Picking a first kayak to build/own


 I just returned burnt, sore, and with a permanent grin etched into my face from what is only my 3rd time in (on) a (sit on top) kayak, but I'm hooked. I used to be a sailer, but got rid of my boat due to slip fees, maintenance, etc years and years ago. I was looking for a new boat, when I stumbled across the sailing kayak rig, and thought that might be ideal. Of course, I wasn't going to invest in one till I'd tried kayaks, and WOW, now I just really want a kayak, and the sailing rig can wait a year or two (make the project a little more realistic for a first time builder ;) ) 

 I live near the California Channel Islands, and would like to spend time out there, which means open ocean and big seas.  Eventually, I aim to build the sailing rig, but I'm not going to try to jump into that before I've managed to put together a kayak. I'm looking for a managable project, but still a sea capable boat, capable of carrying modest camping supplies for weekends at the islands. (yes, I intend to take a charter boat over, I know people DO kayak across the channel, but I'll wait on that ;) ) 

 I weigh 150 lbs, I'm 5'10" and have a 10-10.5 shoe size. This gives me a number of options, and I was wondering which ones experienced paddlers/builders would recommend? 

I'm also going to try to head down to the Sept 5'th show at Newport Beach to check out some of them in person, but I'd love to get some heads up before then. 

 Thank you very much, I look forward to hearing from you.

-- James

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RE: Picking a first kayak to build/own

From everything you've written, I would build the Chesapeake 16.  That will be a good fit on you as a pure paddling boat, capable of good speed and control with plenty of room for gear.

Later, the Chesapeake 16 is a good basis for the CLC SailRig.  It has plenty of volume in the bow, which is important in a sailing kayak...  Also, slightly shorter kayaks actually sail better because they have lower wetted surface and are less likely to hang up in tacks.

This is a Chesapeake 17:

RE: Picking a first kayak to build/own

Thanks, I was wondering about the volume issue. I was actually looking at the Chesepeake LT and the Shearwater, which looks to be of comperable difficulty (which is essential, as I am not a skilled woodworker) but for some reason I had neglected to look at the original Chesepeake line, I'm not sure why (perhaps I just thought of them as big and hence not as easily driven)

I've pitchpoled dingies before, which was not a big deal, as I was not "inside" them, Doing so on a kayak sounds like an unpleasant adventure, and seeing as how I see this boat getting almost exclusively ocean use, a higher volume boat seems like it would make a lot of sense. 

 Thanks :) 

-- James

RE: Picking a first kayak to build/own


John's suggestion is definitely worthy of looking at. I personally prefer the Shearwaterto the Chessy Line but eveyrone has their preferences, and the Chessies are nice versatile boats that are comfortable for novice paddlers and experts alike. 

As for the sail rig, it won't be any more difficult to build than your first boat.  I had minimal woodworking experience when I built my NorthBay 5 or 6 years ago.  I am fairly mechanically inclined and have been building things in some form or another all my life, but never anything like these boats.  It was a snap to build and I even modified my build and changed some significant things in the boat. Guillemot and CLC both have excellent support and the forums are a very good place for advice.  A lot of experienced builders go out of their way to help "newbies" get it right because we all enjoy the sport and the hobby of building.

Whatever you decide, good luck.  In the end it will be a great experience, I suspect.


RE: Picking a first kayak to build/own


  I, too, am a sailor looking for a 1st kayak. CLC is a long time sponsor of the water tribe everglades challenge. Several CLC boats participate each year and have proven themselves time after time. The kayakers on that forum have a wealth of experience in expedition kayaking and I would urge you to take advantage. Watertribe.com      Dave

RE: Picking a first kayak to build/own

I'm your size exactly and paddle a Shearwater 17. The Chesapeakes are too high volume for my taste. This is my personal taste; I have been paddling for about a decade and so am more comfortable with a tighter fit. In your situation I'd say either a Shearwater or a Chesapeake would do, and the idea that you want to add the sail rig tips things more towards the Chesapeake.

 Hope this helps.


RE: Picking a first kayak to build/own


Thank you all for the feedback. I've been on the road and came back to a variety of ideas and opinions. Thank you. :)

I will check out the WaterTribe community, and, as I said, I'm also going to hit up the west coast in-water demos.

While I have the greatest respect for the ocean, I've been told I don't fear her quite enough. I've been known to take my little 19' sloop out in small craft advisories, but I've also been known to put the top of my mast in the drink. (No, I've never been hurt, nor had any of my crew hurt, nor needed to call Vessel Assist) I've pitchpoled before and I've gone end over end in multi-hulls before, and one of the design aspects of the sail-rig I like the most is the ama's ability to shed water and cut through a wave instead of getting buried under it, especially as I don't think being in a kayak would be as forgiving as being on a catamaran. If, as part of this security against flipping, a higher volume boat is necessary, then it's a Chesapeake for me. If I think a shearwater will still work, and keep me right-side-up, then the added speed it provides would, of course be welcome ;-)

I also have thousands more questions about picking out a rudder, hatches, floatation, etc. Would those be better posted in this thread, or should I start another? I have searched for some of them, and will, of course, search for the rest before posting.

Thanks again =)

-- James

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