West Coast Sea Kayak Symposium Highlights
Upside Down and Backwards

State of the Art

One of the big arguments for owning a wooden kayak is that it can be made lightweight enough to cartop and carry by yourself without risking serious injury.  If most of your paddling is in an empty boat on daytrips it makes a big difference in being able to get out on the water more often, especially if you like to paddle alone.  Well, all that's changing with state of the art fiberglass technology.  Dubside’s Ice Kap weighs only 32 pounds.  A model built without the day compartment could be as light at 28 pounds.  That’s as light as my Greenland skin-on-frame when it’s bone dry -- and the cedar frame on my boat will soak up few extra pounds when it gets wet! 

Sterling Donalson, designer and builder of the Ice Kap, had this to say about how he was able to make this 17 ft kayak so light:

We’re using different materials: vectrans, carbons, Spectra glass, and we’re using special cores.  Then everything’s infused.  So we can meter our resin and control the resin content. And that’s how we can keep them light.  Our fiber content far exceeds the resin content, so we’re strong.  Very, very strong. 

Even I’m starting to get excited about fiberglass composites now! 

Another argument for owning a custom wood boat is that, if you are so inclined and have the woodworking skills, you can customize it to fit your personality or taste beyond just picking the color of the hull, deck, and sheer stripe.  But now the partnership between auto body artists and kayak manufacturers can bring the type of artwork typically only seen on custom cars and motorcycles to fiberglass production boats.  Donalson worked with a nationally-known street rod artist to paint Dubside's face on the Ice Kap.  "It was nothing that Dub requested,"' he said.  "We just did it!"  In fact, the artist who works with Donalson can even simulate the look of wood under gelcoat.  According to Donalson, you wouldn’t be able to tell the difference.  Now something about that seems very wrong to me!

Movie: Dubside, surrounded by adoring fans and paparazzi, unveils his Ice Kap at the 2007 West Coast Sea Kayak Symposium.

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