Re: The Duck Report

Posted by Laszlo on Jul 15, 2007

Hey Norm,

The CLC staff answered the questions. I just wrote them down. Any inaccuracies are my memory errors.

There was no mention of plans, but then again, I didn't ask. Having seen the boat, though, my sense is that this one would work better as a kit. Since there is no internal framing to speak of, shape and alignment of the parts determines everything. I just get the feeling that it has a tighter set of tolerances than, say, the Jimmy Skiff.

In fact, it seems to me that with this boat the difference in effort between the kit and doing it from plans may be much more than in previous boats. It's almost as if we've moved into the next generation of kayak building. The previous generations were designed from the start to be homebuilt from plans. They were meant to be hand-cut with loose tolerances and were mostly self-aligning. Places like CLC adapted them to pre-cut kits and added value mainly by providing convenience (one stop shopping, no measuring, etc.).

This generation, especially the Schade designs, seems to be designed assuming that high-precision CNC machines will produce precisely cut panels which will be aligned with accurately cut jigs and molds. The kits add value by making the construction possible at all.

Now I know that it's actually not that extreme yet. There are many builders out there with the skills and tools to build complex high-precision boats. But the home-built kayak market is already a niche market. Builders of that caliber are a niche within a niche. A business needs to appeal to the broader base to stay alive. And that broader base must be able to build the product successfully, first time, every time with absolutely minimal handholding (tech support) needed from the company. Kits make that more likely.

So my feeling (and it's just my personal opinion, it is NOT anything that I've heard officially or unofficially from ANY homebuilt boat company) is that the trend will be towards more kits, and that plans will only be provided when there is overwhelming demand for them.


In Response to: Re: The Duck Report by Norm on Jul 14, 2007