Video of the Week: Building a Kayak – Part 5 – We Did It!

Part 5 is the final video in the series showing the completion of the Chesapeake 17 in the TotalBoat Workshop.  The boat is a billboard for the TotalBoat products we work hard to develop and under Rick’s leadership the team was able to integrate lots of it into this project.  It was a great experience using the TotalBoat Products, sharing product advice, individual experience and know-how from a varied group of experienced boat owners, product advisors and industry experts that make up our TotalBoat Tech Team.

Check out this 5th and final video in the series and consider building your own kit kayak, skiff or boat. The kits are created with a novice boatbuilder in mind and with our Tech Team at the end of the phone – you have plenty of support to help you find the right products and methods that will work best for your own built.

Hats off to Chesapeake Light Craft for a super design and a well thought out kit. It was fun for all and we are eager to take the fine kayak out in warmer weather for after-work paddles in beautiful Bristol Harbor.

If you are considering a KIT BUILD, there are many options from standup paddle boards, surfboards, skiffs, sail boats, rowing dories and much much more…. Get your neighbors, kids or grandkids, fellow boating pals or spouse involved and see how much more enjoyment you can get from paddling your own homebuilt boat. And look for us on Bristol Harbor this coming spring….. Thanks for watching.

 

 

Video of the Week: Building a Kayak – Part 3

Back in the TotalBoat Workshop, the kayak build of a Chesapeake Light Craft 17 is coming along and with the deck ready for fiberglassing, the boat is using up plenty of TotalBoat products, part of our goal in this training and team building project. This video shows the TotalBoat Tech Team working with fiberglass on the newly attached deck and follows them as they cut hatches in the deck, attach the cockpit combing and try out the brand new TotalBoat Crystal Clear Hardener (Coming soon!) with the TotalBoat 5:1 Epoxy. 

Building a small kayak or rowboat should not be intimidating. The scale of the project is workable and you can learn quickly as you go through the various steps of the build. Most of these skills translate well to bigger scale projects and and leaves you in the end with a very cool boat. And a whole host of great skills to take you and your boating projects to a new level.  Enjoy!

 

 

TotalBoat Training Video 1 – Building a Kayak

The TotalBoat Tech Team has been working together to complete the build of a wooden kayak kit. By using TotalBoat products in the construction, the Tech Team is able to dig into most of the products and get a good understanding of how to best use them. This gives our technical advisors hands-on know how which will help them better help our customers.

Check out Video 1 in this series from the TotalBoat Workshop.

Walk on Water with Greg Mallory

Once a badass, always a badass. Or that’s what I hear and having met and spent the weekend with former Paralympic Nordic Skier turned whitewater kayaker, Greg Mallory – I would have to agree. Greg was badly injured in a skiing accident that left him paralyzed from the waist down. Not letting that life altering injury change him or his appetite for adventure, he turned to handcycling and nordic skiing and was a Paralympian in Torino, Italy and Vancouver for the US Paralympic Nordic Ski Team.

But his true love was discovered when he jumped into some whitewater in a kayak and decided to try to keep up with some friends, thinking he would back down when it got too tough for him. That moment never came. Greg was as strong and talented on the river as his buddies and his upper body strength rivaled and inspired those who paddle near him. Greg’s passion for the white water was not without an epic appreciation for the paddling brothers who made it possible for Greg to reach the rivers. Greg leaves his wheelchair at his vehicle and takes to the kayak to be dragged down steep river canyons, guided and steered over rocks and cliffs and eventually safely launched into the river.

Greg has since taken a 2 year expedition trip to the rivers of Patagonia,traveling down the Carreterra Austral, a rugged highway heading north/south in Chile. He converted a Sprinter Van and with a group of friends, checked out of work and life and went exploring. He was also part of an historical expedition to the remote and never-before-paddled raging river in Bhutan in the Himalayas. (Watch pieces of the Discovery Channel show about this amazing trip) So the man is not afraid of the unknown. He is 100% pure bad-to-the-bone badass.

