Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Lake Michigan

Our new Guillemot on Lake Michigan. We stayed at Northport. At the very tip of the Leelanau peninsula. Grand Traverse Bay.

Lake Michigan, unsalted . No sharks or jelly fish. Nothing that will eat you.

The water is so clear, you can see the bottom at 30 or 40 feet deep.

The Guillemot is a true sea kayak. It takes some getting used to before you get the feel of her handling. At first it is hard to keep it going in a straight line. But after an hour or so it feels like all you have to do to turn is think about it.

The cockpit is way to small for me, but it is just right for Donna.

We got a lot of attention every where we went. Everyone had very nice things to say.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Maiden Voyage

4th of July 2011 and we are packed up and ready to go to Lake Fenton for the maiden voyage of our Guillemot. Here we have the Guillemot and the Wood Duck on our kayak trailer. The little Honda Fit still gets 37 mpg. with the trailer in tow.

Donna was the first one to paddle the Guillemot. Her first paddle was about an hour and a half. She does not do well in the Wood Duck because it is way to wide for her. The Guillemot is a huge improvement for Donna. This is the first time she has paddled a sea kayak and she is hooked. No more little plastic kayaks for Donna.

Some big boats went by and made some big waves. Donna has never felt safe on Lake Fenton with all the boats making big waves. This time she plowed through them without a care in the world. She never felt threatened at all.

Do you see her laughing ? All I said was can I have a turn. Donna and the Guillemot fit well together. It is very narrow compared to the Wood Duck. She can set her butt into the cockpit on the seat and then put her legs one at a time inside the kayak.

As you can see, that will not work for me. I am 5'7" and 220 lbs. I have to sit on the back of the kayak and put both legs inside. then I have to scoot forward and into the cockpit. I can do this in three inches of water, but when I tried to in three feet of water, I tipped over in a nanosecond. When I get into the Guillemot, I fill up the cockpit. No need for knee braces. Once I get in and settled down, it is very comfortable.

The Guillemot is very fast and very maneuverable. It is also very tipsy compared to the Wood Duck. Even though it feels tipsy at first, it felt more stable as I paddled more. I had big waves break over the bow all the way to the cockpit and I never felt in danger of tipping over. In fact it was a lot of fun.

I will post more photos in the weeks to come. It is going to be a great summer !!!

Friday, July 1, 2011


I have three coats of varnish on the Guillemot. It was so much easier than I thought it would be. It looks great !!! It has some rough spots, but I am not worried about that just yet.

I will put the kayak in the water this weekend, ( 4th of July ). I will let the varnish get good and hard over the next two weeks. Then I will sand it baby butt smooth with 400 grit sand paper. After that I will put the final coat of varnish on .

My next post will be at the lake. See you all then.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Finishing the epoxy

I thought that I would be varnishing this weekend, but I was being overly optimistic. I wasted a lot of time sanding the epoxy. I would sand down until I was just touching the top of the glass cloth. Then I rolled on a thin coat of epoxy. Then I would sand again.

My coats of epoxy were way to thin. Every time I started to sand, I would sand back down to the cloth without ever trying to. I would barely sand at all and I was back into the cloth. You do not want to sand into the cloth because that will damage the integrity of the glass. Plus I was wasting time coating, waiting to cure, and sanding over and over again, and still not having a finish that I could varnish.

Time to change the process. I rolled three coats of epoxy in a row, without sanding in between.
As soon as one coat started to firm up, I laid down another coat. About 6 or 8 hours between coats. That way they they will chemically bond to each other.

That worked out great. After 48 hours of curing time, I was able to sand out all the orange peel without sanding to deep. Never touching the glass. I was able to sand the entire kayak in about three hours.

After I took these photos, I loaded up the Wood Duck and went to Lake Fenton. The fishing was great. Hooking a nice bass in a kayak makes for an exciting after noon.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Seaming the deck to the hull

The deck is ready to be attached to the hull. But first I needed to see if my big white royal Arabian butt will fit into this kayak. The cockpit is 17 inches wide and so am I. My friend Ted knows how hard it is to get into a sea kayak without help from someone. And my butt is a lot bigger then his.

Here is that Arabian butt from another angle. It does not fit this way either. You can see my brush extension in the hatch. Here I am putting a fiberglass tape over the deck seam.

Tomorrow I will flip the kayak over and seam the other side.

I have not had time for the kayak. This spring has not been kind to us. Donna and I have had both of our family's plagued with death and serious illness. So the kayak is way behind as to where I wanted it to be. Memorial day is two weeks away. I want to be finished by then but I know that if I rush the finish job, it will not look very good.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Combing and end pour

The cockpit combing is starting to look like it was worth all the time spent working on it. It is very labor intensive but I think that it will stand out nice when it is finished. It is made from Purple heart, Bass wood, and Ash all laminated together. I just put a layer of glass and epoxy on before taking this photo. Click on the photo to get a better look.

