S&G SHEARWATER building query

While waiting for category 5 Cyclone Hamish to disappear and allow me back onto the water in the just-launched Chesapeake 17LT, I’ve been reading up as much as I can find about the Shearwater 17 S&G, my next building project planned for this coming Australian winter.    In one excellent blog, which detailed the build from start to finish, I was a little surprised to see the builder describing the process of getting the assembled deck to fit the hull.   The tabbed (welded) deck was laid on top of the hull, BEFORE THE DECK TABS/ WELDS HAD HARDENED, so it could be ‘tweaked’ to get the closest possible fitting around the edges.   I’d have thought that moving an as-yet uncured deck around would tend to allow it to move and distort, thus making the eventual fit onto the deck (or indeed overall shape) less than perfect. Is this builder’s technique the approved one for this step – I gather he was building from a CLC kit, not that I’d think that would have much to do with it?   I must say that the builder’s pictures of the finished craft were mouth-wateringly perfect, so this is no criticism! I’d appreciate input from experienced S&G Shearwater builders. Cheers…



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RE: S&G SHEARWATER building query

I must add to the above that of course once the tabs/ welds HAD cured the deck was removed - it had been laid onto the hull over no-stick plastic and tightened down with tape - then the joints were fully epoxied and wires removed, THEN the deck put back again onto the hull for the final join.


RE: S&G SHEARWATER building query

You are building 2 boats. Both the deck and hull each have hull forms to hold basic shape for welding. The underside of the deck actually gets glassed and cured before final assembly, with both the light 4 oz glass and things plywood both still being flexible enough for a seemingly perfect fit.

Here is the link to my Shearwater blog. Hopefully will clear up some more questions. If not just post and more help will arrive....



RE: S&G SHEARWATER building query

Thanks, Fishbuster - I take it that 'things' above should be read as 'thin'?

I have now received my plans and construction manual - a quick once-over shows the method I'm querying to be the approved way to go - but I must admit I'm still scratching my head!   It seems that both the hull and the deck are wired (separately), tabbed (welded), deck laid on top, adjustments made to ensure a good fit all round, then the two are separated for the next steps after tabs have cured.   I wonder if it mightn't be better to allow the hull tabbing to cure (and maybe complete the hull filleting process too) before putting the deck on (with wet tabs) - what say you, oh Fishbuster?  

I am not trying to second-guess the expertise or experiences of those who have been there - just want to minimise risk of the hull and/ or deck getting out of shape during these delicate processes.   I can imagine that the deck in particular is a bit 'tender' at this stage of proceedings.

I may have some other queries but I'll wait until I've more carefully studied the plans and manual before asking...   I must say I'm impressed with the full-size plans, though - no lofting to be done!

Cheers and thanks...



RE: S&G SHEARWATER building query

Wordsmith, nothing is written in stone. You may get away with letting the tabs dry but more likely the welds will just break when you try to shape the boat for final fit, which is why it is suggested to build the other way.

You won't just be slapping the two halves together and moving on. No two boats are exactly alike and there will be areas that need finessing to fit/mate just right and maybe a couple areas where you will have to adjust your bevel as the beveling is not a one shot deal either, also maybe drilling another hole or two near the bow and/or stern and some extra wire, etc, etc. In the end, the cured welds/tabs will better help hold the final shape if they cure in the correct final shape.

Try it your way, let everyone know how it turns out or if you wind up having to take a couple steps back to sand away welds that broke and start over fitting/shaping the boat with the two parts together.

No need to try and "reinvent the wheel". The book works and following the successful blogs of boats that turned out right will be of much help to you.

Don't forget to take plenty of pics of your build along the way. Documenting, photographing and uploading your build helps everyone out who is thinking of or starting their own build. I picked up a lot of tips along the way from posting and reading. 

RE: S&G SHEARWATER building query

Yeah, thanks, Fishbuster; I don't want to be thought to be the only one who's marching correctly and it's the rest of the army that is out of step with me!  

Your comments are spot-on: now I've had time to study the material a lot more carefully I can see where the need arises to temporarily join the two elements, which I reckon is due to the extremely narrow width of joint between hull sides and sheer panel - only 4mm wide at best.   On more conventional craft with an inner sheer clamp an inch or so wide and a deck being cut oversize, no such precision is needed.   But it makes it bit more challenging and  therefore satisfying to get it right!   I shall proceed as instructed, bearing in mind the motto 'if all else fails, follow the instructions!'   I haven't used the tabbing/ welding method before and am looking forward to mastering it.

Now a serious question if I may: how does one line up the correct location for the long pointy deck sheer along the corresponding hull side?   Do I line one up with the other using the dotted vertical lines shown on the plans as 'form or bulkhead location', or do I measure along the length of both the hull side and deck sheer, mark the vertical centre-point on each, and line these up?   Obviously this is very critical as among other things it seems to locate the cockpit opening.   Your well-earned words will be gratefully received...

Thanks and cheers..


RE: S&G SHEARWATER building query

I'm in the process of building my first kayak and it's a Shearwater 17 S&G.  My first comment is the quality of the kit is excellent.  I'm following the instructions and everything is working out great.

