This is the big step. I know there are lots of prior big steps, but this step will result in the look and feel of a kayak. I don’t think it’s the hardest step, except maybe psychologically.
The first step is getting the deck and hull securely taped together. Invariably, there will be small deviations in the fit that will have to be pushed and levered to as close a tolerance as possible. In my case, the bow needed some very firm compression, provided by a complete wrap of strapping tape.
Now is a good time to mention that peel ply is useful in maintaining the right surface for many of the joints. In this case it’s the bulkheads, which will be installed later in an area that’s not easy to sand uniformly. So way back when you’re glassing the hull (yes, you should read this whole blog before you take the first step on this project!), scope out where the bulkheads will be and put in the peel ply.
The second major step is to apply glue to the deck-to-hull joint (at the sheer). Now you sit for a whole cure cycle. Go work on wetting out the coaming pieces, or trimming them to fit. Once the cure cycle is complete, remove the tape and scrape or sand the joint smooth.
Besides the fit, you’ll likely encounter other small difficulties. One that was particularly instructive is this delamination along the edge of the hull. When you smooth the glass down toward the bow, you’re really putting a bias in the cloth. It takes it quite well, but obviously there are stresses that tend to make the cloth want to wrinkle. In this case, the cloth was down tight and wet, but before the resin cured sufficiently, the forces in the cloth bulged the cloth up and off the plywood. This happened several hours into the cure, well past the time that I was satisfied that nothing was moving. Wrong. The solution was easy, since this spot would be under the over wrap of the deck glass and I was betting that it would be invisible. I just cut the loose cloth out with a razor blade and then lightly sanded the area down.
Everything is now ready for the deck to be glassed to the hull. Once again a tape barrier is needed in order to achieve a nice edge on the overlapping glass. Note that I used some colored masking tape to achieve a correct and uniform spacing for the barrier tape. It is imperative that one remembers to remove the colored tape before applying the glass!
It is now appropriate to go back to the “Ready for Resin” page and reread the caution about cutting the last piece of fiberglass. If you do it wrong (like me, trying to save a small square of the cloth), you’ll wind up with the second triangle of cloth about 1″ too narrow to properly drape across the joints on both sides. OK, now go cut the cloth, drape it, and wet it out!
Don’t wait too long to trim the edge. This trim is a little more critical, in that there is a layer of resin-coated cloth under the cut, so you have to be careful not to cut down through the resin. A slight cut in the underlying cured resin is OK–it will be filled later with a couple top coats of resin, so any scratch will disappear.
You can see in the above photo how the cured glass overlays the tape, in some places it’s wider than the tape. If it is wider, be careful that the glass does not lie down on the hull below the tape, since it will adhere very aggressively. You can also see that the resin ran down the side of the hull in a couple of places. This was mostly wiped smooth when it was wet, but it turns out the scraper does a great job of removing runs and sags, which is much quicker and easier than sanding.
Once the trim is finished, the last step is removing the glass cloth from the cockpit opening. Viola! A kayak! (mostly)