The film above is one slice of what makes Greg so amazing. His spirit, his physical and mental toughness and his amazing outlook on life is beyond inspirational. It’s unfortunate that a terrible accident has magnified a personality that was already pretty special. But Greg’s outlook and determination is not normal. He puts his compromised body in rushing rapids and on steep cliffs where even working legs and knees are challenged. And he spreads his contagious joy for adventure and life to all he meets. I feel so fortunate to have met Greg. And can’t wait to see what he’s got planned next. We’ll be watching.

Worth Watching: The Important Places

If you have 10 minutes to spare, please watch this very cool and moving film. It’s a great way to start off the week. We hope you spent plenty of time this weekend in your own important places. Probably not the Colorado River, but the water and noise and smell of what makes that place important is easily translated to the ocean. The noise of seagulls, the shoreline, floating in a hand built wooden boat or kayak, the smell of salt air and the feel of crusty salt on your face – all of it contributes to what makes us feel great when we are out there. And in New England where the saltwater season is so short, getting out there becomes important.  It’s up to us to pass on our appreciation for our own important places.

Chesapeake Light Craft Hosting Weekend Boatbuilders’ Rendezvous

We thought this weekend’s Festival at Chesapeake Light Craft sounded pretty cool and was worth sharing with you! Here’s the scoop!

OkoumeFest: A Boatbuilders’ Rendezvous

Location: Chesapeake Light Craft, Annapolis, Maryland
Dates: Friday, May 15, 2015 – Saturday, May 16, 2015

   Friday, May 15th: Open House in Annapolis
Saturday, May 16th: Boat Demos on Kent Island

Mark your calendars, wooden boat lovers and builders: Chesapeake Light Craft will present its 17th annual small boat rendezvous on Friday and Saturday, May 15-16, 2015.

“Okoume” is the plantation-grown African hardwood used in tens of thousands of CLC’s build-your-own-boat kits.  OkoumeFest features an open house with technical seminars on Friday at the CLC plant in Annapolis, and on Saturday an on-the-water rendezvous at Matapeake State Park on Kent Island.

The Friday seminars are useful and interesting, but the highlight of OkoumeFest always comes on Saturday, when we bring virtually everything in our shop over to the beach at Matapeake for our friends to paddle, row, sail, and generally put through their paces. We also welcome fellow boatbuilders, who bring their beautifully built watercraft to show and compete for best-in-show honors. This is a special chance to try some of the boats, like PocketShip, we can’t usually take on the road with us, and some that are brand-new designs, like the Outrigger Junior.  Attendance is free on both days this year, but please register so that we can plan accordingly.

 

Quinn Connell’s White Water Kayak Project – Part 5: Grand Canyon

In the Fall of 2013, Quinn Connell devised an Independent Study in Kayak Design using free courseware from an MIT Naval Architecture Graduate program. Quinn was able to combine his experience as a kayaker with his studies in fluid dynamics and design his dream white water kayak. He then approached Jamestown Distributors and asked to sponsor his project  in order to make his dream boat into a reality.
Check out Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 and Part 4.

I had just finished designing and building the boat of my dreams, so what better way to celebrate graduation than to take it down a 230 mile stretch of one of the most scenic waterways in North America

"...and set off for the grand canyon.  I had secured a spot on a trip that worked out perfectly between finishing school and starting work in Denver designing whitewater parks."

“set off for the grand canyon. I had secured a spot on a trip that worked out perfectly between finishing school and starting work in Denver designing whitewater parks.”

"Not a bad maiden voyage - Day 1 on the water, paddling into the canyon."

“Not a bad maiden voyage – Day 1 on the water, paddling into the canyon.”

"The Grand Canyon was an amazing place - I’m so fortunate to have been able to spend several weeks down in that little universe which feels entirely disconnected from the rest of the world."

The Grand Canyon was an amazing place – I’m so fortunate to have been able to spend several weeks down in that little universe which feels entirely disconnected from the rest of the world.

"Not to mention the great companyWe had four rafts and four kayaks on the trip, which provided a great platform for transporting gear, people, and enjoying the river."

Not to mention the great company. We had four rafts and four kayaks on the trip, which provided a great platform for transporting gear, people, and enjoying the river.

