Sunday, May 30, 2010



1 Great news!!

2 Glassing the deck

3 The Stealth Logo

4 Thanks to Mick Clarke

5 In closing

1 Great news!!

When I visited Stealth Performance Products last week, Bruce Challenor , co-director of Stealth , told me that it is his intention to concentrate more on designing watercraft next year. He has a life-time of experience in designing and building innovative speedboats, racing kayaks, recreational kayaks, touring kayaks, fishing ski's, surf ski's etc., etc. which are exported to Europe, Dubai, Israel, Ozzy, etc. I certainly can't wait to see what exciting designs he will produce!!

2. Glassing the deck

Because the wooden strip structure has its own inherent strength, I chose the lightest possible woven glass material for the deck.

I honoustly don't know what to think of the result. After glassing, the joints between the strips are now much more visible than before - even those tight joints that were totally invisible before. Unfortunately I've never seen a strip kayak "in real life" before and don't know if this is an acceptable and common problem - or just bad workmanship. However when reading up on glassing last week I came across an article where the author mentioned this problem created by using epoxy glue to join the strips together. He actually uses water based wood adhesive to avoid this. He also stated that he had yet to see a strip kayak "coming apart" in the water by using water based glue. Interesting approach.

No major problems were experienced during the glassing process. The sanded kayak was wiped off with Acetone (as per manufacturer's advice) and epoxy resin was used to wet out the cloth onto the wooden surface. On the aft deck I pulled the cloth too tight and after a few hours the cloth creeped back, forming two small "longitudinal bubbles" which will have to be cut out later. At two places I applied too little expoxy resin and due to the porosity of the Cedar these spots now have a foggy appearance. Not much one can do about this now.

Epoxy resin will now be applied repeatedly to the deck until the woven texture of the cloth is fully covered.

3. The Stealth logo

I decided to etch out the logo in brass shim plate. The logo will then be inlayed into American Walnut and this assembly will form the fore hatch cover.

The etching medium in the plastic softdrink bottle is Ferric Chloride. The fish tank airpump serves to agitate the solution continiously. The picture below shows the brass being etched away adjacent to the logo sticker

After etching, the surplus brass simply fell away from the logo. Please note that I had forgotten to mask off one half-moon shaped piece of the logo and this area was also etched away. I will have to do this piece seperatedly.

The etching technique certainly resulted in much more fair and smooth edges as well as having the benefit that the plate remains perfectly flat - which would not have been possible if it had been cut out with tin snips or even a Dremel tool.

4. Thanks to Mick Clarke

Mick kindly agreed to do a performance assessment of the craft once its completed

Mick Clarke (

Mick is the Chairman of the Scottburgh Kayak Fishing Club and has published various articles on kayakfishing in magazines and contibutes a lot of his time towards promoting the sport and safety through his knowledge of the SA Marine legislation.

He is also the owner of the 4-star guest house in Umkomaas on the South Coast of KwazuluNatal in SA

Mick Clarke (

5. In closing

There have been requests to post a picture of myself on the blog.

View at your own risk

Monday, May 17, 2010


I was allowed to work in the lounge during the week-end due to the bad weather (poor light) we had on Saturday

In this post:

1 Setbacks

2 Decorating

3 Next

4 In Closing


After carefull measuring I found that the excessive side-ways bending of the strips on the one side of the aft deck (mentioned in the previous post) was the result of that side being 15 mm wider than the opposing side. .There was only one solution: strip the entire aft deck, re-align the hull and start again. Heartbreaking to say the least.

Having completed the stripping-up (again) the deck was decorated. Using the "Marquetry" tehnique a design of a setting/rising sun was cut from "Bird's eye Maple" veneer and shapes cut fom brass shim plate to represent a water surface were epoxied to the deck and weighted down with sandbags.

The next morning I found that various air "bubbles" had appeared under the veneer. After a quick search on the Web I found that veneer is extremely difficult to work with. Problems such as cracking, bubbles, contraction, expansion, etc are common - especially with Bird's eye Maple.

