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Reality Magazine–Episode #4 Bert Millar

Chesapeake Light Craft Pax 18

After fibreglassing the deck and installing the skeg box, hatch and cockpit coaming, I spent many hours sanding, filing and fairing; preparing my Pax 18 for the final finish. Sanding was the most monotonous and discouraging part; I was so close to being done and the sanding was making the boat look worse rather than better. Finally I painted the hull with black Interlux Brightsides deck paint and accented it with a red stripe along the sheerline. The rich black hull looks sharp but be warned, this part of the project is very time con- suming. You must wait for each coat of paint to dry and then sand it smooth to prepare for the next coat. Just a note for the impatient… red pigmented paint doesn’t cover well. I have always been intrigued by Native American art. The design I chose to have painted on my deck was inspired by well-known Haida artist, Robert Davidson and skillful-

Boats Kayak Kit

ly painted in acrylic by Tanya Costey of Rath Art in Hamilton, Ontario. She painted two beavers on the rear deck giving me a sym- bolic push with their big webbed feet, an eagle and raven on the front deck for my eyes and ears when paddling strange waters and a frog on the paddle park in front of the cockpit who generously vol- unteers to hold my paddle when I'm resting. Finally, I protected her work and the rest of the deck with five coats of Epiphanes marine varnish to prevent abrasion and ultraviolet degradation, which also brought out the beautiful detail of the mahogany and my Buffard Freres custom inlay.

Adding the deck bungies, skeg system and seat went quickly. My daughter Samantha and I slid the Pax 18 out the carefully pre-meas- ured basement window and placed it onto the cradle in the garage. On Sunday May 5th, a group of kayakers from the Peninsula Paddlers Club were launching from Port Dalhousie at the western end of Lake Ontario and paddling up to


his is the fourth and final episode of our kayak kit building reality magazine. Nine

months ago while dreaming up ways to grow the world of kayak touring, kit building came across the radar. Instead of a short feature article about how great these kits are, we decided to set up an on-going series where we tracked the progress of three builders build- ing three different kits, from different compa- nies. The idea wasn’t to evaluate the kits or the boats but rather provide a sense of what it is like to build your own kayak.

Jordan Harbour. At Port Dalhousie you have to lower your boat down a rough, kayak scratching cement pier. I decided to put-in and meet them at the beach at Charles Daley Park, the halfway point.

I climbed in and headed east through a gentle chop. The Pax 18 surged through the water quickly and smoothly, producing a minimal bow wave. Its very sharp entry and exit lines are one of the reasons I was drawn to this hull. I also like the way it sits very low in the water with very little freeboard behind me. It is comfortable, strong tracking, fast and has decent primary stability— not the tender hull I expected. It’s a Cadillac, solid and smooth. I really noticed the difference an almost eighteen-foot waterline has on sta- bility. With such a long waterline I didn’t expect it to carve crisp turns but it does reasonably well with a hard lean and a sweep of the pad- dle.

When Scott approached me almost a year ago I thought I’d be too busy and almost declined his offer to participate in this project.

Luckily I found the Pax 18 on the Chesapeake Light Craft website and it peaked my interest. The building process provided me a strong focus of activity last winter. Much of the enjoyment of building the kit was adding my own person- al touches and spending time with my daughters—many thanks for their help. Would I build another kayak?

As it turns out the sleek Pax 18 is an ideal boat for me but maybe I’d build another. The history of the early aboriginal paddlers has always interested me. Perhaps a skin on frame, using specs from an original Inuit boat in a museum. For now I plan to catch up on work around the house and enjoy the summer exploring the water- ways of Southern Ontario. If you see me tootling around the local bayou come on over and say hello.

Blue skies and soft landings. Bert

22 FALL2002

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