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Do it Yourself

These pages and links will, hopefully, give you ideas that can be applied to your own kayak.
If you have any ideas that you'd like us to add, please contact us.


(alphabetical listing)

Build Your Own Sea Kayak

Camping - Cooking

Camping - Gear

Camping - Stoves

Camping - Tents

Carry Slings

Dry Bags - Making your own

Fitting a flag

Greenland Paddle - Make your own


Plans and Software

Pumps - Electrical, Manual & Repair

Rescue Line - Lightweight

Rudder Pedals & Footrest modification to improve paddling efficiency


Sail for a Kayak

Spray skirt release

The Sea Kayaker’s Ice-axe

T-bar Kayak Trolley

Kayak Carry Slings

This is an idea from Andy Sheppard and members of the CSKNet have been using them for nearly a decade.

A loaded kayak is heavy. If there are 3 or 4 in a group, the easiest way to move a kayak is by using lifting slings. Three people and one takes the bow and the other two use the sling. Four kayakers and 2 near each end. The load can be varied depending where the sling is placed and to suit those lifting. Why not just grab the cockpit rim or some such? Because it is hard to load-share that way across the kayak plus adding stress to the kayak. Note that the load sharing is across the kayak, not end for end. End for end is done by the placing of the slings fore and aft.

Slings are webbing and shops sell it but every car also has a few sets. Seat belts are not allowed to be reused if the car is wrecked so a shape knife on a wrecked car down at your nearest wreckers should provide a set or two (or more).

Either sew a loop just big enough to get your hand through or tie a knotted loop. Put your hand through the loop and grasp the sling. The loop puts most of the load on the back of the hand removing the need to be able to hold a handle tightly. You can make the sling long enough for lifting a double and shorten it with a knot or two for lifting singles.

The idea has been introduced/taken to North America a couple of years ago so if you see someone claiming to have patented it, you know where it really comes from.

Rescue line – Lightweight

Light line

A standard item on the paddling checklist is a tow rope,
and on any major paddle it is taken along. But many
people don’t bother or remember to take one for less serious trips.
No more excuses – here’s a lightweight multi-purpose version
small enough to live permanently in your PFD,
so it’s always handy and you can’t leave it at home.

Lightweight Rescue Line PDF (500KB) by Sandy Winterton.

The Sea Kayaker’s Ice-axe

This is a unique tool and has been carried on many trips, on land and water. A multiuse tool – for trenching, hole digging, hammering in tent pegs and eliminating unwanted beasts. Mosquitoes and sandflies will fall to its welding, even those encountered in Fiordland.

Carrying this tool, the user has never had problems with polar bears on any of his trips in New Zealand though racoons in the USA were given a wide berth rather than aggressively confronted.

Note – this tool is *unique which means that if anyone copies it, it will lose that status.

 Ice axe

Read the full article here…


Not legal but available from the mega “Orange Shed” are glow-sticks which use LEDs and have a quoted time of 200 hours. They have a pen type clip so you could (illegally) clip one on to your PDF. They come in green and orange.

All Round Waterproof White Light MK7

by Peter Sullivan

The initial torch was purchased from Bunnings ($5.00). Take the waterproof switch seal out and ADOS F2, or similar contact glue, it back in. Place an ‘O’ ring (found in the shed, but thinner one would look better) on the threaded end.

Remove the lens, reflector (both binned) and the LED board. 

Hacksaw and file the front edge of body back to expose the side of the LEDs. Get a plastic specimen jar and cut it in half. Replace the LED board and attach it to body (glue doesn’t work as it upsets the circuit through the body to the switch) by pressing the edges of the tube over the board. Fit the plastic specimen jar top (exactly right size to slide snugly over torch body) and glue it in place.

white light

It can now be attached to a flag pole with plastic ties or placed in a pocket. It still works well as a directional torch and could also be placed in the bow compartment and take up no space at all, providing you have a plastic kayak.

The only thing is that the bodies are aluminium and unless rinsed in fresh water after use could corrode in salt water. They are anodised but the threads are raw metal and have to be to complete the circuit.

Fitting a flag

There are a few variations on how to carry a flag. Some paddlers like to have the pole attached to their lifejacket while others prefer to have a pole mounted on deck. A simple method is to fit a fishing rod holder and with a plug that fits the hole, mount the flag pole that way. To keep the drilling of holes through the deck to a minimum, fit a platform clipped to the deck with a fitting mounted on it. The following shows this method.

Fitting a flag

Read the full article here…

Making Dry Bags

Making your own dry bags (PDF 20 KB) ~ Chuck Holst

Hot stuff dry bags ~ NSW Sea Kayaker magazine

Making Dry Bags – A New Zealand version

From an idea by Dunedin kayakers

Dry bags usually have a flat bottom, something that is not easy to make as the bottom to sides join is hard to make water proof. There is actually no need to have a flat bottom and if the tube is simply flattened at the end and glued, some space may be lost for the advantage of simple construction. This is the method described below.

Read the full article here…

Camping Gear

How to make camping gear, including stoves, tents etc.