"The side hikes were truly amazing."

“The side hikes were truly amazing.”

We hitched a ride to lounge on the rafts through some of the flat water, and the scenery didn’t disappoint.

"We hitched a ride to lounge on the rafts through some of the flatwater."

"The scenery didn’t disappoint"

Neither did the whitewater:

"Neither did the whitewater."

Over the course of the trip she earned the name, “Pepper.” Not only does her dark hue with flecks of silver match the appearance of ground black pepper, but my decision to lean design towards performance over forgiveness meant that handling her got a little spicy at times.

"Here’s a shot of me dropping into Lava, the biggest rapid on the river at these levels. (Photo: Nina Frankel)"

After an amazing trip, I loaded her back onto the Subie and followed the Colorado River upstream, making my way to Denver; where I spent the summer paddling and designing whitewater parks. On a business trip up to Idaho, river levels looked right for a famed wave called the Lunch Counter to be in outside of Jackson, WY.  My boss, an avid surfer, suggested a slight detour after driving nearly all night. We were not disappointed.

"This was the wave I had designed this boat for - a large, green face allowed me to lock in those edges and tear around the wave.  The strong shoulder was perfect for launching aerial moves and a slight pile kept surfers retained - my dream wave in my dream boat on a gorgeous day.  I was in heaven."

Pepper in Action

Pepper performed exactly as I imagined she would; down to the last detail.  I could not be more pleased with the way she turned out.

"Taking flight like only carbon can."

“Taking flight like only carbon can.”

"Look ma, no hands!"

“Look ma, no hands!”

The beautiful weather brought out a crowd of spectators.  After totally blowing our schedule to get a few extra rides in, we had to leave the wave behind. This short session was a window into the bounds of her performance, as she remains true to the purity of her design – an uncompromising wave boat (as the rocks in Colorado have rudely reminded me a number of times throughout the summer).  Can’t wait to get her out on a big wave again.

"Quite the Crowd!"

Here’s a short video from our session – We didn’t get a ton of footage as we were crunched on time, but had a blast while we were there.  Enjoy!

I have been paddling Pepper on a regular basis now, and have been absolutely loving the boat.  I’ve used her in several competitions, and even got to take her out into the surf at my home break in Oregon.  She truly has lived up to my expectations and despite a nose job or two thanks to the rocks of Colorado, things have gone without a hiccup.

"My friend David putting her through the paces up in Idaho."

“My friend David putting her through the paces up in Idaho.”

Thanks again to Jamestown Distributors and their TotalBoat line – this stuff is top quality.  See you on the river!

-Quinn

 

Quinn Connell’s White Water Kayak Project – Part 4: Finishing Touches

In the Fall of 2013, Quinn Connell devised an Independent Study in Kayak Design using free courseware from an MIT Naval Architecture Graduate program. Quinn was able to combine his experience as a kayaker with his studies in fluid dynamics and design his dream white water kayak. He then approached Jamestown Distributors and asked to sponsor his project  in order to make his dream boat into a reality.
Check out Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3.

With the hull and deck fully molded, I had a few key pieces to add before the boat was finished:  I needed to install grab loops, cockpit coaming, pillars to reinforce the boat, and outfitting to secure the paddler.

"Making grab loops: I used webbing and slitted extra pieces of carbon to layer them in without impacting the structural integrity of the boat.  The packing tape kept the handle portions from getting coated in epoxy and sticking to the boat."

“Making grab loops: I used webbing and slitted extra pieces of carbon to layer them in without impacting the structural integrity of the boat. The packing tape kept the handle portions from getting coated in epoxy and sticking to the boat.”

"To make the cockpit rim, I tacked on rubber hosing with hot glue then molded from the inside of the boat over half of the tube using carbon tape."

“To make the cockpit rim, I tacked on rubber hosing with hot glue then molded from the inside of the boat over half of the tube using carbon tape.”