Out came the belt sander...........


The dark lines and other dark shapes on the deck are 3mm thick Imbuia strips laid into grooves cut with a router.
The pieces of Imbuia are the last remnants of a lounge suite that I had made in the mid-seventies just after (or before?) our marraige.

Bruce from Stealth Performance Products kindly agreed that I can place a brass replica of the Stealth logo on the vessel and this will now probably be done over the mess I had made earlier with the veneer. (I hope I now know a little bit more about veneer and its temperamental properties)


I found that the colour of the Cedar fades very quickly after sanding and I hope to glass the deck this coming week-end of 22 May 2010. For the moment the vessel is kept under black plastic.


Thanks to "Iwanayak" from Australia for placing a link to this blog on his very interesting Stealth Kayak Fishing page in Facebook.


"This is no doubt the biggest project you attemted in your life", my wife said over the week-end.

I agree with her - it's been 7 months or more now.

To replicate the elegant shape of the Evolution in 20mm wide wooden strips is challenging to say the least, but Bruce and I have been tossing around a couple of ideas for the next project which will be much faster and easier to build - staying with the basic Evolution design.
(Don't tell my wife)

Sunday, March 28, 2010


In This posting:

2 Why did I not think of this before?
3 Bulging (again)
4 Working with epoxy
5 The TOOLS!
6 Next
7 Thanks


2 pm Sunday 28 March 2010

"AHHH" I shouted as I placed the last small triangular shaped "strip" on the aft deck section of the deck - completing the laying of the cedar strips.
"WHAT'S WRONG" my wife shouted as she came running, thinking that I had probably severed a finger on the band saw.

2 Why did I not think of this before?

After I lifted the hull from the strong back and started stripping-up the deck, I found I had nowhere to support the clamps etc. when clamping the strips in place.

I then consructed a "overhead" strong back that could be used to jam the clamps against. This also afforded the facility to use notched planks that could be clamped to the strong back and these notched planks could be clamped at any angle to ensure a perfect line-up of the strips. This should have been done right from the start. Would have saved alot of time.

3 Bulging (Again)

The following photograph shows the severe extent of side-ways bending required of the strips on that aft section of the deck

At this time I did not want to use narrower strips and had to taper the ends of the strips somewhat and saw "kerfs" at certain distances to accomodate the side-ways bending. These kerfs will have to be hidden with a veneer graphic afterwards.

4 Working with epoxy

A couple of weeks ago my brother-in-law , Dr Charles Crosby who is an expert in laminates/composites, aerodynamics etc, warned me about the health hazards when working with epoxy. I forgot what the names of the illnesses are but found the following quote on the web:

"I have seen symptoms occur in 2 ways. One is your throat and lungs mainly from the fumes can be sensitized. After being away from the epoxy for months I can come in contact with the fumes and get a constricted throat and windpipe almost instantly and it will last for weeks. A friend of mine has a major problem with dermatitis on his skin. He comes out in a mess of red raw rash all over. He has gradually got worse despite long breaks from epoxy but is now wearing a full air supply suite (in the tropics) to do any epoxy work, or employing someone else. When he gets really bad he goes to sea and spends as much time as possible in the sea water. He reckons this helps heal it all up ready for the next dose. You have to be dedicated to put up with, or as I prefer, be bloody stupid."

Scary stuff, indeed. I have been wearing latext loves ever since Charles spoke to me.


What would one do without brothers-in law! My other brother-in-law (Daniel de Vos) gave me these spoke planes - ideal for planing the edges of the strips as mentioned in an earlier postng

6 Next

The cockpit area. The cockpit does seem excessively wide presently but if the viewing panel was to be utilised, one's knees need to be out the way as far as possible.

The Stealth Evolution is a fully enclosed "sit on top" kayak and therefor has a failrly low profile. I may have to raise the frame around the cockpit slightly to prevent too much water splashing over the sides

7 Thanks

It has been a long process to reach this stage and I want to thank the guys at Stealth Performance Products mainly Bruce, for their advice and allowing me to use their elegant design.

