by Richard Frye  captahab45@hotmail.com 

Layout  (click to enlarge)

This project began when I had 2 sheets of luan standing against the shop wall doing absolutely nothing! And my feeble little mind began to wander! Now at my age that's normal but at times can be down right dangerous! Hmmmm!...what could I do with 2 sheets of luan? For several hours I looked at different plans, study plans and pictures of various 2 sheet designs.....and...even some of my own! I came across some Free Plans that I had downloaded from www.bateau.com for a lightweight canoe. I liked the simplicity....and so I decided to build that canoe! Why?...simply cause I never made one before! I've built many boats over the years...mostly sailboats and such! But now I wanted something lightweight, something easy to cartop, something easy to launch, and something easy to paddle! With visions of leisurely paddling, floating, fishing, taking pictures, and a quick escape machine.....I set to work. In an hour or so I had all the parts cut! Yep.....according to plans too! But changed some things like the butt blocks which I made from 1/2" plywood instead of the 1/4 inch as per plans. I glued and screwed the butt blocks to the side panels and retired for the day.

The following morning I stitched her together and suddenly realized I had built this boat in a few hours......not days!


At points on the plans, I put in spreaders fore and aft made from a broom handle laying in the pile of other broom handles! I save'em .....they always come in handy for something! Next I ripped the gunwale strips fairly close to what the plans said, and the inwale was a mere 3/8ths x 3/4. There is no bow or stern stem...just resin and fiberglass tape bonding each end of the sides and bottom panel together. At this point I barely had 3 hours of labor into the boat! I filleted the side and bottom panels, smoothed them out and let it cure for a while. Later I removed the wires, sanded the joints a little and applied 2 inch glass tape to the inside seams. After that cured, I flipped her over to round off the chines a little and put some tape and resin on them too! I was amazed at the lightness of the boat that had taken form in just a few hours! While that was curing I thought about a skeg or something to make the boat track decent and not wallow all over the place. I cut a nice skeg....and I didn't like it for some reason! My mind went to work again! I finally decided on a deep vee'd full length keel strip! I grabbed a 16' - 2x6 that was free of knots and ripped a keel that was 1" wide at the base and 1-1/2 inches deep. I hoped it would work!

She floated!

I centered it up and put it on with glue and once in place, screwed it on the bottom from the inside. After that dried I rounded of the sharp edge of the vee'd keel and put a piece of glass tape on with resin. This would help protect the edge while beaching. Well now, I had less than 8 hours into this project and flipped her back over to fair in the resin coats and decided I'd just put some paint on her! The next day I looked at her for a while. I couldn't stand it! Ten minutes later, this boat was in the water! Unfinished and unpainted on the inside......well that wouldn't affect the way she floated! I easily threw her on top of my wife's Ford Escort since she was well under 40 pounds.....the boat that is! Our Park Ranger was at the landing to see what I'd come up with this time! He too was amazed at the light weight of the boat!

Very stable

As I plopped her in the water, she seemed to come alive! The little canoe sat nicely and with a homemade double paddle I eased myself down in the middle.....expecting to be very wet in the next few seconds! To my surprise, once my chubby butt got settled, she seemed very stable and all the tippiness that usually preludes entering any canoe type of boat suddenly went away! Hmmmmm! I thought! This might just work! There was wind and an six inch chop on the lake! I backed her out into the lake, and turned to head into the wind. I paddled with smooth even strokes to get used to this new craft, and soon she began to respond! As my confidence gained I put more power into each stroke and she really moved out! Her tracking ability was astonishing! The deep vee'd keel was working beautifully! Just sitting and kneeling in the boat was tiring my back so I headed back to the landing and I noticed certain characteristics she displayed on the way back. Yes, she was a simple flat bottom canoe with very little rocker, but rode over the chop easily without pounding. To rest my back, I sat on a cushion with my legs stretched out! What a relief! As I poured on some power strokes, her reaction was more of a kayak than a canoe! At that moment the Yakoo was truly born! Later, I picked up a cheap lightweight bass boat seat at Wal-Mart, and figured out a way to mount it so it was removable by installing it on a plywood base. Although I took her on several more trips with the inside still not finished, that comfortable seat made all the difference in the world.


Well, I had more luan that popped up in the shop and decided that if she was going to act like a kayak then she should look more like one! The decking did put some weight on her, but at 56 pounds finished, she is still light enough for me to carry to the water and cartop with no problem at all! Now I have nice waterproof storage compartments, and the hatch covers are sealed with rubber weather strip..like that goes under a camper cover edge for a pick up! These large compartments hold enough camping gear and food for a week or longer, and also gives me additional bouyancy for safety, and I have deck rigging to carry more junk if need be!

56 pounds!

I chose a 1.5 pound folding grapple anchor that holds this boat very well while fishing. With the added coaming, rough water has a tough time getting into the cockpit. Even if swamped she'll still float pretty high and the cockpit can easily be bailed or pumped out with a hand bilge pump. So far no water has entered the cockpit, except for the large cup of coffee I spilled! A cheap plastic cup holder hanging from the coaming lip solved that problem!

Built for less than $100

My Yakoo is 13'-8-1/2" overall with a 30 inch beam. At the bottom across the middle she is only 22 inches, but this gives the boat sides enough flare for good stability. This boat without the deck is an ideal solo canoe that will weigh less than 40 pounds. But the possibilities are unlimited as to what you can do with a full deck like a kayak or a partial deck. The Yakoo was built as you see her for less than $100.00. I can hardly wait till spring. The unseasonably warm weather we've had here in Western Pennsylvania was nice during January.....but now at the end of the month a snow storm is on the way, and ice will be back in the lake so........I'll just have to wait a couple of months! If you have any questions, feel free to email me at this address:  gosail@hotmail.com  or give me a call.  724-428-5282