Kaholo 14 build questions...

Hi All –  After 2 years, I'm back at it again doing my 3rd CLC build. Previous 2 were Tandem Wherry and Oxford 2 shell. Now I'm doing a Kaholo 14 for a friend of mine. I've never done a hybrid (strip plank) before and I'm guessing my questions have all been answered before, so forgive me for being repetitive but I don't want to scroll through 200 pages of posts (suggestion for CLC: maybe it's time to organize the forum with folders for specific models, build issues, etc?).


1. The board is 14' long. The strips are 8' long. I'm guessing for strength, you don't want all the ends of strips to line up, but rather should be staggered - like traditional boat planking. But doesn't that limit some of the creativity in stip planking design? I've been doing some internet searches for cool strip planked deck designs, but have come up with precious little (except a cool article in Small Boats Magazine about a kayak called "Celeste" with some amazing inlay work).

2. If I'm going to install the Beckson port, do I still need to install the breather tube kit? I sorta feel like that breather tube assembly is ugly and detracts from the design. Kinda looks like an umbilical cord. The ability to open the port eliminates some of the pressure differential issues, doesn't it? Has anybody discovered/used an alternative kind of pressure release valve?

3. My friend wants a recessed carrying handle. Has anybody got any good designs that have worked? Related: are there any good products/designs for bow/stern recessed anchor points that could be used to attach toggle handles?

4. She wants to install an electric motor so she doesn't have to paddle as much. I was thinking an OceanVolt sail drive with batteries installed between the bulkheads. (Just kidding on this one!)

Any thoughts on items 1-3 above would be appreciated.


– JF

3 replies:

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RE: Kaholo 14 build questions...

   I'm in the opposite situation. I've previously built a strip-built kayak and am now building my first S&G (Tandem Wherry). Not sure about the Kaholo, but on my stripper, every surface was covered front and back with glass. The glass/epoxy sandwich doesn't really depend on the core for strength. I did a fairly intricate strip pattern on my deck with no regard for its structural strength, just the aesthetics, knowing the strength would ultimately come from the glass sandwich. Pic attached (hopefully)

RE: Kaholo 14 build questions...


Hey John,

               I built a Kaholo 12.5 Hybrid for my bride a couple of years ago and she loves it.  I’ll get to your questions but first I have several other suggestions:

A.     If you have not yet ordered the kit, take another look at the suggested paddler weights.  Unless your friend is large, the 12.5 may be a better choice because it will be smaller and lighter (easier to store and transport).  Both my wife and I are beginners on SUP and have no problem handling the smaller boat.

B.     Work out the basics of your strip design before ordering the kit.  By default, CLC sends 1/3 each of the three colored woods but you can request other ratios.  If you plan to do any intricate patterns, you might also want to request square strips vice bead and cove.  Since the Kaholo deck builds flat you really don’t need B&C and the square strips are less complicated to shape.  Lastly, the Walnut is much denser than WRC, so it is heavier, harder to bend and harder to sand.  Unless you don’t mind a heavy board, I would minimize use of that color.

C.      Recommend that you do not install the standard CLC fins but install the optional fin box instead.  This allows you to change the fin to better suit the conditions/paddler.  We have a 9” which is great for beginners because it greatly increases stability of the board.  For regular flat water paddling we use a 5” and we have a flexible 4” fin for use in waters with obstructions.

Now to your questions:

1.      You are correct that lining up all the ends will create a weaker spot in the deck.  While I agree with James’ comments regarding strength, I would add that strength of the SUP deck is more important because you stand on it, where as the deck of a kayak is not subjected to much weight.  The other point is that you will likely be adding the pads to the center of the boat so it is wasted effort to make a fancy design in the center of the boat that will be hidden from view.  My suggestion is to avoid lining up the ends in the center of the boat where the paddler might stand, but you could safely do so forward and aft.  I do not have any good sources for a “catalog” of deck designs.  When I build for my bride, she creates a folder of designs that she likes then chooses from those.  One thing about the Hybrid Kaholo is that the instructions call for the deck to be built on a table vice on the boat like is done with kayaks.  The result is that most of the strip designs on the Kaholos run straight forward/aft.  My bride wanted the strip pattern on her board to conform to the shape of the hull like on her strip kayak, so I built her deck on the board.

2.      No breather needed with the Beckson port.  I drilled a 1/8” hole in the port cover so that the boat can vent with the cover on.  Very little water gets in through this hole, but I make sure to wipe out the hull after use.  The board is stored inside with the cover off.

3.      The default handle location for the Kaholo is on the centerline in the middle of the boat.  This allows a single person to carry the board under his/her arm.  No ideas regarding a recessed handle but I believe it would be hard because a stringer runs down the center of the boat.  Any recessed handle would necessarily cut into the stringer and possible weaken the deck in the area that the paddler stands.  I added a brass eyes trap on the bow for use of a bow line but could easily attach a toggle there.  I glued a Ropeye to the stern as a leash attach point.  Ropeye is a product made in NZ.  I am not sure if they are still available in the US.

4.      Actually, this is a possibility.  There are several companies that sell electric motor/fin combinations that mount to the fin box.

Hope that this helps!  

Here is a link to my build pictures: https://flic.kr/s/aHsmQyYAMp

RE: Kaholo 14 build questions...

Your proposed design looks great!

If you have never used stain before, I suggest that you read Nick Schade's article on the subject that is available in the "Tips for Boat Builders" tab above.  I also suggest that you make some test samples to see how your choice of stain will really look on your color of wood.  Make sure to overcoat with epoxy then a little varnish to really see what it will look like.  Lastly, suggest that you reach out to hspira who frequents this forum.  He has an excellent technique for creating crisp lines with stain.  You can't simply mask when you use stain because it absorbs into the wood and under the tape.

You can also get creative with the deck padding.  CLC used Seadek padding which is aavailable in a variety of colors.  There are also many choices for pre-made deck pads on Amazon etc.

I'll be interested to see your handle.  I am thinking of building a board for myself and a recessed handle would be nice.



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