First Boat Recommendations -- Father/Daughter Project

Thank you in advance for your help and suggestions.

My 9 year old daughter has said to me "daddy, I want to make a boat."  Her perception is a toy boat, but I have other objectives.  I feel making a real boat, one we can use would be a great father/daughter activity.  I would like her to have the experience of building something she can use and trying out a new activity.  So, building a plywood boat seems like a great idea.  Building a boat from a kit should simplify the task significantly.  I am looking for a _great_ plywood boat kit that my daughter and I can build. 

Here is some information that may help scope the capabilities and objectives.

Team Weight: 280 lbs.
Building Experience:  None - but I _read_ and _follow_ directions and am pretty handy with tools.
Kayak/Canoe Experience: None
Mode of Transportation:  Minivan Roof
Waterways: Protected harbors and bays (Newport Back Bay, Balboa Harbor, Naples Long Beach)

I have looked online at many kits from many sources.  Here is my current list of best candidates.

Chesapeake Light Craft -- Wood Duck Double

Chesapeake Light Craft -- Mill Creek 16.5

Clark Craft -- Toto 13

Stillwater Boats -- Sunrise Double

Thank you for your help and recommendations.


14 replies:

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RE: First Boat Recommendations -- Father/Daughter Project

Go with either of the CLC boats. They are well-designed and perform well. Forget Clark Craft. I ordered a canoe kit from them at the beginning of August, but cancelled the order two months later because they had not shipped it yet. -Wes

RE: First Boat Recommendations -- Father/Daughter Project

My daughter's a lot older, but she and I built a kayak together last year. You can read all about it at

RE: First Boat Recommendations -- Father/Daughter Project

I built a Shearwater 14 with my son (14 years old) last winter/spring.  Fun project and it turned out great.  I did more work than he did, but that was fine.  Be prepared for short attention spans - I didn't fight it at all and just let him go when he was done, which kept it more fun for everyone.  The CLC kit was great.  I was a nervous first builder but the tips on this web site and West Coast Paddler's builder's forum were REALLY helpful.  I would highly recommend any of the CLC boats. I called and talked with them to help decide which kit to build and they were really great, also with any questions you have during the buld.  

Make sure you both use protective gear (gloves, respirator, etc.) when you're fiberglassing.  My son actually had fun getting suited up - I picked up a few of those Tyvek suits which kept all the mess in the work area and off our clothes - just took them off when we came in the house. 

 The nice thing about the wooden boats is that they're light - I can even load it onto our minivan roof myself which there is no way I can do with our plastic kayak.  

Have fun!!!


RE: First Boat Recommendations -- Father/Daughter Project

how about the shearwater double ? i think that kit has the puzzle joints and pre driled holes for the wires its much easier to build that way i built the shearwater17 and i dont think i had to measure anything

RE: First Boat Recommendations -- Father/Daughter Project

I believe all the kits, or at least the CLC ones I mentioned, have puzzle joints and predrilled holes.  That is a major plus for the kit approach. 

My leaning is strongly based upon the boat being stable, carrying our weigh, and the "Ease of Construction" guage being pointed to the left.

The Shearwater Double is a beautiful boat that fit the criteria, but the "Ease of Construction" makes me a little nervous for my first boat.

Shearwater Double -- Guages

Shearwater Double -- Guages

Mill Creek 16.5 -- Guages

Mill Creek 16.5 -- Gauges

Wood Duck Double -- Guages

Wood Duc Double -- Guage


RE: First Boat Recommendations -- Father/Daughter Project

Hey Harvey....  If you think she will be more of a passanger than paddler, I would suggest the Wood Duck-14 with it's huge cockpit.  If you think she would like her own boat, then a Wood Duck 12 for you and the new Wood Duckling 8 for her.  In any case, Chesapeake Light Craft is the VERY BEST way to go.  Great people, on the ball and extremely helpful.  ~TUGBRUCE~

RE: First Boat Recommendations -- Father/Daughter Project

@Tugbruce; very interesting idea of going with the Wood Duck 14.  I will sleep on it.


