New Addition - Shearwater 17 - a rescue boat

A nice final bout of warm weather allowed me to finish up my shearwater 17 project today

this is one of my rescue projects - a kit got bought and a little started....and then the original owner got a little sideways and gave up.  "can you get this kit out of my garage ?"  was the mandate when i showed up.

when i picked up the kit, it had been started....but apparently the original owner had gotten confused and misglued the original panels and was never able to progress to stitching anything up.

a couple painstaking sessions with a heat gun and i was able to get back to the original bits....and then some careful sanding to clean things up.... i was able to simply re-start the project.  the getting things apart and clean up was long and tedious as i did not want to damage the wood.   i figure almost 20 hours getting back to a good starting position.

as for the build you see here...nothing remarkable ....but she came in at 41 lbs with very careful epoxy work.  Neon green bungees create some fun and pop against the dark sapele.  the perimeter line has an optical thread through it that reflects light so the boat at night jumps with the faintest of light.

glad the kit did not end up in the trash-heap.  the original package was purchased in 2010....I was able to use all the epoxy and stuff.   i tested it....and it worked so just moved forward with it.    while the person who originally bought it was not particularly talented with epoxy...he was careful to store everything in a cool. clean, dry place until it found a home.

have a great day


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RE: New Addition - Shearwater 17 - a rescue boat

   I love it! What a beautiful boat you've built!

Are you telling me that somehow you can use a heat gun to separate parts that have been fiberglassed together? That might be useful in the future if I knew something about your technique.


RE: New Addition - Shearwater 17 - a rescue boat


yes, a heat gun will turn epoxy/glass to an almost peanut-butter consistency and with a scraper or chisel or other appropriate tool, it basically comes right off/right apart.

a good video showing this (done by Nick Schade) can be viewed at the following link:

(in this video he strips the glass off a wood kayak, refinishes it and reglasses it)

my last project was a strip built night heron....and during that build i learned a lot about fixing mistakes.....becuase, well, mistakes happen.

for this kind of a fix, the trick with a heat-gun is getting the heat hot enough but not burning the wood.  the technique, once mastered, is pretty straight-forward and actually pretty fast......but you need to be the temperatures you need to work at, you can easily burn the wood if you don't keep the heat source moving. 

the challenge on this boat and dealing with the previous owners efforts, was not so much getting glass and epoxy off.....but dealing with joints and just the mess of it all.

i wanted to re-use all the parts....and getting everything clean enough to come back together the way i wanted just took time.  as i mentioned in my original post, he really did not seem to understand how the panels were supposed to be glued and he just seemed to randomly epoxy/glass taped them together.  it was initially a bit intimidating....but i saw all the pieces were there and just took my time.

get some scrap wood, glass and epoxy and give it a try....its a pretty cool technique.


RE: New Addition - Shearwater 17 - a rescue boat


Very impressive!  You've probably banked a lot of good karma for the rescue.



RE: New Addition - Shearwater 17 - a rescue boat

You done good.


The heat gun works to relax the wood fibers when bending wood too.    

RE: New Addition - Shearwater 17 - a rescue boat

I must have done something wrong.  I tried to take an epoxy joint apart with a heat gun once and the wood started smoking and the joint still hadn't  loosened up.

RE: New Addition - Shearwater 17 - a rescue boat

that can certainly happen.

i can't claim it will always work easily.....there are some factors that one has to manage.

first, you need to get enough heat that the whole joint is up to temperature....not just the surface.  and you need to be able to deliver the heat without burning the wood.

that's why i said it took a long time to 'undo' it all.  i had to treat it like slow-cooking meat....vs burning the meat on the outside and having it raw on the inside.

to quote myself....'a couple painstaking sessions with a heat gun and i was able to get back to the original bits....  the getting things apart and clean up was long and tedious as i did not want to damage the wood. '

so i worked with my heat gun to get it just the temperature below burning (using test pieces...and i did burn some test pieces) then i heated the wood including flipping it over and heating the other side...and slowly wiggling it.  i probably spent thirty minutes per joint and i had to use oven mets to be able to handle the hot pieces.  but i am pretty certain i had the entire joint surface very hot and i had the wood hot through and through,  and this was 4 mm panels.  so i can also imagine that if i was working with thicker simply may not be possible to get the heat penetration necessary to get the whole joint surface hot enough to allow the epoxy to loosen. was a chore.  i hope the further description is helpful.



RE: New Addition - Shearwater 17 - a rescue boat

Makes you winder how many of these kits that someone started years ago are laughishing half finished in someone's basement or garage.

A friend of mine bought a half finished Alcort Sailfish kit that someone started building circa 1960, and never finished, for ten bucks at a garage sale. All of the parts and the original instructions were still in the box.

RE: New Addition - Shearwater 17 - a rescue boat

Is it my imagination, or did you modify the shape of the deck forward of the cockpit from the original plans? Compared to the image CLC has on their site for the Shearwater 17, it looks like you created a more leg room...

Great looking kayak!

RE: New Addition - Shearwater 17 - a rescue boat

i think its just the angle of the shot.  but it's a shearwater built per the designers lines.

saw your other post about looking for sleekness with a bit more room.  the shearwater has the properties you are looking for as well....but size 12 feet won't be accomodated by the shearwater and most 'sleek' designs.

that said,   you can get sleek if you build a strip deck and tweak the lines to accomodate your shoe size.  easy to do on a long boat.  i posted a picture of my modified night heron....easily up to a size 11  but i could have raised the deck another centimeter or so and it would have looked just as good and accomodated a size 12 shoe.

happy to help with any ideas.


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