Buying a boat kit

Posted by George on Sep 12, 2006

After much dreaming of building a boat, I'm finally going to take the plunge and order a kit (to be done as a joint father/son/daughter project). However, with limited woodworking experience and limited kayaking experience, I'm torn between getting the Chesapeake 17 LT and the Shearwater 17 (standard deck). I've read the manuals on both, but I still have a couple questions/considerations:

First, I really love the pretty lines of the Shearwater and would appreciate the puzzle joints and pre-drilled holes (good for a beginner), but I'm concerned that the Shearwater may be a more unforgiving and difficult boat to build for a first-timer because of (1) alot of delicate beveling needed on the edges of the plywood panels, (2) the lack of shear clamps to ensure a good/secure bond between hull and deck (and to attach fittings), and (3) the need to tape and fillet inside the hull through the hatches and cockpit. In short, I'm leaning toward the Chessie as a first boat, but I'm concerned about what I may be giving up in speed and handling, ease of learning to roll, bulkier shape, etc. I want to end up with a really pretty boat, and if I am successful with the first one, I'll hope to build more. Are there any thoughts/opinions on this? Btw, I do most of my boating/fishing on the inland coastal waters of Louisiana and Florida, and I am 5'10", 290 #.