Kayak Five, Das Boot

  Finally, a kayak for myself. I named this one after a great old movie about life aboard a German Submarine in WWII. I'm a history buff. This movie was amazing in it's depiction of the hardships and eventual bad ending for U-boat crews. 

 This was designed with Ross Liedy's 'Kayak Foundry' software. It's my second boat using KF. I tweaked this out for over a year, and hopefully it will be a good boat.


Here's the KF file for this kayak.






 Das Boot Build Log



Started build. Making a new re-usable strongback beam from oak. I got a good deal on some rough cut 7' 1x6 oak boards, so I milled it down to 3/4" square boards and am making a strongback which (hopefully) will be dimensionally accurate and reusable for several boats.


The strongback worked out well, but my new Dewalt DW75 two axis laser level showed a slight dip at the stern end. Small form adjustment on last few forms, and it's all lined up. This tool is a nice addition to the shop.

 I started building in September 2011. This will be one I'm taking my time with, and I will be completing a couple SOF's at the same time.

The name of this boat comes from a WWII movie about the dangers faced by German submariners. Let me be clear, I'm not some kind of  nut, (except for a kayak building obsession) I just thought it was a very powerful story. My folks fought on the other side. I thought the title made an interesting name for a kayak design. 

I intend to add the 9th Flotilla's 'Laughing Sawfish' as part of the design. The black version isn't historically accurate, but would look best on a cedar deck.




 The Movie 


The actual story 



November 2011


Progress so far. Adding bottom accent strips. These are two solid strips of walnut with alternating burbinga and basswood in between.





Deck progress pictures, February 2012






The deck is stripped.







Staples out. stems done, deck faired with spokeshave.



DEC 2016

 After some amount of work done in 2012, I got very busy and had to step away from boat building. I became Fire Chief in late 2012, and this took up 10 to 20 hours a week on top of my full time job. I had a heart attack in February of 2014 after getting smoke inhalation at a major fire the day before. Apparently carbon monoxide exposure thickened my blood, and previously unknown narrowing of coronary arteries due to plaque got clotted, and down I went. Sort of. With my fire service training  I knew what was happening. Since I was on the way to work I drove myself to the hospital. Anyway... it wasn't fatal (although I was kind of dead a couple times through that week). I was in good shape when it happened, and have concentrated on fitness since. I finished my term as Chief and stepped down in December of 2014. Since then I've fought my way back to the point where I'm now fit enough to deploy with the military my cardio guy tells me. So long story short, I'm back to boat building now.


CF re-enforcement behind the inlaid swordfish 

CF wrap of the rudder box


Rudder box cured and trimmed up CF,





Built Skeg Controller Box



Stained, epoxy tomorrow.




More work on skeg assembly


Slot cut in hull


fiberglas precut. A bead of thickened resin will go on tomorrow.

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Bottom masked

Skeg in place, glassed and epoxied.


Side View


position of control box. Job for tomorrow when epoxy layer cures.

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Finished installing skeg, control box and foot braces.


Made up a batch of thickened epoxy colored with graphite. Toxic tar. Texas Tea. Epoxy, 406 silica, graphite.

I don't take chances with epoxy work, wet or cured.

Image result for the masked avenger daffy duck

This stuff is like baby manure. It gets everywhere. Three glove changes and I'm still cleaning it off my hands.

Mounted foot braces.

Skeg control box

Thickened layer around skeg.


Quick hour's work to make up hip plates and CF both sides



two layers of CF over a dowel, these will be trimmed then cross-cut to make multiple clamps to guide the skeg cable later.

Like this. I'm out of them.




Lots of small detail work again, and waiting for epoxy cures makes for slow going at this stage.

 CF clamp set-up from last night.

 Cut to size, replenish stock.

 One to guide skeg cable into control box.

 Two to guide skeg cable away from cargo area.

 Hip plates, trimmed, epoxied again with graphite to colour, drying before installation tomorrow.


Skeg control from deck topside. Little cleaning up to do here when deck accessible again.


Hip plates last interior task, then deck and hull joining starts Monday.




Gym time and family dinner today, only a couple short periods in the shop. Got the hip plates installed, and poured end-fills to give structure for bow and stern carry lines.





First batch was too soupy and started oozing out the tape on one side. Had a dutch boy thing going on for a while.



Joining deck to hull finally. Fitted stems at ends, Lined up top and bottom, compressed and taped seams on outside. Did deck fitting part of skeg controls. Need to let this dry before finalizing. Next step is the much despised inside 'taping' of the seam with glass and resin. Cramped messy task.




 Now that the two halves are ready to mate, the last steps of the rudder control can be made. The cable will pass through the box and extend into the section of cable cover on the other side, shown in the next picture.



"Due North Mr. Sawfish!"

 "Aye, Captain"

 Taped, compressed, aligned edges and ready for inside seam taping with glass and epoxy.

 Seventeen feet of lean, mean, ocean going machine.





Getting set up for the inside seam taping (glass and epoxy). In order to place the strip of material accurately, I need to see what I'm doing. The ends are difficult since my fat head won't fit through the hatches. I'm a security guy, so I have access to cameras and tech. I've set up a cheap CCTV camera to give me a view of the inside, and logged into that camera's IP on my phone. 



image on cell phone



3-5 JAN17


Done, but this is the part of the job that makes Bishops kick out stained glass windows. It went well though. Let this side set up, then tomorrow flip it over onto other side to do port side inside seam.

