Choosing first Kayak to build.

I am wanting to build 2 kayaks for my wife and myself. I have some whitewater experience and currently we have 11 recreation kayaks that we have been camping out of. We live minutes from the TN river and I think i have narrowed it down to the Cheasapeake or the Shearwater. I am 5'7 180 and she is 5'6 125 ish.... What sizes? 16'? 17'?  We would like to have the ability for a week long trip, but would mostly be used for day trips and overnighters. Wind is often a factor here, and the current rec kayaks are work getting anywhere against the wind/current. Are there better options for us other than the 2 mentioned? Thanks for your input.


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RE: Choosing first Kayak to build.

   You might consider the Shearwater 14 for your wife and the Shearwater Sport for yourself. I have the Shearwater Sport Sectional and it has plenty of room for camping gear -- and is fast on the water. The shorter length makes these kayaks maneuverable river boats and perhaps a little lighter, too.

RE: Choosing first Kayak to build.

   We plan on keeping the 11 ft rec boats for the smaller creeks here. The TN river is a mile wide in most places. Speed wise, how does the sport compare to the non sport? We want to be able to cover some miles on the system.

RE: Choosing first Kayak to build.

   go to this page on this site https://www.clcboats.com/shop/stitch-and-glue-kayaks/?jm=1  click on 'compare boats' .  The page that appears will allow you to select the boats you want to compare. When you click to compare your selected boats, you will find that CLC provides you with information that allows an easy comparison. My criteria was similar to yours, I used the chart, narrowed my selection then called CLC and talked to them about those kits. I am six feet tall and weigh 175.  I settled on the Chesapeake 16 and have been very happy with my choice. Lots of room, stable, I love the way it paddles.  If you go to the CLC Chesapeake 16 slide show my kayak is number 9 in the show. I upgraded to the sapele deck and I am glad I did. A friend built two Chesapeakes, a 17 for himself and the 16LT for his wife (her height and weight are very close to your wife's). She takes her kayak on 10 day trips in Yellowstone and has never run out of room. But she is an expert in packing light, she hiked the Pacific Crest Trail.

RE: Choosing first Kayak to build.

When you are considering speed,  I like this quote from another website.

  "This boat is what I like to call a fast cruiser. However, top speed was never a consideration in this design, instead it was optimized for the 3 to 4.5 mph range. The speed range most recreational paddlers paddle 95% of the time. This way you get the most speed for your effort."

RE: Choosing first Kayak to build.

   HikeAZ, is that quote reffering to the sport?

RE: Choosing first Kayak to build.

Six years ago, we were very much in the same position that you are, and we ended up choosing the Ch17LT for me (5’7”/155#) and 16LT for her (5’2”/112#).  Although these boats are now the least used in our stable, they were good choices.  They are nice handling, comfortable boats that can carry a good load at good speed.  You will see a significant speed increase over the short rec boats that you have now.  I can paddle the 17LT all day at 4.5+ mph and have averaged 5.5-5.6 mph on numerous 10-12 mile races.  For comparison, I am ~0.5 mph slower in my 14’ S&G Petrel Play with the same levels of effort.  The 16LT, which is 16” shorter, is not as fast at race pace but will cruise at nearly the same speed.  My wife, who is not a strong paddler, did one 4 mile recreational race, placing 4/10.  She beat six men in shorter rec boats.

I would recommend the LT boats over the standard Chesapeakes unless you really need the extra volume for gear.  You will fit well in either the 16LT or 17LT.  The 17LT will give you a little more carrying capacity and more top speed potential.  For your wife, stick with the 16LT.  It will be plenty big for her and unless she is very athletic, she will not have enough power to exploit the speed potential of the longer boat.  These boats track very nicely but I would advise a skeg if you will be paddling in waves.  They take a little room out of the aft compartment but are invaluable when paddling with breaking waves behind you.  Installing during construction is much easier than a retrofit.  Skegs are probably a good idea on any single in those conditions.

