Kayaks: Ready to Paddle or One-on-One Help Building your Own
With David Orth

If you've ever stood at the water's edge longing for the island or open water or just to drift on down the river - you have a serious condition best cured with a small wooden boat. If you already have some sort of big boat and simply can no longer afford "the hole in the water you are throwing your money into" - this is also a problem solved with a small wooden boat - no storage fees, no loans, no tank fill-ups, minimal upkeep.

I offer one-on-one help building your own kayak, canoe, or other small wooden boat. Or, if you prefer, I can build you a finished kayak ready to drop in the water and go. Either way let's talk.

I most recommend starting with an award-winning kayak kit from Pygmy Boats. They have some 20 designs & variations to choose from: to fit most anyone - for most any type of kayaking. We'll work together over a period of 9 days. At the end of 9 days you'll have the hardest parts completed and instruction on finishing up the details.  See the class photo below to see the stage this gets you to.  I'm happy to help you take it on past this point to whatever stage of completion you wish.

9 DAYS (some partial) OF INSTRUCTION: $2400
MATERIAL COST: varies - the Pygmy kits run about $1200.
Further information on instruction here. The days don't need to be entirely consecutive.


This is your ticket to adventure. If it really bothers you to have strangers admiring your boat and striking up conversations - then you'll just have to paint it some ugly color. Otherwise, these sleek boats are powerful people magnets - the poor man's Ferrari.

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Here I am assembling my own first kayak (designed by Chesapeake Light Craft), followed by a picture of the finished boat - must be about 1995.  This method is excellent and allows for amazingly lightweight, organic shapes from thin marine plywood. Now 20 years later, this boat has scraped over many rocks in Illinois, gone end for end into the beach off North Carolina, and accumulated a few other indignities - ask me about the Raccoon Incident. But it always patches up easily, still looks awesome, and paddles great. A good wooden boat is forever.



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The stripbuilt, double kayak pictured below was built during a slow winter in the shop.  I bought the blueprints from Vaclav Stejskal and again did everything from scratch - adding many of my own details and improvements.  Click on the image for more pics of this boat on Stejskal's One Ocean Kayaks website. His site also has many images of the strip building process. However, as this method requires tremendous patience and skill. I cannot recommend this method for your first kayak.


What can I say?  It's a strange and wonderful thing - to lower a small wooden craft of your own making into a lake or river, set yourself down, and take that first & second pull on the paddle. The boat slips forward like a fish - you glide like a bird.  An ocean is a desert with its life underground.  You are Captain Nemo, Amelia Earhart, Major Tom - take your pick. You take a third stroke and leave it all behind.


Ratty to Mole, in Wind in the Willows:
"There is nothing -- absolutely nothing -- half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats. In or out of 'em, it doesn't matter. Nothing seems really to matter, that's the charm of it. Whether you get away, or whether you don't; whether you arrive at your destination or whether you reach somewhere else, or whether you never get anywhere at all, you're always busy, and you never do anything in particular; and when you've done it there's always something else to do, and you can do it if you like, but you'd much better not."