It’s Done. Or is it?

Technically it’s done. Once my alternate choice roof rack arrives I can load the kayak up and take it somewhere to try out. That’s when I’ll know for sure it’s done in terms of floats, doesn’t leak and tracks straight.

At the moment it passes the 10 foot test quite easily. If you’re 10 feet away it looks great. But… and you knew that was coming, up close (a few feet away) I’m not happy with how the final coat turned out on the hull. I’m completely out of varnish so I need to buy another can. The plan is to try it out, weather permitting, a couple of times yet this fall, then put it away for the winter. Come spring I’ll bring it down and give it a full sanding, probably with 220 or even 320 on the random orbit and then another coat of varnish on both the deck and hull.

Assuming that last coat comes out as expected then at that point it’ll truly be done. I probably won’t post an entry for that as it’s just more of what I’ve talked about before.

So today I installed the seat, the bungie “X” in front of the cockpit and the deck perimeter line. took a little creativity to get them on by myself but once I put a couple of clamps on the lines to hold them in place the rest was easy. I also tied lines to the mounting point under the deck and under the hatches to prevent then from accidentally getting dropped and lost.

The seat is such a tight fit that it’s strictly friction holding it in place I don’t see it budging or any reason to mount it differently.

This isn’t the end though… I’ve got a few more posts planned. I want to do a summary of the steps, tools, supplies and finally an overall wrap up where I cover the final specs as I built it, weight, length, etc. I’ll also talk about the registration, HIN and titling process as I’m still in the middle of that. It won’t stop me from using it as for the type and size of boat, in my state none of that is actually required but doesn’t hurt to have it.

I’ll leave you with a few final photos for now. Once I get it on the water I’ll post those with the final wrap up blog entry.

Last Coat of Varnish

At least I think it is. Won’t know for sure until it is dried and I can check for any runs or sags. If there are any I’ll need to do a bit of touch up.

No pics, but I did shoot a video. Following the same sequence I’ve used for other operations (sanding, etc.) I used the across, up and down and then across again. The first across is to get it on, the up and down is to ensure even coverage and the final across is a lighter touch designed to just break any bubbles on the surface and flow the current section into the previous section.

In the first half of the video I’m putting the varnish on using this approach. In the second half I do the other side and you can clearly see a sanded spot that was missed in the initial across step. When I do the up and down it takes care of this. Near the end I then step back and get a good view of the wet surface reflecting the light. I do this specifically to look for any dry spots that were missed or barely got any varnish. If there are I apply to this area and then repeat the final across step to blend it in.

Tomorrow I’ll give it a once over and if all is good with the finish, then on to the seat and lines.

More Varnishing

Varnished the hull, first coat yesterday. Today was mostly light 400 grit sanding with a bit of 120/220 in some drip areas first. Then a wipe down and the second coat of varnish. I’d like to write more but really this is it and I’ve already talked about the sanding and varnishing techniques.

Tomorrow will be most likely the last sanding and varnish coat on the hull. If all goes well then on Sunday seat install and deck line.

On a related note, I purchased a roof carrier system from Alfa Gear Products. Please don’t make the same mistake I did. The reviews were mostly good but the product came packages such that it was pretty much guaranteed you’d damage it upon opening the box and one of the parts was missing from the box. Their website had zero contact options. The final spray of gas on this dumpster fire was the instruction page (not manual) that had an email address which when I sent an email to it, the email bounced back as undeliverable due to invalid address. Thankfully the vendor I got it from allowed for returns which I already did. Now I need to find a new carrier system.

I originally picked this one as I do not have roof rails so I’d need a rail less system or one of the more expensive mounting options. I figured a soft tie down system would be a good starter option allowing me to go to some local lakes/rivers for now and allow for use on either vehicle. I will probably still start with this but now I need to find a better brand/company to get it from.

HIN and Varnish

I got my HIN (Hull Identification Number). Basically a boat’s equivalent of a VIN on a car. AKA the serial number. I’ll talk about this process more in another post. The number normally starts with a 3 character manufacturer ‘s code but for home built boats it is the state and the letter X. In my case ILX to start it.

It needs to be at least 1/4″ tall and affixed to the boat in a way that is not easy to remove. There are a few locations that it can be placed and I went ahead and put it in both spots. One is on the outside starboard (right) side near the stern (rear) of the boat and the other is on the side wall in the cockpit.

