Real Cost?


 I am getting ready to set up for my first kit - going with either a Shearwater 17 or a Night Heron.  I know the cost of the kits, but I wonder if anyone has any insight about the cost fo setup and tooling for the job?

 I know from this forum I need lots of clamps, and probably a few power sanders, but what else is needed?  In other words, after the $1,000 odd bucks on the kit, how much should I expect to pay to set up the shop?

Time is important also, but not as important as the 'real' costs to build a boat - kit, supplies, tools, etc..


Thanks in advance



16 replies:

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RE: Real Cost?

Double it to be 100% complete in every way and sitting in it paddling on a nice warm sunny day. Around 2 grand.

The word 'kit' does not mean complete. I built a Shearwater. You won't get enough epoxy, enough wire, enough rope to even tie a pair of fisherman knots for grab loops and the 3/4" weatherstripping won't work on the recessed hatches- you will need to buy 3/8" and double stack it (this worked VERY well). Having built the boat and even being very happy with it, if I had to build another one, I still could not finish the boat with only the epoxy that comes in the kit, it is just not enough. The other stuff is pennies, epoxy is pricey and adds to the kit price.

You will use a couple/few hundred likely, in consumables...sandpaper, varnish, plastic sheathing, brushes, etc, etc.

If you need to buy power tools (sander/vacuum/plane)and stuff (mask/filters), that is another story. If you do need to buy a snader, I think everyone will agree the best type to buy is a random orbitol sander (ROS) with the round bag attachment that can be plugged right into your Shop Vac. This keeps the dust down to a minimum by a wide margin. You do not need to spend hundreds of dollars on one, i bought one from Sears fro aeround 60 dollars and it got through the job no problem.

When the boat is done, you will need paddling gear! Another few hundred at least. Don't forget you have to attach it to your car some way if you do not have a waterfront home and a cart of some sort if you have a long walk to the water from the car.

Being realistic, to see the day you are out paddling, you will have spent somewhere around $2,000, give or take. The good news is you do not need all the money up front at once, you can do it over time as many people do.

In the end is it worth the time, effort and money? The great news is YES! And many of us, if not most, find we even want to buy and build another one. And we have some left over supplies from the first build!

Here is a link to my Shearwater Building Blog if you want to take a look. These blogs are designed to be in reverse chronological order, so you will have to page back a ways if you want to start from the beginning.....



RE: Real Cost?

Well I am just finishing making a San O 16 paddleboard.

I didnt use a sander just block and paper its fine, I will tell you its not if it ever falls apart.

I spent about £170 extra ie $300 (including resin as I couldnt get it shipped here). The kit I got, it had enough wire and loads extra fibreglass cloth.

 So it is still cheap compared to say getting a stock board especially in the UK, only one company ships Eaton boards and they are only 14 foot. I wanted a bit larger.

 I would say the main thing is the time it takes, which took up too much time for me. However, having said that, I want to make sculpture works next and the wooden construction of the paddleboard, has taught me great things for that now.

RE: Real Cost?

I'd like to respectfully disagree that the epoxy in the kits is not enough. If you keep your fillets thin (removing the stitches before filleting is the best way to do that), avoid waste (by mixing up small batches & by combining small jobs so there won't be leftover unused epoxy curing in the cup), use only the minimum needed to wet out the glass and use very thin coats to fill the weave, there's plenty in the kits.

That said, I can't argue with the rest of what fishbuster says. Basically, when you're building your first boat, you're also building a boatyard and an adventure outfitter store. Your next boat is the cheap one.

Good luck,


RE: Real Cost?

Thanks all.  I already have gear and racks (having paddled, instructed, and guided for a number of years), so that part's not a big lift.  But being a paddler instead of a builder has left me short of the ROS, sawhorses, sandpaper, etc, etc that is required. Not to mention the fumes from my limited garage space - but that's not a showstopper.

 So let's see - $1000 for the kit, plus say, $250 for incidentals, plus $200 or so for the power tools and other equipment, that puts the S&G kit at about $1300-$1500.  Makes sense if you consider $200 for a decent paddle, at least $100 for a decent paddling pfd, a couple hundred for racks, etc, etc.  And I'm sure with my first kit, I will also run short of epoxy and varnish......

