17LT "Blitz Build" Review

Posted by Tim Clark on Feb 24, 2007

This week I took off work with the express purpose of getting a "fast start" on building my 17LT. I had the privilege of building it at the Boat Shop of the Maritime Museum in South Norwalk, CT under the watchful eye of Tim White, who runs their shop. After a week I have a fully constructed unfinished boat (except for end pours, which will be done early next week). Some thoughts on the experience:

1. Tim is familiar with both CLC and Shearwater boats, and thus suggested that glassing the deck and the cockpit was not necessary. I have pondered this further and thus will take the extra time when I get the boat home next week to glass the deck and the cockpit.

2. We were moving relatively fast (thanks to the help of my son, Tim - otherwise I would have been only 1/3 done). The result is that I have a LOT of extra sanding ahead of me before me before varnishing. (Haste makes for more sanding?)

3. I needed to spend more time on how I stitched, checked alignment and then filleted the bow and stern. The result of our relative haste was some slight problems, which in the end will be mostly resolved and won't be deal breakers. But the lesson learned is that you CAN'T spend too much time checking the alignment of EVERYTHING.

4. I will NEVER use a saber saw if I can help it on a boat building project. It was nerve wracking in that I often felt I was using the equivalent of a flame thrower to light a cigarette! There are more delicate, manual options to better accomplish deck triming and hatch cover cutouts.

5. Tim White suggested that the grey foam brushes worked with MAS but not with West System epoxy (brushes would disintigrate). I don't know if other's have had that experience.

6. Tim suggested a deck plug option in lieu of webbing for deck rigging which we installed (I believe this is offered on Shearwaters). It looks like a neat alternative. We also incorporated a Shearwater hatch locking mechanism incoporating a single knob in lieu of webbing. It looks great but we shall see how it works!

I retrospect, the week was a wonderful introdution to kayak building and left me in awe of all the rest of you who have created your own wonderful boats. Mine will not match up to yours but will be a source of continuing pleasure. But this kayak building does get addicting. I could see myself doing another one next winter!

And I thank you all for your continuing wisdom. As I move into the sanding and finishing stages I will undoubtedly be seeking more of your counsel.

Best Wishes,

Tim Clark