The Bayou Skiff

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materials needed tools needed different lengths   taller sides
finished weight capacity plywood  joining plywood
glue, and fasteners fiber glassing paint and stain motor
seats building time cost sail
  plans support  

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Materials needed to build using the kit

1/4" x 48" x 96" exterior plywood ~ 3 sheets  Lauan mahogany, B/C pine or A/C fir will work well. Specify exterior glue.

2 - 3/4" x 1 1/2" x 168" clear lumber ~ rub rails

Glue, waterproof ~ 16 oz

.#8 - 1" screws - 16

If building from the full building plans you will also need

1 - 3/4" x 24" x 48" exterior plywood ~ transom

6 - 3/4" x 1 1/2" x 120" clear lumber ~ rib sets/runners/seat supports.

1 - 1 1/2" x 3 1/2" x 24" clear lumber ~ stem

The amount of fiberglass supplies will be determined by the areas you choose to cover. At a minimum we recommend tapeing all seams and joints. Some choose to cloth the entire bottom.

A good source for fiber glassing supplies is RAKA (772-489-4070). They have a very good product at a reasonable price and provide excellent support.

 The amount of paint, resin and fiberglass cloth will vary with  the amount of area you choose to cloth. To cloth the seams only, you will need sixty feet of cloth 4 to 6 inches wide. . If you  choose to cloth the bottom on the outside you will need a piece forty eight to sixty inches wide and fifteen feet long. The amount of fiber glass resin will be determined by the area you plan to cover. I normally cloth the bottom on the outside, running four to six inches up the side boards and the inside seams. Then paint the entire boat with resin. If you only tape the seams and don't paint the entire boat you can get by on a quart of resin. If you cloth the bottom, inside and out, and paint the entire boat you will use one to one and a half gallons of resin. On your first trip to the lumber yard, pick up two sheets of plywood, lumber for the rub rails, glue, and a few one inch screws. Don't worry about getting everything on the first trip. With this basic set of materials you will assemble your boat. Then comes the finishing step. By picking up the finishing materials, fiberglass cloth, resin and paint on a separate trip you will have the benefit of giving thought as to how  you want to finish your boat as you build it. I always change my mind several times. If you can't find 3/4" lumber for in the length you need, look in the molding department for suitable lumber. Molding is generally fir, straight and clear. You will pay a bit more than ripping your on but it's an area you can be creative. One builder ripped full round (closet rod) in half and had a rounded rub rail.

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tools needed

To build from the full building plans you will need a table saw to cut the stem and rip the lumber for the rib sets. Otherwise, the boat can be built with the minimum of tools. It is possible to build the boat using only hand tools. You will need to rip the plywood, (table saw, skill saw, jig saw or hand saw). You will need a sander (a random orbit sander like the DeWalt is very handy, a belt sander or pad sander will also work). A jig saw is the tool to use cutting the bottom.

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different lengths

Increasing the width or length will require changing the angles on the rib sets, transom and stem and is not recommended for the novice builder.

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making the sides taller

Although the Bayou Skiff has been designed with 12" side boards, it is possible to raise the side board height to 14", increase the side board height, rib height, transom height and stem length.

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Click here to see a folding seat if you choose not to use fixed seats.

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Aaccording to the USCG formula The Bayou Skiff will safely carry a load of 550 pounds. The Coast Guard formula to compute the safe load of a home built boat is as follows. Determine the amount of weight it takes to "sink" your boat. Put the boat in the water and fill it with water counting the number of gallons it takes for the gunwales to be even with the water.  Water weighs eight pounds per gallon. Multiply the number of gallons by eight and you will know the total amount of weight it takes to "sink" your boat. The boat will not actually sink because wood is buoyant. The Coast Guard then recommends multiplying the total weight by a factor of .3 to determine the "maximum safe load". The Bayou Skiff is 14' long, it takes 222 gallons of water to reach the gunwales, 222 gallons x 8.35 (pounds per gallon) = 1853.7 pounds x .3 = 550 pounds "safe load". The safe load of your boat will be determined by the length you build. 

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The finished weight of The Bayou Skiff will vary between 70 and 100 pounds. Some builders will choose not to use a seat rail, runners, or the dry storage compartment in the bow.

The ultimate weight of your boat will vary with of 'extras' you choose to include and the amount of resin and fiber glass used.

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A small gasoline outboard or electric trolling motor will move your boat nicely. Flat bottoms offer little resistance and are quick in the water. Due to liability issues we do make a horsepower recommendation.

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The basic difference between marine plywood and exterior plywood: marine plywood does not contain voids (edge voids are easily filled with wood putty). Taping the seams and edges with fiberglass will effectively seal exposed edge voids.  Both marine and exterior plywood contain essentially the same glues.  Because boats of this nature are not left in the water for extended periods of time and the difficulty in obtaining marine plywood, we feel that exterior plywood offers distinct advantages. Exterior plywood is considerably more economical and is a standard stock item at most lumber yards.  We have had good results with both fir and pine. The choice is determined by comparing quality and local availability. Many small boat builders use Lauan Mahogany plywood Lauan is which is actually five millimeters.. Lauan is pretty, easy to work with and very economical.

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How is plywood joined to make longer lengths?

Plywood is easily joined using a scarf joint, overlapping the separate pieces. Scarfing plywood is easily accomplished using a belt-sander or a sharp hand plane. An electric plane, or  sandpaper wrapped around a piece of 2x4 may also be used. 

