Deck fiberglassed.

Fiberglassing the deck was more challenging for me than fiberglassing the outside of the hull was, and getting the cloth to lay down smoothly on the hull just past the shear seam required a lot of careful attention to detail and a bit of swearing. It came out fine, but it was an hour of focused intensity which I am happy that I don’t have to repeat anytime soon. I found this to be every bit as challenging as getting the fiberglass to lay down inside the hull. I can’t help but wonder if everyone has a bit of a struggle with this or if it’s just me! Oh well. It’s done, and I can move on to the fill coats and sanding. Then the cockpit coaming.

Fiberglass cloth smoothed over the deck.
I cut the fiberglass cloth from out of the cockpit opening before saturating with epoxy because I had some trouble when I left it whole (as per the construction manual) when fiberglassing the underside of the deck. The weight of the cloth in the cockpit opening wanted to pull the epoxy-saturated cloth away from the lip of the cockpit. My hope was that by cutting the cloth out of the cockpit opening before saturating it, I would avoid problems this time. It worked out very well.
Fiberglass cloth laminated to the deck with epoxy.
Excess fiberglass trimmed approximately 1″ below the shear seam. I did this approximately four hours after saturating the cloth. The saturated fiberglass cloth was lightly cut with a sharp utility knife, just above the masking tape. The tape was lifted as I was cutting the cloth and the excess fiberglass came up with the tape. I must have waited just the right amount of time because the fiberglass cut cleanly without lifting off of the hull, and without leaving so much as a scratch in the epoxy and fiberglass on the hull under the overlap. Next steps sanding and fill coats. I’ll trim the cockpit later this evening.
In this photo you can see how far the deck fiberglass comes down over the shear seam onto the hull. The entire outside of the kayak (and inside of the hull, and most of the inside of the deck) is now completely encased in fiberglass cloth and epoxy. Watertight. Strong. Light. Magnificent!

Building fiberglass slots for adjustable thigh braces.

The last process on the inside of the deck is to build permanent fiberglass slots for the adjustable thigh braces. This is accomplished by using wooden forms covered in packing tape (so that the epoxy won’t stick to them) to create fillets and shape fiberglass tape into the necessary shape.

Epoxy thickened with wood flour is used to create the “platform” that the fiberglass tape will sit on to create the slots.
Fiberglass tape applied. It’s funny what a slight camera angle can do. Of course, the slots on both sides of the kayak are exactly the same size, but this photo makes the left one look much smaller than the right one. Funny!
There are four layers of fiberglass tape laminated one atop the other, to create the slots.

Reinforcement at the rear of the cockpit and deck recess.

The cockpit area gets reinforced with four feet of fiberglass cloth covering the entire cockpit area, then an additional 22″ X 13″ piece of fiberglass cloth goes over the deck recess area. Also, three layers of fiberglass are laminated across the underside of the deck, right in front of the cockpit opening to reinforce the deck.

This is the epoxy fillet around the butt plate that reinforces the underside of the cockpit apron. The fillet is necessary so that the fiberglass cloth will not trap air beneath it, which would weaken the lamination and cause problems.
Same as above except this photo has fill-in flash so that it is a bit easier to see the fillet. This fillet gave me a lot of trouble. The instructions said to thicken the epoxy with wood flour until it was thicker than peanut butter. When I did that, it was impossible for me to get it smooth enough to take the fiberglass cloth smoothly. It took me three attempts and a phone call to Pygmy Boats to get it right. Having never done most of this before, some of these processes are not intuitive. That is especially true when it comes to thickening the epoxy for specific applications. In the case of this process (the butt plate fillet) Pygmy did provide thickening advice, but it didn’t work out very well for me. On a general note: If there is one thing I would change in the instruction manual, it would be to add specific advice about how thick to make the epoxy for each step that calls for epoxy (e.g. thicken epoxy with wood flour until it is as thick as molasses, or, thicken epoxy with wood flour until it is consistency of toothpaste). Since I assume that the vast majority of people reading the instructions have never used epoxy in this way before, just a couple of additional sentences in the manual could potentially save the builder hours of frustration.
Here is all of the fiberglass cloth and tape that I discussed above, finished. As with all of the fiberglass, after the epoxy cures to the green stage (I usually wait 4-5 hours, or even overnight) the excess cloth trims off easily with a utility knife.
Here are the three strips of fiberglass tape laminated across the front of the cockpit to reinforce it. The edges of these will be feathered in a bit so that they are not sharp and after everything gets sanded a bit, a fill coat of epoxy will eventually go over the inside of the hull.

Deck recess plate installed and deck glued.

The recess plate has been installed, all seams are made smooth and fair, the wires are tightened and the deck is glued. The deck is not glued to the hull at this time as there is much work yet to do on the inside of the deck. If you’re wondering about the “custom” epoxy bow tip, one of the panels arrived in the box with a tip broken off. The only thing I could think of to do, was to cut the other tip off to the same length and make a tip for both panels out of epoxy. If you click on the photo and zoom in you can see the big blob of thickened epoxy sitting on top of the mylar, that I will eventually file and sand into a bow tip.
The deck is taped to the hull, and wired where necessary so that the deck takes its proper shape. Like the hull, the deck is first glued with straight epoxy, and then the seams that are covered with tape or that were not completely glued will be filled in with epoxy thickened with wood flour.
The strap is to keep the hull pulled in tight while the deck it curing. Not strictly necessary, but it made my life easier.

Deck construction.

With the outside of the hull finished, construction of the deck can begin. The deck panels have been drilled in much the same way as the hull panels were, and will be stitched together atop the temporary frames in the hull. The spacers that were screwed to the frames during hull construction have been removed so now the frames will guide the shape of the deck as it is wired together.

At this stage, fiberglass strapping tape is used to hold the deck in place on the hull.
Bow deck loosely wired together.
Bow deck panels carefully aligned, but not yet wired tight.
Bow and stern deck panels wired, except for the deck recess plate. It goes in last and requires some careful flexing and fitting to get to fit correctly. The piece of mylar that you can see in the foreground of the photo, between the hull and deck bow tip is there to keep me from accidentally gluing the deck to the hull before I finish the inside of the deck! There is one at the stern tip as well.