Wood Kayaks for River Paddling - Mountain Buzz

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Old 10-13-2013   #1
Dover, New Hampshire
Paddling Since: 2003
Join Date: Oct 2013
Posts: 1
Wood Kayaks for River Paddling

I'm curious if anyone has used wooden kayaks for river paddling.

I'm sure for most lake/creek paddling that wood kayaks are great, but can they stand up to the same punish of a fiberglass/plastic kayak in rough waters?

I have been looking at some of the wood kayak fabricators sites like this one promoting custom wood kayaks that are "durable, sleek..."

I wonder how durable can they really be? I have images of the crafts smashing against rocks.

Anyone used these wood kayaks in rough water, or is that a strict nono?

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Old 10-13-2013   #2
Jenks, Oklahoma
Join Date: Oct 2004
Posts: 1,771
Some comments

I do not own one of these wooden wonders.

Have seen several of home builts that were just beautiful.

One of the builders here in the Arkansas area, did use his creation on what I will call "normal" class 2/3 runs with plenty of water and avoidable rock hits.

He did not do the real low water flow class 3/4 "real" creek runs.

I started kayaking back in the days of "glass" kayaks. Did a lot of low water runs and can say some of these kayaks took remarkable impact but kept on going.

For sure, those of us who did these what I will call semi creek runs, developed repair skills. Cracks were pretty common and repairable.

I would love to have one of these sleek wooden works of art.

My bet is on a real serious creek run with low water, plenty of boofs and rock impacts - there would eventually be serious damage done to a beautiful kayak.

So, my take is enjoy these sleek hi performance kayaks on water they are well suited for. Buy the tupperwear plastic hi performance creek kayaks for real creeking and get better performance, less cost in money and time while creeking.
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Old 10-13-2013   #3
Wondervu, CO, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2001
Join Date: May 2008
Posts: 493
I too am captivatd by the beauty of the strip built canoes and kayaks. However, I came to the conclusion that these boats would get beat up fast in the rocky shallow water that I have nearby.

An alternative might be a 'skin on frame' type boat, using modern materials for the skin seems to result in a really tough boat. Check out this video...

I think some of these SOF boats are just as pretty as the strip builts.
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Old 10-13-2013   #4
Enfield, New Hampshire
Paddling Since: 1990
Join Date: Nov 2009
Posts: 393
Re wooden kayaks

There is a paddler out of the Burlington, Vt area who has been paddling a home made wooden kayak in at least upto cl 3+ rocky whitewater for years.I have seen him several times and he has no problem.Can't remember his name and I doubt he reads this board, but yes, a wooden ww kayak is feasible.
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Old 10-13-2013   #5
Paddling Since: 96
Join Date: Feb 2009
Posts: 1,453
Truly beautiful boats. Wrong tool for the job IMHO. This coming from a guy who paddles class 3/4 mank 100+ days a year with a wood paddle. Sea kayaking in one of them would be wonderful.
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Old 10-13-2013   #6
Horserump, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1975
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 514
They run wooden dories down the Grand I imagine a wooden kayak would do fine down there as long as you didn't hit any rocks......That's assuming they ever open the Grand again.
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Old 10-13-2013   #7
Carbondale, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1970
Join Date: Jan 2010
Posts: 371
+3 on the comment that wooden boats are beautiful and fun and functional on rivers where you don't hit solid objects. I have built and owned a wooden dory and a wooden sea kayak. They are a pleasure to row and they are very light relative to the plastic or fiberglass alternative BUT the first rule of wooden boats is don't hit rocks. If you are on a creek where you are going to hit rocks, take another boat.
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Old 10-13-2013   #8
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Wheat Ridge, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1995
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 3,715
Which would be greater from such a bone-headed endeavor as taking it down a rocky river - losing the money you spent on the boat or losing the respect of all your friends from demolishing such a beautiful boat?

Those boats belong on a lake or calm river.
Nothing in the world is more yielding and gentle than water. Yet it has no equal for conquering the resistant and tough. The flexible can overcome the unbending; the soft can overcome the hard. - Lao Tse
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Old 10-13-2013   #9
Jenks, Oklahoma
Join Date: Oct 2004
Posts: 1,771

I finally watched that skin on frame kayak video in one of the early posts.

Man, that boat took a beating. Wonder what the covering material is made of?
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Old 10-14-2013   #10
Renaissance Redneck
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Huson, Montana
Paddling Since: 1988
Join Date: Mar 2004
Posts: 1,205
You'll be fine. Just don't hit any rocks.
"You're gonna be doin a lot of doobie rolling when youre LIVIN IN A VAN DOWN BY THE RIVER"
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