Cedar-strip kayaks are admired for their beauty and functionality. Kayaks made entirely of cedar strips require a “strongback” and special molds, which translates into a lot of skilled labor and time. Why not combine the best qualities of stitch-and-glue plywood kayaks with the beauty of a cedar strip deck?
This is exactly what we have done with the Shearwater Hybrid kayak kits. We took the standard Shearwater’s graceful hull lines and added a strip-planked deck. The resulting hybrid of strip and plywood techniques combines the look of a cedar-strip hull with the speedy assembly and great handling of a West Greenland-style hull. The Shearwater Hybrid is a kayak with elegance and individuality. Since the hull forms the “strongback” for constructing the strip-planked deck, assembly time is a fraction of an all-strip hull. Our Shearwater 16 display model took about 100 hours from start to finish!
Here’s how it works. The Shearwater Hybrid’s hull is identical to the standard Shearwater’s, with computer-cut BS 1088 Okoume panels assembled with “finger joints” so it goes together very, very quickly. Computer-cut molds are set into the hull with temporary hot glue. These molds shape and support the deck during construction. With the kit we include a mixture of dark and medium color western red cedar strips, plus white cedar strips for light accents. The strips are milled with a “bead and cove” joint so that one slides into the next for perfect joinery. While we offer suggested patterns, each builder can develop their own unique strip deck design as they assemble their kit. Run riot with your creativity! Almost anything is possible. Parquet decks, anyone?
Try this boat at OkoumeFest in Maryland: May 17-18
Once the deck pattern has been established and glued together, the entire deck is gently taken off the hull and the underside fiberglassed. The molds are removed from the hull, then the deck epoxied back in place, atop structural “sheer clamps.” Finally, the top of the strip deck is fiberglassed and the cockpit and hatches are added.
As paddling boats, the Shearwaters are sophisticated and fast. On the water, the Shearwater demonstrates excellent poise and responsiveness in a broad range of conditions, edging turns easily when leaned but tracking straight when pushed hard in surfing conditions. The narrow beam and low profile translates into fewer corrective strokes and more paddling energy spent on covering ground. The speed and relatively narrow beam means the Shearwaters are not beginner paddling boats, but athletic paddlers and paddlers with intermediate skills will find them an excellent fit.