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December 2005
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February 2006

Cedar Strip Kayak Building: Cockpit Recess

Building the cedar strip Shooting Star baidarka. Photo Copyright ©2006 Andrew Elizaga

The deck is stripped! I cut out a hole for the cockpit recess, 35 inches long x 18 inches wide, big enough for a large keyhole sized cockpit.  After beveling the edges I placed strips across the width of the hole, glued them in with Gorilla Glue and held them in place with duct tape.  Actually it's not duct tape that works the best, it's the Scotch 3M Cloth Tape, which is not as sticky, doesn't leave a residue and tears by hand easier.  It took all day to fit each strip, bevel the ends and put them in place.  I also replaced the temporay shear strips with the permanent strips and held them in place with tape while the glue dried.  Tomorrow the deck will be ready for scraping and sanding.  I think I'll fiberglass the deck inside and out BEFORE cutting out the cockpit, to give the deck some extra strength while I remove it to sand and glass the inside.


Cedar Strip Kayak Building: I still have a lot of wood

Building the cedar strip Shooting Star baidarka. Photo Copyright ©2006 Andrew Elizaga

After putting the final deck strips on I still have a lot of wood. Almost all of it is northern white cedar, which I will use for the cockpit recess. Right now I have a little gap in the strips around the cockpit area that I need to fill. I've decided on an "ocean" sized cockpit, 22 x 18 inches. That's a large ocean cockpit (the Anas Acuta cockpit is 20 x 15.5 inches), but it shold give me some extra room in back for layback rolls and along the sides for side-sculling and balance braces. The cockpit opening in my skin-on-frame Greenland kayak Misterie is 24 x 18 inches.


Cedar Strip Kayak Building: A Weekend's Work

I put more deck strips on this weekend and also carved more on my King Island paddle, smoothing out the middle ridge and shoulder. The Gorilla Glue (polyurethane glue) foams up as it cures, leaving an ugly mess between the strips that looks like styrofoam. It's harder to work with than Titebond II, but it's supposed to be more tolerant of the higher temperatures that the deck may be subjected to on a hot summer all-day paddle.

Building the cedar strip Shooting Star baidarka. Photo Copyright ©2006 Andrew Elizaga


Making A King Island Paddle

King Island paddle offsets from David Zimmerly's site, Arctic Kayaks

This weekend I carved a King Island paddle replica using the offsets published on David Zimmerly's site, Arctic Kayaks.  The wood is Western Red Cedar, a clear green 2 x 8 I found at Home Depot for a $11.  After rough shaping with a jigsaw and block plane, I used my Kestrel crooked knife and a thumb plane for the final shaping, then sanded it down with 80 grit followed by 120 grit. I took it out in the kayak to get it wet (to raise the grain prior to final sanding) and see how it performs. Forward motion is not as efficient as a double-bladed paddle. It's easy to roll with, but I still haven't figured out the elusive King Island Roll. I have never met anyone who knows how to do it either so I wouldn't know if I was doing it right anyway (Illustration of the King Island roll from Derek Hutchinson's The Complete Book of Sea Kayaking)

King Island, Alaska
King Island paddle replica. Photo Copyright ©2006 Andrew Elizaga
King Island paddle replica. Photo Copyright ©2006 Andrew Elizaga
King Island roll from Derek Hutchinson's The Complete Book of Sea Kayaking


Cedar Strip Kayak Building: Deck Strips: Bow and Stern of the Shooting Star Baidarka

Building the cedar strip Shooting Star baidarka. Photo Copyright ©2006 Andrew Elizaga

Today and yesterday I stripped the bow and stern deck and stapled a temporary deck sheer strip in place. The Shooting Star design requires that these decks be separate from the main deck to preserve the traditional profile. I stripped the stern once yesterday and then today stripped it again because the first attempt left a big gap between the hull and the deck. For the second attempt I used narrower strips bent with a heat gun, held in place with hot glue, bungees and duct tape. Nothing about construction of the tail part of this kayak is easy.

Building the cedar strip Shooting Star baidarka. Photo Copyright ©2006 Andrew Elizaga


Cedar Strip Kayak Building: Aleut Baidarka LM2-14886

Lowie Museum Aleut hunting kayak, from David Zimmerly's website, Arctic Kayaks

I think I found the kayak that the Shooting Star is based on: LM2-14886. The overall dimensions are similar anyway. The lines and notes on construction of the original skin-on-frame can be found on David Zimmerly's website, Arctic Kayaks.

From the site: "This Lowie Museum Aleut hunting kayak has been built successfully and paddled joyously by many kayak devotees. This is a boat you can wear while sea kayaking in any conditions. It rolls well, tracks well, paddles easily and fits  an average-sized person comfortably. These plans have been used by present-day Aleut in Alaska. Detailed instructions, lines drawings, construction drawings and photographs that describe how to build this outstanding kayak appeared in Small Boat Journal in 1983. See: Zimmerly, Building the One-Hole Aleut Baidarka, Small Boat Journal 29:26-31 and 30:78-83. See also Brinck, The Aleutian Kayak."


Cedar Strip Kayak Building: Rolling Over!

Building the cedar strip Shooting Star baidarka. Photo Copyright ©2006 Andrew Elizaga

The exterior of the hull is essentially finished.  It needs sanding and then another layer of epoxy to smooth it out, and then 2 weeks to cure, then more sanding, and 5 or more cycles of varnish and sanding before it's finally finished but now is a good time to stop and work on the deck.

I spent the day preparing to remove the hull from the strongback to roll it over and start stripping the deck.  I constructed two supports out of scrap wood and drywall screws (I had to cannibalize the strongback and attached "L-shaped brackets" for these). The hull rests on a band of old carpet slung and stapled across each of the supports.  Once the supports were constructed I removed the "L-shaped brackets" and with some help flipped the hull over.

Building the cedar strip Shooting Star baidarka. Photo Copyright ©2006 Andrew Elizaga


Winter Paddling: Dash Point to the Tacoma Waterfront

Happy New Year!

If it wasn't for three things I wouldn't paddle as much as I do: 1) having a drysuit;  2) living a short walk to the water; and 3) having a lightweight kayak I can carry on my shoulder to the beach. So now I tend to just go out whenever I feel like it, without checking tides, currents, or the weather. What I learned today is that the problem with winter paddling is not just that it's usually cold, rainy and windy, but that the weather can change very quickly. This morning the sun was out and the water was calm and there was no wind. Like yesterday the tide was high, up to the bottom of the fishing pier. All kinds of branches and logs were floating in the water. I paddled a little over three miles to the Browns Point lighthouse and across Commencement Bay on to the Tacoma waterfront and then suddenly it started raining. Then the wind picked up to about 10-20 knots but luckily it was blowing north, so all the way home I had the wind at my back and following seas. At the part of Dash Point that faces west the water was pretty rough and I had to paddle through the clapotis that formed as the waves reflected off the beach. No matter how strong the wind is blowing here though the waves never get very high.

My skin-on-frame Greenland kayak, Misterie, on Hope Island.  Photo Copyright ©2006 Andrew Elizaga
My skin-on-frame Greenland kayak, Misterie, on Hope Island.