Cape Falcon’s F1 Kayak (part II)

DAY 6(4 hrs)

  • used poster board strip to get correct rib lengths.
  • rough cut rib material from oak.
  • dimensioned ribs through thickness planer and rounded with router.
  • cut ribs to length, eased ends for mortise pockets and set in bath to soak a few days.

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DAY 7: (6 hrs)

  • manufactured a steam “box” from 4″ ABS pipe, plastic hose, towel, tee shirt and kettle on a propane grill burner.
  • placed soaked ribs in sets of 3 in steam. Added a pair after using a limbered up pair. This kept work flow going.
  • Rib 16 splintered. Rib 1 in the bow broke 3 times. I used 1/4″ oak, 3/16″ oak, then bamboo and finally created a “V” shaped rib from previous broken ribs. Pre-soaking the ribs seemed to help prepare the ribs vs. placing the ribs dry into the steam box.
  • Once the ribs were in place, I removed several of the molds. Removal required cutting some in half.
  • I’m glad I had the molds for reference. A 1/4″ difference in proper rib length can distort the hull shape.

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DAY 8(4.5 hrs)

  • drilled and pinned 1/8″ dowels into ribs at mortices.
  • discovered several ribs had cracked or frayed at the keel line. Lacking enough spare material, I milled more, cut it to lengths and steamed to put in place. That rib #2 took 2 tries.
  • removing the molds and flipping the kayak, I lashed the keel first. Then each chine afterwards.
  • I now have a beautiful “basket”.
  • the frame weighs 16 lbs 10 oz.
  • will now order the ballistic nylon and coating.

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Total hours thus far:  48 hrs.

Sailing Janes Island

Took my pup Huck to the Eastern Shore. We met Kevin, Peter and Mike for 3 days of wonderful sailing. Day 1 Kevin and I circled Janes. Day 2 we sailed across to Deal Island and back. Day 3 was windier and we all spent it in the various creeks just north of Janes. Camping in the back of the pickup work well with an inflatable bed and galley kit. Video follows:


Cape Falcon’s F1 Kayak (part I)


I never set foot in a canoe or slipped myself into a kayak until maybe 12 years ago. The opportunity just didn’t present itself. Growing up elsewhere, there were always other boats available, and given a choice, you know where I stand with sailing. Paddling up or floating down fresh water had never gotten past the inner tube. However, with canoes and kayaks, access to the water, specifically the James River, has opened up. After living in the Richmond area for now decades, I wonder why I was so late to the party. I have some catching up to do.

My middle son and I built two fuselage framed “skin on frame” (SOF) kayaks and have done numerous day and overnight trips with them. My cedar stripped Outer-Island was the next progression toward bigger and more skilled boat building. She is an entirely different animal, slick, fast with none of the wasted energy absorbed in the previous SOF’s. One drawback to the O-I is she’s not tolerant to raking across occasional rocks. The SOF’s seem to escape damage. No surprise there.

At the Mid Atlantic Small Craft Festival last weekend, a friend allowed me to paddle a kayak I have been eyeing for several years now. It is the Cape Falcon F1. First captured by the beauty of this design in traditional SOF construction, paddling the boat locked actually building one. After reviewing all I could find on the F1, I took the plunge.

After reading the designer Brian Schulz cautions getting the lines just right, I decided, unlike his “eyeball” method to use molds assuring some accuracy. Documentation is largely photographs below. Days are not necessarily consecutive.

F1 Specifications:

  • Length: 14′ 13/4″
  • Beam: 23″
  • Depth to shear: 81/2″
  • Depth overall: 11 11/16″
  • Projected Weight: 29 lbs.

DAY 1: (8 hrs)

  • drafted design lines into AutoCAD.
  • surfaced 3/4″ Western Red Cedar boards, (2) 1×8 x 16′.
  • cut out gunnels, stringers and keel from same.
  • lofted and cut molds.
  • made deck frame lamination jigs and laminated 2 of 3 beams ( 0.1875″ cedar strips) after soaking.

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DAY 2: (6 hrs)

  • cut gunnels to length, marked beam locations and drilled mortices for ribs.
  • set up strong back and mounted molds.
  • began to set gunnels and shape their ends.

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DAY 3: (5.5 hrs)

  • planed aft gunnels to fit flush. Tied together.
  • added aft stem board. May use for drain plug.
  • spent 1 hr finding owner of wayward dog “Riah”.
  • cut aft deck beams, laminated and mortised into gunnels.
  • cut fore and aft stems. Struggled with aft one, but don’t like how it sits. Will review next session.