"An extra layer of carbon wrapping from inside the boat over the first cockpit rim layer added a lot of strength to the deck.  I used the hose from the first part of cockpit rim construction to clamp the second layer on and get a nice, smooth finish.  I kept the hose intact as a ring, heated the rubber and slipped it on like a spray skirt.  As the rubber cooled, the hose shrunk and clamped the second layer into place giving a tight layup and smooth, watertight finish.  Extra foam core and carbon/kevlar was used to make front, back and side pillars. I also used extra bits of foam core and carbon to reinforce critical areas like the thigh braces."

“An extra layer of carbon wrapping from inside the boat over the first cockpit rim layer added a lot of strength to the deck. I used the hose from the first part of cockpit rim construction to clamp the second layer on and get a nice, smooth finish. I kept the hose intact as a ring, heated the rubber and slipped it on like a spray skirt. As the rubber cooled, the hose shrunk and clamped the second layer into place giving a tight layup and smooth, watertight finish. Extra foam core and carbon/kevlar was used to make front, back and side pillars. I also used extra bits of foam core and carbon to reinforce critical areas like the thigh braces.”

"Now time for a paint job -  chalk helped out here to lay things out without being permanent."

“Now time for a paint job – chalk helped out here to lay things out without being permanent.”

"Spray paint did the rest."

“Spray paint did the rest.”

"No stencil? Better make one."

“No stencil? Better make one.”

"I should have been an art major."

“I should have been an art major.”

"One last hot coat of epoxy to seal things up."

“One last hot coat of epoxy to seal things up.”

"Look at this beauty!"

“Look at this beauty!”

"For the outfitting, I carved minicell foam to the shape and height that I wanted for the seat and thigh braces.  I augmented this with a seat cover, back band and hip pads taken from an old broken boat."

“For the outfitting, I carved minicell foam to the shape and height that I wanted for the seat and thigh braces. I augmented this with a seat cover, back band and hip pads taken from an old broken boat.”

"Just in the nick of time, too! I took her to the pool, and after pleading with the lifeguards to let me test it out, I was able to pull some strings and get in a corner of the pool.  She floated, and I was able to throw around some flat water tricks to christen her.  Thanks, Joann!"

“Just in the nick of time, too! I took her to the pool, and after pleading with the lifeguards to let me test it out, I was able to pull some strings and get in a corner of the pool. She floated, and I was able to throw around some flat water tricks to christen her. Thanks, Joann!”

"That afternoon we had a poster session to showcase our various projects.  Bernie designed and built a SUP and Quinn Harper did the same for a RC scale rendition of an America’s Cup boat. We had several other mid-term projects we had developed along the way, including developing a curriculum to teach high school students to design and build their own RC system and catamaran for an underwater robot."

“That afternoon we had a poster session to showcase our various projects. Bernie designed and built a SUP and Quinn Harper did the same for a RC scale rendition of an America’s Cup boat. We had several other mid-term projects we had developed along the way, including developing a curriculum to teach high school students to design and build their own RC system and catamaran for an underwater robot.”

The process of turning this boat into a reality was both mentally and physically taxing.  While I could not be more pleased with the outcome, I am in no rush to go through the experience again any time soon.  This was certainly a high point of my education and as I had just graduated college, there was nothing left to do but go use my new kayak.

Stay tuned for the final installation of Quinn’s project series!

Quinn Connell’s White Water Kayak Project – Part 3: Layups

In the Fall of 2013, Quinn Connell devised an Independent Study in Kayak Design using free courseware from an MIT Naval Architecture Graduate program. Quinn was able to combine his experience as a kayaker with his studies in fluid dynamics and design his dream white water kayak. He then approached Jamestown Distributors and asked to sponsor his project  in order to make his dream boat into a reality.
Check out Part 1 here, and Part 2 here.

Now that I had the plugs fully prepped, the real work began. With just around two weeks left in the term it was time to start laying up the carbon fiber.  I’d never attempted to make anything nearly this large or complex before, and owe a lot of my success to the expertise of people more experienced than I who were willing to share their knowledge (also, the internet)- big shout out to Dave Niewenhuis, Jason Downs, Kevin Baron, Eli Stein and Quinn Harper.  The videos on the Jamestown Distributors website were a huge help here too, I strongly recommend checking them out before starting any project.