I believe that the Shearwaters would also be a good choice.  They are a newer kit design, so they would be a bit easier to build (pre-drilled stitch holes and no shear clamps to bevel).  The Shearwater design has a reputation for being a bit faster and nimbler, and both are longer than their Chesapeake LT cousins.  The only reason that we choose the Chesapeake over the Shearwater was cosmetic.  We preferred the look of the radiused deck over the faceted deck.

Are you set on S&G boats?  If not, there are numerous strip designs that would work well.  Maybe a standard Guilemot for you and the “S” version for her.

I agree with Birch’s comments above regarding shorter boats being lighter and easier to maneuver.  That is why I build us each a shorter “play” boat for day trips.  The downside is that the shorter boats really suffer in the speed department, especially under load.  There really is no substitute for LWL.

I mentioned above that our LTs get the least use of any of our boats.  That is because the Shearwater Double is our weapon of choice for longer/camping trips.  Honestly, it is the most impressive boat that we own.  It has a 575# payload and three storage compartments, so you have plenty of room for gear.  The cockpits are spaced 6’+ apart so you do not have to couple your strokes.  By race standards this is not a fast tandem, but it is a very efficient one.  Two competent paddlers can cruise all day at 5 mph.  My flea weight wife and I did one race in it and we paddled 10k (6.2 miles) in just over one hour in horrible conditions.  The first half of the race was straight into 30 kt wind gusts.  We were so far in the lead at the turn around that we relaxed and just cruised back to take the win.  Last fall, we took it to a group (50+) kayak camping event south of St Augustine Florida.  The conditions were rough with strong winds and waves, and the boat handled beautifully.  Without a doubt, we were the fastest, driest and most comfortable people in the group.

If you can, I would advise going to one of CLC’s demos.  If you can’t, try your luck in the “Builder’s Club” or ask on this forum if anybody nearby has a boat that you can try (Are you near Jax FL?).  Lastly, maybe build one boat for the two of you to try, then decide the second boat after.  Good luck and enjoy the journey.

    

 

   

RE: Choosing first Kayak to build.

The quote is refering to a curlew II, it is a skin on frame design (no hatch covers, no bulkheads) that is optimized for cruising. The idea is not to build a racing boat if you plan to cruise. Get one that is designed for how you plan to use it.    CLC sells excellent boats. Use the comparison chart and you will not make a bad choice. When I called CLC John actually was the one who answered the phone and he assured me that I would be very happy with the Chesapeake 17 or the 16 so I went with the lighter boat and he was right. 

RE: Choosing first Kayak to build.

I like the tandem idea suggested above.  I've no experience with kayaks, tandem or otherwise, but my wife and I have gotten immense pleasure from riding our tandem recumbent bicycle over the years.  We can cover a lot more miles in a day than we ever could on two separate bikes.  Plus, this way, she always knows where I am.  <;-)

I'd often thought we might try tandem paddling (or rowing, a la Chester Yawl) someday.  I expect the advantages of two peddlers on one bike would carry over to two paddlers in one boat, in terms of covering the miles together.

The tandem bicycle has also taught my wife and I how to get along with each other better as a married couple and given us some hope that we might actually be able to do that for the rest of our lives.  I suppose that could be a "make or break" proposition, but it's worked out well for us.  Must be something about how you have to take your different strengths, weaknesses, skills, talents, and predilections, and then figure out a way to use those in concert to achieve a common goal, which I guess is mostly what marriage is about.

.....Michael

RE: Choosing first Kayak to build.

"...pedallers..." I meant, not "peddlers"--we don't sell goods along the bike trail....

.....Michael

RE: Choosing first Kayak to build.

   Mark, I wouldnt be opposed driving to test some out. You asked if I was neare Jacksonville, is there a club there that allows demoing? Do they keep completed boats on site in Maryland?

RE: Choosing first Kayak to build.

   I urge you to attend Okoumefest this May. I did that a couple of years ago and had a terrific time. On Saturday they will have all their boats on the water and you can test them to your heart's content. That's how I chose the Shearwater Sport Sectional. On that topic: it cruises easily at 4 -4.5 mph.

https://www.clcboats.com/boatbuilding_classes/519.html?jm=1

RE: Choosing first Kayak to build.

