Flyfisher's Kayak Page
“Men live by events, and so they paddle.” John Boyle O'Reilly
"I made this in my spare time with a few hand tools. This is my creation." Roger Nuffer
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Summer of 2002 I began to do something about my long-term interest in paddle sports. I have canoed for years, and a trip in 2001 with William to the Boundary Waters of Minnesota got me interested again. Spring of 2002 I bought an Old Town Otter Kayak on a whim from the local sporting goods company. What fun! But quite lonely! A couple trips to the local kayak shop in Dayton Ohio, and I came home with a Perception Carolina. Nice boat!
In the first trip to the lake with William he immediately wanted to try the Carolina… Then he did not want to give it up!
A week later I began to look into building a wooden kayak. I looked at the stitch and glues and also at the strip built boats. The strip boats just looked prettier. I bought Nick Schade’s The Strip Built Sea Kayak and within one more week was lofting the sections for the “Great Auk” from the table of offsets. Building the Great Auk took from Memorial Day until the end of June.
A week later I began the Skin on Frame kayak using the book by Robert Morris over the long 4th of July weekend. That project took my spare time over 3 weeks.
I had fun making a page which shows the building process for each of these kayaks. Also included are some of my first experiences with each of them.
Great Auk Building Project Details Here!
Skin on Frame Project Details Here!
Skin on Frame Canoe Project Here!
Experimental Folding Kayak Project On the shelf...
New! Guillemot Project Building Log
I can not say enough about all the help and encouragement I received from many during this construction. Now it is time to get back out and do some paddling!
People sometimes wonder why I would spend time building boats, when it would not be overly expensive to just buy them. A fellow writer at the Kayak Builders Board said it so well in a recent posting, it deserves to be repeated:
"Many times I hear or am asked about one of my
boats, “How much did that cost?” or, “How long did that take to build?” To me
those are difficult questions. Moreover, they might not be the right questions.
There is the cost of the wood and glass and epoxy. Then you have specialized tools to purchase such as an Random Orbital Sander or a Japanese pull saw. And the list goes on. Depending on how inclusive or exclusive the list becomes a kayak could run anywhere from 80 to 3800 dollars. I can buy a nice fiberglass kayak for somewhere in between those marks. I can save countless hours by going out and buying a nice high quality kayak. Just a couple months of overtime and weekend work will pay for it. So why go to all the bother of building?
For me there is more to the equation than dollar bills or time.
There is something very special about taking a chunk of wood, working it and creating what I consider to be art. Running a plane along the gunwales and watching the curls slide off the blade. Wetting out the hull with epoxy. Seeing patterns in the grain come to the surface. There is no price attached to this time or these actions.
Then when the boat is done and you take it out for the maiden voyage. Will it float? Are all the seams going to fly apart when they touch the water? Am I going to have enough initial stability to paddle this thing? What a feeling when the boat I made with my own two hands glides across the water effortlessly. What price can I place on this moment?
So if I take into consideration all the parameters of my life affected by building with my own two hands, I can see the true value of these humble yet beautiful creations. The constant puzzles of joining wood, the removal of tension and escape from working in my shop, the ability to create and make every decision, the knowing that I can improve on the next one. All this to me is a value beyond monetary funds and is time well spent.
I value the feeling of saying, “I made this in my spare time with a few hand tools. This is my creation." I am part of it and it is part of me. I can escape with my boat and paddle away from all that typically surrounds me.
80 dollars or 3800 dollars, it doesn’t matter. The price and time are justified for this voyage of peace. I seek the calming affects and the serenity that my home made boats bring to me."
Roger Nuffer 27 September 2002