Arenal Kayaks Boatshop

Boat construction is considered by many to be the ultimate test of carpentry skills. Also a test of patience as many hours of work sometimes spanning years are required to construct a seaworthy craft.

Construction Notes

Kayak construction is just beginning here at the Arenal Kayaks boatworks. Our first goal is to get the process figured out for strip building. Expecting this to exercise some carpentry skills but the toolbox is pretty complete so the wood part will be time intensive but not expecting too many challenges. Then figuring out the epoxy and glassing techniques will be interesting. From the information out there, most of the challenge is figuring out mix ratios based on temperature rates. And not breathing the stuff or getting it on your skin. Sounds like fun.

Since we're learning the strip building techniques from scratch, our first craft is built from an existing pattern. After looking at many interesting sites on the internet I stumbled across The Strip-Built Sea Kayak by Nick Schade ( One of the only books devoted to strip building kayaks. We'll learn the techniques by building the Great Auk, one of 3 sets of offset tables given.

So far the book by Nick Schade looks very good. All of the steps necessary to build the boat seem clear and complete so even a first-timer like me should be able to build something that floats. But, the goal is to build something of beauty as well so if this first one turns out we'll be experimenting with other designs. There are some designs being evaluated for specific use on Lake Arenal and we'll be researching ocean kayaking in the future somewhere along the coast of Costa Rica.

We'll be following Nick's book fairly closely but there are already some things I'm thinking of doing differently. At this point, I'm considering that the solid stem and stern pieces could become an aesthetic feature as well as adding strength to the boat. Nick talks about this in an addendum to his book and it seems like a good idea. His is completely internal however and I'm thinking that it could be exposed to provide even more abrasion resistance. Maybe a hardwood? Needs a little more thought while I cutout the end forms. Don't want to add unecessary weight but I want a strong boat that looks unique.