Backpacking Light Magazine (USA), (online and print) is dedicated to the ultralight and the super-ultralight movement. The content is a mixture of subscription and free articles. They tend to cover all the latest gear and do in-depth articles into the whole ultralight movement and kit.

The FREE articles HERE.

Backpacking DIY Instructions for homemade backpacking gear. This includes backpacks, tents, stoves, sleeping bags and more.

Discussion forum on making gear


How to make your own alcohol stove(s).

Penny Stove

Zen and the art of the alcohol stove.
This link describes how the different alcohol stoves work and their advantages and disadvantages. There are also links to just about every alcohol stove ever described on the web plus the different types of alcohol fuel, performance and dangers.

Stoves and all the things related to them –

How to make 5 ultralight stoves

The soda can stove how good or bad

How to make a Penny-Can stove

The Penny Stove improved.

The FireLight Stove (PDF) The author has built and tested numerous stoves so definitely should have some experience for designing a good one.


Jones two person tent

See also the pdf for the Jones’ ~ Two pound, two person tent.

A worthwhile set of links for tents and other items –

Making a cheap tent work

T-bar Kayak Trolley

The design described below was first published in the Canterbury Sea Kayak Newsletter April/May 1995, and was designed by Sandy Ferguson.*

The Design

The sophistication of your trolley only depends upon the tools and materials available to you.

A simple trolley can be constructed from PVC pipe and “T” fittings. A stronger trolley for a loaded double could be made from aluminium tubing, square or round section, bolted or welded depending on the facilities available to you.

On the trolley shown the horizontal tubes are of unequal length, longer at the ends where the legs come out so that the trolley tends to over balance (tip) on to the legs.

A short length of stainless steel tubing is used for the axle. Wheels can be retained using a clip made from stainless steel welding wire.

Note that the upright pieces, the tubes that the axles go through, are no longer than necessary. The top of the trolley should not be any higher than the top of the wheel unless you are using very small wheels.

Trolley wheels

Read the full article here…


The Daggerboard Rudder

This concept was designed by Don Currie in the early 1990s. Two New Zealand manufacturers then produced variations of it and they were fitted to Challenge Plastics and Norski Kayaks. A decade later, KayakSports designed a version, the Navigator, found on Riot kayaks in New Zealand. A decade after that Sea-Lect supposedly patented it.

If a rudder extends well below the hull when you are in deep water, when you come ashore you need to be able to retract it. The most common form of retractable rudder is the Over-the-Stern type. The blade pivots 270 degrees from its vertical deployed position to a horizontal retracted position on the aft deck. The Daggerboard Rudder system departs from that design. It goes from vertical to horizontal the short way, by pivoting 90 degrees. When you pull on the retracting line, attached to the top of the blade, the blade slides within a pivoting sleeve and comes ‘blade-top’ first, on to the aft deck.


This shows the action of the rudder and is not a good version of it or kayak design.

Don Currie’s design provides a couple of significant advantages. The rudder is self-centering as it retracts, as the retraction line feeds through a guide on the centre line of the aft deck. With an Over-the-Stern rudder the rudder pedals have to be centred when the rudder is retracted and hopefully, the rudder blade will land in the V-block on the deck. If not centred, the rudder will come to rest off centre, dangling over the side of the kayak.

The Daggerboard Rudder comes aboard gracefully, slithering up on deck. The over-the-stern type often comes down with a hard thump.

It functions just as well as other rudders: It extends far enough below the hull to reach past the turbulent water around the hull, and it kicks up and drops back as the kayak passes over obstructions.

When the dagger-board rudder is retracted, the rudder and the rudder pedals are locked in place by the top of the rudder being locked to the pull-up line-guide holding it central. The stiffness of the rudder pedals is a function of the cables and the type of rudder pedals, not of the rudder and its position.

Read the full article here…

Rudder Pedals & Footrests

Rudder pedals (PDF 227 KB) How to make them and how to make the lines auto-adjustable. That means, adjust your pedal unit’s position but you don’t need to fiddle with and adjust the rudderlines.

Footrest modification to improve paddling efficiency

 A ‘flipper pedal’ is a combined footrest and steering system used in some kayaks,
where the left and right footrests are completely separate from one another. The
general arrangement is two footrests (also called foot pegs) each with a hinged toe flap
above which operates the rudder when pressed. A brand commonly used in New
Zealand is OZO. This modification will probably work with other similar systems but
may need tweaking.

Footrest-modification PDF (675 KB) by Sandy Winterton

Pumps – Electrical, Manual & Repair


Kevin’s Electric Pump (PDF 276 KB) Kevin built a removable unit using a Rule 1000 pump.

Electric pump installation Gnarlydog’s system.

Another electric pump installation From the kayakfishing forum.

Switches A link to fitting switches for electric pumps.

Another installation and instructions (PDF 1.7 MB) WA Sea Kayak Club’s site’s version.



Pump construction (PDF 124 KB) Sandy’s high capacity hand pump construction notes.

They have since been modified so there is no flotation collar, the flotation being internal and also acting as a flow director at the top of the pump.


Pumps break or clog, a fact of life. Some are sealed so if doing a repair, drastic measures may need to be taken.

