Category Archives: Kayaks & Boats

Embroidery Machine “Mystic Molly” Name Plate on Kayak

My wife has an embroidery sewing machine, and we used it to make an embroidered name and date plate for the Mystic Molly.  You can see it below behind the cockpit.

We did the embroidery on a piece of standard white fabric using standard embroidery thread.   We then used the same marine spar varnish that we used for the hull to “glue” the round piece of fabric onto the hull and then seal it and make it waterproof.

It was an experiment and it left a few bubbles that I am not thrilled with, but overall it worked well for a first try.

My modifications to CLC sawhorse design for light watercraft

This past weekend I “modified” the CLC sawhorses that I discussed in my recent post.  CLC’s design suggested making the rigid top 2×4 cross-bar replaceable with a flexible strap between two dowels to allow the sawhorses to be converted to soft slings for finished boat maintenance, etc.

I took this idea and instead of making a removable sling, I permanently attached two old ratcheting cargo straps to the sides of the sawhorses.   Photos below show how I permanently screwed one strap end to one side of the sawhorse and screwed the ratcheting mechanism to the other side of the horse (then cut the strap to length).   This allows the user to tighten or loosen the strap length to allow for different boat types and uses.  Also, the rigid top bar can be placed on top of the strap without removing it.

Above is the complete unit without the rigid top bar.  Note the ratchet mechanism on the left side of the horse.

Above photo show the one end of the strap screwed to the horse with washers under the screws.

The above photo shows the ratchet mechanism screwed to the other side of the horse.

The photo above shows the completed sawhorse with the rigid top bar back in place.

The above photo shows the horses in “sling-mode” holding the Mystic Molly for a coat of poly…its almost ready for the water!

Sawhorses for small boat building

Before heading to the boat-build in Mystic, CT  last month, my son and I made two sawhorses that we sized and designed to be useful in building small boats.   We used the Chesapeake Light Craft (CLC) design from their website here:

Below is an overview sketch from CLC:

Below is a photo of one of the completed “horses” in use during our build at Mystic:

They are made from basic lumber-yard 2×4 material and they are mortise-and-tenoned together for strength.  The tops are removable so that you can just screw the strongback right onto the hoses as above and not worry about them being “sacraficial”….just replace the tops after they get too chewed up.   I am going to make the sling accessory as described on the CLC website for them so that I can now use them to gently hold the finished boat for servicing, etc.

Family Boat Build & WoodenBoat Show 2011

Well, we did it!   My family and I attended the 20th Annual Wooden Boat show in Mystic, CT and built our own boat over a 2.5 day period….My wife, 11 year old son and 7 year old daughter combined efforts with Dave Gentry, our excellent instructor, to build the Mystic Molly.   Named after one of our dogs and built using one of Dave’s designs (the Chuckanut 15) we progressed from pile of wood to framed and skinned boat in a long weekend.   All she needs now is paint and her rub-rails and cockpit-coamings to be ready to hit the water.

The trip was a great family bonding experience and we had a great time.  Weather cooperated and it was warm but not uncomfortable in the large outdoor tent where we built our boat along with 26 other families and about 5 other boat designers.   Five families joined us in building version’s of Dave Gentry’s Chuckanut.   The Chuckanut was the only skin-on-frame boat (the others were mostly lap-stitch construction) that was offered for family boat-build, and that was why we selected it.  I was very interested in learning this method of construction.

First, some background on the family boat-build concept from the WoodenBoat Show website:

WoodenBoat magazine started Family BoatBuilding in 1998 as a way to bring new people to boatbuilding, and to boating.  The concept is simple:  To provide a kit that can be built in two-and-a-half days and provide expert building instruction.  The goal is to launch all the boats into the water midway through the third day of the show.  And then they put their boats on their cartops or trailers and take them home.

Cool concept, and growing every year, I’m told.  We will likely do it again next year, we had so much fun…do it with your family! Its fun and the WoodenBoat Show itself as well as the Mystic Seaport Museum are both very much worth the trip.

Now, about our boat.  Below is a summary from Dave’s website:

The Chuckanut 15

Designed by Gentry Custom Boats
LOA 15′; Beam 2′7-1/2″; Weight 35-40 pounds
The Chuckanut 15 is an ideal family boat optimized for comfortable and relaxed use by paddlers of all abilities. The Chuckanut can be carried with one hand, cartopped easily, and launched and paddled on a whim—with no special skills or equipment necessary!

She’s a tandem, recreational style skin-on-frame kayak that can be paddled solo, or as a double, and has a fast, stable hull design which tracks well, but still turns easily. She has a large open cockpit, with stowage and floatation in the ends.

The Chuckanut is designed for messing about on ponds, lakes and bays, and is great as a day paddler, or protected water expedition boat.

For more information and to order your kit, please email Dave,

She is built with cedar stringers and marine plywood frames and covered with 8 oz polyester fabric that it stapled to the frames and then shrunk tight with an iron and heat gun.  The polyester is the painted with a oil-based paint to make it water tight. Below are some photos from our build:

Here is Dave Gentry’s blog entry on the family boat build:

I will post photos again as soon as the Mystic Molly is painted and in the water.

TieYak – Kayak Security Cables

One of the weaknesses of car roof-racks as well as my Yakima  roof-rack-like kayak trailer for transporting kayaks is that there is no way to lock them to the rack for security when parked at hotels and restaurants, etc.

The trailer can be locked to the vehicle or it can be locked with a chain to a tree, etc. but the shape of the kayaks makes them very hard to effectively cable or lock to the trailer racks.  So, no one is going to steal the trailer (without bolt cutters), but they might steal the boats.

I found the below recently online and just installed them on the trailer.  I like how they work, hopefully they will keep the kayaks secure during this summer’s trips:

TieYak Your Kayak

TieYak Kayak Security Cables prevent

theft of kayaks, rowing shells, canoes

and other watercraft from the roofs

of cars and other vehicles.

via TieYak™ Your Kayak – Kayak Security Cables.

Sea Kayaking

In addition to our other interests, my family and I also enjoy sea kayaking on the lakes and rivers near our home. We also enjoy taking our kayaks on the road with us when we travel.   We invested a couple years ago in a Yakima RackandRoll 78 trailer for the boats.  Old photo below was taken during its initial construction.  I will add a more recent photo with all of the kayak cradles, etc on it soon.  I had mail-ordered the trailer, and it took a couple of hours to assemble it to this point.

The Yakima trailer has proven to be a great investment.  It was not cheap, but it is very road worthy and light.  The frame is made from aluminum and it uses larger tires than standard utility trailers.  I think that the tires are a type of scooter tire, or maybe small motorcycle.  It also has suspension with significant travel in the shocks, to ease its handling and limit bouncing/skittering.  The trailer itself is basically a Yakima roof-rack on wheels, so all Yakima and Thule and other standard roof rack attachments fit right on.  The trailer folds up for winter storage in the garage, and I am preparing to re-assemble it for spring kayak season this weekend.

We currently run three boats.  My wife and son each have their own, and my daughter and I share a tandem until she is old enough to have her own also.

We are big fans of Hurricane brand Kayaks, like the one in the photo above.  Two of our boats are currently Hurricane boats (a Tampico and a Tracer).

The tandem is a Necky Manitou II….works great but is heavy and only really easily maneuverable with a rudder.  Photo above is taken by me from the rear cockpit of the Necky tandem.

This summer, we are going to build our own skin-on-frame kayak as a family project.   A post on that soon.