Building 2 Uncle John's Pirogues
by Chuck Littleton 

I purchased a kit from Uncle John at a while back to make this pirogue.

49 pound Uncle John Pirogue

The boat is made from two sheets of 1/4 inch Luann plywood, fiberglass, and epoxy. I used wood screws to hold it together and then after the epoxy dried, the screws were removed and the holes were filled with epoxy and wood flour so the boat is all wood. It takes a little longer to do it this way but I was not in a hurry. For me half of the fun is building the boat and the rest of the fun is using it.

The pirogue is 15 feet from the top of the bow to the stern, and 13-1/2 feet on the bottom. It is of the standard width ( top 31 , bottom 25 inches) and height ( 12 inches) and weighs 49 Ib. The weight was increased by adding an inside rail and spacers every three inches along both sides with a three inch opening between the spacers. This was my idea and not in the instructions on how to make the pirogue. I wanted the spacers so if I had to tie down my camping gear I could. What better way to have security for your camping equipment. Anyway I was building this pirogue for me and no one else ... so it was done my way.

Seat and spacers

This is the pleasure of building it yourself... You make changes that suit your needs instead of what some salesman or other person tells you that you want.

While making the boat I sanded down the interior ribs and rounded them off so when I put my waterproof camping bags in the boat they will not be damaged and ride on a 90 degree surface. I also think it makes the boat look better and better made. The outside seams were fiberglass taped and then sanded and re-epoxyed to get a smooth surface. The inside of the seams are epoxy and wood flour filleted and all of the wood was epoxy saturated.

The bottom was painted with a polyurethane paint with Teflon in it and is slick when dry. The slicker the bottom the easier to paddle. The paint was purchased from Chesapeake Light  Craft and is $24.75 a Quart.

Bow deck with wood burned critter

The seat I found in the Boundary Waters catalog where it costs $25.00 but it is made from Ash supports with a woven cane seat and is very comfortable. I hung it from the top rail using carriage bolts and wood spacers. This way camping gear can be placed under the seat.

The decks of the boat are from spare wood from the construction of the boat and as you can see I went nut's with a wood burning tool and put a coon on the front deck and an owl on the rear deck . It is a swamp boat so why not have swamp critters on it" 

After paddling it I got the idea of sailing it so then I made the sail outfit for it and everything is removable except for the mast step which is epoxyed to the hull. Now, still thinking and wanting a lighter boat, back to Uncle Johns for a second kit.

First boat (with sail) and second

The second boat is basically like the first except it is made from 1/8 Luann plywood and the bottom and sides are glassed with tight woven 3.25 oz. glass that I got from Larry Steeves ( the owner of Raka Epoxy and Fiberglass Supplies) . This is a good place to get your glass because if you have any questions, all you have to is to call Larry and tell him what you want to do and he is more then willing to help.

The 2nd boat weighs in at 32 lb. and the bottom is coated with a graphite epoxy mix which makes it black but very slick, This boat was made for paddling only and I have not attached any of the sail equipment but it can transferred to this boat. 

32 pound boat with graphite bottom

Also on this boat I burned a Bass into the left side of the bow on the hull since this is my light weight backwater boat. If you have to carry it to get to the good fishing spots can..

Anyone thinking about building a boat for themselves can do it... It is fun and you get a great boat. Make the original 1st as suggested by the kit builder, then if you want a lighter boat, you know the construction process and can make a lighter boat.


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