 So, $1500 is pretty close?

RE: Real Cost?

I have built 2 CLC yaks cheap and thought I would add some ideas.  Laszlo's advice as to small batches and small fillets is very true.  I have found that using a roller to apply epoxy on the bigger cloth steps saves over just dumping it on and using the spreader.  I have built both boats with a bit of epoxy left over.  Random orbital sanders are often recomended, but are very spendy.  I have a B@D mouse sander.  It is pretty crappy but works.  A light hand sanding prior to finishing steps will get rid of the sanding marks.  Any drill (corded or battery) will do.  Varnish is more time consuming than marine paint, but is less expensive and does not need primers.  I use left over plastic food containers to mix epoxy, yogurt cups work well.

The good part of this is you will end up with a great boat.  Using extra epoxy just adds wieght without much other benefit.  A fully varinished boat looks great.

On a side note the marine epoxy in these kits is not too smelly, the varnish and paint are a lot worse.

RE: Real Cost?

Not to belittle anyone here, but I spent $700 on my kit (during one of the sales) and about $200 on miscellaneous tools including a ROS and half-mask breather) extra materials, deck lines etc.  I spent $60 on a PFD, and about $18 on wood to make my paddle(s).  I already had a rack for my car, which I got used for $60 and I don't have any cradles, I just load the boat up on foam pool noodles wrapped around the bars.  All told, that's about $1200.  So approximately $1500 if I hadn't bought my kit on sale.  Granted, I'm a cheap guy and look for bargains where and when I can.  I didn't go out and buy a $200 europaddle and went with a greenland paddle I carved myself.  

I'll agree with Laszlo that the epoxy quantities are plenty to finish a boat with, even when you're not being super careful about usage.  I had extra from mine and made several other projects using it.


But, as others have said, treat it like you're gaining something other than just one boat and the end cost won't feel so painful. 

RE: Real Cost?

Everyone seems to be saying the same thing about the epoxy quantity and the only thing I can figure is that the Shearwater is a different animal somehow in construction than other models. I can tell by the wire quantity and the wrong hatch weatherstripping that the kit is a spin off and adapted from the chesapeake kits, which are the real original CLC kits.

If you really look at my building blog, you would see that my build is one of the neatest documented builds out there....small perfect fillets well taped off (just inside the wire hole area-[wire removed]), etc. And I didn't even fill the weave under the deck! One coat for wet out, that is it and maybe half the recommended end pour required (I wanted my lifting toggles as close to the ends as possible). Followed the book to the letter (except filling underdeck glass weave), which means special things different from other models, such as a total of 4 sheets of fiberglass behind the cockpit under deck, which really drinks up a lot of epoxy (not building a Shearwater and not having all this added strength and glass under deck, not sure how  some folks can say I am using too much). Followed all the recommended tricks with 4" rollers, etc, no expense was spared, if I needed it to do a better job, I bought it.

My next build will be a Chesapeake 17LT for my son (next winter-will wait for a half price paddle sale with kit). I have no doubt on that model, the kit supplied epoxy will be enough. 6 oz glass on the hull instead of doubled up 4 oz and end strips. No underdeck glass at all. No 4 sheets of glass behind the cockpit, etc. Even the Ches hatches will use half what the recessed hatches use. I fully expect to be able to build a Ches with kit supplied epoxy no problem. A Shear?....a mystery to me how it can be done without running out of epoxy.




RE: Real Cost?

Thanks, Fishbuster - The Shearwater 17 is the one I'm looking at real hard.  Sounds reasonable that the Ches kit was morphed over to the SW17 - in fact I called CLC last week and the gentleman on the phone told me the Shearwater was kind of a modernization between the Ches and another model (maybe the Artic Hawk???).

 In that case, it follows that some of the materials weren't significantly changed between model kits. 

 But the more important questions is, since you can pick up a great used deal on a high-performance, composite expedition boat for around $1500 or so, then the motivation to build is not so much an economic one, right? Seems like the motivation is to build a boat, and not to necessarily save $$. 

 That's a discussion point around our dinner table these days..... :>) 


RE: Real Cost?

