght built into the rear of the boat (either in the hull or your person - I'm 170lbs for a point of reference) then you may not have any issues.  I haven't seen others mention the Shearwater's wind-neutral or leecocking tendancy, so it really may be specific to me or my somewhat modified boat.  Point is, caution may be the better part of valor when it comes to modifying something fundemental like the cockpit location (although moving the bulkhead doesn't seem like a big deal as long as you scale it correctly).

Seat Attachment - I completely agree with Wes.  I used big pieces of industrial stregnth velcro to hold the seat and the hip pads.  That keeps them where they belong, but they'll be adjustable forever.

RE: Plans ordered for a shearwater 17

i tihnk the boat is balnced great just the way it is .if your not hurting for storage space put in a retractable skeg just for severe wind for building take your time beveling the edges ps i'd rather build from the kit with the puzzle joints and everything cut perfectly it goes together really easy and you dont save much money

RE: Plans ordered for a shearwater 17

Thanks for your input everyone, it is really helpful, keep it coming please.

After the supplied information I don't think I will be recessing the deck, it doesn't sound like there will be a need for it. I'm not designing for rolling just like the ease of it, the C17 rear deck is kinda higher than I like but still works.

I was thinking about a skeg but doesn't sound like I would need it either. I like the idea of more room. The only kayak I have to compare it against for cargo space is my C17 and I figure it would loose a lot of room for the low deck. But that is okay I will use the C17 for cargo haulin.

I'm at the top range of the of the SH17 at 220lbs (should be less by the time it is done) and 6ft. I'm looking forward to the challenge of a plan build. 

ZC-I followed your build quite a bit when you built it last summer you have a beautiful boat and love how it looks with the recessed deck hatches but I don't thinik I will recess the day hatch. 

Thanks again, ya'll

RE: Plans ordered for a shearwater 17

I got all my cuts and shaped so now just waiting on the epoxy to come so I can join all the pannels together and make it start looking like a boat.

At this time I am wondering what size most make there day hatches. I am going to use a 8in VCP hatch for my hatch cover. I think it would be about 12in between bulkheads but not sure. I might recess the hatch in the end, I've decided I like the look better and ready for the challenge.

Thanks for the help and info.


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