(just like Peanuts, you can't just stop at one)?
by David Wallace

I had long been toying with the idea of building a boat, the fact that I didn't know the first thing about boat building was the main stumbling block. It wasn't until I picked up a boat building magazine off the counter at the local hardware that I got really hooked, It was all the fault of the guy behind the counter, when he noticed me looking at the magazine he told me to take it as a sales rep had left it the week before and he was going to toss it, so it went home with me.

I read through it and was hooked. I looked up boat and canoe building on the internet and joined a few E-groups as well so I could get information from people who were out there building boats already. I also ordered a few books on the subject. When I figured I had an understanding of the process and pitfalls I started looking in earnest for the boat/canoe to build, not a easy task.

I'm 300 km inland in Central Queensland Australia. The water I would be using the boat in consists of several lakes and some very narrow and often shallow water courses and billabongs. I wanted something light but very stable and easy to carry along the some times narrow and winding tracks to the waters edge [often the closest you can get the car to the water is a few hundred metres and have to then carry the boat along a cattle track to the waters edge]. The boat / canoe would be used for fishing, hunting and just general messing about and exploring.

So what would fill the bill for all the above requirements? I didn't know and still don't. Designs that would be perfect for one application would fall down on another. Being realistic I figured that if I liked boat building, I would probably build at least a dozen or more eventually so the best thing to do was pick one design and build it just for the experience.

The designs that I'd been looking at, to that point, had been the Selway-Fisher Out Board Motor canoe, the Mill Creek 16.5 from CLC and the Hunting Kayak [Huntyak] an old design I found here:

I think the design came originally from a Science & Mechanics magazine.

I t wasn’t perfect for my needs but it would be very close to it. The weight at 100 lb was going to be a problem but I figured that if I used stitch and glue construction instead of the pile of framing shown in the plan then I would be able to shave 20 or so lb off the whole deal.

The first order of business was to order ply wood. The local hardware had some half sheets of exterior ply that would be perfect. This was 5 ply and 6mm thick. I'd used some as backing in a cabinet and had given some off cuts a boil test to see if it was going to separate: no problem, good stuff. No, they didn't have full size sheets but they could order them, right, fine, I ordered them.

Problem No.1, there isn't any available so it was back ordered. It took about 2 months for it to come in, great, it's here, no, not great, not the stuff I wanted. The stuff I wanted was 5 ply. The stuff that arrived was 3 ply. The outside ply's were only about half a mm thick, but I wasn't about to wait another 2 months so I took it and started work.

As I'd read the plan, I had realised that the plan and instructions were more a guide that a detailed plan, but figured I could handle it. Most of it went together pretty well. Learning to handle epoxy wasn't all that hard and as I've been working with wood most of my life it was all pretty easy.

There were a few problems that were sorted out, one being that I hated the awful stem pieces in the original design so a mate who is a engineer fired up his cad program and redrew them for me with all the right angles. That saved me a lot of trial and error. This gentleman was also a great help in many ways through out the whole planing and building process.

A couple of the guys from an e-group were also building the same Huntyak in slightly different variations and were a great help and inspiration. I'd originally had some confusion about the way to do so some of the filleting and laying of the glass but thanks to the help of a friend who it turned out was a retired boat builder [I didn’t know that until then] all the things that had confused me were no longer a problem.

Because of the lack of strength in the ply I decided that I would have to add more framing than I had originally planed on and two layers of ply in the cockpit floor and cargo area, as well as water tight bulkheads for floatation. I also sheathed the whole outside in fibreglass cloth and epoxy [I was originally only going to tape the seams]. This meant that I ended up going through twice as much epoxy as I'd planed on and upped the cost by about $130 and upped the weight by about 30 lb.

Then came the day to start painting. My wife, my brother and myself all had differing of opinions about what colour to paint it. This was simplified by me stating that I already had some green exterior paint and some grey exterior paint and I could paint the inside grey and the outside green or I could mix it all together and see what we could came up with [I have to say at this point I'm not much into looks, the thing that turns me on is if it works]. I was well and truly ruled out on the mixing together idea but they settled for the grey inside and green out.

It soon became apparent that my lack of skills in picking colours was only exceeded by my lack of skill with a brush and was told by my brother that they best thing I could do was to go have a beer and he would paint it for me. [best idea that he's had for a while]

We gave the Huntyak a day for the paint to dry, then put it into the water for it's maiden voyage [paddle]. Luck was with us: it floated and didn't leak [I love it when a plan comes together]. It paddled easily for it's size and being flat bottomed and so wide made it very stable. I'm 6'2" and 240 lb and I can stand up in it. Eskimo roll? No chance. It paddled well with two paddlers and even better with one .

The green colour scheme didn't last long. It was just too much green. so it now wears bands of grey through it to break up the green and make it blend into the bank, just what I need for hunting. Once again my lack of skill with a brush found me holding a beer while my brother painted. It turned out well, I'm quite happy with it. The next project will be to make an outrigger for it then mount a sail, rudder and lee board, Then I suppose I'll have to learn to sail.

Half way through the Huntyak I stumbled upon the article "Yakoo and Me" by Richard Frye. I was so impressed by the idea that I was already planing my own version of the Yakoo while working on the Huntyak. My own Yakoo is now almost finished and I've already got my plans for a cute little 10' sailing dinghy the Argie 10. After that I'm planing on the Mill Creek 16.5 and a few variations on the Yakoo theme in between.

But the bug has bit hard and I keep looking at plans for a boat big enough to live aboard for a few weeks at a time , I think I'm hooked.