Absolutely these boats are not about a few hundred dollars either way. It is about building them and having something to show for your efforts.

There is nothing like building your own and paddling it. When you have one of these boats, compliments follow you wherever you go, everyone loves to stare at these works of art.

If you line up 50 kayaks and only 1 of them is one of our homegrown CLC kayaks (even with our own individual imperfections) and all the others are plastic and glass and kevlar and even skin over frame, 99.9% of everyone walking by would go straight for our glass over okoume kayak, especially if they are varnished.

The bonus is these boats are lighter than others and we put a lot of thought into the model we choose to build, so they tend to fit us right. I enjoy paddling my Shearwater better than anything else I have paddled in the past.

Shearwater 16

RE: Real Cost?


I will agree partially with everyone here.  There probably is enough epoxy and fiberglass provided with the kit IF you know what you are doing.  And unless you have a few boats under your belt, you will use the consumables at a prodigious rate.  The biggest tip that I know now that every one is stressing is to mix up small batches of epoxy, and use a roller to apply it.  Or if you use a brush, roll it out after it is applied to spread it and absorb the excess.  Also, don't get in a rush, the expoxy cures very slowly once it has been applied.  I was working like a maniac when I was doing the inside of my boat and ended up with tons of runs and a nice clear puddle of epoxy at the bottom of the boat, as my only experence with epoxy was the one hour cure stuff you get at a hobby store.   Before I got my boat, I ordered the CLC video 40 - 50 times before I began to at least try to minimize my screw ups.  That being said, I still ended up ordering more epoxy and extra cloth.  BTW - the boat still came out to 45 lbs.  I was too afraid to push my luck with the glass, as in maximize the yield per yard, and ended up with quite a bit of waste, which I am using on my current build by the way :).  Also, it will take 1 1/2 - 2 quarts of varnish to get 4 -6 coats on the tub, so be aware of that when you order.  Either way, as everybody has already said, it ain't about the money.  There will be additional expenses, and they will be worth every penny.

RE: Real Cost?

Hi Birke, I hear you but again, more apples and oranges...The Shearwater S&G is a different animal than even the Shear Hybrid. The hybrid also uses less cloth, less 3" tape, less joints, likely also not the beefed up 4 layer glass area behind the cockpit, etc. which all equates to much less epoxy. I can build a hybrid with the kit supplied amount no problem along with the Chesapeake. CLC has done the right thing by me, a great company to deal with. These are the only boats I will continue building.

The only home builder who can make an apples to apples comparison (for epoxy usage) is another Shearwater S&G builder. All the gadgets, techniques, toys and tools were used. This S&G is well photograped and well documented. Show me the waste.

I like the strip pattern on your hybrid by the way. And the bright finish for sure looks like a coffee table from here. Real nice job.

RE: Real Cost?

It is really quite surprising how much extra you can spend.  I have a spreadsheet with every penny I spent on my MC 16.5.  Send me an email at and I will be happy to share it.

Paul G.

RE: Real Cost?

Fishbuster hope this does not get your dander up to much we have built 2 S&G sShearwaters in  classes with our students 1 kit 1 scratch niether used more E than the kit supplied something is amuck Your boat looks good and info on your blog is good but maybe you did not realize where the waste was without seeing you do glass wetouts and coating or knowing no one can possibly guess where your E went but I have talked to a number of other builders who made it through with out additional E needed

As we run a boatbuilding school here in Michigan and build a lot of Stitch and Glue boats (29 last year) we keep very close track of our cost's  and material use

C Fox Boat School (yes the sight is back up and running) 

RE: Real Cost?

im 1/2 way through my second boat and made much better use of the epoxy but i still dont see how i could possbly have finnished with out extra epoxy ,im just getting ready to order more

RE: Real Cost?

Just becasue 15 responses aren't enough.  My MC 16.5 cost about twice the kit price (plus composit oards and rigger).  I have a detailed cost breakdown on a spreadsheet.  Anyone interested can email me at and I' gladly email a copy.  by the way, I did run short on epoxy, partially perhaps because I added the optional glass to the bottom interior.  (Have found this to not be necessary the way I use the boat.

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