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DAY 4: (7 hrs)

  • trimmed and lashed stems onto gunnels and keel.
  • planed edges of keel and chines. Sanded same.
  • cut and fitted above. Lashed all onto stems.
  • cut forward deck ridge. Fitted forward stem to receive ridge.
  • took measurements along gunnel to chine to confirm designed dimensions. All is OK.

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DAY 5: (7 hrs)

  • sanded, trimmed and mortised fore deck beams. Pinned beams with cross dowels.
  • mounted and lashed fore deck ridge beam.
  • installed aft deck stringers in oak.
  • stepped back to observe lines. Noticed aft stem was not right. Too much rocker. Measured to find keel was 2″ off. That explains tight bend in keel. Thought I had measure correctly. Think I misread my 1:1 scale print of stem.Cut off old stem, made new one and lashed in. Boat is right now.
  • Sanded overall.
  • now only the two 1/2″ x 1/2″ knuckles remain before installing ribs. Brian prefers using laminated bamboo with vertical grain, but I can’t locate the sheets economically. Will use oak.

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We’re at 33.5 hrs so far. Surprised it has taken that long. Been fun. This is as close to an instant boat as you can get.

The weather has finally changed for the better. Going sailing.

Mid Atlantic Small Craft Festival 2016

For me, a 4 hour drive is a long haul to go sailing with Mobjack only 1 1/2 hours away. However, MASCF is an exception. Almost 100 small boat enthusiasts, many with crew, bring their respective craft to enjoy friends new and old, savor some seafood and get in a bit of boating. Last year’s event was washed out by hurricane threats. This year was just our second attendance in what was the 33rd running. Friday and Saturday were wet and windy. Sunday, still overcast, offered barely a whisper. Regardless, the time in Saint Michaels was fun. My youngest son and I took kayaks we built and left UNA behind. She was missed, but we got rides from our pal Dale to watch Saturday’s race in his Ben Garvey outboard. With an almost 7′ beam, he can set up a tent  in the boat’s floor and still have room to keep his skin-on-frame kayaks aboard. Complimented with a 40hp four-stroke and a folding bimini top, Dale may have found another attractive access to the water.

Dale at the helm

Later in the day we paddled around the harbor to take in the sights. This town has been a regular stopping point over many years of cruising the Bay. The visit never grows old. Though the boutique shops seem to be taking over the main drag, pockets of childhood memories still survive. This is in no small part due to the Maritime Museum there. Now that I have been to Mystic, I can say it reminds me of that fine museum on a smaller scale. In this quaintness, St. Michaels is more approachable. At this festival, one can wander amongst the current builds and renovations. You are welcomed to nose around and we did.

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A Short Paddle

After this past weekend’s trip to St. Michaels, I left the kayaks on the truck’s roof for washing and storage yesterday. That didn’t happen. I thought another paddle might be good. This morning’s breakfast was quick: coffee, boiled egg and toast followed by a long walk for the dog (he’s been acting up. Now he is sleeps at my feet). Our stroll was pleasant with cooler temperatures and early sunshine. That convinced me to drive down to the local park and check out the river. Despite the rains, the conditions were good. My Outer Island kayak at 37 pounds is easily hauled around, especially with the dolly I built. Loading the boat with necessary gear, I wheeled it from the parking lot down to the floating pier.


The water was muddied and current quick. The surface was smooth and the boat moved with little effort.


Maybe 3/4 of a mile up-stream I discovered a Blue Heron resting on a downed tree protruding from the south bank. I’m surprised I can glide in so close and quietly readied my camera. The bird remained frozen, watched this intruder, but in the 15′ range he took flight further up stream. We followed.

bird side eye

Another 150 yards on we found our bird again. This time he was more poised to fly and took off just as we drew in. Crossing the water, the pursued headed up the mouth of an overgrown creek entrance.

ready to fly

At  this point I felt a tinge of guilt in the pursuit, but the beauty of the thing and maybe the “hunt” led me on. Of all the times I’ve passed this creek, I’ve never ventured up it.





A whole other world was in there. The shade was cool. Song birds greeted us (or gave warning of our presence).

winding up the creek











A short distance along, the path got crowded. However, we did find our prey. This time we caught him as he bolted.










I had the shutter speed and aperture all wrong but, this is evidence of the third sighting. Shortly there after, with little room to maneuver, we turned for home.









Not focused on finding Big Bird, I’m struck by the beauty along the way. We will have to return in a few weeks when the colors are full-out.dscn0294














Round trip time was maybe 2 hours total. I decided I need to stop taking this backyard treasure for granted.






