Wherry Tandem - What Did You Wish You Knew Before Starting Your Build?

After lots of research I recently ordered the Wherry Tandem kit. In anticipation I organized & redid my garage (padded saw horses, work lights, space heaters, etc) along with completing the much simpler scale model kit for an idea of the beginning to end process. I'm certain there will be more Home Depot trips than I expect in my future. For others who have built (or are in the process of building) a Wherry, what did you wish you knew in advance before starting? Were there certain steps you wish you could have done differently in hindsight, given insights learned later in the build? How about processes you would have wanted to have more guidance or finesse throughout?

The Wherry will be used within the protected bays and inner-waterways of Cape Cod year-round with a single piantedosi sliding seat; the main purpose being exercise, spending all day on the water, and exploring coastlines too shallow for my motorboat. The added length and payload were appealing for accommodating gear and my dogs, on occasion. Water chop and wind will be minimal although the hull will be exposed to water temperatures ranging from mid 30s to low 70s (Fahrenheit) with multiple beach landings each day. This boat will see close to 100 days of use a year, fair-weather dependent.

I appreciate any advice and look forward to sharing my journey in the coming months.  

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RE: Wherry Tandem - What Did You Wish You Knew Before Starting Your Build?

I built the Tandem a few years ago. Things went well though I worked slowly.

1. One thing that I got wrong was priming the hull. I used Interlux 'Perfection' 2-part primer and paint, which came out looking great. But l thought that I needed to sand the outside of the hull mirror smooth before priming. It's a big hull so this went on and on. Turns out that the primer is really a fairing material that fills in all the little pits, then sands quickly to a smooth finish. I should have sanded the epoxy  'pretty smooth', laid the primer on thick, and sanded away until the primer made blotches- like a Holstein cow. Then painted. (Can anyone confirm that the 1-part Pre-Kote primer works the same?) 

2, Things that worked great for me were: 

  • Slings. Bought a pair of CLC tie-down straps and ran them through eye-bolts screwed into the ceiling and under the hull. Then turning the boat over was simple, even for just me- tighten the slings to suspend the boat, lift one gunwale and over she goes. When applying epoxy, varnish, etc, I rotated the boat on the slings in 90-degree steps, painting surfaces that were relatively level, letting dry, and turning again. Even when I overload the brush, it doesn't run much on a flat surface.
  • I got a Festool random orbital sander with a rectangular 3-5/32" x 5-1/4" pad that matched the width of the strakes It  made sanding pleasant and easy.  I think a round padded sander would be harder to keep as level.
  • I got a trailer.

I row the Tandem as a single and like it. With just a single rower the draft is only a couple of inches, so you can sneak into places that are shallow even for kayaks. But in a wind....

RE: Wherry Tandem - What Did You Wish You Knew Before Starting Your Build?

   Hopefully my account name shows up now.

RE: Wherry Tandem - What Did You Wish You Knew Before Starting Your Build?

Thanks for your response, the idea to hang slings from the rafters is something I would not have thought of! I'm a ways away from priming but good to know the hull doesn't need to be as smooth as I'd make the interior.

RE: Wherry Tandem - What Did You Wish You Knew Before Starting Your Build?


i built a wherry a while back and a point for me that i learned was that there are a lot of fillets that are very visible on a wherry so i wish i had developed my technique a bit to have very clean, good looking fillets.

a technique that i wish i applied, but learned after that project, was to use blue tape to protect the wood and create really clean fillet lines.

most of the projects i had done up to that point were kayaks where the fillets were inside the hull and not really visible unless you poked your head in the cockpit to look....not so in a wherry.   a wherry will have fillets along the edges of all seats and where bulkheads join the hull.....all very visible.

anyway, in this techniqe, which adds a bit of time, blue tape is applied on either side of the fillet...and then when you have finally shaped the fillets, you can lift the blue tape off (before the fillet cures) and it just ensures a very clean, professional look that really enhaces the beauty of an already beautiful boat.   while it does add some time, this is now standard practice for me and i never regret it.

that said, if you are going to paint the interior....no need to do this.  but really helps when you are planning on a bright finish.


RE: Wherry Tandem - What Did You Wish You Knew Before Starting Your Build?


i finished my tandem wherry just over a year ago. I wish i had known how much i would enjoy the build process rather than seeing it as an inevitable and not particularly fun step before getting out and rowing the boat. I didn't have set time deadlines which probably helped (the build took just over a year but that was fitting it into a fairly packed life running around after 3 teenage kids none of whom were especially interested in helping with it). I found i got competent at a technique just as i finished that stage, so if you can practice on someone else's boat, that would be great.

i had hoped i could use a dolly to get the boat down to the water, or put it on top of the car, but in the end i got a trailer and as a consequence everything is much easier and i use the boat more than i would have done otherwise. 

It is a great boat - i go out on my own to train, rig it as a double and row with my daughter or paddle with my wife gently downriver and tie up at a bar for a beer. I hope you enjoy it as much

RE: Wherry Tandem - What Did You Wish You Knew Before Starting Your Build?

   I am at the point in my single wherry build that I am fussing over final paint issues. I started about 10 months ago, also pretty intermittent work on it. I also have really enjoyed the process. 

The main thing I learned from the forums, that I wish I had done, was to spot tack the pieces together with thickened (peanut butter consistency) epoxy leaving the wires uncovered, but holding the pieces together. when they set up, you can pull the wires out and proceed with making the pretty fillets spoken of above. Some of my wires remain embedded, although that is not a big problem.

I second the bit about not having to sand perfectly smooth between each coat where you are going to be painting later. 

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