I had wanted to build a strip planked wooden kayak since 1998, and in 2009, whilst having some English Oak milled, I was given the trunk of a California Redwood. I knew nothing about this timber and had no idea what I would use it for, but decided to have it milled anyway. However, some years later, on removing a board from the rack, I found the timber was extremely lightweight, very stable and had suffered no distortion during the drying process. At that point I decided that if I ever got around to building that kayak, this would be the timber that I would use.
Following the 2017 Australian Wooden Boat Festival, I decided that the time had come to either build a kayak or forget about the idea altogether. Over the next couple of months I researched a number of designs and finally settled on a Micro Bootlegger Sport designed by Nick Schade from Guillemot Kayaks. With just a slight rake to the stem and stern, this kayak has an almost full-length waterline, giving it good speed potential. With a bit of flare and relatively high sides, it has good stability, while still being narrow enough at the waterline to minimize how much water is disturbed. It has a transitioning chine that is rounded in front and hard behind. This allows for smooth progress into waves, while providing a positive control surface while under sail and paddling down wind for capable surfing. At 18kg, the finished weight is the same as the minimum allowable for a racing surf ski competing at Australian Surf Lifesaving Championships.
On 27th April 2017, I started setting up the strongback and forms and on 18th May, I laid up the first strips.
I machined the California Redwood planks to 20mm wide x 4.5mm thick. However, the finished thickness after fairing and sanding is only around 3mm, hence the need for the finished shell to be completely covered with a layer of fibreglass. In addition to added strength the fibreglass also seals the timber, thus preventing rot. The boat was then finished with four coats of marine varnish. I made the rudder from carbon Fibre and fibreglass.
On 19th January 2018, at last, the boat was finally launched.
I would like to acknowledge the help and guidance that I received from Graeme Cooksey who has built a number of strip plank kayaks. Graeme’s expertise was invaluable, particularly in the early stages of the boat’s construction.