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Building the Puffin

 

 

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The Puffin is a multi-chine Bering Sea kayak.  These distinctive craft are known for their excellent load carrying capacity and seaworthiness in heavy seas.

The most distinctive feature of the Puffin is its deck shape.  The end sections of the deck end in a narrow ridge with the bow having a raised, rounded top with a hole through it which is both decorative and serves as a lifting handle.  The stern has a short projection which serves the same purpose.

Length is 15 feet with a maximum beam of 25 1/2".  At 225# displacement, the waterline length is 13' 9" and the waterline beam 19".

This page shows the Puffin being built as a marine plywood stitch and glue kayak.   We also build the Puffin as a strip-built kayak.

phul.jpg (17209 bytes) Here is the hull stitched together, looking from the stern.  Note it consists of four panels on each half.  At this point, the interior seams have been glassed with 3" wide, 9 oz. fiberglass tape.  The exterior needs some final sanding, and it will then be ready to fiberglass.
pbulk.jpg (14740 bytes) This shows the interior of the hull with bulkheads and deck beams installed.  The bulkheads were installed prior to fiberglassing the interior.   You can see the temporary crossbraces and ties which maintain the hull shape until after the final glassing.
pglas1.jpg (17459 bytes) The fiberglass cloth has been cut to rough size and is being smoothed over the exterior of the hull.  In this case, we are using two layers of 3.25 oz. satin weave cloth.  This will give a very smooth surface to the hull with minimal extra epoxy needed to fill the weave.
pglas2.jpg (15353 bytes) The completely glassed hull.  It has a very smooth surface with only one light fill coat of epoxy over the glass.
fwood1.jpg (23230 bytes) The hull of this kayak was constructed of 4mm B.S. 1088 grade Meranti marine plywood.  Much of the wood that we have has a beautiful curly grain figure.   This boat will be finished bright (marine varnish) to highlight this wood figure.
pfbrac.jpg (34785 bytes) Rails for Yakima adjustable footbraces have been installed.  These are bolted and epoxied to hardwood blocks which are then epoxied to the hull.  This eliminates visible bolt heads on the exterior of the hull.
pdeck1.jpg (8931 bytes) The deck for this boat is constructed of four pieces of 3mm marine grade Okoume plywood, two for the bow of the deck and two for the stern.  The top edge of the deck changes from a gentle camber at the cockpit to a sharp ridge at the bow and stern.  This makes for some very tricky deck construction.  To start, a short section of the deck halves nearest the cockpit are glass taped together at a flat angle to form the cambered portion.
pdeck2.jpg (15089 bytes) Here (at left of photo) is the laminated insert for the bow of the deck.   This thickens and reinforces the raised portion of the deck.  A similar insert is added to the stern end of the deck.
pdeck3.jpg (21247 bytes) To facilitate the final shaping of the deck, a temporary frame approximating the plan view of the finished kayak is constructed.  The deck pieces are then clamped into this frame and stitched with copper wire along the deck ridge.   The extreme ends are held together with clamps.
pdeck4.jpg (28466 bytes) Both ends of the deck are shown, clamped into their final shape.
pdeck5.jpg (29762 bytes) This temporary assembly is inverted and braced in place so that the interior of the deck can be fiberglassed.
pdeck6.jpg (27490 bytes) The bow deck has been glassed.  This is done with 4 oz. plain weave fiberglass cloth.  When the epoxy cures, the deck will retain its final shape.
pdeck7.jpg (20628 bytes) This shows how the laminated bow insert has been filleted with thickened epoxy and glassed over.
pdeck8.jpg (29083 bytes) The completed deck halves are now ready for installation onto the hull.
pasemb1.jpg (16925 bytes) A trial fit of the deck is made to make any final adjustments.  The deck is glued to 3/4" thick shear clamps that run along the top interior edge of the hull panels.  These are shaped to a variable bevel along the length of the hull to conform to the angle of the deck panels - a tricky process, to say the least.
pasemb2.jpg (33823 bytes) The stern half of the deck has been attached.  It is epoxied to the hull, and on this prototype, is also held with bronze ring-shanked nails.  These will be eliminated on production models.  Note the wedges under the clamp strap.   These hold the deck tight to the deck beam.
pasemb3.jpg (24435 bytes) The bow half of the deck is now installed, in the same manner as the stern half.  The joint between the deck and hull is quite complex on the Puffin.  For about a foot or so on each end of the boat, the edges of the deck and hull butt together.   This quickly transitions to the deck overlapping the hull along the rest of the boat.  Precise joinery is required, since this edge will be visible on the finished kayak.
pcorec1.jpg (23187 bytes) The Puffin cockpit is built into a cockpit recess (we will be doing this on all of our kayaks).  This starts with an oversize cockpit opening as seen here.
pcorec2.jpg (23033 bytes) Here, a plywood cockpit recess insert is being fine tuned for a precise fit.  We are using Meranti plywood for this insert to contrast with the lighter colored Okoume deck.
pcorec3.jpg (21624 bytes) The cockpit recess insert is held in place with masking while the interior seam is joined with bias-cut 6 oz. fiberglass tape.
pcorec4.jpg (19197 bytes) The use of a cockpit recess substantially lowers the cockpit, especially in the rear.  This is very important on the Puffin, which has a high ridged deck.
pfinal1.jpg (28218 bytes) The edges of the deck have been trimmed and the deck glassed.  This deck has one layer of 3.25 oz. satin weave cloth which overlaps the deck/hull seam.
pbow1.jpg (12391 bytes) Here is the bow of the deck.  The hole in the bow is a distinguishing feature of Bering Sea kayaks.
pfinal2.jpg (31663 bytes) The final boat ready for a test paddle.  At this point, it still needs a cockpit coaming, seat, deck fittings and rigging, and hatches, to say nothing of sanding and finishing.  But there is no resisting the urge to get her into the water and paddle a bit.
ppadl2.jpg (16560 bytes) The Puffin handles like a charm.  Had a tough time getting Christy to give it up and let me try.
ppadl4.jpg (15677 bytes) This is the most ultimately stable boat that we build.  Although it has a waterline beam of only about 19", at a slight bit of heel, the widely flared sides kick in and it becomes rock solid.
ppadl3.jpg (22916 bytes) Although it has a maximum beam of 25 1/2", the sloping deck leaves plenty of "knuckle room" when paddling

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Last modified: December 08, 1999