Sea Kayaking the Western Coast of Alaska

St Marys to Shishmaref

Northern Paddling Adventure #2

48 days, 600 miles, 1995

Ray & Jenny Jardine

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Page under construction. The following was put together with intent to sell the boat (SOLD 2009/05/01).

This is my second home-built kayak, "Tempest," on a 600-mile trip along the western coast of Alaska.

We built the kayak in 1995, paddled the coast that same year, and the kayak has been sitting in our storage ever since. It is in excellent condition and is ready to go on another trip, to who-knows-where.

Crossing big expanses of ocean is dangerous, but this kayak was built to handle them. More than any kayak I've ever built, I consider Tempest to be reasonably unsinkable. That is because she has a layer of structural, closed-cell foam built into her hull and deck.

Laying up the structural foam. The fasteners were only temporary, they did not become a part of the boat. Same with the mold stringers.

Testing core samples

Prior to laying up the carbon, I made several test pieces to find the optimal strength of structural foam sandwiched in carbon. As shown here, these test were pretty severe; but the hammer did not do much damage.

All my kayaks are this stable. But with the foam core, Tempest can be paddled even when full of water.

And not only that, she has two extra-large water-proof compartments for carrying food and gear, sealed off from the rest of the boat by fore-and-aft bulkheads.

A fine morning for padding, never mind the ice-coated deck.

After another crossing of open water, ten miles this time.

Tempest is fast and stable, and has a x-large carrying capacity. She was built with $2,000 worth of carbon fiber, so she is very strong.

Ultra-stability is important, especially when padding in the dark.

Trip's end, in the village of Shishmaref, with our Inuit friends Curtis and Sheryl Nayokpuk. This was a tough trip, fraught by many storms. Tempest could use a new coat of paint on her deck. Other than that, she sustained no damage.

Tempest is very fast, stable, and carries a heavy load of food and gear for long trips. She is a one-off, designed and built for performance not looks. Also intended as an ocean or lake kayak, not suitable for rivers because of the all-carbon layup.

The paddles should be about 92 inches from tip to tip. The reason they must be so long is because of the kayak's wide beam. We like them unfeathered.

Styled bow handle.

Rudder, hatches screwdriver, spare hatches hardware, red cockpit bag, two foam seat cushions for rough weather, one backrest for the aft paddler.

Home-made neoprene spray skirts. The suspenders are elastic. The elastic in the chest pockets.

We used white paint to protect the deck and underlining structural foam from overheating in the sun. This paint was designed to be easily removed with a wire brush. The deck needs repainting with white or light colored paint - use cheap spray paint from the hardware store, NOT marine paint which would be very hard to remove. We did not paint the hull because that would increase the boat's weight while making repairs difficult.

Aft hatch cover and hold down screws. And hatch cover screwdriver - goes with the red cockpit bag. We do not tighten the screws more than necessary. Normally only hand tight. the screwdriver is for stormy weather. We keep the screws all the way out for storage.

Tempest is a sea kayak, meant for ocean and lake padding, not rivers. At least not rivers with any kind of rapids. Tempest is extremely strong at sea or in big lakes with wind-tossed waves. But a person must not run her onto the rocks, or drop her onto the rocks, because of the carbon fiber.

The reason her DECK is panted white is to prevent the sun from raising the temperatures in the structural foam beyond what they can handle. One might have noticed that most home-built airplanes made of carbon are panted white for just that reason.

The reason her HULL is not panted is to reduce weight and to make for easy repairs.

Tempest was not made to look pretty. Performance and safety were my main concerns, and I wanted to make her strong as possible but as lightweight as possible given the foam core. That is why I spent over $2,000 on the carbon. I could have made her to look nice, but that would have added several pounds. And to me, this would have canceled out the advantages of the carbon.

And she's not ultra light. Far from it. She's a big boat.

Weight: 73 lbs.
Length: 18' 6"
Beam: 32"
Height: 15"

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