Newbie trying to decide.....

Hello-- I've been thinking about a CLC project for a couple of years and I think I'd like to finally go forward with it this winter. I've done quite a bit of wooden boat restoration in the past, but never a build. My concerns have to do with what is a suitable building site, type and number of tools to have, how much time is involved, etc.


I've narrowed my choices down to roughly two: (although I'm open to other ideas) Sassafras 12 and Wood Duck 12. I have a powerboat that I have set up as a bit of a water-borne RV, and would like to carry this paddle craft up on the hardtop of the powerboat as I take it  in and around inlets and islands on the Great Lakes. For this reason, I'm favoring the lightness of the Sassafrass 12. I would be mostly day-paddling around coastal areas, in fairly calm conditions (If it isn't decent out, I'm not going; I'm NOT an extremist!) So seaworthyness is important, but not an end-all.


And finally, I'm not exactly jockey-sized. More like 6'3" and 250. So roominess and load carrying IS important, along with lightness and ease of a first build.


Any comments, ideas, suggestions or ideas would be very welcome

14 replies:

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RE: Newbie trying to decide.....

Hello....   My vote would be for the Wood Duck 12.  But then I built one (66 hours) and love it.  A very handsome, roomy AND stable craft... 


RE: Newbie trying to decide.....

I'm building a Wood Duck 12 right now and it's fun, but I haven't paddled it yet so I can't comment on handling.  However, I can comment on build and tools (this is my second CLC) build. 

Ideally, your build space should allow you several feet all the way around the boat you're building, should have good lighting, good ventilation, be temperature controlled, and far enought away from your living space to keep fumes and mess out of the house.  OK, now real life.  I have a very long, narrow work space that is covered, but outside (Seattle area).  I have stapled 6 mil plastic sheeting around it and have successfully built during the winter with a little heat tent and 3 heat lamps that also provide lighting.  I built a work table (16 feet long, 2 feet wide) on wheels and I push it back and forth to be able to work on both sides of the boat as needed (total space is 5 feet wide).  Definitely not ideal, but it definitely can be done in less than ideal spaces if you have a bit of ingenuity. 

Tools:  pliers, block plane is nice, lots of good sandpaper and sanding block (or if you're into power tools a ROS, but I only ever hand sanded my builds), carbide paint scraper (my personal favorite for cured epoxy smoothing), bonsai saw is great to cut hatches.  For epoxy work, lots of empty yogurt containers, old rubber kitchen spatulas (for mixing and filleting - the epoxy peels off when it hardens and you just keep re-using), plastic epoxy spreader, cheap chip brushes and/or foam rollers. 

Time - well, this is an open ended question.  How much time do you have, how much do you want to spend, and how much of a perfectionist are you?  You could spend 60 hours if you're really experienced and efficient (not on the first build) or 100+ if you're a perfectonist or want to do some fancy decorations.  Things always take longer than you think, but I look at is as a fun hobby/project so I don't worry about the hours or set unrealistic deadlines because it makes it not so much fun if I do that. 

I'm sure whichever boat you pick you'll have a great time building and paddling! 

RE: Newbie trying to decide.....

I'm recommending the WD12 over the Sassafras 12 for your use for several reasons:

1. It's a simpler build. It's only 24 pieces of wood vs. 35. Assembling the hull only requires stitching 6 pieces of wood together vs. 10. Glass is applied over a smooth surface instead of over planks with ridges. The deck covers a multitude of sins so the finish does not take as long, especially since you're only sanding flat surfaces instead of ridged planks. The WD12 uses puzzle joints instead of scarfs. I've found them about the same amount of work to put together correctly, but many folks say that puzzles are easier.

2. The Duck's deck makes it more seaworthy. I know that you're planning on only going out in good weather, but forecasts can be wrong. And no matter how good the weather is, that won't help you with the moron in a power boat who doesn't care about his wake, the powerboater who just doesn't see you or the jet skier who thinks it's fun to try and swamp canoes and kayaks. A wake that would swamp a Sassy will roll off the deck of a WD12, especially if you have a spray skirt.

3. The weight difference isn't that much. My WD12 came in at 39 lbs, even though I glassed every inch of the inside (something the plans didn't call for). That's only 13 lbs more than the Sassy. For a guy your size that shouldn't be that much of a difference.

The WD12's deck also isolates you a bit from the environment. You don't have to worry about fish, spiders, snakes, poison ivy and bird crap joining you in your boat as much as in the Sassy (especially if you're using a spray skirt), and you need less sunscreen.

So while the Sassafras 12 is a beautiful boat and paddles very nicely and lots of people have successfully built one and thoroughly enjoyed them, those are the reasons why I'd recommend the WD12 for you.



RE: Newbie trying to decide.....

I also second the Wood Duck 12.  I built a WD12 hybrid last winter.  It was my first build and with the CLC hot line and this forum it went smoothly.  Aslo a visit to Lou Farhood in Fenton, MI was very helpful.  I am in Canton, MI and if you are close by come on over and see the first build and I am currently working on a WD10 hybrid.  Padlling the Duck is fun and very stable.  Someone on this forum once said you will fall out of the Duck before it rolls over.  I fly fish from mine and it is very stable while casting and landing a fish.  I can also have my 1 year old grandson ride with me for a short paddle.