   

You’ll find people are pretty opinionated on the subject and none more so than I. I love hard chined boats for white water. After paddling both types of sea kayaks I have to admit to a strong prejudice agains hard chines in them. As far as I know all of CLC’s stitch and glue boats are hard chined.  

Soft chine boats have less weted surface having less friction so they go further on equal effort - with length and width variables being the same. This is the only fact in this post. For stitch and glue boats folks use the term Multi Chine to denote a softer turn at the bilge. On to the subjective -  In my experience and at our weight, I feel like I flop from panel to panel of the hard chineed boats with a shallow v hull. To me a multi chine feels more refined and subtle on all points of paddle and heel.

A lot of folks think 15 feet is the sweet spot for Cruising speed, again due to less wet surface. Of course sprint speed of a 15 is less than a longer boat. They can get a little tight on space for gear if you aren’t used to backpacking level camping. Our boats are 17.5’ and we camp in luxury.

It is easier to carve a turn with a hard chine so you give up some small amount of maneuverability which I’m fine with. I never have to eddy turn in a sea kayak. However, it’s possible to really carve a turn in soft chine boat at radical angles of heel. Since you paddle WW you should be pretty comfortable with this. It’s also fun to roll a sea kayak, just slightly different timing from WW.

My opinion only applies to me, everyone sould paddle what they like but I sure hope you get a chance to compare the two types. Post back if you’re going to make Okomefest, we live close by and you might like to try our boats.

Cheers,

e

RE: Choosing first Kayak to build.

just thought i would join this 'first boat party'.

i am 185 lbs and 5' 10" and the first boat i built was a chesapeake 17LT.....which had a lot of space and great performance and looked nice.....i put a lot of miles on that boat.

my wife at 105 lbs got a chesapeake 14 and still uses it to this day (even though a new boat is finally on its way.

i also have a shearwater 17 that i really like....its fast, pretty,  and easily driven.

since then, i have also built strip boats....that have some great qualities...but are substantially more work than stitch and glue.

either the chesapeake or shearwaters are great boats...  as mark suggested, however, i would stick with the LT line of the chesapeakes unless you really think you need the space.

all the boats are there for demo at okoume fest and most builders on the builders club will happily let you try their boat out.

 

 

 

 

RE: Choosing first Kayak to build.

  Guys, thanks for all of the input. I do want to go stitch and glue. Mainly due to time restraints. I have plenty of room for constrction and a full wood shop. We are making plans to attend okoume fest . Any recomendations on accomodations? Any must eat at Resturants in the area. Will CLC have kits on had to purchase? I would like to save the shipping cost on the kits and bring them back with us if possible.

RE: Choosing first Kayak to build.

   I am going to build two stands to construct these on. Any one have any plans? At 5'7" what would the optimal height of the stand?

RE: Choosing first Kayak to build.

https://www.clcboats.com/shoptips/stitch_glue/sawhorses_slings.html

RE: Choosing first Kayak to build.

áááThere will be kits to purchase-- but perhaps not for every size and model. You may get a discount to. And the saving on shipping will be substantial. Try to attend both days. Friday is fun and informative. Great cookout!

RE: Choosing first Kayak to build.

   I built adjustable height stands on locking wheels and it's been great since it's a bit tight in my shop for building a kayak. Having it on wheels makes it a lot easier to get around it. 

I got my inspiration from this plan, although I didn't build it exactly the same. 

http://www.finehomebuilding.com/2007/03/01/adjustable-height-sawhorse

I made the height adjustable from 32" to 40" so that it's high enough to clear my table saw. The spacing between posts is 18" and the top is 24". I just used pine I had laying around the shop, the posts are 2x2". 

For supporting the boat upright I built V shaped box that sits on top. I have plans to build a better version that will adjust to the shape of the hull, but that'll be for the next boat :)

I'm not crazy about the peg height adjustment system, but it works. Going through the hole in the column and trying to line up the holes was annoying, so now I just put the dowel in the post above it and let it sit on top of the boxed column. It makes it a lot easier, especially when adjusting the height with the kayak in place.

 

RE: Choosing first Kayak to build.

