Kayak questions

Someday I might want to possibly consider of maybe building a plane (perhaps). But before I did that, I though a test project might be in order. I am thinking about building a kayak. The easiest kind to make is a stitch-and-glue from a kit. CLC (www.clcboats.com) and Pygmy (www.pygmyboats.com) are the Coke and Pepsi of the business, but I am leaning towards Roy Folland (www.royfolland.com). (Models considered are the
Chesapeake 17, Arctic Tern, and Sea Wolf respectively).

A friend of mine (who knows more than I do about kayaks) says:
If you have not paddled a kayak before, a Greenland style hull might be too tippy for your comfort. There is a distinct difference between initial and secondary stability depending upon a paddler’s skill: a boat with more initial stability “feels” more stable to the casual paddler, while a boat with more secondary stability “is” more stable in the hands of an experienced paddler.

So, anyone build any of these? Does anyone think a Greenland style hull is going to be too tippy for me (I have zero kayak experience) Anyone have any advice (besides try them out to see?)



I’m not much of a kayaker, but I do love the idea of making one. Before you decide, check out a few of these websites:

www.woodenboat.com - Building the Riverside Dinghy, Part I: An able little sloop to stretch the novice’s skills

These sites are great reading. Go pick up the current copy of Wooden Boat magazine. If you like boats, you’ll mess it up with all the drool. It also has the first part in a series on how to build a small sailing dinghy in the traditional way. Your wood working skills will be challenged in a project like this (or in a strip-built kayak or canoe) than they will be in a stitch and glue craft.

The stitch and glue looks like it would be a lot easier though!

Good luck.


A Greenland hull will be slightly tippy (make that very tippy for the novice), but if you know how to roll the thing that won’t be a problem. As long as you don’t mind getting wet :wink:
Do you have any paddling experience in canoes?
And once you build it, where are you planning to go? Lakes up at the cottage? Ocean coast? Rivers? Different kayaks for different surfaces.

Oh, I don’t build the suckers, I just paddle frequently. This spring I’ve been working on a Dragonboat team, and I hope to spend a week doing a kayak expedition up the BC coast later this summer if things pan out.

If you’ve never kayaked before, I’d suggest finding a place that’ll rent one to you and try it out. Who knows, you may hate it, and you wouldn’t want to waste all that time building a kayak if you’re never gonna use the thing.

I do have some canoe experience

Well, living <1 mile from the Mississippi, I’ll probabaly do the backwaters at some point. Maybe the Root or Wisconsin River.
There are some suggested canoe trips in DeLormes Wisconsin Gazeteer, probbaly do one near me.

Probably some of MNs 10,000 lakes, none of which are near me.

I also plan on taking on Lake Michigan/Green Bay, but probably only in sheltered bays (Baileys Harbor, Eagle Harbor, Sister Bay when the wind is calm)


When I was buying my kayak, the consensus was that you shouldn’t buy a beginner’s model that you might outgrow. This would be doubly true if you were putting the effort into building one. You want to end up with a kayak that’s fun to paddle, fast, and responsive.

I do second the advice to rent a few models of kayak and find what style you feel comfortable in.

The short answer is don’t worry about tipsiness. Greenland style sea kayaks are stable enough that you can learn to be comfortable in them in short order (just low brace into the lumpy water that is bothering you, keep loose at the hips, and let the boat take care of you). Most Greenland derived designs are fundamentally sea worthy and can be a blast to paddle. Why ride a tricycle when you can ride a bicycle? The designs which you have identified are all quite stable.

The long answer is that you should learn more about kayaking before you decide what type of boat to build, and learn more about paddling technique and paddling safety before you head off on your own. You can do these things by taking lessons, joining a club, and attending symposia. Hull shape is hugely important – just as important as picking a proper fitting pair of running shoes. Develop a basic skill set, try out a bunch of hull designs, and then decide which boat to build.

Sea kayak symposia are gatherings of paddlers where issues are discussed, instruction is given, and dealers show their wares. I don’t know about symposia in your area. Just google kayak symposium minnesota and you’ll come up with something. (There is a nice one being held in Rossport on the north shore of Superior on June 21, 22 and 23 which still might have a spot or two open for folks without their own boats. One day of lessons, one day of guided paddling in the archipelago, lots of nice people. Contact Dave Tamblyn at dtamblyn@nwconx.net) (GLSKC has a big symposium in Grand Marais Michigan (not MN) on July 18, 19, 20, 21. Contact Larry Merx, e-mail: lmerx@nkfm.org)

As far as clubs and lessons go, start your search through the Minnesota Canoe Association (a member of the American Canoe Association), which can introduce you to the paddling community. I can’t overstate the importance of high quality instruction and competent paddling companions. Aside from keeping you alive, quality lessons and competent companions will speed your development and help you avoid equipment and technique problems.

If you want to learn how to handle a tippy boat and are willing to travel to northern Minnesota or Ontario, drop me a line. I can put you in a sprint racing kayak and have you balancing and paddling it within a day (just pick a really hot summer day and expect to swim a lot). Once you learn balancing technique in a sprint boat, that will take care of any stability concerns you will ever have concerning relatively much more stable sea kayaks.

There is a hugely informative (and friendly) group of sea kayakers participating in the Paddlewise mailing list, including professional designers, builders, instructors and guides. I strongly encourage you to drop into www.paddlewise.net and sign up for the mailing list. It is the first and last stop for sea kayaking discussion on the net.

Richard Culpeper
OWWA Wild Water Instructor
OSCRA/NCCP Sprint Racing Instructor
Past director: Wilderness Canoe Association, Canoe Ontario, Ontario Recreational Canoe Association

I must be asleep at the switch, for I forgot to mention a very popular symposium in the Apostle Islands at Bayfield, Wisconsin, put on by the Inland Sea Society. I believe it is the same weekend as the Rossport symposium, and a heck of a lot closer to you. http://www.inlandsea.org/symposium.html

This is a great book, called “The Starship and the Canoe.” It is the true story of Freeman Dyson (world renowned physisist and matematician) and his son George (college dropout, living in a tree in Canada). The story centers on George’s construction of a giant seafaring kayak/canoe. Great, great book.

gee, I almost missed this thread. I was checking to see if** Muffin** was poster B. (I didn’t really think so).

Anyway, I’ve supervised the manufacture of several thousand top of the line ocean touring kayaks and my advice is don’t even think about building your own at this stage. Too many pitfalls await you. Mind you I’m speaking from a reinforced plastic construction type. In any case, you should rent a few kayaks first, and get some instruction on paddling and safety techniques before getting too heavily invested with time and money.

Wow, amazed to see this thread revived.

To make a long story short, I have tried some non-tippy kayaks out, and will be trying some tippier models tomorrow.

Theres a big (40ish models) demo going on June 16.
There are also local classes available (not till midy July tho)