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.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


One Ocean Kayak’s "Cirrus SLT"


Last September I gave my youngest boy plans to build a kayak. Designed by Vaclav Stejskal of One Ocean Kayaks, the Cirrus SLT is perhaps the best design I’ve seen for a growing 11 yr old boy. Now almost 12, he and I started the stitch and glue boat almost 5 months ago. With part time attention, today marked the boat’s maiden voyage. It was christened “Bob”. We had a fun time paddling up a portion of the James River for lunch and then returned.

Bob and paddler. Happy Birthday (10 months later).

Here’s Vaclav’s description of the kayak. I heartily agree.

“This is a kid’s first dream kayak with serious grow up performance that they will not so easily outgrow. At a mere 28 lb it is just about the lightest kayak of it’s type available, even lighter than genuine racing kayaks. It was designed with great care to inherit all the nice tracking, efficiency and stability behavior from its parent design the Cirrus. The Cirrus SLT could also be the ideal craft in which to introduce your youngest to the joys of paddling in nature and perhaps even some practical woodworking skills in your shop: definitely a memorable building experience for both kids and the “adults”. The size of the kayak makes building possible in the smallest of shops and garages. Even shop teachers and Scouts now have a kayak that is basically dedicated for paddlers from 85 to 145 lbs and under 5’6″ in height”.

I’ll have to say that this site has all the performance data you could possibly want. The rolled plans could not have been better for a scratch build. The full-sized paper templates worked great. We scored the plywood with a utility knife, cut close to the mark with the jig saw, and made the final trimming with a small hand plane. The stitched panels were dead on. Aside from that, the boat’s rolled deck and Pettit Ocean Blue paint look great.

Some construction photos follow here:

Hull wired in cradle with molds.


Deck added.
Close up of deck. Copper wire and hot melt stitches.


Test fit to the user.
Taped edges for clean glass trimming.
Set up for epoxy end pour.

We have maybe $450 in plans and materials. Its all been worth it. The final product beats any roto-molded boat “bottle” by miles. My buddy can really zip along.

Passed a couple crewed shells.

The “Real Feel” temp was 102. Casting along in the shade was significantly cooler. Saw bass, brim, and gar. Water was done and pretty clear. We had a PBJ lunch on the bank before turning around.

We skirted the south shore in the shade.

Finally used my homemade and collapsible dolly. It worked great. A strap (not shown) holds the hull down. Pulled by the nose, now we can load the boat like a wheelbarrow and truck to the water’s edge.

My homemade dolly.
Also ordered some stickers for the name plate.

I loved the grin on my boy as he rolled along. We’re looking forward to some overnight trekking this Fall. Heck, I may have trouble keeping up with this water bug!

One Ocean Kayak’s "Cirrus SLT"

The weather has finally turned for the warmer. We’ll get to sail UNA again in the next week or so in the company of a few buddies. Life is looking up. Winter did droned on here, but some boat projects did allow dreaming of new adventures. Too cold for much of anything, the dinghy “Gigi” was hung in the shed to wait for paint, her spot in the garage was taken up by a different build. This one is a stitch and glue kayak for my youngest boy. Perhaps as a set of rolled plans, it was a bit too abstract to qualify as a birthday gift for an 11 year old at the end of last summer. Though I hadn’t, and still don’t, plan on documenting this project much, yesterday I was struck by some beautiful lines and decided to take a few pics. This little pretty is a 14.5′ boat from One Ocean Kayaks. Gigi is more lapstrake in build than stitch and glue. This new addition is a true edge-to -edge s&g boat. The designer, Vaclav Stejskal, has perhaps the best site I’ve seen sharing detailed performance numbers on kayaks. Much of it is beyond my patience to understand, but I’m glad he has taken the time. His designs are an obvious passion. Honestly, I saw a sweet little boat that appeared well thought out and bought the plans. Vaclav uses his boats, no doubt went through several prototypes, and that care shows in the precision of the full size templates. I frankly was amazed the panel joints could be so tight. 

Stern with hull and moulds.

Half of the fun is figuring out the right method to approach craftsmanship. Jig saw cuts to within 1/32″ of the panel cut lines followed by a light pass of a hand plane delivered much better results than aiming to hit the line precisely. Also, mastering how to snake 18 ga. copper wires between deck panels as you close it up took several “fails” before discovering a crisp fish hook shape or “J” was easiest to knit close panels with needle nose pliers. We’re now ready to glue the seams and order some glass.

Stern with deck.
Fine lines of the bow.

The hull is made of 4mm okoume ply. The deck is a lighter 3mm. In order to keep the 3mm aligned I used hot melt glue that will be scrapped off after the first pass of epoxy gluing the joints. I’m continually surprised at the shapes one can get from flat plywood.

Wires and hot glue dabs

I’m looking forward to tripping up the James River or down the Appomattox for and overnighter with my boy.