Cape Ann Construction Notes

October 1, 2009

As I noted before, it is not possible to build only one kayak. This is a habit forming activity. I have built a Bolger Cartopper sailing skiff from plans, a Shearwater 17 kayak from a CLC kit, and am now finishing a Merganser 17W hybrid from plans. I also have plans and much of the material and fittings for a Wood Duck 12 to use as a guest boat.

It looks like my next build, though, will be a Cape Ann from One Ocean Kayaks. I met with Vaclav Stejskal last week to try one for size and bought plans. This is an 18′ x 23″ cedar strip boat designed for larger paddlers and recreational paddling close to shore.

cape10pmlg(Photo of Vaclav Stejkal’s Cape Ann from One Ocean Kayaks web site)

I rushed construction of the Merganser, getting it into the water in about ten weeks, because I had sold the Shearwater and was tired of pushing my old 54-pound Current Designs Pachena. I’m now in the paint and varnish stage, so will have the Merganser for use next season. I want to take more time with the Cape Ann and avoid some of the cosmetic flaws of the Merganser.

The deck design will be basically the same, though, as I very much like the way it came out. I intend to post notes as I go along, although they are not likely to be as extensive as the Merganser notes. Judging by the number of hits I get on this site, quite a few people are taking advantage of these notes to avoid making my mistakes.

Today I got a quote from Peter Schultz of Classic Boat Kits for forms and strips. With the current US/Canadian exchange rate, these will be less than US$900 delivered. That includes custom cut Alaskan yellow cedar cove/cove strips for the sheer line, dark red cedar and white cedar for the deck, and light red cedar for the hull.

I’m going to use 6′-8′ strips this time, as I see no real advantage to full length strips and the shorter strips can be shipped UPS at considerable savings over freight. This design requires a lot of forms, and they need to be very accurate, so I decided to buy them instead of making them.

October 2, 2009

I confirmed the order today in a long and pleasant phone conversation with Peter. He says the shorter strips are much better quality wood than is possible with long strips, as it is harder to get high quality long cedar boards.

It’s also a lot less expensive to ship: US$150 for forms and shorter strips by UPS vs. US$450 for forms and longer strips by freight. Both figures include brokerage fees for crossing the border. I could save even more by cutting my own strips, but I’m not experienced with table saws and value my fingers more than my money.

October 7, 2009

After visiting the lumber yard yesterday and seeing how difficult it is to find flat, high quality plywood, I decided to add Peter Schultz’s milled spine to my order. I anticipate that I will be able to sell the spine and forms when I am done with them, which will reduce my costs. I also asked Peter to cut some thin Alaskan yellow cedar strips for the laminated stems. Here is his flier on the spine:


I don’t expect to start this project until after the holidays. Please check back then.

December 17, 2009

The cedar strips, forms and spine arrived a week ago, but I haven’t unpacked them yet. Since placing this order I have discovered Rod Tait’s (Orca Boats) Scana HV, and bought the plans. The Scana is a similar size and design, but with less contorted strips and, to my eye, nicer lines.

I haven’t made a final decision yet which boat to build, and won’t be starting the build until Spring, but may be offering the Cape Ann plans and forms for sale. I can use the strips I ordered for either boat.

The reason for the delay is that I have also picked up plans for Nick Schade’s new Ganymede, a simple flat-bottomed plywood kayak that I should be able to build in a month or less once my shop warms up enough to work with epoxy again. This will be a guest boat for use by visiting daughters, their mates and grandchildren. See you in March.

February 4, 2010

Is it my imagination or is this winter a lot longer and colder than most? I’m itching to get going on another boat, but my shop is still too cold for any kind of work, much less curing epoxy. I’ve decided to build the Cape Ann, though, and have been stocking up on materials.

I took advantage of Chesapeake’s sale on fiberglass and bought enough four and six ounce cloth to build two boats. I also bought a three gallon kit of MAS epoxy, but got this from Newfound, whose price was about $40 less than CLC’s sale price. I now have everything but foot pegs and deck rigging on hand for the Cape Ann, and just need foot pegs and plywood for the Ganymede.

Last Saturday I made the 300 mile round trip to West Springfield in single-digit temps to attend the big railroad show. As I was leaving the show, vowing never to waste a day and a tank of gas on this trip again, I saw a Harbor Freight store. I had been planning to order a heat gun and more of their terrific vinyl/nitrile gloves, so stopped in to stock up.

In addition to the heat gun and two boxes of gloves, I also bought two strap clamps, some sandpaper and a pair of knee pads. I did not buy any more of their foam brushes, though, as the ones I bought last year all failed within seconds of trying to use them.