Bias cut strips of fibreglass, rolled up and soaked in epoxy then rolled out along inside seam with a brush on a stick.

CCTV camera inside hatch


Image on cell phone

better on laptop

A well hung boat

And next night, port side

Glad that's done. Start cleaning up the outside tomorrow and do seams. Got more epoxy where it should be than on myself.




Lots of sanding, and a bit of leveling with the spoke shave, and the outside hull is ready to go. Tomorrow a bit of sanding dust and epoxy mix to fill in some gaps, then outside fiberglass tape seam. It's carefully masked up, and when the outside glass gets to the 'plastic' stage I'll cut at the tape lines and remove the tape to get a clean edge. This edge will be sanded in to disappear, then entire outside gets light sanding, touch-ups and a final layer of epoxy.


Making sure I don't get epoxy into the fittings for the deck lines.


If I was a 20 year old knob with a front wheel drive 4 cylinder rice burner with an air foil, I could just call these race stripes.




Taped the seams this morning with continuous 18' x 2" strips of fiberglass. Rolling these up was NOT a good idea, loose threads snagged up as it unrolled, making it one hell of a task. Fiberglass and epoxy is like a mean dog, it can smell fear so you just got to carry on.

I went to the gym, ran errands etc. while this set up for a few hours so I could cut a clean edge and remove the tape. 

I made the interior bulkheads out of minicell foam. These are cut to fit tightly at form stations 6 and 11, forward of the foot braces, and aft of the cockpit.

Fitted and placed the aft bulkhead.


Sanded, trimmed up and epoxy coat to clean up cockpit and coaming rim.

on to sanding, last epoxy layer, fit and finish on end stems, then varnish coats.




 Sanding and epoxy work today. Cleaned up drops of epoxy on the deck, masked the edge, then turned over to work on the hull, Sanded and final coat of epoxy for the hull. Can't progress any more today  till this cures up.

Before sanding and final epoxy layer.


Got this Jason Bourne look alike to sand the hull to 320.


Results after a couple hours work.



Hours of sanding. Cleaned up drips on deck from hull epoxy job, then sanded entire deck to 220 to prep for final epoxy coat to deck. Had a fire call in the middle of this, and was away for an hour driving a big red truck to a chimney fire. Masked hull completely to prevent drips, and it's ready to epoxy the deck. It's late here, so tomorrow night for that.

Deck sanded to 220.

Deck sanded to 220.

complete masking of hull

complete masking of hull

Ready to epoxy deck.




Tuesday night in the boat shop.

Finish coat of epoxy on the deck, prepping for some fittings work tomorrow night to give epoxy a day or two to harden up before starting on varnish coats.







Spent a couple hours on small details while the epoxy coats harden up.

Installed the CF clips that will retain the two lengths of small diameter bungee to hold the seatback to the upper and lower deck just forward of the rear bulkhead. Four of these, two above and two below. Drilled the bow and stern with a 5/8" hole for the plastic pipe liners for the carry handles. Sanded and touched up bow and stern stems and new through-holes for handles, epoxied.





Short shift in the boat shop.

Couple hours work installing forward bulkhead and rigging seat back, prepping hanging system for varnish process. Ropes rigged so all external surfaces accessible.




Several hours work, final (did I say final) sanding of complete exterior before first of three varnish coats.


Varnishing is tricky business. You need to apply lightly, don't let it drip or drool, and keep moving before the 'wet edge' starts to dry up. I use the method explained by the guru of boat building, Nick Schlade.




All the other boys have one of these. They're making fun of me on the kayak builder discussion boards.

I'm sure SWMBO would want me to have one of these.



Couple hours planning and designing another project, and a hour or so on the boat prepping and applying the second varnish coat.



Third and final coat of varnish applied.


 Eight different woods in this build

Eastern White Cedar

Western Red Cedar










Deck lines, bungee webs fore and aft of cockpit, bungee paddle retainer at bow, carry handles fore and aft.

I'll let it hang for a couple days to cure the varnish before the final step, setting it down and getting the seat placement right and secured,




Last bit of assembly tonight. Located position for CF seat, mixed up a thickened batch of graphite coloured epoxy and glued it in place. Tomorrow I'll wrap it up to protect it from dust and hang it up in the shop to wait for spring. I started this boat five years ago, but had a two year hiatus while I worked two jobs (regular and Fire Chief, had a heart attack, dropped back to one job and recovered fully). This boat has been a pleasure to build, and I'm looking forward to many hours on the water. I'll post some pictures on it's first cruise then.

On to the next project!





 Wrapped the boat up to protect it from dust and secured it at roof level in the shop. Half a dozen large leaf bags with the ends cut out worked nicely. Spring is a couple months away sadly.

Incidentally, some advice for my fellow boat builders; don't go to the Pharmasave and ask for an 18 foot condom. They were very unhelpful, and I thought unnecessarily cruel.





First trip today on White Rock pond. She handles like a dream. Tracks straight as a die, stable, and feels great on the water. Went upwind then downwind, didn't need to extend the skeg at all. Couple small things to fix up, and a few more shake-down trips before I head for a week solo in the Keji back country in June.


Once the good looks started to go I had to get good at building kayaks.

Lean, mean, water machine.

Time to ditch the Peter Pan outfit. With the temps and first time out a wetsuit is just good thinking.


June 2017 - Big Shakedown Cruise

Four day solo back country trip in Kejimkujic National Park.

Great trip, didn't see another human for three solid days. Boat handled great. Portaging was difficult, all gear had to enter/exit the 8" hatches at every carry.