At a recent KASK forum one owner showed how she had repaired hers. It was a Harmony but other brands should be able to be attacked in the same manner.


Pull the flotation collar down and mark a vertical line. This is a guide line for reassembly. Cut off the barrel of the pump, not necessarily neatly, probably 30-40 mm from the top. If it is not a neat square cut it won’t matter as you will align the barrel, when reassembling, to the marked vertical line.

Do the necessary repairs and then sleeve the pump with a piece of down-pipe, about 60-80 mm long. In the case of the pump mentioned, its barrel was just the right diameter to fit the down-pipe. If the barrel is too big or too small, cut a vertical cut down the sleeve so that it closes down or opens up. Apply a suitable PVC solvent glue or even a contact adhesive and slide the sleeve over the cut and if the pipe has been sliced to fit, clamp the sleeve tight round the pump’s barrel. When the glue is dry, slide the flotation collar back up and hopefully the pump should now work.

The main reason for fitting a sleeve is to take the stress off the barrel’s glued join.

Spray skirt release

Spray skirt release

Make your spray skirt release easier (PDF 200 KB) This article shows how to make it easier to grab your spray skirt’s release loop by fitting a practice golf ball.


This section has recipes, links to sites with recipes and ideas for meals, provisioning and anything else that might apply to eating and drinking. See also the dehydration section.

Some useful websites –

Backpacking chef. A section on dehydrating, breakfast ideas and tips.

Wudhi. An excellent Kiwi site for dehy tips and recipes.

PCT-hike. Great site for dehydrating and good recipes.

Dehydrators and dehydrating (PDF 198 KB) by Dave Banks – from The Sea Canoeist Newsletter, No. 5, June 1988.


Meal plan (PDF 72 KB) Suggested meals for Weekend, Long Weekend and Adventure trips. By Natasha Romoff from her presentation at the Anakiwa 2011 KASK Forum.

Scott’s Sierra Spaghetti Sauce

Not sure how many servings this makes, but keep in mind that a quart-sized ziploc container of sauce = 2 on-trail servings.

Recipe –

Read the full article here…

Build Your Own Sea Kayak


S&G / S&T, Strip – Plans and Kits

NZ Kayak Builders ~ discussion group.

Pygmy Kayak Kits USA. Freight would be about $400 US

SeaLand Kayaks NZ ~ Mac50 sea kayak, a New Zealand design.

Shrike – “I’ve long had a dream to produce an elegant lightweight sea kayak that combined a traditional hard-chined hull with modern developments of bulkheads, hatches, and a lifting skeg: a simple design that was suited for home construction; a design that could be easily adapted to the needs and physique of individual paddlers.”
The plans can be found on cnckayaks, and there is a cnckayaks Facebook page.
The free plans download includes CNC files and anyone is free to make money from kits or completed kayaks.


Arctic Kayaks ~ David Zimmerly

Greenland kayaks & paddling in NZ ~ discussion group.

Greenland kayak construction ~ Wolfgang Brinck

Qajaq, USA

Traditional kayaks ~ Harvey Golden

The MASIK ~ Newsletter of Qajaq, USA

West Greenland Skin on Frame kayak – Bruce Anderson

Construction Methods

Wooden Sea Kayaks

These are Strip-build and S&G/S&T (Stitch & Glue / Stitch & Tape).


Built from strips of wood, glued and laid over a former. The hull and deck are built separately and then joined after removing from the formers. They are generally built with light timber and glassed inside and out.


These are built from plywood, usually on a simple former, the keel glued, bulkheads fitted and then the sides, followed by the deck. American builders generally glass inside and out, adding greatly to the weight and cost. New Zealand builders more often only use glass on the seams and epoxy the ply followed by varnish or paint. With New Zealand’s high UV, paint is preferable.

Not glassing the hull saves a great deal of weight and money. They are just as strong and any repairs are much simpler to do. How long they last is unknown as there are some nearly 40 years old still used and plywood dinghys (same basic construction) nearly 60 years old.



Bearboat ~ good for strip built, round bilge designs

FREE!ship ~ does flat-plate projection and will import Carene and Hulls designs 

JEM Watercraft 

Free plans from JEM Watercraft 

Kayak Foundry from Ross Leidy 

List of software ~ mostly commercial 

Make Your Own Greenland Paddle


Making a West Greenland Paddle PDF (57 KB) ~ by Chuck Holst

Note that many consider that this is the “definitive” description if carving one out of a 100×50 (4″x2″). See the NZ method if you want to save trees and money.

Making a Greenland Paddle ~ by Matt Johnson. This is a 32 minute YouTube video by Matt Johnson.

Making a Greenland Paddle ~ by John Caldeira

Making a Carbon Fibre Greenland Paddle ~ by Duane Strosaker

Making a Greenland paddle NZ method (716 KB), a PDF of the method shown below and shows how to minimize wasteage. If you don’t want to read the PDF, the full article is here – Read the full article here…

Sail for a Kayak

The construction details for a  kayak sail by Rebecca Heap. It has proved to be very popular and can be used to 40° either side of directly downwind.