Outer Island

I built my Outer Island during the summer of 2005.  Photos of my boat appear below, along with my impressions of it's performance.

Click any photo below to see a larger image.

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The Finished Kayak
All the wood on this boat is western red cedar, except for the thin light accent lines from basswood, and the cockpit coaming and external stems from mahogany.  

Fully rigged, the boat weighs 38 pounds.  The lay-up consists of 0.22 inch thick wood encapsulated on the interior with 4 ounce S-fiberglass, and on the exterior with 6 ounce E-glass with an additional layer of 4 ounce E-glass on the hull.  

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The deck rigging was simplified by having the shock cord go directly through tight holes in foredeck and at the far stern.  Behind the cockpit, soft padeyes allowed multiple passes of the shock cord.

I chose a standard keyhole cockpit, sized similar to my other boats so my sprayskirts will fit.  However, I positioned the rear of the cockpit opening aft approximately 3 inches from the designed location, to have more room behind the backrest for layback rolls.  The seat and backrest remain in the originally-planned location. 

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Stern view:  The upswept bow and stern of this kayak make it especially attractive.

This was a comparatively easy boat to strip.  Only a few deck strips required some strong-arm tactics to conform to the twist on the sides and aft of the cockpit. 

The styling of the Outer Island kayak profile borrows heavily from traditional Greenland kayaks.  


The hull shape is a rounded, or shallow arch, that transforms into a 'V' aft of the cockpit. 

Despite careful alignment of the forms, checking and rechecking, I had a flat area on the hull near form 12, so I let the strips 'float' a little over that area to keep a fair curve.  Having built 6 strip kayaks before this one, this baffled me!

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The bulkheads are wood strip.  Under-deck shock cords are designed to hold a hand pump. 

This Outer Island is 18 feet and 1 inch long and 21 inches wide. 


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Paddling Impressions
From my perspective as a 155 pound paddler typically traveling with 10-20 pounds of gear, I am quite pleased with the overall performance of my Outer Island kayak.  During timed race trials, I recorded by best times in the Outer Island so I chose to race the Outer Island instead of my Night Heron.    The bow entry is very clean with a relatively small bow wave.

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The strong tracking of the Outer Island is great for day tripping with very little yaw on each stroke.  The downside of the great tracking is that it is harder to turn around river bends and play in tight spots, even when edged.  A version of the Outer Island with a little more rocker might be a good experiment. The Outer Island performs well for me in wind and waves, and in a crosswind has less downwind drift that some of my more flat-bottomed boats.

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Features include a paddle park, front and rear shock cords for deck gear, and inside shock cord attachments for a hand pump and sponge.

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While this boat's styling borrows from West Greenland kayaks, below the waterline this boat has a shallow arch bottom that becomes more of a 'V' shape behind the cockpit.  There are no hard chines on this boat.  


Two Outer Islands.jpg (287288 bytes)   SOT.jpg (482112 bytes)

Two Outer Islands.  My friend Kurt carries a little barbell weight because, I think, rolling the boat is too easy without it.  It's a little unstable as a sit-on-top, but otherwise a fine boat.

Of course the Outer Island is relatively easy to roll, though rolling ability has more to do with the paddler than the boat.


The wood for my boat was cut from decking lumber bought at Home Depot.  Most of the boards were 2" x 8" by 12 feet long.  I cut strips from six boards, but the boat only used four of the best ones.

The plans I received were very complete and easy to understand.  It included full-size  station templates on separate pages.  Having built several strip kayaks before this one, I ignored some of the designer's techniques in favor of my own. 

My thanks to the designer, Jay Babina, for the fine design, and everyone who posted building tips on the Kayak Building Bulletin Board.  

Hope to see you on the water!

Sincerely, John Caldeira      john@outdoorplace.org

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Created October 22, 2005