This is an ongoing project that started with a busted up $100 kayak that my friend Grace kindly helped drive back here from Asheville following a campout. It’s pretty ideal for a few reasons: 1. It’s fiberglass so easy to modify/repair. 2. It’s short- I think around 13′ so fits right onto my folding trailer for easy transport. 3. It’s got a flat back with metal surface so I can mount a motor (or whatever) an stand it right up there. (also helps with that aforementioned shortness). 4. It was $100- so I don’t have a lot of qualms about experimenting on it.
Anyway, one of the first things we got started with (and re-learned that measure twice cut once lesson) was installing a window in the bottom. This way we can see everything we paddle over underwater! So I laid out that plan a few times over, then one night got particularly motivated to just knock it out real quick. After blasting through my traced window template with a jigsaw- I flipped it over to smooth out the interior cut annnnd… managed to keep a bad word restrained to my internal dialogue. So somehow my window shifted a bit and now bisected a major support rib in the canoe. Besides the obvious structural compromise we now have, it also means I have to figure out how to get a flat piece of polycarbonate to lay over this contoured rib. Oh man.. so after a lot of hemming & hawing about things, I reminded myself that this is a $100 canoe, and riveted the window right over the rib along with some epoxy to bond it in. I think my plastic was around .1″ in thickness and so it flexed along with the rib. It’s not a great solution- but it’s a solution. After a while some stress cracks formed where you’d expect them to, and I added a thin steel strut crossing the window to restore some of the structural integrity, and finally I poured a transparent layer of epoxy over the base which is actually kinda nice because it makes that window more or less flush with the bottom surface of the boat as well as sealing and securing it further. Also, I decided to do some lighting and I did it the hard way for no good reason: The perimeter of this window contains about 100 bright white flush mount LED’s which are wired and now buried into the canoe. They work pretty well and this whole thing generally turned out more robust and seaworthy than I expected. The problem now is finding clear waters to really leverage the novelty here. I’ve found this to be more problematic near Charlotte than I expected but I have lake Junaluska in my sights for our next camping trip so we’ll see!
At this writing we have it resurfaced and painted- ready for some custom art. I have some ambitions of some fancy motor additions as well.. stay tuned!