John's Tool Crib
by John Cupp


A Small Series For The Amateur Or Experienced Builder About Building Two Extremely Light Boat Designs

By John Cupp

Here we are in this new century looking at boat designs that are very new but steeped in traditions centuries old. My reason for this series is showing the amateur builder the availability of great designs with plans and manuals that anyone should be able to build. The two boats I have selected are very light!

Snowshoe Explorer 14’

Boat #1 - Snowshoe Explorer 14™

This is a great sturdy boat by Geodesic Airolite Boat Designs. A creation designed by non other than the very great inventor, Platt Monfort. I spoke with Platt on the phone and he selected this design because it is one of the easiest ones he has to build. High school students have built these boats in shop classes in as little as three months with very little time allotted to their shop schedule. You must also know that the high school shop instructor had never built one either. I think this makes a great platform for a boat that anyone should be able to finish. Half of the enjoyment of a boat is building it yourself. So the picture above is of this boat. The picture below is of Platt Monfort holding Sweat Pea, an 8 pound boat designed by him.

Platt Monfort and 8 lb boat

The plan book and patterns for this boat are only $37.00 with $4.00 shipping. There is also a partial kit for $95.00 with $15.00 shipping. The plans are very thorough and explain every step completely. The boat is fourteen feet and weighs just thirty pounds. A boat this size can be easily portaged around bad spots in a river. It can be used with a lot of gear for camping away from any crowd. If you are around people this design is sure to spur comments from young and old alike.

The reason for two boats is to give the readers a choice in the building of a canoe or kayak. I will introduce the kayak design shortly. You’ll see how to build these boats and add the tools used as we go through this process. In this design medium of lighter boats, you can hole a hull, but repairs can be easily made with a small amount of duct tape. Your trip will not be ruined. The first step in building these designs is to study the plans to familiarize you with all the nomenclature and steps. You must study them as if your life depended on it and then study some more. The next step is to gather all of your required materials and tools that you will need. If you do not have some of the tools, plan your work so that you could rent the tools for a day from a rental company or borrow them from a friend. But now I am getting ahead of my series.

Below are pictures from a class of students at a high school in Nevada. These kids did not work on the projects eight hours a day, but they used their class time to build superior ultra-lightweight boats they can be very proud of for years to come. The high school kids and teacher could build them, even you or I could build one. Get some plans you like and get started!

Marjie Mikesell’s Snowshoe 12’

Dayton NV. High School Students that Built Platt Monfort Boats

The first chapter in this series is to introduce you to the two boats I will be using so you can see these excellent designs. The next boat is a very light but very strong 18’ sea kayak.

Boat #2 - The Spoondrift 18' Sea Kayak

Dave Stimson’s 17’ Spoondrift Kayak

I want everyone to know that these Kayak plans are from the #1 supplier of Bow Roof Shed Plans in America. Dave Stimson, of Stimson Marine also has shed or shop plans along with great ultra light boat plans. The 18’ spoondrift sea kayak is longer and wider than the 17’ model and can carry 300 lbs of cargo and paddler, 100 lbs more than the 17‘.. This craft is covered with shrink-to- fit nylon with hypalon, a puncture-proof material used in commercial applications. It can be scraped across sharp rocks and barnacles without fear of a puncture unlike the canoe above. It has a tremendous capability for speed because of its long waterline. With all of this potential it only weighs 40 lbs! That’s not all, the plan book is thicker and more complete than any other I have seen with the exception of one 60-foot boat. To top all of that, it comes with full-sized patterns that you cut out and paste on the wood for cutting out every piece except the long stringers.

Spoondrift being built

While being a little complicated to build, the manual for this boat is so thorough that even a grade school student could follow it with great results. That was for all of you shop teachers out there! Even bumbling old fellows like myself that use bifocals and a cane could build this very fast sea kayak well on the first try. Not only that with its water line so long a healthy teenager could paddle like the wind without breathing hard.

This kayak is faster than the off-the-shelf machines sold in quantity now. The frame actually undulates in rough water to maintain top speed unlike off the shelf kayaks. It is a more traditional boat because it incorporates this same advantage the Eskimo Baidarkas used that allows the boat greater flexibility longitudinally. You can read about this and laminar flow that makes this boat faster HERE.

So please take time to look at these two boats. They are the top choices for skin on frame construction in my opinion. They are also perfect for this small boat skin on frame series. I don’t know the exact time line now but I should be making updates every few months (I am very slow). I hope I have sparked your interest in these two classic but still very modern boat designs. They both have very innovative designers who make sure that there plans are very complete.

From the plans table next to the Tool Crib,

Have Fun!

John Cupp