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
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.
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.
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.
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.