Screen Shot 2014-09-05 at 2.31.11 PM

“Once this little honey badger arrived, it was off to the races. I cannot thank Mike Mills and Jamestown distributors enough for their support and making this project a success.”

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“Cutting the fabric down to size: On the hull I sandwiched carbon fiber with carbon/kevlar to maximize durability while keeping weight to a minimum. As it turns out, it’s incredibly hard to cut kevlar. I cut all of the layers down to size while dry before hand to ensure we didn’t waste any time once the epoxy was mixed.”

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“Wetting out multiple layers is a team job – brushes, rollers and good old fashioned handwork ensured that every fiber was saturated with epoxy before adding the next layer of cloth.”

Here’s where things start to get nerve-wracking; you’re working against the clock with a limited time until the epoxy cures, it’s all permanent, and you’ve got a lot of time and material on the line by now.  It was key to have some good friends around to help. Thanks Quinn & Eli. Tip: measure out multiple smaller batches of epoxy before beginning to mix or start your layup.  This is useful on multiple fronts: The reaction is exothermic and causes positive feedback – in my first composites project we tried mixing around ½ gallon of epoxy at once. The bucket we were using melted and we were lucky to come out with just losing that amount of epoxy – burning down the school would have been much more expensive.  Using smaller batches gives you a longer pot life and you can mix each when you are ready for it.  Leaving the cups around lets you check to ensure you got the ratios right and the epoxy hardens correctly.

I used a 4×8 sheet of formica on top of a table so that I could wrap bagging plastic all the way around and seal it to itself.  Packing tape on the sheet of Formica kept things from sticking.

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“Peel ply made sure the vacuum bagging materials came off cleanly and didn’t stick to the boat.”

Screen Shot 2014-09-05 at 2.41.21 PM

“Peel ply, breather and bag on. Vacuum bagging is a really cool technique that uses negative pressure to clamp your material to whatever shape you want. The breather/bleeder layer allows airflow for an even vacuum and provides a reservoir for excess epoxy. This allows lighter, more efficient layups.”

Screen Shot 2014-09-05 at 2.41.35 PM

“An hour into curing, Thayer’s high-end vacuum overheated and shut off, causing the vacuum bagging system to fail. In a borderline panic, I ended up finding this little engine-that-could tucked away in the basement.”

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“It worked like a charm. The rails came out sharp! Without a vacuum, there’s no way I could have gotten this definition.”

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“We moved operations into the boiler room, affectionately termed “The Ghettoclave” where temperatures were high which helped the curing process…”

Screen Shot 2014-09-05 at 2.44.24 PM

“…But not before getting lost wandering through basement labs trying to get there.”

A few days later: Once it was fully cured getting the plug out was fun.

“A few days later: Once it was fully cured getting the plug out was fun.”

"I used butcher’s paper and chalk to make a stencil for a Divinycell core on the hull."

“I used butcher’s paper and chalk to make a stencil for a Divinycell core on the hull.”

"Back to the boiler room! Layering the foam core into the hull interior with more carbon and kevlar. And of course vacuum bagging it all."

“Back to the boiler room! Layering the foam core into the hull interior with more carbon and kevlar. And of course vacuum bagging it all.”

Although I had tightly scheduled out construction, I hadn’t factored in nearly enough time for incidentals like additional cutting, sanding, and extra coats of epoxy.  With the end-of-term and my imminent departure closing in, this meant that I was now spending roughly 20 hours/day working on her.  To add to the fun, by this point I was covered in epoxy with carbon and kevlar splinters in places I didn’t know existed.  My friends joked that I was turning myself into a bulletproof man.  If I were to do it again, I’d invest in around 100 Tyvek suits before ever leaving the CAD lab.

"Inserting the deck plug"

“Inserting the deck plug”

"The green coating is PVA, a mold-release agent I sprayed on using Preval.  It’s alcohol-based, so theoretically it dissolves with just a little warm water and releases easily from the layup..."

