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The Story of My Kayak (click any photo to see a larger version)

Mahone Bay, where I live, is a popular place for kayaking. The ocean is sheltered and there are many islands to explore. During the summer, we see many kayaks going by every day. In the town of Mahone Bay, there used to be a place where you could rent a kayak and they supplied instruction for beginners. Kayaks looked very tippy but surely they couldn’t be all that bad if beginners were renting them every day. I decided I wanted to try one. Some friends, who had several kayaks, took me out, first in a two-person kayak and then letting me go solo. I liked it!

Rather than buy a kayak, I decided to build my own. I borrowed all the books on the subject from the library, researching such construction methods as canvas on a wood frame, strip-built, plywood on a wood frame and “stitch and glue”. As I read about each new method, I decided that’s what I would do... until I read about the next method!


Mahone Bay at that time ran an annual “Wooden Boat Festival”, an event that in subsequent years morphed into a “Classic Boat Festival” and currently is the “Mahone Bay Regatta”. At the festival, a number of vendors of boats and boating products come to demonstrate and sell their wares. In 2001, Roy Folland came to advertise his kit-built kayaks. The set of international maritime signal flags contains only three that are red and yellow, R, O and Y. Roy uses these to spell his name on his advertising. On the left is a photo of Roy’s booth at the festival. Click on the photo to enlarge it.

Roy designed his own range of kayaks and offered them as a kit with everything needed to end up with a well-designed and good-looking kayak. At that time, he marketed them himself but they are now sold through a company called Absolute Wooden Kayaks. When I saw his kayaks at the festival I was hooked on their sleek lines, their attractive look, and their ease of construction. I decided that I would build one.

I corresponded with Roy via email and received a prompt response to all my questions. The kayak I was interested in, the Sea Wolf, was 17 ft. 3 in. long and I planned to build it in my basement workshop, which had a door to the outside so getting the finished kayak out was not a problem. However, the room is 17 ft. 10” long so I planned to clear everything out and build a bench on the diagonal. Roy was very helpful in answering all my questions.


I decided to order the kit in January and build it over the winter. However, surprise! When I unwrapped my Christmas presents from Jacquie, one package contained a gallon of epoxy! Strange gift, I thought, but Jacquie escorted me to the garage where she had hidden an eight-foot-long box behind a sheet of drywall! I carried the box into the house and opened it. It was my Sea Wolf kit!

Unfortunately, the package had been damaged during transit and some of the parts were broken. However, an email to Roy Folland quickly had replacement parts on their way. In all my dealings with Roy while building the kayak, he always gave excellent service.


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Construction begins

In January, I constructed my diagonal bench. I used some old bookcases as a base with the top surfaced with lengths cut from an 8’ x 4’ sheet of half-inch MDF (medium density fibreboard). The top was then covered in waxed paper from a kitchen roll to prevent the epoxy from sticking parts to the bench.

The kit contains a comprehensive manual with many diagrams. Since the kayak is 17 ft. 3 in. long and the plywood pieces were only 8 ft. long, the first job was to join the pieces. First up are the sheer clamps. These are the pieces of wood that join the sides of the kayak to the decking. Three pieces had to be joined with scarf joints to make the required length and two sheer clamps had to be constructed: one for each side of the kayak.


Next, the bottom and plywood sides of the kayak are assembled. Normally, these would also be done with a scarf joint but this is difficult with plywood that is only three millimetres thick. In his kit design, Roy developed a finger joint that is much easier for inexperienced constructors. The sheer clamps that were built in the first step are used as 18 ft. straight edges to align the plywood pieces (photo 1). When the epoxy has set and the pieces are cleaned up, the sheer clamps are glued to the top edge of the side panels. Screws are used to ensure a firm joint but are removed later (photo 2).