I tried a handful of different fonts until I found one I liked that read clearly but wasn’t obnoxious. A quick print at various sizes showed me that a 30pt size would be just over 1/4″ tall. This was then printed on transparency “paper” off a laser printer. I cut each one out, dabbed on a bit of epoxy and dropped it into place. I then flooded more epoxy over it. The next day I sanded smooth and then applied a second layer of epoxy to further seal it in.

The timing could not have been better on this as the next step is to varnish the hull. So once these are dried I’ll give them a final sanding through the grits and be able to start on the hull.

Speaking of varnishing the deck got a sanding. Most areas received 400 grit with a few sags getting 120 and then 220 first to even them out. This may be the last coat as I already had a very smooth and deep surface and if this one goes on as good as the last I should be done with the deck. Of course I won’t know until tomorrow when it’s dry and I can check it.

So the list is still varnish, seat, seals, hatches and deck lines. With luck I’ll get three coats on the hull Thursday, Friday and Saturday and if the third coat is good then be able to do the final fittings on Sunday. Although at this point if there is still varnish left I’ll probably keep adding coats to ensure adequate protection but I think I’ll be out or just about out after the hull and I still want to get at least one more coat inside the cockpit and hatch areas too.

The Beginning of the End

Lots of progress. First off I was only able to get in 15-30 minutes a few nights the past week but that was enough to effectively finish the bulkheads and hatch pulls. Both sides of the bulkheads are fully varnished and done. The insides of the hatches are complete and the pulls were attached. A simple hole was predrilled from the under side and a single screw was added for strength after I epoxied the pulls to the outside of the hatch lids. The inside of the screw head was covered in epoxy and the pulls and surrounding lid area received a couple coats of epoxy over a few days. All that’s left to do is sand them.

You should also notice now the hatches don’t quite sit nicely. Some of this will resolve when the foam seal is installed, and some I will probably have to live with. It’s really noticeable in a close up shot like this but not obvious from a standard viewing distance. The pulls will sanded smooth along with any epoxy on the lids around them going through the grits up to 220 like everything else.

On Saturday, after a final wipe down I started to apply the varnish to the deck and the outside of the hatches. Using the same pattern as before, back and forth to apply it, up and down to evenly distribute it and then back and forth once more with a light touch to break the bubbles and blend it. Always finish by going from dry to wet with the final strokes. I’d do a foot or two section on one side, switch to the other side, do the same section, then the next and then switch back and repeat. This way I never left a wet edge for more than a minute or two before blending into it.

Even though it’s just the first coat the color pop was simply amazing to me.

The varnish was left to dry overnight. Sunday I got back to work with an initial sanding. You can see some sags and other irregularities in the first coat. This is normal. Some 250 grit (yeah, that’s an odd number but I had an old pack laying around) sand paper scuffed the surface nicely and took care of any blemishes.

Before applying the second coat I took advantage of the deck being dry and shifted to work on the bulkheads. Both were placed and then I masked around them to avoid getting the sealant all over. I’m using a marine adhesive sealant from 3M. I applied it to both sides, used a gloved finger to smooth the bead out and then spent some time cleaning it up as best as I could.

Contorting into the hatch openings with a caulk gun and my arm left little to no room to actually get my head in there to see what I was doing. A few parts were done pretty much by feel but most I could at least get some kind of sight line on. The final image is a good example of applying where I could see. The rest going up and around was done pretty much blindly. Of course reaching in to smooth and clean wasn’t the easiest either but since this is a one time operation I’m satisfied with the result.

I also took advantage of a dry deck (not sticky with drying varnish) to tweak the hatch rims. A few spots needed a bit of attention shaving down some epoxy high spots.

A second coat of varnish was then applied to the deck deepening the finish and the protection. I think the results speak for themselves. The will be at least two more coats with the only hold up now being the drying time. Then I can switch to the hull and apply the necessary coats there. I’m also applying the varnish to the hatch lips.

So the remaining list is really short now. The last three items will take less than an hour in total and I already did a bunch of hatch tweaking today so unless the foam seal creates an issue the hatch final fitting may be done already.

  • Hatch – final fitting/tweaking – partially completed
  • Varnish, varnish, varnish
  • Install deck lines
  • Install foam seal on hatches
  • Install seat