A few hundred yards down the road, however, I found a Woodcraft store, where I bought a bag of ten 3-inch foam brushes, made in U.S.A. with solidly embedded handles, for about five bucks, along with a gallon of Titebond II and a small glue bottle. So my trip west wasn’t a total waste.

March 10th remains the target date for construction start. See you then.

May 4, 2010

Another change of plans. I’m finishing my daughter’s Ganymede and have a bunch of other projects that need attention, so it looks like I won’t be starting this boat until next year. The good news is that I have everything needed to build it on hand, so I don’t need to budget anything for the build.

July 12, 2010

Once again I’m getting the itch to start building. The Cape Ann was to be my next build, but something changed since last year that forced me to reconsider this boat. A few days after I met with Vaclav and bought the plans, I saw a new doctor who convinced me to change my eating habits.

He was concerned by my high blood pressure, bad cholesterol ratios and excess fat around the middle. He weaned me off sugar and into natural fats and proteins. As a result, I am now much healthier. I’m also back to the 190 pounds that I weighed until turning 50 nineteen years ago.

That puts me at the low end of the weight range for the Cape Ann and made me think about building a lighter displacement boat. So I pulled out the Scana plans again, as this boat displaces fifteen pounds less than the Cape Ann. A close look at the patterns, however, led me to rule this boat out completely. It’s supposed to be a high-deck version, but my size 11 paddling shoes are nearly two inches too long for the available foot space.

Turning back to Vaclav’s website, I looked at some of his other designs. His Cape Ann Storm is six inches shorter, an inch narrower and 30 pounds less displacement than the Cape Ann. It also shows better performance characteristics across the board, as a result of lower wetted surface.

Cape Ann StormThe knee space  and foot room are each only a half inch lower. Otherwise the design appears identical to the larger Cape Ann. Since the Cape Ann felt a bit too roomy when I tried it out, I think I will order the Storm plans instead.

Construction is still scheduled to begin next winter. In the meantime, I am currently converting an old skiff trailer to a kayak hauler. I’ve also ordered plans for a 13’6″ Arkansas Traveler canoe. Yes, this is an addictive activity!

What about the Wood Duck? The owner of Cape Cod Kayak has asked me to teach a class in kayak building next winter, and the Wood Duck hybrid would be a perfect boat to give everyone a chance to learn every stage of both s&g and strip construction. Stand by.

January 30, 2011

The plans and license for the Cape Ann Storm arrived promptly this week, so I’ll be starting it soon. I would like to sell the unused plans, license and forms for the bigger Cape Ann. The forms were milled out of very high quality 1/2-inch five-ply fir plywood by Peter Shultz of Ontario. You won’t find plywood this flat or clear in any big box store. I will not be selling the spine, however, as I need it for the Storm.

June 14, 2011

Once again, I have decided to delay construction of this boat. I have become so pleased with the performance of my Merganser that I have little incentive to built something different. I also have a lot of other projects that need to be finished before I start a new one. Check back next year.

May 28, 2012

It looks like the Cape Ann won’t get built this year either. Since getting back to biking, I’ve not been paddling as much. A pinched sciatic nerve troubled me the past two years. It isn’t bothered by the biking, but limits my time in the kayak to an hour or so at a time.

I’m also getting serious about moving, so am trying to get my house and yard in shape for a sale. Amazing how much junk accumulates when you don’t move for a while. Eventually, I’ll build this boat and probably sell it. If anyone wants to buy plans and forms for the bigger Cape Ann (not the Storm) let me know.

December 28, 2014

It’s hard to believe it’s been more than five years since I first wrote about building a Cape Ann. It actually might happen soon.

I sold my house in April, and bought a condo in August. The new place has a huge, dry, walk-out basement with a high ceiling that will make a perfect kayak shop. I already have several boats stored there.

Kayaks on Rack

I’m currently very busy with a consulting project in the Virgin Islands, and refinishing every room of the new place, but expect both projects to be finished by March. The epoxy is probably no good after all these years in storage, but everything else should be ready to go.


2 Responses to “Cape Ann Construction Notes”

  1. Dan Says:

    I know the feeling Wes. My Shearwater has been a great boat to paddle. I started the Auk 14 to replace one of plastic boats, but the project is on hold while I spend time on the water.


    • twofootartist Says:

      I am beginning to think that Eric Schade’s Shearwater/Merganser hull may be the most perfect sea kayak design for day paddling.
      A friend of mine, who had built six strip boats and two skin boats, built an Auk 14 and said it was the most difficult kayak he had built because of its short length and sharp curves.

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