The Pygmy Tern 14 Launches

Well, several months after finish the kayak we finally got it into the water two weekends agp. Such is life when you are busy with little kids!
We had a successful launch, although the cheap champagne that was poured was pretty skunky. If that’s the worst thing that happens with this boat we’ll be happy.
My wife took the kayak out for a little paddle, along with her new Holst GP. She was happy with the pair although it sounds like she’ll need some time to get used to the two. The Tern14 had a looser feel than what she was used to (stability, not tracking). I also gave the kayak a quick paddle. It seemed pretty quick and tracked well but I can’t compare it to anything really. I’ve only whitewater paddled until this weekend. I didn’t try to maneuver the boat too much as I wasn’t used to the Greenland paddle. I did manage to roll the kayak on my first attempt so I suppose that means it rolls pretty easy (I haven’t been in a kayak in about 5 or 6 years).
Beach shot #1
Beach shot #2
Here are some thoughts on the boat. First, it looks very nice and seems to have a lot of potential for paddling. It’s relatively comfy, the seat works good, and the secondary stability is rock solid. My two biggest gripes with the boat have to do with the coaming and the hatches. We found it difficult to yank off the spray skirt with one hand. Lifting the tip of the skirt up and out was not enough to release the skirt from the coaming lip, the skirt would still catch/hold at about 11:30 and 12:30. Flipping the skirt off with a second hand was easy, but then you’d have to let go of your paddle. This definitely needs some adjustments, I’m surprised that it was so difficult. Secondly, the hatch covers don’t seem to fit super great. They do not sit flush with the deck and after a few rolls and wet exits there was some water in the bulkheads. I think part of the problem is with the way the foam lies on the hatch lip. At the very tips the foam perhaps bunches up by a mm or so, and maybe this is enough to keep the whole hatch from being as tight as it could be. I left the hatches on the kayak for a long time, thinking that the foam may compress. However, I think a bit of work may be needed. Perhaps I will try to notch or cut away a bit of foam on the ends. Any input is welcome on either of these issues!

Spraying WR-LPU

I recently finished applying System Three’s WR-LPU to the Tern14. I chose to use this material primarily for two reasons. First, it is touted as being a very tough finish, longer lasting than standard varnishes. Secondly, it is a water-based suspension which means that it avoids nasty organic solvents. I had heard and read about some difficulties in applying the finish. Apparently it has a fine line between drying to fast and leaving orange peel or applying too much and causing runs or sags. Ultimately I wasn’t too concerned about getting a “pro” finish so I thought I’d give it a try.

I decided to try and spray the wr-lpu. System Three’s manual suggested that spraying the lpu would result in a better finish. Not only that, but it gave me a great excuse to buy a cool piece of equipment: a Fuji Q3 HVLP spray gun. Overall, my experience with the wr-lpu is mixed. I think it’s possible to achieve the almost-perfect finish by spraying lpu and not sanding/buffing. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to achieve this myself. Despite practicing on scraps along with coating several coats, I never applied the lpu in a way that gave a “check out that great finish” result. It is clear to me that lpu application process is not very stable and that small changes in application or perhaps formulation (ie dilution with water) or environment make big differences. With my own eyes I saw myself spray a surface that would go from glossy to patchy Read the rest of this entry »

Tern 14 update for November

Just a few more steps left to finish the Tern14!

I think my list of things to do, in order, are as follows:

1.1 glass 2nd side of bulkhead panels

1.2 epoxy the hip braces in the cockpit

1.3 cutout the stern hatch

2.1 tweak the inside shear seam tape and epoxy

2.2 precoat the hatch strap fixtures

3.1 epoxy the bulkheads in

3.2 epoxy the strap fixtures to the hatches

4.1 apply the WR-LPU polyurethane finish

5.1 drill slots for webbing / deck rigging

5.2 fill the slots with thickened epoxy

6.1 drill new slots in epoxied areas

Hmmm, not much to comment on here.
When cutting out the hatches I tried a couple of methods including hand holding jigsaw blades, hacksaw blades, etc. I think the sabersaw/jigsaw cutting is the way to go. Using gentle pressure and even speed you can control the cut for a decent curve. I had problems making the saws follow a curve when holding them by the hand.
I did all the preparation for using magnetic hatches instead of the pygmy closures. In the end I decided to go with the pygmy system. The two main reasons are because the magnetic system would take many more hours to complete, and I felt it would be necessary to test gasket materials first because the lid/lip gap is critical for magnets to work.
I’m in the process of applying LPU right now. That is a story in itself which I will update later.

If anyone has some questions on magnetic hatches for Pygmy kits, let me know. I have some sketches and drawings I can share.

Tern 14 kayak update

Whew, it’s been a while since I’ve added any information.
I didn’t do much work on the boat during the summer. We were pretty busy and the longer daylight hours meant that I spent a lot more time in the evenings playing with the kids in the park and at the beach. I was pretty tired at the end of those days.

The progress I’ve made includes:
1. sanding the hull and deck to a flat finish prior to applying the polyurethane (almost finished)
2. glued the coaming spacer in place
3. laminated the coaming and cut it to fit on the spacer
4. 1/2 through making some wooden kayak cradles for the car roof rack

The gallery photos describe a bit more detail of the most recent building process, check them out if you’re interested.

The next steps will be to do a light sanding with 220grit paper, cut out the hatches and glue in the hatch lips and bulkheads, and then apply the polyurethane. Then it’ll be done!

Getting There

I made some good progress with the kayak last week. I put in fillets and taped all the seams on the underside of the deck. My friend Craig helped me ‘glass the inside of the hull, and I almost finished cleaning up the seams on the outside of the deck.

A few thoughts…
1. when ‘glassing the inside of a hull, maybe it’s best to put nice large radius fillets along all the seams. The fibreglass really doesn’t like lying down inside edges
2. black epoxy is a pain to work with
3. sanding through epoxy does not neccessarily create a halo effect. If you’re wondering why I mention this, please refer to #2 above…


Deck is stitched and glueing has begun

Call me crazy, but I decided to try and use black epoxy for the deck seams. The materials involve black pigment and microfibres from Fiber-Tek. The pigment is added to the epoxy resin up to 10% by weight. Then the hardener is mixed in. Finally the microfibres are mixed into the epoxy.

I did some tests with black pigment and fillers. The basic options for fillers include wood flour, microfibres, and microballoons (in decending order of strength). I made a batch of epoxy and split it into three separate containers. I then added wood flour to one container, microfibers to another and approximately a 50/50 mix of wood flour + microballoons in the third container. I had ruled out using microballoons by themselves for this task. I figure that the deck could see some high forces pressing down on it, and if the deck flexes I don’t want the seams to crack. Microballoons apparently are significantly weaker than the other options. The microfibres ended up maintaining most of the black epoxy gloss, while the wood flour was quite a bit dulled (as expected). The wood flour/microballoon mix was similar to the microfibres in looks, but the microfibre mix was easier to work with.

black epoxy

I’ve put the first batch of epoxy in the seams, and so far the deck looks good. I’m a bit nervous about how much work will be required to get the seams finished. I’ll need to remove the stitches and then mask all of the seams again (which is really boring). Then I’ll add the second batch of epoxy to fill in the gaps and where the first batch sagged or shrunk. Then I will have to sand all of the excess epoxy off of the panels. I’ve already applied a coat of epoxy to the panels, so the black pigment should not have soaked into the wood. Hopefully it will come off without too much work.

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