Coaming and Finishing

The skin is now ready to recieve the coaming, which is made from a single strip of steamed cedar. Corey has a tool that shapes the coaming and can be adjusted to make coamings from about 23″ to just over 31″. The coaming is lashed together and can be removed from the tool while still wet.

Ready for coaming.

Coaming ring, formed and lashed.

The coaming comes out of the tool with the correct oval shape, but does not have the proper front to back curvature. To achieve this second curve the coaming is placed on the deck ribs and about 200 lbs of force is applied via a strap. Note that this strap is also applying the same force to the gunnels and keel, but they don’t seem to mind at all. Once the coaming is sewn to the skin, the strap is released and the coaming springs up slightly, putting tension on the skin. The tension is evened out by shrinking the skin (spraying on a mist of water and then ironing it), all over the boat, not just at the coaming. This evens out the tension and makes the skin almost wrinkle free.

The coaming is curved downward using a strap and when released it maintains most of its curvature while simultaneously tensioning the skin.

Ironing shrinks the skin and provides even tension all around.

The finished coaming is double-stitched all the way around.

Finishing the skin requires at least one afernoon and the following morning. The urethane is applied first to the hull by pouring a line of urethane onto the skin and then troweling it evenly across the surface. The urethane can be applied wet-on-wet, so several coats can be applied in a short period of time. Then the finish must be watched for an hour or so to correct and sags or drips. The hull cures overnight and then the process is repeated for the deck.

Don’t expect the finish to be gloss perfect. There will be some residual staining from the water and shrinking process, as well as inconsistencies in the skin’s adsorption of the urethane. I find this to be pleasing, both in its initial appearance and the fact that in not being perfect, I won’t mind actually using it.

The finished baidarka. This finish is oly slightly pigmented, so you can see the inner workings and it will weather to a mellow tan-yellow with fading.

I would like to have found blue or green rope for the coaming, but black will do fine. This braided nylon rope is 3/4″, which will provide a good grip for a cover or spray skirt. Installation involves stretching the rope around the coaming, cutting it slightly shorter, welding the loose ends together using a hot knife, and then sewing it on through the same holes that secured the coaming to the skin. I really doubted that I could get the needle through the urethane-filled holes and the full thickness of the rope, but no problem. The nylon sinew hardly shows on the outside of the rope.

Coaming rope stretched around the coaming.

Melted splice

Second lashing for the coaming rope.


Seat and Paddle