Dog Days

What was to be an enjoyable week of sailing north simply went bust. The journey was to include St. Michaels, MD’s  Mid Atlantic Small Craft Festival. Last week, this week was a perfect forecast. However, by Sunday this week, the realization that the weathermen may have been mistaken was settling in. The new week’s predictions of 3-4 days of rain and thunderstorms botched our cruise plans. Mildly put, I was bummed. Short term forecasts are often wrong. These opinions of “experts”, if accepted, could have prevented many wonderful days on the water. And so, with characteristic denial, I grabbed my pup Huckleberry, a week’s load of goods and drove to Mobjack. After an hour and a half prep, LUNA was ready to depart. We set off for our adventure. Sunday’s sail was fantastic: a downriver run into Mobjack, a close reach across the Bay, a port beat just north of Cape Charles and finally a starboard tack to Gwynn Island for the night. As the sun was dipping, we chose to motor through the Hole in the Wall. This is a meandering entry through barrier sand spits which can be tricky. We clear it. Once in Milford Haven, we anchor behind Point Breeze. Huck was rowed ashore for dog business. Not one to wait, he jumps ship twice en route. The second time I make him swim the final 100 yards to a small piece of beach. He didn’t seem to mind. The pup takes 20 minutes to run his willies out. We then returned to LUNA for a light cockpit served dinner under lantern and sky. The air was dry and cool. I sleep below. The pooch under stars. A slight notion occurred that he may be AWOL come morning, but he’s still aboard next morning. We take an early dinghy ride. This time I keep him on a short leash. Yet, he still has enough slack to hang himself and does as he leaps over anyway. Our four legged tug begins towing the dinghy to the beach. Accepting his spirit, but questioning his stamina, I land the little tuna. He is an exceptional nut ashore, biting small waves, pulling at reed grass and racing all over the marsh. After 30 minutes he regains his sanity. We row home, eat a breakfast of coffee and biscuits, and listen with hope to the forecast. Predictions are worse. Tuesday through Thursday are now rainy with northerly winds. Not good for heading north quickly, especially when mixed with a wet dog. So, we weigh anchor, motor back through the Hole and beat against the day’s southerlies back home. The sailing is very fine despite our “retreat”. And so, we make the best of both days. They were “perfect”. Here’s 3 minutes to show their flavor:

Just One Night

Monday afternoon I visited Luna. She has new sails. I wanted to see them raised. Sadly, the slides on both mizzen and main were too large (I had measured and relayed the info, but …). Bummer. Replacements have since been mailed.


After adding a couple of bronze eye straps for securing the boat cover, I hanked on the new jib and went out into the river to anchor briefly  and scrub the bottom. The slime wasn’t bad, but you could tell it was there. Luna just wasn’t as fast. And she is. A few barnacles were on the base of her keel. I probably forgot to hit that portion which rested on blocking at haul out. Getting back into the boat turned out to be a bear. The webbed loop ladder used for UNA twists too much. Those chin up routines from age 13 are wearing out. I’ve some ideas on a better homemade solution. After raising anchor, we had a delightful beat out into Mobjack under full sail. Luna collected a few compliments from other boaters as the two of us slid along. Once out we did an about face and reached back up the river a good ways before returning downstream. The evening was near perfect. I decided to stay. The hook was dropped and cocktails offered as the sun set with music playing low. Too lazy to fix dinner, I opted for cake. A great diet. Recommended.


One favorite tune shuffled after another. Dare I say it? It was mostly Spotify. Somehow it doesn’t seem like my music. I’m sure some take self-righteous exception to its use, but I like it and mute the ads. I will say the site’s “related artist” button has radically expanded my music library. Oh, I still buy CD’s. However, now many are discoveries from Spotify. So, what kind of attitude is that? Archaic? Hypocritical? Confused throw back? Fine. I’m anchored in my favorite place on earth, just watching the world spin.

At 22:00 I’m done. With no bedroll or pillow, I throw on extra shirts and sleep comfortably through the night. At 05:00 the “night” ended as the watermen went to work. The rumble of their engines and gentle waves nudge Luna for an hour or so before I move to see the day. It was cool, sunny, and otherwise quiet and glassy.

Had a quick breakfast of yogurt and oranges slices. Coffee would have been good, but the night’s laziness lingered. That ended as I motored to the pier to work on cleaning up last Fall’s electrical renovations. I had replaced the 12v panel for reading lights and 12v outlets (P & S) to charge gadgets and run Caframo fans. The contortions needed to access some of this was ridiculous. Maybe it is age. Anyhow, that task can be scratched from the list. By noon the heat was coming on. I covered Luna and left. Worth the drive. Here’s some video proof-