Also Mick Clarke Mick Clarke ( for his encouragment and the fact that I stole the picture of the pink Evolution from his web site

Time spent so far :115 hours

Present weight: 13 kg

Sunday, March 7, 2010


In This Posting:
1 Pay attention to the advice of experts
2 Progress
3 Curves.
4 Viewing panel
5 Cockpit


When I went on the kayak course presented by Mick Clarke ( last year, I heard what he said but I probably did not listen.
On 23 december 2009 my wife and lauched at Buffel's Bay (near Knysna - South Africa) in our kayaks and upon returning, and beaching I was "wiped-out" in, what I can imagine, could only could have been spectacular..
I lost my R 3 000.00 worth of glasses - which, on the other hand, maybe a good thing - one does not want to see 200 sunbathers enjoy your moment of humiliation..


Vissually very little progress has been made. However, a lot of time has been spent in hand-sanding the interior of the "cockpit", applying epoxy fillets, etc. Laying strips on the deck area only started last week-end. My stock of Red Cedar was depleted over the week-end. I kept one straw coloured plank for the deck and hopefully the supplier has more of these (fairly rare) coloured planks in stock.


My wife and I launched at the Durban bay this morning and I noticed that six of the (only) eight vessels that had launced, were Stealths. Shortly after we beached at about 9:30am , a lady in a Kevlar Stealth "Splash" - the latest addition to the Stealth family (see Stealth Performance Products )beached. I immediately walked closer to inspect the curves (mainly on the Splash) more closely. It was clear that the tight curves between the vertical sides and the deck could never be duplicated using rigid 20mm wide redwood strips. I have to settle for a slight "chine" near the fore and aft sections of the deck.


During the recent holidays in Plettenberg Bay we saw "Canadian-stlye" canoe, fitted with a safety glass viewing panel. This is obviously the way to go but since already left a trapezium-shaped hole in the bottom, safety glass will not be practical. (As far as I know, safety glass cannot be cut?)

Having built a vacuum "plant" over the week-end (for de-gassing silicone mold material), I am considering laminating 3mm thick plate glass to perspex with "Crystal Clear" resin purchased from AMT.

5. Cockpit

The frame around the cockpit still needs some bending to have a more fair curve at the aft section. (Hair dryer?) This frame will also be laminated to form a thicker section.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Progress has been slow the past few weeks due to family commitments, etc.
However the hull is now finished and sanded. The hole in the hull is provision for a viewing panel. Initially I thought of using polycarbonate but at R 1 000.00/m2 - and considering that it will be scratched - I'm thinking of using Perspex.

Sanding the internal curves of the cockpit area is problematic. For the moment I'm using a drum sander on the drill but the surface will have to be smoothed-out manually after glassing (for extra rigidity) due to the inevitable uneven surface that the drum sander creates. (I wonder how busy my wife will be at that time.)

The next step would be the fitting of the external stems and stripping-up the deck. That will have to wait for the new year after our holiday in the Western Cape

My wife and I went out on Durban bay on Sunday between 6am and 9am on our Stealth Supalites in near perfect conditions but I found the absence of an urinal in the kayak absolutely painfull. Something to consider when I design the seat for the wooden Evo. On the other hand, a "Sta-Soft" bottle would suffice, I suppose.

Weight at this stage: 7kg

Hours spent: 70

Monday, November 9, 2009


In this posting:
1. Laying strip, after strip, after strip.
2. Bulges
3. Summer has arrived.
4. Hatch covers.
5. Time is running out.
6. Hours spent so far.

1. Laying strip, after strip, after strip.

Looking at last week's photographs, it is disappointing to see how little progress was made this week-end. The "stripping-up" of the kayak just seems like a never-ending process. However I have covered the worst of the curves that connect the sides and the bottom of the hull and progress should pick up now. But now a new phenomenon reared its ugly head.

