The Old Sea Dog’s Gear Locker [43]

By Norm Sanders

The OSD has just uncovered yet more evidence for the existence of parallel universes. A friend (yes, he has one) loaned him a copy of a magazine called Australian Amateur Boatbuilder.

The OSD has built a flotilla of wooden boats in his day. However, he generally works alone and has avoided becoming a wooden boat groupie. Australian Amateur Boatbuilder was full of articles like ‘How to Make a Decent Traditional Wooden Block’ and other arcane nautical DIY topics.

But then, lo and behold, the OSD spotted an article about building a plywood sea kayak which had been designed by a Sydney naval architect named David Payne. It seems that wooden boat builders had been building sea kayaks without being sea kayakers and sea kayakers had been building wooden boats without being official wooden boat builders. The OSD thought that maybe the two groups should get in contact with each other.

But how? The OSD dusted off the investigative skills learned a quarter of a century ago when he was a reporter on that last really good current affairs show, the ABC’s This Day Tonight. He found a phone number for David Payne and had a long chat.

David Payne designs all manner of craft, from yachts to dinghies. Like many of us, he has come relatively lately to sea kayaks, lured by the simple pleasures of an easily driven paddle craft. He regularly paddles one of his creations on Sydney Harbour.

During the lengthy chat, the OSD learned that the versatile Mr Payne had collaborated with his uncle, Alan Payne, in designing the Tasman Twin, a double with an unusual and attractive wineglass stern. David then designed the Tasman 19 as a fast competitor in marathon events.

More recently, he has been working on projects of great potential interest to the OSD and other wooden kayak enthusiasts.

David Payne sent the OSD information on a number of plywood kayak plans, including single and double chine TK1’s, a single chine K1, and three single chine sea kayaks – a 4.9 metre single, a 5.5 metre single and a 6.1 metre double.

This last design was of great interest to the OSD who, having rested after the creation of Fishkiller’s new boat, is feeling the urge to butcher some more plywood.

The Payne kayaks are reminiscent of the Chesapeake Light Craft designs, with single-piece decks and relatively low freeboard. They have rounded bows and fairly vertical sterns. They can be either stitch and glue or more traditionally built on a keel with stringers. The article which originally caught the OSD’s eye described the keel and stringer method.

The builder was obviously a skilled woodworker and the completed craft was beautifully built. The builder, however, wasn’t much of a paddler. He claimed he couldn’t control the kayak without a rudder and proceeded to construct a contraption which appears to be about 20 cm wide and 70 cm deep. In looking at the drawings, the OSD feels that the slightly Swede form hull should handle well without a rudder (the plans show an optional skeg).

Payne has also designed three strip plank sea kayaks – 4.9 metre, 5.5 metre and 6.9 metre (double). The OSD, who likes to buy Australian whenever possible, thinks that anyone considering building a sea kayak would be wise to contact David Payne at 18c Kirkoswald Avenue, Mosman NSW 2088, or phone him on (02) 9969 7874.

Many have asked the OSD about the availability of kits. He informs them that Pygmy in the US is a popular source of kits, and several NSWSKC members have actually built their products. They are well presented, with laser cut panels. However, they are not cheap. By the time they arrive in Australia, they cost about $1,500.00.

The OSD was interested to hear from David Payne that a Queensland firm was producing a kit of his design which sold for $825.00 (including GST, but plus delivery).

The OSD contacted the firm, BoatCraft Pacific, 22 Babdoyle Street, Loganholme QLD 4129, phone: (07) 3806 1944. BoatCraft Pacific turns out to also be the distributor of Bote-Cote epoxies. The kayak is 5.5 metres long, 650 mm beam, and weighs “less than 20 kg.” The panels are laser-cut, the plywood is Gaboon marine, and the kit contains stringers, glass and Bote-cote epoxy along with detailed building instructions and plans.

When he discovered that he had a distributor of epoxies on the line, the OSD mentioned his pet peeve: Epoxy going milky after a few months. This is not the notorious ‘Amine blush’, but a far more insidious clouding of clear finishes over wood. A thick varnish coat seems to delay the process, which would indicate that water penetration might have something to do with it.

Anyway, the Bote-Cote people claimed that this was due to the characteristics of the competitor’s product, which the OSD habitually uses, and that THEIR epoxy doesn’t behave in such an antisocial manner. In addition, it is easier to measure, at a 2 to 1 ratio rather than 5 to 1 like the competitor.

BoatCraft subsequently sent the OSD a nifty booklet called Boatbuilding with Bote-Cote Epoxy Systems, which is full of good information and which normally sells for $4.00. In the interest of full disclosure and to avoid the embarrassment suffered by Mr Jones and Mr Laws, the OSD is declaring that he received this booklet free of charge.

As a person who is well known for his conciliatory, co-ordinating efforts, the OSD has invited David Payne to the AGM in an effort to forge a link between the woodworking sea kayakers and the sea kayaking woodworkers.

Happy paddling, and happy woodworking!