Starting a Shearwater Build

I'll soon start my build of a Shearwater 17, and I'd like some feedback on a handful of questions from those who have gone before.  Thanks for you help!

(1)  I want to glass the entire interior of the hull, rather than just taping the ends.  If I put 4 oz cloth in the ends, should I also tape the inside seams under the glass cloth for reinforcement?

(2)  I'll be installing a day hatch and a related third bulkhead in the rear.  Do you know whether the kit has ply scraps that can be used to fabricate the bulkead, or should I shop for a bit of Okume or Luan?  I have my kit, but I can't open it up yet due to an impending move.

(3)  If I glass the entire interior and the bulkheads (I need to glass at least the front bulkhead to accomodate a foot bilge pump), do you think the kit contains enough glass, or should I order a few extra yards?  Same question regarding the amount of epoxy in the kit.

(4)  I know this has been discussed before, but what is the current feeling regarding whether this boat benefits substantially from a skeg - particularly in significant following quartering seas?  I'd prefer not to loose the cargo capacity and to avoid the complexity, but I'd add the skeg if it really improves handling in these conditions.

I really appreciate all the advice people have posted in the past.  It's given me a good idea of what I should look out for during the build.  You might ask why I'm bothering with the additional reinforcement and related weight gain, but this kayak will see a lot of hard use in challenging conditions including surf and trips a long way from support so I need to be very comfortable that nothing is likely to break.  For me, weight is less of an issue.



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RE: Starting a Shearwater Build

Hi Zach,

I just finished a Shearwater 14 and glassed the entire inside, so maybe I can answer a few of your questions.

(1)  I glassed the entire inside of the hull.  I did not tape the seams.  I actually pulled the bulkheads out and laid down one piece of cloth over the entire interior and put the bulkheads back in later in the build because I was moving the forward bulkhead back to leave more space in the forward compartment, but you could certainly glass the inside with the bulkheads in place.  Might be easier that way anyway, since it was my first time fiberglassing - doing it all at once was a bit stressful (but did turn out great). 

(2) Kit does not have enought scraps for a third bulkhead unless you cobble it together.  You can get a bulkhead blank from CLC like I did, or find some spare plywood.

(3) I glassed the exterior with 2 full layers of 4 oz glass on the bottom of the hull (instead of the football), 1 full layer inside and on deck, and a layer on each side of the bulkheads and hatches.  I ordered additional glass.   At the time (end of the year) CLC had a sale on "mill ends" of glass and it was quite economical, but I don't think they have that on their web site right now - maybe could call and ask?  I also used more epoxy.

(4) Skeg - just launched it 2 weeks ago so I haven't paddled it enough to answer this one!

Good luck on the build and have fun.  With all my additions, mine ended up at 43 pounds fully rigged with seat, different hatch latches, etc (CLC says 39 pounds, so not too much different - I can load it on the car myself which was my goal).  My build is documented on West Coast Paddler web site if you're interested. 




RE: Starting a Shearwater Build


My responses are much like Kathy's.  I just completed a Shearwater 17 Hybrid about a month ago.

1.  If you glass the entire interior, you can skip taping the seams.  I discussed this with John Harris before I glassed my cockpit.  He told me that the cockpit seams are not taped on the CLC demo and it has held up well. What's good for the cockpit should be good for the rest of the boat.

2.  There is not sufficient extra material for a third bulkhead.  Get what you need.

3.  I think you will need extra glass and epoxy.  I am not sure how much glass I had left, but from what I recall from laying out the glass for cutting, there was not much extra.  The epoxy allotment does not leave much extra.  I did not run out but I started out with some left over from my MC 16.5.

4.  I put a smart track rudder on my boat.  I have only paddled in flat water so far, but I spend about half my time with the rudder out of the water for practive.  The boat tracks very well.  Sorry, no following sea experience yet.

Paul G.

RE: Starting a Shearwater Build

Kathy and Paul - Thanks for your advice.  It looks like I'll need some extra glass, epoxy and ply.


If anyone has an opinion on the skeg, I'd appreciate it.  Thanks again!



RE: Starting a Shearwater Build

I've been out a little in slightly choppy, windy conditions in my Shearwater 17 and find that it tracks quite straight.

I like the idea of glassing the forward and aft compartments. I don't like the way the tape looks on the seams. Fortunately it can't be seen. 

RE: Starting a Shearwater Build

Oops...meant to say no skeg on mine

RE: Starting a Shearwater Build

i installed a skeg and have almost never deployed it. if your planning on doing long open water crossings its a good idea if not its not that neccessary

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