Sunday, August 31, 2008

Day 1 of the Kayak Build

So today (well yesterday by now) it was pleasantly sunny when I woke up, so time to get on with the build.

I prepared the deck outside the living room with the main tools for the day's activities, marking out and cutting the lower hull panels.

I also took over the dining room with the plans, and took a copy of the offsets so I could have them outside without fear of the master plans blowing away or getting damaged.

The first job was to mark station lines at 305mm intervals along the plywood sheets before measuring the widths for each panel edge as per the offset table. I soon realised that the pine moulding I was intending to rule these lines with was far from straight.

Plan B was to take an old flat pack wardrobe door and cut a set square, roughly 400mm by 1300mm, thus saving a good few dollars at the big shed DIY store. It save a bit of time as well, I want to plan my buying with the tasks ahead in mind and not spend half the build time going back and forth to Mitre10 or some other supplier of hardware.

So, back to the main task. I got 1 version of the four main parts measured out and then I faired the edges to get smooth, curved lines. For this I used a 3m length of PVC electrical trunking cover, pierced with a bradawl and then pinned to the ply. I also pinned both boards to the deck, aligned down one edge with a taught string, and faired over the panels.

Cutting out the parts was going to be a problem. I only have one workbench and the 4mm ply is very floppy. I decided to nip out and buy 4 fence posts, 100mm square and 2.4m long. They'll be used in a later landscaping project so its not money wasted, and they're the ideal height to keep the jigsaw blade off the deck.
Each piece (bottom panel fore and aft sections and side panel fore and aft sections) was used as a template to draw and cut a duplicate. The matching pair of parts were then clamped together and put in the workbench. I used a block plane to trim the edges and get the two pieces as similar to each other as possible. The planing process also fairs out any kinks in the edges introduced by less than skillful handling of the jigsaw.

That was enough for day one of the build. I'll do nothing tomorrow because of the Land Rover Owners Club Auckland meeting, but on Tuesday I hope to 'get out' (proper boat-building term that) the transom, bulkheads and deck beams.


The plans I decided upon were the Dart14 single seat and Dart16 two seat kayaks from Selway Fisher.

These are relatively simple designs, although the 14' version looks somewhat more basic in its construction than the 16' variant, so it is the singlekayak that I shall make first.

I ordered the plans online and the arrived a week later. I read over them a few times and then got on with a few jobs around the house to clear the way for the kayak project. I also rang around for a few quotes. I'll post links to the suppliers as I actually purchase materials.

First off is the plywood, which I bought yesterday. I went to the PlyMan in Albany. It seemed an obvious choice because the stock is good, they comes recommended by John Welsford, the designer of the Rogue, my ultimate boat building goal, and they advertise on the radio, so I'd already heard of them.

I bought 6 sheets of 1220x2440x4mm Meranti Marine Bond B/BB ply, and 1 shhet of 1220x2440x9mm. Its beautiful looking stuff and a shame I will have to paint it, but I don't think my first-timer skills will be up to producing a bright finished work of art. Besides, I've already decided that orange will look best to compliment the Land Rover's shade of green and also look suitably safe and nautical.

Talking of the Land Rover, here it is, complete with roof bars after picking up the ply. I had to unload in a hurry because it was starting to rain.

There's enough space to store the ply in the garage, but I think most of the build will have to take place outside. Roll on spring.

Why a Kayak?

I grew up in the East Midlands of England. Now I know the UK isn't the hugest of countries, but all the same, I lived as far away from the sea as it was possible to get on the island that is known as Great Britain. When we moved to New Zealand, it was obvious that we would be closer to the sea, because Auckland is on an isthmus, squeezed between two great harbours.

What I didn't know was that we would end up living in clear view of the sea, with a 200m walk to the nearest boat ramp. So we have a fantastic recreational resource right on our doorstep, but no way to use it. At first I was just going to buy a couple of kayaks, the only kind of boat I have any real experience of, but then I started thinking, and planning.

I really would like a bigger boat, but they are so expensive. A friend at work was talking about wanting to make a boat, and at first I thought it was an idle pipe dream, but I soon realised he was serious. I started looking into the possibilities and decided that a Rogue was the boat for me.

However, back in the real world, I need to gain experience of using epoxy resin and fibreglass tape, and of working with plywood and power tools. So I went back to the kayak idea and started looking for plans that would get the family afloat.

AnalogKid? Eh?

Its my user name for the Land Rover UK forums, I've been a member on there for quite a while and picked up lots of useful advice. I just thought I'd stick with the one online identity, any more would just get too confusing for me.

The name comes from a song by my favourite band, Rush. I've been a fan since the age of 11. The song was on the 1982 album Signals and follows the dreams and aspirations of an adolescent. The end theme of 'When I leave I don't know what I'm hoping to find, When I leave I don't know what I'm leaving behind' fit well with my recent history. In late 2004 I left the UK with my family to see how things would be in New Zealand.