In the summer of 2005, I bought a dealer demo Perception Sonoma 13.5 and a used Honda Element.  I bought the kayak thru Ebay from Adventure Sports, and the Element thru CraigslistAfter 18,000 miles and paddles in Arizona, Ontario, Saskatchewan and British Columbia it was time to go home.  Freight for the kayak back to Hawaii was more than $300 with packing.  I decided to leave the kayak on Vancouver Island and buy or build one on Maui. 

I'm the author of DIY Portfolio Management.  So I was tilted toward a do it yourself home built kayak.  I read and was inspired by Chris Kulczycki's The New Kayak Shop.  Although Mr. Kulczycki promotes plywood kayaks, Hawaiian marine craft and supplies focus on foam and fiberglass.


Just before I left Nanaimo, on Vancouver Island, I took a rolling class from Alberni Outpost.  I couldn't do it, couldn't roll.  I needed a roll practice kayak. 


To roll, I figured the top (deck) should be round.  To fit the limits of my workspace the kayak had to be short.  Short kayaks are wide for initial stability.  The short kayaks I'd seen had flatish bottoms and lots of rocker.   

The construction plan was influenced by the plywood/epoxy method, substituting 1" EPS for 4mm marine plywood.  The hull has 4oz cloth on the inside and 10oz on the outside.  The front deck has 4oz cloth on both inside and outside.

The drawing was done with CadStd by John Apperson.  The above drawing was as planned.  The plan was used only as a guide.  The finished kayak has the following dimensions.

The weight includes fittings on deck and in the cockpit.  The weight includes the seat, but not the skeg.


Kayak 1 floats.  It is easy to turn, especially without its skeg.  It goes straight, especially with the skeg.  It is not nearly as fast as the Perception Sonoma, 2" wider and 5.5' feet shorter.  It has at least as much initially stability as the Sonoma.  So far I haven't been able to do a re-entry from a wet exit, as the stern sinks.  I haven't learned to roll yet.


Me, my wife, and 1 or 2 grandchildren live in a 900 sq. ft. condo with a 300 sq. ft. yard.  I don't expect much workshop sanctity.  Our family picnic table was my kayak workbench.

Working outside, ventilation was never a problem.  Wind, dust, leaves, insects, birds, chameleons, noise restrictions, sunlight, proximity to living quarters all impacted the build.  Wind broke the EPS foam before I got started.  Dust and leaves fell on the wet epoxy.  A big, black bee burrowed into the EPS.  Birds were always chirping and chameleons entertained me from the fence.  I used hand tools whenever I could to prevent noise fines from the condo association.  Sometimes I had to slather on the SPF and wipe sweat out of my eyes.  Mrs. was constantly after me about EPS balls and glass threads on her fancy Indich carpet.


I'm cheap.  I'm retired.  The first time I was in a 'sit in' kayak was 7/10/05.  I fiberglassed a 8' foam KOOL sailboat 30 years ago.

Out of pocket cost was around $400.  Sometimes the build seemed more like a job than a hobby.  If I guess 100 to 200 hours, at $10 per hour, it would have been a lot less expensive to buy.  From far it looks okay.  Up close it is obviously home made.

I can't wait to start on Kayak 2.


My neighbour Ray has built and raced 6 man fiberglass canoes.  He offered lots of advice, never said I was a 'lolo,' and was always asking questions I didn't have answers for.  How come the bottom is flat, if you want to roll?  How are you going to bend 1" EPS into compound curves?  How come the drain hose is so small?