RE: First Boat Recommendations -- Father/Daughter Project

I like the WD 12 & 8 combination. The video showing the girl scooting all over the pond really got my 9 year old interested. There is something to be said about being the captain of one's own ship - master of your own destiny, lay your own course, etc. But of course you have to have a pretty good commitment from her to stick with the build (while simultaneously preparing yourself to keep it fun and let her walk away when she wants.)


RE: First Boat Recommendations -- Father/Daughter Project


I built a ch14 with my 9 yr old daudghter this summer. She loves the boat. See post *maiden voyage chesapeakes for pic * She had tried the wood duck 10, however the beam was too wide, the ch 14 is only 21.5 in. She can also grow into this boat. I have not checked out the duckling it could be the answer except there is not as much room to grow.  Anyway hope I didn't confuse the issue more.


RE: First Boat Recommendations -- Father/Daughter Project

I'll suggest a different option. She's 9? Then she's a great age for her own boat. You can build a skin-on-frame kayak, like one of Tom Yost's Kidarkas or Sea Pups, in a couple of weeks, for very little money, and zero exposure to epoxy. Free plans and full building instructions are on his site, here:

Kid's love paddling their own boats! And, with SOF, they can even carry it around themselves. Here's some pics of a kid in his kayak:

If you want another boat for both of you, there are, of course the CLC boats, but there are SOF offerings, as well. And, canoes are another option - I'll not name any direct competitors to CLC, but ask on the WoodenBoat forum for suggestions.

 Good luck!

RE: First Boat Recommendations -- Father/Daughter Project

Sorry Dave, but in my educated opinion, AND having dealt with MANY other kit supplying companies in the LONG boat building past, CLC has NO competition.  The way the company is managed, run and the people involved places it HEAD AND SHOULDERS above ALL others.   "been there, done that so I know about what I speak....  ~TUGBRUCE~

RE: First Boat Recommendations -- Father/Daughter Project

That's a nice affirmation of CLC's service, but I didn't mention kits. CLC does have direct competition for plans sales. It is still true - despite a clearly convincing PR department - that one can easily build a boat without a kit. And certainly there are thousands of superb boat designs that are not offered by CLC. 

But, mainly, the OP has a kid and wants a simple process - and many a SOF kayak can be built far more easily (and far cheaper) than any kayak kit - here, or anywhere. For instance, the last kid's kayak I built took me a week (part time), and cost $63.

RE: First Boat Recommendations -- Father/Daughter Project

im building the mill creek 16.5 next and it definetly looks harder to buid than the shearwater  [those gauges arnet always that accurate] dont forget your daughters likely to grow and you might want to take adults out as well dont go too small mi vote is for the shearwater im only buiding the mill creek because my wife wants a more open and roomy boat and its entirely to get her out on the water [i already have a shearwater 17 , a s.o.t. and im finishing up a kaholo board]

RE: First Boat Recommendations -- Father/Daughter Project

For what it's worth, I will recommend individual boats.  I built my daughter one starting when she was about 7.  She actually got to paddle it semi-regularly when she was 9. 

I chose to build a skin on frame (SOF) for her because of the ease of a custom fit and at the time the chessy 14 was the smallest boat CLC had and it was still a little big for her.  

As for "ease of construction", if you're reasonably handy with tools any and all of the CLC line are easy to build.  I don't think you'd have any issues with any of their boats. If you decide on the sport tandem, it is a fine boat.  I've paddled it solo and with my daughter in it on one of the CLC demo days.  A little awkward for a novice solo paddler, but not unmanageable, and with my daughter it was great.

Consider building something you can both "grow into" as well.  I have probably the "tippyest" boat they have in the CLC inventory past or present.  (The Northbay)  My daughter could stand up in it when she was 9 without ever a worry.


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