   Cant say enough about my shearwater 17 ,fast cruising speed with very little effort .handles chop and rough condition great ( i noticed racing when the chop picks up i start passing folks) its also comforatable and plenty stable

RE: Choosing first Kayak to build.

   Cant say enough about my shearwater 17 ,fast cruising speed with very little effort .handles chop and rough condition great ( i noticed racing when the chop picks up i start passing folks) its also comforatable and plenty stable

RE: Choosing first Kayak to build.

I used these and adjusted them up and down as needed.

   https://www.homedepot.com/p/Stanley-FatMax-33-in-Adjustable-Folding-Sawhorse-011031S/100375897

RE: Choosing first Kayak to build.

   I just got a real nice detailed email from Terry Otis of CLC. He stated they may not have kits available for pick up unless i pre order before the fest. So if if want to save the 350.00 on shipping I will have to decide before we go. The reason we were going to go was to try them out to choose. He did state that they would start a sale a few days before hand. Anyone know if the sale price would come close to offsetting shipping charges?

RE: Choosing first Kayak to build.

 Typically not. 
Bet would cost less to make the trip twice from your TN home. I also think you should test drive a bunch before you decide. Just my opinion of course.

RE: Choosing first Kayak to build.

Assuming trip from central TN to CLC shop. That's about 1600 miles round trip. IRS says that the cost to a business for that trip (gas, vehicle wear & tear, etc.) is $880.

Let's say you think the IRS figures are too much. Assume 25 mpg and gas  averaging 2.50/gal. Just the gas for 1 round trip is $160. Then the length of the trip pretty much requires an overnight stop so add in the cost of a motel/hotel. Don't forget tolls. It's going to come pretty close, especially if you allow something for wear and tear on the car and the value of your time.

One option would be to buy wood, glass, epoxy, etc. at O-fest, then order plans once you decide which boat you like. That way you eliminate the shipping cost for the materials and the waiting time for the kits. Many of the boats use very similar amounts and types of wood and there are standard epoxy kits. As long as all your candidates are the same tech (S&G vs. stripper) you should be able to come up with a wood purchase that could accommodate a range of plans-built boats.

See you at O-fest,

Laszlo

   

RE: Choosing first Kayak to build.

   While not exactly the topic of the thread, it came up, so...

My wife and I have found the secret to happiness is to NOT be in the same boat.  We like to canoe, but have found more happiness in our separate kayaks.  Have you ever tried to stay together in a museum?  Not both interested in dwelling in front of the same display for the same length of time?  Pretty soon you find yourself in different rooms, or even different wings of the museum!  We find parallels in our time on the water; I choose the left bank to look behind the rock for a fish, she chooses the right bank to check out the water lilly flower - etc., etc..  Captains of our own ships, that's us.  So long as I save her a seat beside me at the evening campfire, all is well.

There have been instances where I've tied her bow line to my stern to give her a bit of a break at the end of a long day.  She doesn't get to quit paddling (at least I THINK she's still helping back there...) - but the gentle tug-along tow can make a big difference in overall effort required.  When my daughter was young I did the same for her sometimes while backpacking.

Of course if the objective is to put miles of water under the keel, maybe a tandem is the way to go.   Have to try that for the next boat.

RE: Choosing first Kayak to build.

 

I'm 6 foot 4, and weigh 205 lbs. A big boat like this fits me well. If I was smaller and didn't need a ton of room for cargo I'd probably choose the LT, or a Shearwater.

 

I hope my personal experience may add to your insight.  Good luck!

I built a Chesapeake 17 many years ago. I have never regretted it. It has been a wonderful boat. I mostly used it to paddle around Moro Bay (California), but have also used it for camping trips to the Channel Islands - Catalina, Anacapa, and Santa Rosa. The crossing to Catalina was 23 miles through big seas. I was glad to have such a fast, seaworthy, straight-tracking kayak, and glad to have the cargo-carrying capacity for all my gear and food. On one trip that included water for three days.

 

RE: Choosing first Kayak to build.

   The paragraphs in my previous post are out of order. When I hit return on my IPad it jumps to the top instead of the bottom. I guess I need to post with my laptop.

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