Build your own sea kayak

LOCATION: Ardtun, Mull

9th - 17th May - Residential - £1,550

1st - 9th August - Residential - £1,550

15th - 22nd August - Non Residential - £1,200


Our most popular course! Join us for a week on Mull and build your very own beautiful sea kayak to take home with you. We build the CNC Shrike over this week - a Greenland style sea kayak, made of thin marine plywood and fibreglass to make a very strong but very light boat. Because of the nature of these builds, you will do a lot of work on your own boat before we work together as a group on all the boats to achieve various tasks in the available time frame. 

It’s a busy week to get everything done, but we will launch the boats on the last day. Make sure that you bring your roof bars to take your boat home, or get in touch if you’d like us to help transport the boat. 

We are offering this two different ways - residential on the croft, which includes camping and all your meals, or in August a non-residential week which includes lunches but not other meals.

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The Boat

We build the CNC Shrike Kayak a wonderful design to open source plans - very in keeping with our general outlook of encouraging people to participate in craft. Built in the ‘stitch and glue’ style it’s easy to pull together albeit with quite a few tips and tricks to make it all come together. We’ve worked up a computer cut kit of the boat and build jigs so that we can get everything built in time. If you can’t make a course and want to save some time in building one yourself ask us about buying one of these kits.

The boat is based on traditional ‘qajaqs’ from the Disko Bay area of West Greenland. The Shrike hull lines are very similar to a kayak collected in 1927/8 from that region and now at the Canadian Museum of Civilization in Ottawa. These classic and beautiful lines, the result of centuries of development, produce a hull that is manoeuvrable, and suited to rough water. The sharp bow lines will keep you on your toes when surfing. The long water line allows comfortable high speeds while touring, yet the rocker and chine lines create a manoeuvrable shape that will delight while rock hopping.

It’s a great fun boat to paddle, it feels a little tender at first but once you are used to it and enjoy leaning into the curves they are fast and responsive like few other craft. And it really is a beautiful thing, we get admiring glances everywhere we go (for the boat we’re sure). We’re rarely out of our show boat - even in bad weather we’re out having fun on the water!

The course

This is our busiest week of all the boatbuilding weeks we run, to get the boats finished by the end of the course we have a lot to do. Our staff are on hand to help and support you but we try and make sure you do all the building for yourself - it’s your boat and we want it to feel that way. We will have a few longer days to get everything done, but it’s usually pretty fun working We start the week with safety briefings and group introductions before swiftly getting stuck into boatbuilding.

  • Day 0 (arrival day) - On the Saturday to get us a head start we’ll glue up the scarfs on the plywood panels, if you’re arriving early you can help if it’s later we’ll just do this for you.

  • Day 1 Sunday - Safety Briefing. Set Up build jigs. Tidy scarfs and assemble hull. Temporary Glue panels.

  • Day 2 Monday - Tape and Glue hull. Seal inside of boats.

  • Day 3 Tuesday - Fair rails, fit masik and frame decks. Fibreglass inside cockpits. Fit forward deck

  • Day 4 Wednesday - Prep for glass outside. Fit aft Deck

  • Day 5 Thursday - Clean up deck and cut cockpit. Fit cockpit surround. Epoxy seal deck.

  • Day 6 Friday - Tidy up deck, fit hatches. Flip boat and fibreglass outside.

  • Day 7 Saturday - Fit seats and hip braces. Last sand and finish before we spend the day at Uisken Beach launching the boats and playing in the sea.

  • Day 8 Sunday - Departure day (Residential weeks only)

It’s a lot to do but we can get it all done! When you take the boat home it’ll be structurally complete but will need more work - you’ll have to sand and paint or varnish the hull. Previous groups have found that it work out at about 40 hours work - a week full time or a few evenings and weekends. We’ll spend some time on the last days discussing finishing techniques and making sure you have everything you need. We’ll also be available to help with any issues you encounter after the course.

Kayak building course