My shop is in the garage(can't get a boat out of the basement) and I use 2 hollow doors for my bench top attached to a couple of saw horses.  You can see them on the blog below.

my first build is at


RE: Newbie trying to decide.....

Woood  duuuck!!

RE: Newbie trying to decide.....

The wood duck is a great choice. I've built a 12 for my wife and a 14 for me.  I'm sure you've researched it as to the proper size to fit you but my experience is as follows. First, I am about exactly your size for ht and weight. My 14 tracks well and is a dream to paddle. Just the other day I tried my wifes 12 for the first time and for me the front end was quite heavy and I couldn't get it to go in a straight line when coasting for the life of me. Or a bit of current would catch the front end and I could barely turn it.

I believe Laszlo is not a thin little sparrow and he paddles a 12. Perhaps he could chime in here.

RE: Newbie trying to decide.....

You might want to look at the Wood Duck 14 - its fore and aft bulkheads and two water tight compartments would be very helpful if you swamp it.  The 12 only has a rear bulkhead, which makes righting and emptying the boat extremely difficult.  Just something to consider given that you plan to use it in the Great Lakes, which behave like an inland mini-ocean.

RE: Newbie trying to decide.....

Definitely the duck.  I built a Mill Creek 16.5 in spring of 2010 and as soon as a I saw a Wood Duck, I knew I wanted one.  I just completed a mahogany runabout and I do plan to build another yak.  It will be a WD12.

RE: Newbie trying to decide.....

Another vote for the Wood Duck !!!

Laszlo pretty much said it all so no need for me to repete.  I will add that I have a air tight bulkhead in the bow of my duck.  I go out on Lake Michigan with the feeling of safty.

Like flyrods, I love to fish from my duck.

If you want to try out the WD12 hybrid, I live 12 miles south of Flint.


RE: Newbie trying to decide.....

When building my regular Wood Duck 12, I, of course, installed the supplied aft (and only) bulkhead.  Then, I took one of the forward temp. frames, reshaped it to "seal" across the Duck, just forward of the foot pegs AND also reshaped the forward deck mold to fit at the same location.  I then on the workbench, fiberglassed them together, creating a custom, and tight fitting, forward bulkhead.  Before installing the new bulkhead, I installed a vertical twist off water tight inspection plate.  Then I positioned the new bulkhead in the boat and followed the same filletting & glassing steps, as with the aft bulkhead, minus the wires. It fit so well, no wires were necessary......  ~BRUCE~

RE: Newbie trying to decide.....

Wow...thank you everyone for all the feedback. I'm amazed; not one responder has in any way favored the Sassafrass. So is this because the WD is just that much better boat or is it just that much more popular? I especially appreciated some of the comments that revealed a few things that I had not considered, such as there being fewer hull pieces on the WD, and having the deck available to literally "cover up" some less than pretty work my a first-timer.

So....let's just say I take your advise and go with the WD12. Next question: WD12 or WD12 Hybrid? Remember:First time builder who is concerned with overall weight when completed.


RE: Newbie trying to decide.....

The Sassafras is a very nice boat. It's just that from your description of what you want a boat for, the WD12 is a better fit. A wrench is not a better tool than a hammer, but if you're going to pound nails you want a hammer.

According to CLC's numbers the hybrid & standard should come out to the same weight.

The hybrid will take longer to build. Again, it's a number of pieces of wood thing. The hybrid has a lot more pieces of wood that need to be fitted to each other to form the deck. And fitting each of those pieces of wood is a bit more involved. So it's going to take longer to make the hybrid deck than the S&G deck.

If you don't care about build time, it's not an issue. Then what you're left with are the looks. The S&G deck is a bit higher with a sculptural faceted look. The hybrid is flatter and rounded. The S&G gets its beauty from its shape, the hybrid from the strip pattern. The S&G has elegant simplicity (especially with the sapele deck), the hybrid has a complex intricacy.

Finally, there's crass money. The S&G is cheaper.

So it's up to you. I'm sure you'll enjoy either. Have fun,




RE: Newbie trying to decide.....

I attended a CLC demo day a year ago (Oct 2010).  I was sold on the looks of the hybrid.   I went home from the demo day sure that I was going to build a WD 12. Joey Schott, from CLC, was a great help in selecting a model and discussing the build of a hybrid vs a S and G.  Then I visited Lou Farhood, near Flint, and looked at his recently completed WD 12 hybrid and he gave me lots of building tips.  I took notes and pictures.  My background is in wood carving and bamboo fly rod making.  The wood carving helped with the cutting and shaping of strips and some of the precise technigues in bamboo rod making also helped in putting the yak together. 

I think if you have patience, time and space to build a yak you can't go wrong with either the S and G or the hybrid.  My WD hybrid with the creature comfort seat came in at 41 pounds, one pound over the advertised weight.  The creature comfort seat is slightly heavier than standard but well worth it for my 61 year old back.  The biggest problem with the hybrid is how long it takes to launch it if there are other people around when you take it off the car.  Lots of questions and admiration from the bystanders! 

Also remember that there are alot of resources to help you.  The build articles on this website, the CLC builders tech support is also great.  I posted several questions on this site last year and got lots of helpful advise>

God Luck and Enjoy


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