Getting the angles (proper beveling) to match is very easy, stack all four sideboard pieces on top of each other with a scrap piece on top. By doing them all at the same time, they will all have the same angle. Each piece is offset from the one below by 2". The formula for scarfing is 8 to 1. If the material is 1" thick, the scarf would be 8" long. Using this formula will result in a joint as strong as the rest of the material. scarf 3.jpg (47104 bytes)I tack them to my work table, a solid core door, with brads so they will stay flat. Then I use a random orbit sander with 60 grit sand paper and grind them down. One of the biggest mistakes people make is when gluing up the joints they apply too much pressure which can squeeze all of the glue out resulting in aglue 1.jpg (38887 bytes) weak joint. When I glue up, I put wax paper on the work table, put the first piece down add glue and put the top piece in place, more wax paper and then put a 2 or 3" wide piece of scrap plywood over the joint and shoot it down with a brad gun. Come back the next day and pull the brads and sand off the excess glue. What about using a "butt joint". Some individuals prefer to use a butt joint. Quicker and easer but not a pretty and more difficult to hide. To use a butt joint, simply butt the two ends together and fiberglass both sides with four to five inches of cloth. The strength of a butt joint is more than adequate. It is not necessary to use a 'plate' when you glass both sides.

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There are numerous waterproof and water resistant glues on the market.  For the most part, glues, nails and screws hold the pieces  together prior to fiber glassing. Once the seams are taped, the fiberglass will provide a strong waterproof joint. For this reason, the type of glue is of less importance than fiber glassing the seams. The glue we use is Titebond II, a one part waterproof woodworking glue. It says "not for marine applications" on the label. But after the seams are fiber glassed the glue will be incidental. It's not necessary to purchase expensive exotic glues. I've found that sometimes the 'exotic' glues are exotic only in price.

screws and fasteners

We have used both brass and stainless steel with good results.  Both are rust and corrosion resistant. Stainless is harder and is usually somewhat more economical than brass. However, I routinely pull the screws after the glue dries and fill the holes prior to finishing. I use utility screws, or as they are more commonly known, "sheet rock screws". If you do not have enough clamps to glue the rub rail in place, you may very well consider brass or stainless and leave the screws in place.

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paint and stain

Epoxy resin: Common exterior house paint works best, 100% acrylic exterior latex (water based) paint, found at any building supplies store.  Water based paints adhere well to epoxy where some solvent and oil based paints have adhesion problems.

Polyester resin contains a wax that rises to the surface as the resin cures. It is necessary to remove this wax prior to painting, acetone works well. An oil based paint is recommended for polyester resin.

Stain, if you wish to stain your boat for a natural wood finish, you should use a water or alcohol based stain and not an oil based product.   Allow the stain to dry thoroughly  before applying the resin. A good marine varnish will protect the resin and show the beauty of the wood. This method requires more careful selection of wood and greater attention to detail, everything will show through a clear finish. Because varnishes and polyurethanes may have problems adhering to resin  Wipe the surface with acetone and then sand with 180 to 220 grit paper  before applying the clear finish.

Allow 7 to 10 days for the paint to fully cure before launching your boat.

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fiber glassing

Fiber glassing is an  intimidating process for the novice builder. There are two types of resin, epoxy and polyester.  Epoxy resin is the best, polyester is the most economical and the easiest to obtain. Polyester resin can be found lumberyards and auto parts stores. Simply put, you mix two liquids, put the cloth where you want it and saturate the cloth with resin. At a minimum, you need to cloth the seams on both sides. The next level would be to cloth the outside bottom running up the side boards six to eight inches. Stepping up to the next level you would cloth the floor inside running up the side boards. If you cloth the entire boat you will have a fiberglass boat with a plywood core. The final decision can only be made by you based on your needs and your budget.

If you use polyester you will typically spend fifty to seventy five dollars Although epoxy is somewhat more expensive than polyester it is more forgiving to use,  is stronger and more stable.

A good source for epoxy may be found from Larry Steeves, owner of RAKA INC, a supplier of Epoxy, Fiberglass and associated products has built our pirogue kit. He recommends:

(1) 1.5 gallons of epoxy, this should be enough epoxy for all gluing, filleting and epoxy coating and saturation of the fiberglass.

  (2) 1 pound of maple wood flour, this is more than enough for all gluing and filleting the seams etc. 

(3) 5 yards of 60" wide fiberglass cloth. This material is very light, thin and strong.  We recommend glassing the entire outside and the inside bottom and 4" up the insides.   With fiberglass on the inside and outside there is no need for fiberglass tape.

Extra items you might consider are mixing pots, a squeegee spreader and latex gloves."

The cost of these materials will vary between $150.00 to $200.00 depending on extras choosen.

RAKA has a very good product at a reasonable price and provide excellent support. If you give them a call (772-489-4070) and tell them you're building out Bayou Skiff, they will know just what you need.

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building time

Although the Bayou Skiff can be built in three to four weeks. More often than not, individuals will choose to add extras to personalize their boat and will lengthen building time.

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The Bayou Skiff is easy to rig for sail. We have a set of plans with different sail rigs that may be downloaded by clicking HERE In that not everyone builds to sail we do not include the sail plans in the kit  but provide the sail plans separately, no charge.

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view the plans

Our plans are formatted for a standard 8 1/5" x 11" sheet of paper. The measurements have been omitted from these plans for obvious reasons. However, you will be able to "see" what is involved in building the Bayou Skiff.  click here to view the plans

 If you need to download Acrobat, it is free from Adobe.

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building cost

Your total cost should range from $300 to $400. The actual cost will be determined by the the quality of paint and type of fiber glass resin used. The type of fiberglass resin used will have the greatest impact on cost.

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We are happy to provide support

  Additional questions or suggestions?

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