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Ken's Kayak Problem
and how he solved it
By Ken Seebeck  kseebeck@cybersouth.com
Hi Chuck,
      Just wanted to write you and tell about my experience of building a kayak of my own design, only to be terribly disappointed with it. Then asking you for advice and finding out that $2.00 worth of materials transformed it into a thing of enjoyment.

I had built 2 flat-bottom plywood canoes and have used them a lot and have been very pleased with them. But I had allways wanted a kayak. I decided to build it too, out of plywood. I wanted a boat that was big enough to haul all of my camping gear and related equipment, and be stable too. So I designed it to be 16' long with a 30" beam, out of 1/8" luan.

finish1.jpg (20917 bytes)

Well, I set out drawing the plans to scale, then transfering to wood. I soon found out building a kayak with a v-hull,  2 hatches and a cockpit was a little different than a simple flat-bottom canoe! I spent a lot of time tying and untying copper wired wood panels to get the shape I wanted.  Finally I had the shape, and set out epoxying it all together. Everything went good until it was time to deck it. I struggled with the deck one whole day just getting it nailed down. I had a little too much camber in the front causing the thin wood to split on one side, AFTER the epoxy had dried! Well, there went the idea of a natural wood finish. I fixed it, formed the cockpit coaming, and built the hatch lids, put it all together, fiberglassed, and painted it. I was very pleased with the looks. Now came the time to test it in water.

truckyak.jpg (13838 bytes)I finished it just in time to paddle with a local board of tourism sponsered canoe run down the Altamaha river here in South Ga.  I should have tested it in our small pond first! About 75 boats put in that morning. I had lots of comments and questions about the kayak, which I gladly accepted, and answered any and all questions. It came time to get in and shove off Well right off I knew something was wrong!!!! I wanted to go to the right, but the boat went to the left. If I wanted to go left, the boat would go right.
It seemed that no matter how hard I paddled left, it kept coming to the left, and vice-versa. It was hot that day and I struggled 14 miles down that river. At one point I was so tired from fighting this demon boat that I just quit paddling and floated. Needless to say, I was the last one to reach the destination that day. I was so disappointed, with the outcome of all those hours of building this thing that I would have probably sold it to some poor sucker had he/she offered me $50 for it right there.

skeg3.jpg (7699 bytes)I didn't know what to do. Thats when you told me about a friend of yours who added a skeg to the bottom of his kayak. So I cut out a small piece of wood that was 2ft long and 3in deep. I epoxied it on, applied fiberglass, let it dry and painted it. I am here to tell you I have set up a shrine to the skeg gods. I would never, ever have believed that a small piece of plywood could have made that much difference!! The boat now tracks as straight as an arrow. I can paddle up to a swift speed, stop paddling, and the boat stays straight and true. AMAZING!! I was just about to invite a few friends over and have a boat-fire, but your advice has made a building, paddling experience a great joy to me! THANKS A LOT!

I have included a couple of pictures of the finished skeg. I didn't have
any "before" pictures.
        Anyway......till later
                         Ken Seebeck

finish4.jpg (26726 bytes)


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