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Skin On Frame Christmas Kayak by Roger Colman

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Skin On Frame Christmas Kayak.

C:\Users\roger\Desktop\SOF 4.jpg C:\Users\roger\Desktop\SOF 3.jpg When my eldest lad gave me a Christmas card endorsed ‘do not open until Christmas Day’ and no actual pressie I thought, ah must be a voucher – better yet, cold hard cash.

I was wrong.

He had written inside that he was going to build me a Skin On Frame (SOF) Kayak and would source and buy all the material needed to do so. And he has.

It has taken a while, life happens to get in the way at times, but on the 1st November I took ‘Romeo Charlie 1’, as she is affectionally known, on her maiden voyage. In truth I was somewhat nervous about this. (I was concerned that with all the time, effort and cost he had put into it even if it was crap I would have to keep it.) I should have had more confidence in Russell, who really enjoys woodwork in his limited spare time and has already made a number of really nice, top quality pieces, although of course nothing like this.

C:\Users\roger\Desktop\SOF 6.jpg She paddled straight and true, seemed fast and turned beautifully on an edge.

C:\Users\roger\Desktop\sof 8.jpg For those of you who are interested, after a lot of research Russell chose to follow the main instructions, initially, by Native Waters on the Instructibles website. However these were modified quite a bit to suit the keyhole cockpit that I wanted. We also looked at Kudzu Craft Skin Boats and Cape Falcon, among others, and this helped when deciding on how to do the skin. He used Spruce for the keel, gunnels and stringers and oak for the ribs and cockpit. Initial steam bending of the ribs was time consuming, wasteful and basically a failure. Further research, building a new and better steam box and experimenting with the amount of time soaking the oak before steaming paid off. The boat is skinned in polyester, we decided against ballistic nylon for the reasons explained by Kudzu and the coating is oil-based paint.

Why is ‘Romeo Charlie 1’ chocolate in colour? My grandchildren insisted.

Why does it have a keyhole cockpit? I insisted.

Now I know many of the Greenland style purist kayakers will be horrified. It should of course have an ocean cockpit but it is my kayak and I need to get in and out of it. So a keyhole C:\Users\roger\Desktop\SOF 7.jpg cockpit is what I asked for – End of!

Building the kayak was a new and exciting challenge for Russell. One he has learnt a great deal from and found to be a joy. (Not so Karen, my daughter-in-law, who had it stuck in her dining room for over two months – Sorry about that Karen.) He took the opportunity to experiment on a few things, there are three different stitching techniques used on the skin for example, and would do some things differently. But from the trial run it is a great C:\Users\roger\Desktop\SOF 5.jpg success and he is keen to try his hand at another, possibly the F1 by Cape Falcon.

I have no idea where Russell got his woodworking skills, certainly not me. I am currently trying to put in a seat, seat back and thigh braces which I am finding all a bit much. Still if I get stuck I can pop it back to Russell, he will sort it for me. Anyway once that is done you may well see me in my SOF kayak down at the docks. If so and you are have the urge you are more than welcome to poke your head in my cockpit – if you know what I mean!


(Now I should really sell one of my other three kayaks as I need the space. I will probably get rid of the Quest LV.)