The tack weld process went real smoothly.  The deck fit almost dead-nuts on the initial fit-up, and very little tweaking was required.  One key is to tweak all the parts when dry.  I thought that if I tried to do very much when the tacks were wet I would introduce some stress and the deck or hull would spring apart a little after everything dried up.  After the tack welding process and deck installation/removal, I was quite satifisfied very little movement took place.  Bottom line is this rookie had good success following the instructions as written.  

I just finished fiberglassing the underside of the deck last night.  After one more thin coat of epoxy on the deck and inside the hull, the deck will be going on for good.  Even with fiberglass on the deck, it's still flexible enough to remove any minor mismatches in fit with the hull.

Scott M 


RE: S&G SHEARWATER building query

Thanks for the reassuring words, Scott M - I am now totally comfortable with these steps, thanks to you and Fishbuster.   I'm building from plans rather than a kit, which should make absolutely no difference whatsoever - except for my later question above on lining-up the deck sheer panel with the hull side at the correct spot.

Enjoy the rest of the build!



RE: S&G SHEARWATER building query

Wordsmith, you will turn out a better boat than the kits. The kits are real pretty until you get within 6 feet of them. The puzzle joints look bad and does take away from it. Even folks with the ooh's and ahh's...you can see their expression change when they spot those puzzle joints. All boats are trade offs though, the kit made it much easier.

Not sure about your question about the sheer panels as I did not build from plans.

Don't forget, lots of pics and post them!  :-)

RE: S&G SHEARWATER building query

OK - thanks again, Fishbuster.   I will leave open my enquiry dated March 13th (regarding the alignment of the sheer panels and the centre deck panel) as I need a solution - I'll bet it's simple and obvious, but frankly it should be in the plans/ instructions, as it's not exactly optional!   Failing help from the Forum over coming days I'll fire off an enquiry to CLC.

Regarding the puzzle joints on kit-built craft, I've yet to see these 'in the flesh' but I take your point.   But, I have seen some photos of craft made with these joints where the builder has made a virtue of necessity and stained the various sections of the craft - separated by the joints -  in different colours - red, green, blue, yellow, whatever.   It looks kinda psychedelic, and appeals to my affection for doing things differently!

Regarding photos - no problem at all with part 1 of the task, taking the photos themselves with a digital camera.   Part 2  - posting or e-mailing them - is well beyond the capabilities of this 69 y.o Luddite.   I simply haven't mastered that black art, and don't intend to try - no patience, no interest in such matters!   Having said that, kayakkev of these pages has kindly offered to post some photos of my recent Ches 17LT build (or rather the finished job) that I sent him on a CD - about the limit of my capabilities courtesy of K Mart's photo department.   But I will take plenty of shots of the Shearwater build...

Best regards and thanks again...


RE: S&G SHEARWATER building query

your gonna love that boat when its done  its very fast and stable and most people i show it to like the puzzle joints

RE: S&G SHEARWATER building query

Yes, Greg, I'm sure I will love it - of course mine won't have the puzzle joints as I'm using plans only.

Can anyone help me with my question on aligning the sheer panels and deck?

Thanks in anticipation...


RE: S&G SHEARWATER building query

Wordsmith I keep reading that question and still not sure what you are asking. The sheer panel is a shape that will mate up to the deck near the cockpit in only one possible location. The sheer panel cannot be shifted fore or aft. It will only work in one position near the cockpit and will line up where it should at the ends. Maybe you just have to have the panels lined up in front of you as you assemble it to see it.

RE: S&G SHEARWATER building query

Thanks once more, Fishbuster.   The scales have now fallen from my eyes (and made a hell of a mess on the workshop floor, as well as beginning to smell decidedly 'off' in this hot heat!)   The truth was slightly obscured from me because on the plans the bow section of the sheer panel is printed adjacent to the stern section of the deck, so the juxtaposition between the two was not immediately apparent!  

It will, as you suggest, become more apparent once the actual panels at  the correct angles to each other are in place, rather than just being looked at in the flat as plans.  

It all now falls into place - but I hope that someone from CLC is reading this and can ensure that words to this effect are included in the next print of the plans/ instructions.   And even maybe an extra line or two such as 'the extreme ends of the sheer panels terminate X inches from the bow and Y inches from the stern".   This would remove any final doubt.

I'd also like to see some detail on the dimensions of the blanks or panels that are cut out first from the 8' x 4' ply sheets, to be scarfed before marking-up the hull sides, bottoms, and sheer panels, ready to cut out.   The placement of these panels is pretty tight, even on the so-called 'loose layout', and I have spent a lot of time today fiddling with this so as not to have to buy more ply.   The upside of this, I guess, is that I can now claim to have actually started on the new craft, even though I may not be putting saw to ply for several more weeks.

I guess I want a lot for my $69 (even though it's over $110 Oz!!).

You kit builders sure do have it easy compared to we who slave away building from plans, but I don't want to start World War 3 so won't go there...

Again, Fishbuster (and others) - thanks.   These proceedings are now concluded.


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