I have been building my own boats since I was a kid, everything from plywood hydroplanes to steel sailboats and many wood strip kayaks. You might say it has been a lifelong obsession. Nothing gives me greater satisfaction than seeing the beauty of a watercraft that was made with my own hands and using it to its full potential. When most of my paddling shifted from kayaks to surfskis in the last couple of years I faced the dilemma of having to paddle a commercially built boat. Don’t get me wrong, the quality of construction and performance of most of the skis on the market is impressive. When I built my kayaks I always felt they were not only more beautiful, but better performing then most that were made from a mold. I realized that I couldn’t build a boat as light as some that you could buy, but there are always trade offs. Creating a wooden ski has been on my mind for years now, but I needed to paddle a few different skis to know what I wanted before I invested a considerable amount of time and effort. I found a stock design by Bjorn Thomasson (one of the Nordic Kayaks designers) that was close to what I wanted but needed some modifications to satisfy me. Bjorn agreed to adjust some of the lines to better suit my light weight. It wound up narrower and longer than the original.
I then changed the deck lines, narrowed the catch and removed some rocker. After around 250 hours, I have a new boat in the “fleet”. The final boat is less than 30 lbs and is stable and fast for its dimensions. We’re still getting to know each other. Most of the paddling to date has been in flat conditions and I plan to get her out in some bigger water in the coming weeks.
Below is a link to Ken’s amazing project from design to finish. You will want to click this his link!!
Below is another article by Ken who won the Recreational Division in the Ski to Sea Race.