“The green coating is PVA, a mold-release agent I sprayed on using Preval. It’s alcohol-based, so theoretically it dissolves with just a little warm water and releases easily from the layup…”

"I molded over the deck plug straight to the hull in order to avoid any seams or weak joints as molding it in two separate halves would have required.  This was possible because I only made a single boat, and had to destroy the plug to get it out."

“I molded over the deck plug straight to the hull in order to avoid any seams or weak joints as molding it in two separate halves would have required. This was possible because I only made a single boat, and had to destroy the plug to get it out.”

At one point, halfway through this layup I turned around from mixing a fresh batch of epoxy to find myself dumbfounded by the sight of the entire boat, beaming in majestic carbon for the first time.  At this moment, I started calling her La Sirena (Spanish for ‘mermaid’, or ‘siren’, like in the Odyssey) – she was beautiful and the object of all my pursuits, but at the same time she had become the bane of my existence. Or maybe I was just in a sleep-deprived haze.

"The deck ended up just being a wet layup as I couldn’t get the vacuum bag to seal to itself at 4am, alone, dripping with sweat in the boiler room.  Ironically, having epoxy everywhere kept the tape from sticking. I had my breath held for a few hours there, but it came out better than I could have hoped for."

“The deck ended up just being a wet layup as I couldn’t get the vacuum bag to seal to itself at 4am, alone, dripping with sweat in the boiler room. Ironically, having epoxy everywhere kept the tape from sticking. I had my breath held for a few hours there, but it came out better than I could have hoped for.”

"Now it’s starting to look like a boat! Sanding her down."

“Now it’s starting to look like a boat! Sanding her down.”

"I used the dremel to cut open a hole for the cockpit, which left a new question:  "How do I get this out of here?"

I used the dremel to cut open a hole for the cockpit, which left a new question:
“How do I get this out of here?”

"10 hours later…"

“10 hours later…”

With the plug removed I had the shell fully molded.  I was ecstatic and exhausted at the same time.  With just a few finishing touches she would be seaworthy!

Almost there! Part 4 coming soon!

Quinn Connell’s White Water Kayak Project – Part 2: The Plug

In the Fall of 2013, Quinn Connell devised an Independent Study in Kayak Design using free courseware from an MIT Naval Architecture Graduate program. Quinn was able to combine his experience as a kayaker with his studies in fluid dynamics and design his dream white water kayak. He then approached Jamestown Distributors and asked to sponsor his project  in order to make his dream boat into a reality.
Check out Part 1 here.

After many iterations and a few months in the CAD lab, it was time to build the plug – a life-size mock up of the kayak that I could use to form the carbon fiber around.  I used Thayer’s ShopBot (a 3D CNC router) to cut styrofoam panels to the right geometry, one 3” layer at a time. This machine is awesome.  With a 6′ x 8′ cutting table and vacuum clamp, you can make just about anything you can imagine.

It took around  a week of cutting time to get all of the layers done.

“It took around  a week of cutting time to get all of the layers done.”

 

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“Getting excited with the first layers hot off the press.”

 

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“The ShopBot gave great definition if you were patient enough.  After 2 weeks or so in the ShopBot control room, I was easily confused with a Smurf –  everything I owned was covered in blue dust.  Little did I know, this was just the beginning…”

 

Screen Shot 2014-09-05 at 2.19.08 PM

“Next I laminated the layers by clamping with packing tape and wood glue – Gorilla Glue expanded too much and caused layers to slide out of place.  Then I sanded and faired the foam using construction putty.”

 

Screen Shot 2014-09-05 at 2.20.27 PM

“Epoxy, sand and repeat.  After around 6 cycles of working my way up to 400 grit, both the hull and deck plugs were looking nice and shiny.  It’s important to get a glassy finish to prevent the carbon fiber from bonding to the plug.”

 

Screen Shot 2014-09-05 at 2.21.59 PM

“Wax on, wax off.  Car wax on the plugs helps them release from the carbon fiber. Make sure you don’t let the wax dry for too long! I made this mistake and had to put in a lot of elbow grease to make up for it.”

At this point things were getting exciting – the boat was taking shape and I had tangible results from my effort put in.  The next task was to begin laying up the composite.

Stay posted for Part 3!