2. Bulges.

As the strips of cedar approach the keel line, they are being bent more and more side-ways and this causes bulging between the stations. (The same effect can be seen if you "bend" a strip of paper side-ways on a flat surface). One solution to this problem would be to use stringers but I want to keep the weight down as much as possible. ("Stringer" = a strip of wood glued along the length of the hull on the inside). I then decided to employ cable ties to pull the strips back to an even curve.

I also stopped glueing the strips to the stations and the bulging problem dissapeared to a large extent. I wonder if this is the reason that why the experts don't really use permanent stations?

Cable ties were also used were clamps would just not work

I alway maintain that the person that invented cable ties should be considered for the Nobel Prizes of Peace, Chemistry, Science , Literature and what-ever other categories there are.

3 Summer has arrived.

Summer arrived with a vengence over the week-end and one would think that the affect of the heat on the setting time of the epoxy would speed up the progress. Quite the opposite. The quick-setting epoxy started to set almost immediatle after mixing and I had to stop applying the strips betwee 10 am and 3 pm on Saturday and Sunday. During this time I started to work on the hatch covers.

4. Hatch covers.

A chunck of Tamboti was cut off from the stock and ripped in strips. African Tamboti is extremely hard, fine grained and beautiful. (And very rare and expensive). It is my favourite wood for making trophies and renders a fantastic finish.

The strips of Tamboti will be book-matched.

5. Time is running out

I was hoping to complete the project so that we can take it to the Western Cape during the December break, but with with 5 week-ends left it seems unlikely considering that it needs to be decorated with veneer inlay, glassed etc.

6. Hours spend so far: 58

Monday, November 2, 2009

4. Negotiating the curves

In this posting;

1. Negotiating the curves
2.Steaming Ash
3. Mistakes I made thus far
4. In closing

1. Negotiating the curves

I was naive to think that the glueing of the strips to the bottom would be completed over the week-end.
When I started fitting the strips around the tight curves on the aft section, progress slowed down to a crawling pace.
Imagine a plastic ruler. Twist it lengthwise through almost 90 degrees. Now bend it slightly sideways. Now bend one end downwards in a vertical plane. This is the shape of the strip near the aft section. Sounds easy enough but the bottom edge of the strip also needs to fit snugly on top of the strip previously fitted.
This means that the bottom edge of the strip needs to be planed in a spiral shape. I really need a spoke-planer that the old folks used to plane the inside edges of ox-wagon wheels.

When planing the edges and continiously test-fitting them, my language was far from prestine until I started marking the edge to be planed with white chalk to see what part of the edge still needed to planed.

Due to the awkward shape of the strips additional "dummy bulkheads" had to be made to keep the stips in place.

With each strip to be glued, I had to "dry-fit" the strips by determining which clamp to use where, numbering the clamps and marking the exact position of each clamp on the hull. A tedious process. Only managed to fix four strips the week-end.

2. Steaming Ash

While waiting for the epoxy to set, I started on the external stems. Having played around with steaming wood previously, I quickly built a steaming box and set up a steaming "plant"

After steaming the 6mm thick Ash for 30 minutes, it was quickly clamped to the jig.

It never ceases to amaze me how certain types of wood can be manipulted when steamed. And I love the smell of wood being steamed. Yes, I should have made the curve on the jig more pronounced to lessen the effect of spring-back, but the wood is still flexible enough to be clamped to the right curve with a little pressure.

As an experiment I tried to steam and bend Cedar and this was the result.

3. Mistakes I made thus far:

I should have had twice the number of temporary stations near the aft and fore sections.

I should have concentrated more on utilising the prettier grained wood on the sides of the hull. Now that I'm reaching the bottom of the hull, I notice that the strips that are being used are more colourful than the strips glued to the sides.

Should have bought epoxy solvent to clean off the runs of epoxy after clamping. Unfortunately AMT is closed on Saturdays.

4. In closing:

Obviously the Evolution was never intended or designed to be built in this manner but it does seem feasable provided one is patient and treats the wood and the shape of the Evolution with the respect it deserves.