Some people make an end pour on each end of the kayak. I did not want to add the extra weight and epoxy is very heavy and even more expensive. I used 20% epoxy and 80% microballoons to fill the ends of the bow and stern.

Now I can drill a hole for a grab rope to go through. And this will help me as it gives me a flat surface to glue the deck to the hull.

It is very light because the microballoons are mostly made of air.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Cockpit combing and hatch

You can never have too many clamps around the shop when you build boats.
This is the lip that goes around the cockpit combing. It is made from laminated strips of Purple Heart and Ash. Next I will cut down the combing to the same height as the lip and glass it all together.
This is the lip that I glassed in for the forward hatch. I did the same for the rear hatch too.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

cutting the hatches

It only took five minuets to saw out the two hatches.
It took two days to get enough courage to pick up the saw and pull the trigger.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Back to work

Well it has been a month sense my last post. I got side tracked by other things in life that needed my attention. We sold our airplane and that took me away from the kayaks for about three weeks. Then we bought a new car to replace my truck. But now I am back to work on the Guillemot.

I have the deck glassed inside and out. And the outside of the hull is glassed. Today I started framing the cockpit combing. I know that it looks tall, but it will be trimmed lower when it's finished.

Next I will sand the combing smooth and glass it. Then I will build up the rim of the combing with lamination's of dark and light hard wood.

The ice is breaking up on the lakes. A brave soul could kayak today if he wanted to. I think that I could finish the Guillemot in about six weeks if nothing else distracts me. Just in time for the kayak season to get started.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Glassing the deck

Today the UPS driver showed up with my long over due glass cloth and epoxy. I saved BIG money by getting my epoxy from http://www.boatbuilder.org/ . But they were closed down for a family illness for two weeks.
The UPS truck didn't make it out of the subdivision before I had epoxy resin mixing with the slow hardener.

This is one layer of 6oz. fiberglass cloth and the first coat of epoxy. Tomorrow I will put a second coat of epoxy to fill the weave of the cloth. A third coat may or may not be needed to totally fill the weave.

The glass brings out the true colors of the wood.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

New table saw

In an earlier post I said I got a new table saw. My buddy Ted said lets see it. So here it is. It works great. Best of all is it hooks up to my dust collector. So now I can saw in the house without covering everything in dust.

When my old saw quit in the middle of a cut, it left me stuck with no way to continue work on the Guillemot. So I put some stuff on e-bay and got enough money to buy the saw. I looked at the one at Home Depot but they would not deal on the price. Amazon .com had the same saw for $80 less then Home Depot and the shipping was free.

This is the planer that I got from Santa at Christmas. I can not believe how much I use it. It makes all my strips uniform in thickness so that all the beads and coves come out perfect.

It took me a full day to sand the Guillemot smooth. Now with all my strips being planed with perfect beads and coves, The Petrel will probably sand smooth in an hour or two.

It's a good thing that I am building two kayaks at once. The Guillemot is stalled again. I ordered all the epoxy and glass cloth, but the order is on hold for two weeks. At least I have the other kayak to work on until then.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Sanding the hull

Yesterday I laminated the stems. Today I carved them to shape with my block plane.
After I shaped them with the plane I sanded the hull. In this photo the hull is not sanded yet.

In this photo the hull has had it's first sanding. Now I will fill in some gaps and holes with epoxy and wood flower. Then it will all get a finish sanding. It's time to order the epoxy and fiberglass cloth so that next weekend I can start glassing the deck.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

The stems

Progress on the Guillemot was held up for more than a week because my cheep, got it on sale, table saw died in the middle of a cut. So I sold some stuff on E-bay and bought a new Dewalt table saw.
Now that I can saw strips of wood again, I cut up a chunk of ash and made some 1/8 x 1 strips. Then I laminated them to the bow and stern to make the stems. Tomorrow I will start sanding the hull and get it caught up to the deck.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Removing the deck

Today I took the deck off the forms for the first time. It is very fragile and I have to be very careful not to break it. I swear that it feels like it can't weigh more than five pounds. The color looks a little bla bla but when I wet the wood with water, the colors come alive and it looks great.
The deck is sanded smooth. Next I will mix some epoxy with some wood flower and fill in some cracks and holes. Then I will sand it smooth again.

The strong back and forms are for another kayak. The Petrel. www.louskayakworks3.blogspot.com

This photo shows how the tip of the bow sweeps upward. Click the photo to enlarge and the sweep shows up better.
To the left of the deck is the hull still on the forms. Tomorrow I will fabricate two stem pieces for the bow and stern. Then I can start fairing and sanding the hull.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Cockpit recess

It has been almost a month sense I last posted on the Guillemot progress. Construction of the hull and deck is finished. I just finished the cockpit recess today.
Now it is time to start fairing and sanding. I have a shop vac connected to my orbital sander. It does a great job of catching all the dust so that I can sand in the man cave. I like to sand outside but it is only 6 degrees today.

After all the fairing and sanding is finished, it will be time for the fiberglass and epoxy. The cockpit combing will not be started until after the deck is all glassed up.